HC Deb 21 March 2001 vol 365 cc256-7W
Mr. Kaufman

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on the Manchester, Gorton constituency of her Department's policies and actions since 6 November 2000. [154501]

Jane Kennedy

Generally the Lord Chancellor's Department is responsible for the administration of the courts and for legal services. Over the last four years 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. This is an ongoing process.

In December 2000 a business case for a new Civil Justice Centre for Manchester was approved. Work will now be taken forward to provide the new facilities by 2004—05.

The Manchester Community Legal Service Partnership (CLSP), which covers the Manchester, Gorton constituency, is one of 165 CLSPs throughout England and Wales.

Throughout the Manchester, Gorton constituency, nine law firms and one Law Centre have been awarded contracts with the Legal Services Commission whose current value amounts to over £476,000. This represents a decrease in funding based on the figures for November 2000.

The broad reason for the decrease is that clients are choosing to attend Not-for-Profit agencies for assistance with social welfare law issues. Consequently across the Greater Manchester area, the total value of contracts awarded to local Citizens' Advice Bureaux (CAB), including the two CABx in the Manchester, Gorton area and Shelter, has increased to £622.388. A portion of that money will therefore be spent in assisting Gorton constituents.

Additionally, the Trustee Act 2000 same into force on 1 February this year. It sweeps away the restrictive default investment powers granted to trustees, including charitable trustees, by the Trustee Investments Act 1961. They are replaced by a much wider investment discretion for the trustees and the power to make use of modern investment practices. These new powers will continue to be exercisable as default powers by trusts and charities whose founding documents give no or no sufficient investment powers themselves, and contain no restrictions which forbid the taking of such powers. It is expected that older trusts and charities will be the most likely to benefit. There are three or four charities on the Register of Charities associated with Gorton by name, and no doubt many more trusts, charitable and otherwise associated with the area. It is not possible to say which of them might benefit, but the potential for benefit is there for all of them.