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Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Children (18 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: The family courts consider the facts of each case with the welfare of the child as paramount. Parental Alienation Syndrome is not recognised as a 'syndrome' by many professionals in this country. The courts do, however, recognise that some resident parents are responsible for alienating their children from non-resident parents and can take this into account when considering their decisions.

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: National Archives (18 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: Surviving manorial documents dating back to the 12th century are spread across a number of repositories and private owners, and digitisation would be a matter for the record owners. The National Archives holds a paper index (the Manorial Documents Register) which describes and locates these records and is available for the public to view in its reading rooms. The National Archives and its...

Written Ministerial Statements — Justice: Marriages: Non-religious Belief Organisations (18 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: I am today publishing the Government’s response to the consultation on “Marriages by non- religious belief organisations” launched on 26 June 2014 and concluded on 18 September. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The consultation sought views on whether the law should be changed to permit non-religious belief organisations to solemnise marriages in...

Written Ministerial Statements — Justice: Office of the Public Guardian: Review of Supervision (18 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: My hon. Friend and former Under Secretary of State for Justice (Helen Grant) announced in a debate on 30 October 2012, Official Report, column 53WH, a fundamental review by the Public Guardian of how the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) supports him in the supervision of deputies appointed by the Court of Protection. Deputies are appointed where a person lacks the mental capacity to...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Freedom of Information Act (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: The coalition Government are committed to increasing the accountability of private companies that deliver public services, including through freedom of information. As the Justice Committee recommended during its post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act, the best way in which to achieve that is to include transparency provisions in contracts. I am working to ensure that a...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Freedom of Information Act (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: I am at one with my hon. Friend. Contracts between the Government, Government agencies or local councils and the private sector for the delivery of services on behalf of the public ought to meet at least the same standard of transparency as the Freedom of Information Act applies to contracts with public sector organisations. That is what the guidance and the new rules will say. Companies...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Freedom of Information Act (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: The rules about lobbying do not fall into the same category. They are dealt with by legislation, and the hon. Gentleman has been present for debates on it. We have legislated in relation to lobbying companies; the question relates to contracts for the provision of public services, and the need—about which I hope the hon. Gentleman and I agree—to ensure that the public know exactly...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Freedom of Information Act (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: The answer is yes. My right hon. Friend and his Committee have been very clear as to the right way forward. We agree with them. There has been good practice and bad practice. The intention of the new guidance and the new code of practice is that we should monitor the situation carefully, and where bad practice follows, that should be made public so that we can name and shame those who do not...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Freedom of Information Act (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: On behalf of both parties in the coalition, the answer to the hon. Gentleman is yes, we want maximum scrutiny of all those who have contracts with the public sector, and of at least as good a standard as legislation imposes on public sector authorities. The question of who gets the contracts—the PAC question—is a different question for different Ministers on a different day, but...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Freedom of Information Act (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: The community rehabilitation companies are part of a programme to do what the hon. Lady’s Government never did, which is to ensure that those who are in prison for a year or less come out and have support in a way that will reduce reoffending. The answer on accountability is, yes, they will be as accountable and transparent—

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Freedom of Information Act (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: Yes, because those with contracts with the public sector will have an obligation, in contract, to have the same duty at least as the public sector, and if they fail, they will be held to account.

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Women Offenders (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: The coalition Government are clear that reducing reoffending through effective rehabilitation of previous offenders is the most effective way to cut crime and reduce the victims of crime. As the hon. Lady knows, female offenders disproportionately have short sentences. The new reforms will for the first time mean that all those leaving will have targeted support on release. We are...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Women Offenders (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: I am completely persuaded by the argument that women need more time with their children. We are expanding the capacity for that in all prisons. I will be up in Greater Manchester next month meeting colleagues and I am happy to meet the hon. Lady in Manchester with colleagues. We are clear that women in prison need to have maximum time with their children, and that children need to be...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Women Offenders (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: There is a list of steps that the Government are taking. I cannot give them all now because Mr Speaker would not allow me. We have legislated to make sure that women’s interests are specifically provided for in the rehabilitation process. There have to be specific programmes to meet the needs of women. We have made sure that in each of the women’s prisons there will be the...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Mediation (Family Disputes) (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: The Government are committed to advancing mediation as the best way of reducing the stress on separating couples, alleviating pressures on the court system, and saving money for taxpayers. Last year, seven out of 10 couples who went into mediation had a successful outcome. In the past few months, we have set up a system where the first mediation session is free for both parties if one of the...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Mediation (Family Disputes) (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: In the summer I made a clear commitment to make sure that the voice of children and young people is always heard, not just in the courts but in mediation too. The advisory group is due to make recommendations about best practice in February next year—in two months’ time. I am clearly of the view that the voice of children and young people must be heard in every single case where...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Mediation (Family Disputes) (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: I am sympathetic to the hon. Gentleman’s question, but the honest answer is no, because mediation requires both parties to agree, and it has to be a voluntary process. When people have a breakdown of a relationship, there is often anger and frustration at the beginning, but if they can get over that, it is far better for them to agree a solution with the other party than to go to court,...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Topical Questions (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: The coalition Government are clearly committed to making sure that we reduce the reoffending and imprisonment of women. As my hon. Friend knows, at the moment I chair an advisory board on female offenders, which is very helpful and successful—indeed, it is meeting this afternoon—in making sure we have a good policy. The introduction of a women’s justice board has been put...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Topical Questions (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: Kidnap and child abduction can have devastating effects on victims and their families. It is vital that the law reflects the gravity of the offences, and that those who commit them are punished accordingly. I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues who formed a group in this House to argue for a change in the law. In the past, people could be punished for taking their...

Written Answers — Ministry of Justice: Staff (16 December 2014)

Simon Hughes: There are currently 3,839 members of staff employed at the Ministry of Justice who work at the department’s headquarters in London.

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