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Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Data Protection (27 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: The Government is committed to providing the public with the strongest possible rights to protect against abuses of personal data. We keep the Data Protection Act under review to make sure that it continues to provide a strong legal framework for the protection of personal information. The Government also works closely with the Information Commissioner to make sure that individuals understand...

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Non-molestation Orders (27 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: An error has been identified in the written answer given on 27 February 2015. The correct answer should have been: Details of the gender of those receiving non molestation orders (ex-parte and with notice), and occupancy orders (ex-parte and with notice) since 2011 can only be obtained by manually checking every case file at disproportionate costs. Figures requested for non...

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Non-molestation Orders (27 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: Details of the gender of those receiving non molestation orders (ex-parte and with notice), and occupancy orders (ex-parte and with notice) since 2011 can only be obtained by manually checking every case file at disproportionate costs. Figures requested for non molestation and occupancy orders applied for by each firm of solicitors in courts in a) Sussex and b) West Midlands are available...

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Coroners (26 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: Information on the average number of days taken by coroners to release the body of a homicide victim is not held centrally. This information could only be obtained by inspection of individual case files at each coroner’s office before collating the information, and this could only be done at disproportionate cost. In July 2013 we implemented reforms in the Coroners and Justice Act...

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Procurement (26 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: We have previously made clear our intention to issue a revised Code of Practice under section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act (‘FOI Act’). I regret that it will not now be possible to bring forward the Code of Practice during this parliamentary session as we had previously intended. However, we do recognise the challenge which the outsourcing of public services poses for...

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Grandparents (19 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: When making any decision about a child’s upbringing the court’s paramount consideration will be the welfare of the child. The Government believes that the existing arrangements for grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren in cases of parental dispute are effective and do not unfairly disadvantage grandparents. Child arrangements orders are able to deal with all the...

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Court Orders: Grandparents (12 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: The number of applications by grandparents for Child Arrangement Orders (child to spend time with a named person) are shown below. Prior to 22nd April 2014 these were called Contact Orders. These applications will most often be the result of parental separation involving both married and unmarried parents. It is not possible to provide figures for applications made only as a result of...

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Legal Aid Scheme: Children (5 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: Following the reforms to civil legal aid, funding remains available in around 95% of cases where a child or young person is the applicant. This includes legal aid for all public law children cases, and where a child is a party in private family law cases. The Government has made clear that it will undertake a post-implementation review of the legal aid provisions within the Legal Aid,...

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Disclosure of Information (4 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: The Ministry of Justice does not publish guidance on when departments should legislate to establish a legal basis for sharing personal data. However, we have published general guidance for departments, which seeks to clarify the legal circumstances in which the data sharing powers of public bodies can be exercised. The Public Sector Data Sharing guidance can be found at:...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Nuisance Phone Calls (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: Tackling nuisance calls is a priority for the coalition and I welcome my hon. Friend’s interest in the subject. We are working closely with colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to reduce the irritation and distress they cause. Our Department’s claims management regulator has worked with industry and consumer groups as part of the nuisance calls taskforce. It...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Nuisance Phone Calls (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: There are three specific issues on the table. The first is what we did in December, which allows for new, tough financial penalties on companies—by which I mean companies as a whole—that break the rules. The second is the proposal that we have consulted on and are about to respond to, which would lower the threshold at which enforcement action can be taken and produce a fine of up...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Nuisance Phone Calls (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: I recognise my hon. Friend’s assiduous work on this issue and I am very happy to pick up on the issue that the claims management regulation unit may not be as effective in practice as we believe it is in theory. We are determined to protect the public. Nuisance phone calls and nuisance texts, particularly to the vulnerable, are unacceptable. They must be dealt with and we will do that...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme (Women Prisoners) (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: We have some excellent women’s prisons led by excellent governors. The impact of coalition policies on women are always considered carefully by Ministers. I am committed to ensuring that that is done for women in prison, for which I have a particular responsibility. There was an equality impact assessment for the incentives and earned privileges policy, which came into effect in...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme (Women Prisoners) (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: The incentives and earned privileges policy framework is an important reform to ensure that privileges in prison are no longer automatic. It is a reform that we brought in—it was not the case under the last Labour Government—and I hope Labour now supports the principle that people should earn privileges. On women’s clothing, however, female prisoners are not required to wear...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Boundary Dispute Cases (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: The coalition is committed to reducing the number of property boundary disputes that come before the courts, as we are to reducing pressure on the court system more widely. I pay tribute to the work my hon. Friend has done, particularly his Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill. We published a scoping study on 15 January, and I hope that will provide a basis for agreeing a way...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Boundary Dispute Cases (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: I am absolutely persuaded that costs mount as people go to court, and I want to see the pressures and costs on our court system, as well as on individuals, reduced. We have taken steps over the past year to increase the use of mediation in the family courts, which has been successful. That should be applied to other disputes, including over property boundaries, and experts should also be...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Family Law Mediation Services (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: Mediation between separating couples helps reduce the stress on children and families and the pressure on the courts system, and saves money for taxpayers. Last year nearly two-thirds of couples attending a single mediation session involving children reached full agreement at that session, and seven out of every 10 couples choosing mediation ultimately reached an agreement. That is why the...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Family Law Mediation Services (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: I have to tell the hon. Lady that the message here is not one of failure but one of increasing success. The number of people attending mediation assessment meetings has gone up in the last three quarters, and there is no report of these being shambolic. I will willingly meet the hon. Lady and her constituent on the subject, but I am clear that her party is committing no extra money for legal...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Topical Questions (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: I am very sympathetic to the issue that the hon. Lady raises. The Secretary of State and I met people arguing that the law should be changed so that there is a read-across from criminal convictions to the application in family law of rights in relation to children. The matter is actively on our agenda, and I am happy to accept representations and to meet the hon. Lady and her constituent.

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: COE Commissioner for Human Rights (3 February 2015)

Simon Hughes: The Ministry of Justice has not corresponded directly with the Commissioner in the last two years. The United Kingdom Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe is the primary point of contact with the Commissioner for Human Rights.

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