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Upcoming Business – Commons: Select Committee (22 October 2014)

Procedure: Written Parliamentary question answering performance in 2013-14. 3:05 pm; Room 18, Palace of Westminster
Witnesses: Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP, Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties, Ministry of Justice

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

Simon Hughes: I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (John Hemming) for putting his name into the ballot, and I congratulate him on doing well in it and on bringing forward a Bill to address many issues that are of considerable importance to our country. I am very grateful for that and for the constructive comments from the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg),...

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

Simon Hughes: As my hon. Friend said, this is the second time he has had the opportunity to address some of these issues through a private Member’s Bill. Let me briefly put the Government’s commitment on the record. The coalition agreement drew from the manifestos of both the Liberal Democrat and the Conservative parties and made a commitment to extend the scope of the Freedom of Information...

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

Simon Hughes: There are other examples, but that one has been remedied by this Administration. Let me summarise what we have done in response to these important issues. About 250,000 people go into our family courts every year in connection with care proceedings, children’s proceedings, adoptions or family divorce and separation. We are not talking about insignificant numbers, and my hon. Friend the...

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

Simon Hughes: It is, in fact, quite a big thing. What has always been of concern is how to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings, which will involve all sorts of sensitive issues, and now that judgments are being made public, a delicate balance must be struck. In some cases in which publicity has been given only to the judgment, the identities of the parties have none the less been revealed,...

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

Simon Hughes: That is certainly on our agenda. Whether we can secure cross-Government agreement to deal with matters other than the code of practice during the current Session has not yet been established, but it is on the list of matters that I want to consider. I am happy to talk to my hon. Friend about how we can make freedom of information work. I have already listened to the views of Members on both...

Written Answers — Justice: Public Records (10 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: Government Departments are currently in transition from the 30 year rule for transferring records to The National Archives to a 20 year rule, over a 10 year period. The National Archives works closely with departments to help them meet their targets for transferring records through published statistics and capability assessments. In March 2014 the Prime Minister commissioned his independent...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Treason (9 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: The coalition Government take very seriously the potential threat posed by a small number of British citizens who have travelled abroad and participated in conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Those who participate in foreign conflicts may be prosecuted for offences such as terrorism under the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006, murder or conspiracy to commit murder, and offences under the International...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Treason (9 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says. All Ministers in all Departments are very clear both that we need to use effectively the powers we already have and that we have to take new powers, which have been announced by the Prime Minister, to fill any potential gaps in the protections we have. The powers will be targeted, proportionate and effective, and they will ensure that we meet our...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Treason (9 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: As I said, the offence of treason has not been used since 1945. It dates from a much earlier statute. The Law Commission has not looked at it recently, but there is no reason why it should not come forward with a proposal to do so. On this issue, the Government are absolutely focused on making sure that people who go abroad and either commit serious offences abroad or when they come back to...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Restorative Justice (9 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: Restorative justice can play an important role in empowering victims by giving them a voice and enabling them to explain the real impact of the crime and hold offenders to account. There is a clear link between the use of restorative justice and a reduction in the frequency of offending. The coalition Government have committed almost 30 million for restorative justice services for the...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Restorative Justice (9 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: Of course I will meet the hon. Lady who I know has been a strong advocate for the work of the Prison Fellowship and the Sycamore Tree project. As I understand it, funding for public sector prisons amounts to 917,000 over three years. I am sorry about the data problem, but I am sure we can help with that. The Government are clear, however, that our 30 million pot is money raised...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Topical Questions (9 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: Before the legal aid reforms, one party did not have legal representation in about two thirds of private law cases. It is common for the courts to deal with people who represent themselves. The Department is very watchful of what is happening, but we have already supported organisations such as Citizens Advice and Advicenow to produce more guides. There is also support for the personal...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Topical Questions (9 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his continuing interest in this matter, and I hope that he has found the response to the consultation helpful. It makes it absolutely clear that we want to be much more hands-on in terms of managing the role of deputies who are responsible for other people’s estates, to reduce the number of allegations of abuse and misuse of funds and to ensure that...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Topical Questions (9 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: The colour is green; we are proceeding successfully with an issue that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues never dealt with. A third of those who have community orders, and a third of those with long sentences, reoffend within a year, but the figure is nearly six out of 10 for those on short sentences. We are going to deal with that issue now.

Written Answers — Justice: Cafcass (8 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: The following table sets out the number of complaints received by CAFCASS in each of the last three years: Financial year Number of complaints 2011-12 1,264 2012-13 1,496 2013-14 1,596 In 2012 CAFCASS simplified their complaints process, reducing the number of stages involved from three to one and ending the classification of complaints as ‘upheld’. Figures for...

Written Answers — Justice: Network Rail (8 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: Draft regulations to extend the Freedom of Information Act to Network Rail in relation to functions of a public nature that it performs will be laid as soon as possible so that it is subject to the Act by April 2015 at the latest. The regulations, to be made under section 5 of the Act, are subject to affirmative resolution procedure.

Written Answers — Justice: Network Rail (8 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: The regulations to extend the Freedom of Information Act to Network Rail will cover the functions of a public nature that it performs in accordance with section 7(5) of the Act. The Ministry of Justice and Department for Transport will work with Network Rail to identify correctly those functions and make sure that they are appropriately described in the draft regulations before they are laid....

Written Answers — Justice: Sentencing: Females (8 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: Sentencing decisions are entirely a matter for the independent judiciary. When considering the appropriate sentence, the judge will take into consideration a number of factors, including the seriousness of the offence and the impact that the crime has had on the victim. All courts must follow guidelines issued by the independent Sentencing Council. The judge will take into account any...

Burial Space (London) (5 September 2014)

Simon Hughes: I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Dr Offord) on securing this debate on the provision of burial space in London and on his well-informed and up-to-date analysis of the position in his part of the capital city. This is self-evidently an important issue. I am aware that my coalition colleague and former Justice Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and...

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