Results 181–200 of 2000 for (in the 'Commons debates' OR in the 'Westminster Hall debates' OR in the 'Lords debates' OR in the 'Northern Ireland Assembly debates') speaker:Bridget Prentice

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Topical Questions (10 Jun 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I think that my hon. Friend draws a rather unfair parallel to begin with. The Legal Complaints Service has improved its handling of complaints remarkably over the past few years, thanks to the much more robust quality and standards imposed, for which we ought to pay tribute to it. In its first year, the claims management service has done outstanding work with local authority trading standards...

[Mr. Peter Atkinson in the Chair] — Pleural Plaques (4 Jun 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. Clapham) on securing the second debate on pleural plaques in six months. As the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham) said, my hon. Friend spoke persuasively in January, as did my other hon. Friends, and he has done so again today. He has spoken persuasively, cogently, powerfully and...

[Mr. Peter Atkinson in the Chair] — Pleural Plaques (4 Jun 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I certainly shall. I shall leave the evidence, which I think is clear. We have been in discussion with officials in Scotland, but nothing clear has emerged. I suspect that my hon. Friend's analysis of the Scottish Executive was accurate, and I would be most interested to hear whether they have made any progress since the declaratory statement that they made some time ago—there has been a...

Orders of the Day: Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (16 May 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I congratulate the hon. Member for Cambridge (David Howarth) on his success in the private Members' ballot. It is always a great achievement and Back Benchers value it greatly. I am grateful to him for initiating this debate on fixed-term Parliaments. Parliamentarians love to discuss the topic; we always feel more expert than anyone else on anything to do with Parliament and the way it...

Orders of the Day: Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (16 May 2008)

Bridget Prentice: The hon. Gentleman referred to that in his opening remarks. Yes, Parliament can pass any Bill that it likes. Some Bills take longer than others to pass, and others can be passed in a day. If a Government had a reasonable majority they could present a very short Bill—it would be at least as short as this Bill, if not shorter—to say, "We're going to change the Fixed Term Parliament Act" and...

Orders of the Day: Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (16 May 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I would not say that that is necessarily impossible in the House of Lords; otherwise a Government might find themselves never reaching the end of their legislative programme. However, it is true that Labour Governments certainly have far more difficulties in the House of Lords than do Conservatives ones. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental flaw in the Bill, but I will come back to that...

Orders of the Day: Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (16 May 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I have not read the details of those proceedings, but we are in the process of having that debate—the Joint Committee has been set up, and we are discussing the measure with people. The rhetoric begins the process, and the reality is what will come out of the findings of the Joint Committee and others about constitutional renewal. The package of reforms that we have put forward represents...

Orders of the Day: Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (16 May 2008)

Bridget Prentice: Our current system is better than those available elsewhere, which is why we should continue with it. The monarch decides on the appointment of the Government through constitutional convention, so it is important to note that the introduction of fixed-term Parliaments in the United Kingdom would not necessarily eliminate the use of the royal prerogative in dissolution. We do not intend to...

Orders of the Day: Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (16 May 2008)

Bridget Prentice: While I disagree with the hon. Lady about whether that is likely to become important in the next few months, the Bill does not take account of what Parliament can do if there were a vote of no confidence in a Government, which is a big weakness. The Bill is too inflexible for Parliament to respond in such a situation. Restructuring the recall of the House of Commons is another case in point....

Orders of the Day: Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (16 May 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Because of the wording of the provision and the fact that Parliament can be dissolved only at certain times, the Bill would not allow the current flexibility whereby Parliament can be recalled at the Speaker's behest, where an outside event might make it appropriate for hon. Members to gather together to discuss the matter, as we did, for example, in the cases...

Orders of the Day: Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (16 May 2008)

Bridget Prentice: Let me put everything in the picture about the 1992 manifesto. The subject of fixed-term Parliaments was dropped but, as the hon. Lady might remember, my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman) described that manifesto as the longest suicide note in history. Perhaps that was not the only proposal to be dropped from that manifesto, as quite a lot of other...

Orders of the Day: Fixed Term Parliaments Bill (16 May 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I apologise. The hon. Lady is quite right to mention 1983. That was my mistake, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton was describing the manifesto from 10 years earlier than 1992. Nevertheless, manifestos change from time to time.

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Civil Legal Aid (29 Apr 2008)

Bridget Prentice: My noble Friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath has regular meetings with representative bodies and individual providers, including the Law Society, with whom my Department and the Legal Services Commission have recently reached an agreement over legal aid contracts. That agreement will give stability and certainty for civil legal aid providers, and heralds a strong commitment to a new collaborative...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Civil Legal Aid (29 Apr 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I am happy to be able to say to my hon. Friend that I think I can with confidence state that those things will happen. As he will know, increasing provision is going into legal aid. The reaching of an agreement on these contracts has, obviously, been difficult at times, but it is very important that we have done so. That shows that we can work together and achieve an agreement that makes sure...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Civil Legal Aid (29 Apr 2008)

Bridget Prentice: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, and we are very conscious of the effect that some past inquiries have had on the whole system. We monitor this very carefully, and we will ensure that we get proper value for money in every aspect of our legal aid budget.

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Civil Legal Aid (29 Apr 2008)

Bridget Prentice: My hon. Friend makes an important and serious point. Expertise and sensitivity are required in the two areas he mentions, and it is important that we make sure they are properly covered by legal aid provision. I welcome the support we get, particularly from the not-for-profit sector, in dealing with many such cases, and I will ensure that my noble Friend Lord Hunt monitors provision in those...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Civil Legal Aid (29 Apr 2008)

Bridget Prentice: No, I do not agree at all with the hon. Gentleman, and I am disappointed that he felt he had to ask that question in the way he did. He will know that the increase in spend from the Legal Services Commission has gone up by 73 per cent. in the six years to 2006-07. We have looked into legal aid deserts in the past, and the new way of commissioning and the new contracts are in place...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Civil Legal Aid (29 Apr 2008)

Bridget Prentice: Again, my hon. Friend raises a very important issue. I want to be able to tell her and the House that yes, young people will be able to access legal aid in those circumstances. It is vital that we ensure that everyone is aware of the provisions of the 2007 Act, that people feel able to access aid, whether through the not-for-profit sector or through women's or youth organisations, and that,...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Topical Questions (29 Apr 2008)

Bridget Prentice: I have indeed replied to the hon. Gentleman on this matter very recently but, although I have some sympathy for his concerns, I repeat that two important points need to be made. First, we have already extended the time from six to 11 days, because the administrators also felt that more time was needed. Secondly, after candidates have been nominated, the administrators need time to make sure...

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice: Topical Questions (29 Apr 2008)

Bridget Prentice: My hon. Friend referred to the concerns of the president of the family division. I have met some of the judges in the family division to discuss these issues. We are trying to gather together some evidence from their experience and elsewhere to see whether this concern has to be urgently addressed. Since the introduction of the special domestic violence courts, we have a far higher success...


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