§ Dr. David Clark
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the South Shields constituency, the effects on South Shields of her Department's polices and actions since 2 May 1997. 
§ Jane Kennedy
The Lord Chancellor's Department is responsible for the administration of the courts and for legal services. We have taken steps to improve the management and effectiveness of the services we provide and to meet customer needs, including working closely with other agencies to provide a fair, swift and effective system of justice, improve the availability of affordable and good quality legal services and to improve the lives of children and help build and sustain strong families.
In particular over £750,000 in capital expenditure was allocated for the construction of the magistrates court in South Shields which opened in 1997.
South Shields constituency will be covered by the South Tyneside Community Legal Service Partnership. Discussions are taking place between the Legal Services Commission and South Tyneside MBC with a view to staging a launch seminar at the end of March or beginning of April 2001. There are already 165 Community Legal Service Partnerships throughout England and Wales.
Within South Shields solicitors firms have been awarded contracts whose total value amounts to over £770,000. The contracts cover a range of categories, including family, debt and employment. In addition South Tyneside CAB has also been awarded a contract worth £64,905 to provide debt and welfare benefits advice. Their main office is within South Shields.
All of the above organisations hold the Quality Mark at the specialist level. A further 11 organisations based in South Shields have expressed an interest in obtaining the Quality Mark.571W
The Magistrates Courts Committees (MCCs) of: Northumberland, Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Sunderland, amalgamated to form the Northumbria MCC on 1 April 2000.