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Written Answers

Volume 300: debated on Monday 10 November 1997

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 10 November 1997

Prime Minister

Yemen

To ask the Prime Minister what progress was made at the Commonwealth Conference on Yemen's application to join the Commonwealth; and when he estimates that Yemen will join the Commonwealth. [14985]

I refer my hon. Friend to the statement that I made to the House on 28 October, Official Report, column 714.

Former Prime Ministers (Private Offices)

To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish the annual cost to public funds of maintaining the private offices of former Prime Ministers. [14986]

All former Prime Ministers are eligible to receive an allowance to assist them with the continuing heavy burden of office and secretarial costs arising from their special position in public life. The allowance is similar in purpose and amount to the parliamentary office costs allowance, but is paid in respect of public not parliamentary duties.The maximum amount of the allowance available to former Prime Ministers during the current financial year is £47,568 plus £4,757 for contributions to pension schemes of members of staff whose salaries are paid from the allowance.I do not think it right to disclose the amounts of this allowance claimed by individual former Prime Ministers, any more than the House discloses details of claims by Members under the office costs allowance.

European Council

To ask the Prime Ministers if he will ensure that Ministers make available to Parliament details of United Kingdom proposals for European Council meeting discussion in advance of council meetings held under the British presidency. [14710]

My right hon. and hon. Friends will keep the House properly informed of their activities during the UK's presidency. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will shortly be giving evidence before the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs on the UK's priorities and objectives for the presidency.

Focus Groups

To ask the Prime Minister what use he makes of information from focus groups. [14835]

The Government, like their predecessor, monitor public opinion in a number of ways.

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the organisations or persons who supply him with information collated from focus groups. [14836]

The Government monitor public opinion in a number of ways, using a number of different organisations.

Correspondence

To ask the Prime Minister when he will reply to the letters dated 12 June, 12 August and 20 October from Mr. Nicholas Bennett concerning a Labour member of Reading Borough Council and Berkshire County Council; and if he will publish his reply in the Official Report. [14749]

Treasury

Computers (Century Date Change)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had or plans to have with his EU counterparts on the problems facing computer systems through the century date change; and if he will make a statement. [13153]

The Chancellor has had no contacts with his EU colleagues directly about the problems facing computer systems thanks to the century date change.

Government Expenditure

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate in cash terms in 1995–96 prices the reduction in central Government expenditure for 1997–98 and 1998–99 between the assumptions made in (a) the November 1996 Budget, (b) the July 1997 Budget and (c) the most recent assumption. [13190]

[holding answer 30 October 1997]: The provision made in the last two Budgets for Central Government within the Control Total programmes in 1997–98 and 1998–99 in cash and in 1995–96 prices are set out below:

£ billions
1996 FSBR1997 FSBR
1995–961995–96
Cash termspricesCash termsprices
1997–98187·2179·0187·4177·5
1998–99191·4179·5192·6177·5
The Government have not revised their economic assumptions since the July 1997 Budget.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of general Government expenditure in cash terms for (a) 1997–98 and (b) 1998–99, using (i) current estimates, (ii) the estimates at the time of the July 1997 Budget and (ii) the estimates at the time of the November 1996 Budget. [13644]

[holding answer 5 November 1997]: The Government's estimates in cash terms of general government expenditure for 1997–98 and 1998–99 are set out in the table below:

Budget
£ billion
1997–981998–99
July 1997319331
November 1996319327
The July 1997 figures are the current estimates for general government expenditure.

Income Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what is his estimate for the number of people who would cease to pay income tax if the personal income tax allowance were raised to £10,000 per annum; [13247](2) what is his estimate of the cost of raising the personal income tax allowance to £10,000 per annum. [13248]

[holding answer 5 November 1997]: The estimated cost at 1997–98 income levels of increasing both the non-aged personal allowance and the aged personal allowance to £10,000 is £29 billion. This would take 9.8 million taxpayers out of income tax.

Public Expenditure

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is the policy of the Government to adhere to the existing control total for public expenditure for 1998–99; and if he will make a statement. [13287]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: The Government are firmly committed to the Control Total for 1998–99.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Visas (Correspondence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what, at 1 October, was the average time it took for the migration and visas correspondence unit to deal with an hon. Member's inquiry; and how many outstanding cases there were on 1 October. [14222]

I refer my hon. Friend to the replies that I gave to him on 4 November, Official Report, columns 166–67, and to my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) on 3 November, Official Report, column 11.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement of 29 October on Iraq. [14711]

A copy of the United Nations Security Council Presidential Statement on 29 October on Iraq has been placed in the libraries of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library copies of the five most recent reports to the United Nations Security Council of the UNISCOM inspection and verification mission in Iraq. [14713]

A copy of the five most recent reports submitted by the Executive Chairman of the UN Special Commission to the UN has been placed in the libraries of the House.

Bananas

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans the Government have to encourage (a) the World Trade Organisation members and (b) EU members states to accommodate the interests of the ACP banana producers and facilitate the diversification of their economies; over what time scale; and if he will make a statement. [14997]

We are working actively on the implication of the WTO findings on the EC banana regime. We are in close touch with the Commission in Brussels, which has responsibility for devising a WTO compatible response on behalf of the Community. They will be discussing the implications with our traditional banana suppliers and other interested parties such as the US. At the CHOGM in Edinburgh last month, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made clear to Caribbean leaders that the UK will play a major role in devising new banana import arrangements. We want to ensure Commonwealth and other ACP banana producers have continuing access to the EU banana market. New arrangements are likely to come into effect in early 1999.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what transitional arrangements the Government plan to make to reduce the impact of the recent World Trade Organisation ruling on Commonwealth banana producers; and if he will make a statement. [14996]

In the Edinburgh Economic Declaration agreed at CHOGM last month, Heads of Government resolved to encourage the EU and WTO members to accommodate the legitimate interests of the ACP banana producers and facilitate the diversification of their economies. The UK has for a number of years been promoting good commercial practice and competitiveness among those Commonwealth banana producers likely to be most affected by the WTO ruling, principally the Windward Islands. The UK-funded Cargill report outlined the steps necessary to restructure and modernise their banana industries and was agreed with the Windwards Governments in 1995. Caribbean Governments also receive large allocations of EC aid to improve competitiveness, assist economic diversification and develop social safety nets.We are also liaising with the Commission in Brussels, which has the principal responsibility for the Community's response to the WTO ruling. As leading advocates of Caribbean interests we want to ensure the new regime is both WTO compatible and meets our obligations to our traditional banana suppliers in the Caribbean.

Eu Presidency

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the statements he has made outside Parliament on the proposed priorities for the United Kingdom presidency of the European Union since 1 May; and if he will place copies of each in the Library. [14719]

On 3 November, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to the Institute for European Affairs in Dublin about the Government's priorities for the UK's forthcoming Presidency of the European Union. A copy has been placed in the libraries of the House. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary looks forward to giving evidence on this same subject to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs on 1 December—in advance of which he will be submitting a Memorandum-and to the House's debate on European Affairs later that month which may also choose to cover the subject.

Kenya

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 29 October, Official Report, column 824, on human rights in Kenya, what action he plans to take to follow up his meeting with the Kenyan Foreign Minister. [15021]

We shall maintain a vigorous dialogue with the Kenyan Government on human rights issues through our High Commissioner in Nairobi and at Ministerial level when the occasion arises.

Chechnya

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the actions taken by his Department to obtain the release of Camilla Carr and Jon James, presently held by kidnappers in Chechnya. [14800]

Since 3 July, when Jon James and Camilla Can were kidnapped, their employers and we have sought to establish the facts and are working hard for their release. As their families know, the Prime Minister spoke to President Yeltsin about the couple last month. We are also in touch with the Chechen authorities, but the ability of the Russian or, indeed, any government to help in this troubled region is limited. There has been a spate of kidnappings in and around Chechnya in recent months, which may be criminally inspired: one reason why our strong consular advice is that British citizens should not travel to Chechnya.

Algeria

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department will take steps to persuade the Government of Algeria to allow an investigation of events in their country by the United Nations rapporteur on extrajudicial summary and arbitrary executions. [14765]

While a solution to the serious problems in Algeria must come from the Algerians themselves, we condemn unreservedly the violence which has prevailed there. In our regular contact with the Algeria authorities, we encourage Algeria's democratisation process. As part of our discussions, we have encouraged them to accept the proposed visit by the United Nations Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary and Arbitrary Executions and will continue to do so.

European Courts

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what challenges the United Kingdom Government have made to other member states' nominations to judicial positions within (a) the European Court of Justice and (b) the European Court of Human Rights in the last five years. [15023]

(a) None. Judicial appointments to the European Court of Justice are made by common accord of the governments of the Member States.

(b) Judges are elected to the European Court of Human Rights by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. We have not previously challenged judicial nominations, nor is there any formal procedure for doing so. An informal procedure has now been agreed, at our suggestion, for the examination of prospective candidatures for the new Protocol 11 Court of Human Rights.

Bosnia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what actions the Government propose to take to effect the arrest of war criminals in Bosnia before the withdrawal of IFOR. [14768]

We demand that the responsible authorities surrender indictees to The Hague. We are not prepared to speculate on possible alternative action.

Gchq

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to announce a decision on the possible relocation of GCHQ facilities; and if he will make a statement. [14905]

The invitation to tender for GCHQ's accommodation Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project has been issued to four private sector consortia. The tender responses are expected in Spring 1998 and will be subject to a process of detailed evaluation and post-tender negotiations. The complexities of this process make it difficult to predict when an announcement will be made relating to the possible relocation of GCHQ facilities, but it is not expected that it will be before summer 1998.

International Criminal Court

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the proceedings at the Preparatory Committee for the International Criminal Court held in August indicating the issues remaining to be decided at the Plenary Conference in 1998. [14769]

The August 1997 session of the Preparatory Committee considered mechanisms for triggering action by the Court, the Court's procedures, and the relationship between the Court and national criminal justice systems. Progress was made towards producing an agreed text on all these issues and in particular on the last. Further discussion will be possible at the two remaining sessions of the Preparatory Committee, but many matters will be left for decision at the Diplomatic Conference next year.

Refugees And Asylum Seekers

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the concept of burden sharing in relation to refugees and asylum seekers as introduced by the Amsterdam treaty. [14746]

Under Article 73k(2)(b) of the Treaty establishing the European Community as introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Council is to adopt measures promoting a balance of effort between Member States in receiving and bearing the consequences of receiving refugees and displaced persons. Decisions will be by unanimity. These measures will not be binding on the UK unless it opts in to them.

Eu Legislation (Gibraltar)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list all EU legislation agreed within the last 15 years as a result of Her Majesty's Government agreeing to Spanish requests to exclude Gibraltar. [14676]

This information is not readily available. But the main legislative items falling within the category to which my hon. Friend refers are five EC Measures relating to the Single Market in aviation, which have been agreed by the EU since 1987 subject to the suspension of their application to Gibraltar airport.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list all current EU proposals that are blocked because of Spanish insistence that Gibraltar be excluded. [14671]

The main recent items on which no agreement has been reached are the draft External Frontiers Convention, the draft Winding-Up Directive and the draft Airport Statistics Regulation.

Eu (Police And Judiciary)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what provisions of the Amsterdam treaty apply to the operations of police and judicial authorities from one member state in the territory of another; and if he will make a statement. [14743]

New Article K.4 of the Treaty on European Union, as introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam, provides that the Council shall lay down the conditions and limitations under which the competent authorities referred to in Articles K.2 and K.3 may operate in the territory of another Member State in liaison and in agreement with the authorities of that state. By virtue of Article K.6, the Council must act by unanimity.

Eu Territory

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the territorial definition of the European Union. [14750]

As the European Union is not a State it has, itself, no territory, as distinct from the Member States.

Eu Commissioners

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the President of the European Commission is required, under the Amsterdam treaty, to give reasons for rejecting the nomination for Commissioner of any member state; and if he will make a statement. [14745]

There is no such requirement under the Treaty of Amsterdam. Article 158(2) of the Treaty establishing the European Community as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam provides for future members of the European Commission to be nominated by the Governments of the member states "by common accord" with the nominee for President. This will inevitably entail dialogue between the nominee for President and the Governments of the member states.

Amsterdam Treaty (Visas)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if decisions on the issuing procedures in respect of short-term visas will be made by co-decision under the treaty of Amsterdam; and if he will make a statement; [14744](2) if proposals to tighten the procedures for issuing visas would be subject to a veto in the European Parliament under the Amsterdam treaty. [14747]

Under new Articles 73j(2)(b)(ii) and 730 of the treaty establishing the European Community as introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam, for a period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam the Council is to adopt measures, by unanimity, having consulted the European Parliament on the crossing of external borders. This will include procedures and conditions for issuing visas by Member States for intended stays of no more than three months. After a period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, such measures are to be adopted by the council in accordance with the codecision procedure. Such measures will not be binding on the UK unless it opts in to them.

Bbc World

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what were the total receipts, and for how many programmes or hours of television broadcasting, that the BBC World Service received from BBC World in each year since BBC World's inception. [14740]

The following sums were paid by BBC Worldwide (the BBC's commercial arm) to the World Service to fund the cost of provision of news output for BBC World:

Financial yearPayment£World Service Output (hours per day)
1991–926,089,97912
1992–937,133,00012
1993–949,130,00012
1994–9515,646,715115
1995–96210,704,07415
1996–9710,650,00015
1Average.
2The annual payment was reduced from 1995–96 onwards when BBC Worldwide took on the provision of the technical resource requirements (studios etc) for BBC World news directly: previously the cost of these had been reflected in the sums paid to the World Service.

Wales

Bathing Beaches

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many beaches in Wales currently have been designated Blue Flag beaches; and if he will make a statement. [14091]

Nine Welsh beaches are currently in receipt of the prestigious Blue Flag awards. This is more than twice as many as Wales has received before. As part of the Green Sea Initiative there is a target of achieving 50 Blue Flags in Wales by the year 2000.

Health Care Providers

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list, by health care provider, for each of the last four years, the number of contracts each health authority had in place, indicating how many of these had been referred for arbitration within the NHS region; and how many were left unsigned by (a) the provider and (b) the purchaser at the end of the year to which they applied, and, for 1997–98, by the end of October 1997. [14610]

Information on the number of contracts between health authorities and trusts or on their status is not held centrally.During the period 1 April 1993 to 30 March 1997 only one contract between a Welsh Health Authority and NHS trust went to arbitration. None are expected to go to arbitration in 1997–98.

Northern Ireland

Charles Haughey

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps her Department is taking to investigate the propriety of the payment made by Dunnes Stores, Bangor, through the late John Furze, to the former Taoiseach Charles Haughey; and if she will provide evidence to the tribunal of inquiry investigating such payments. [13022]

The circumstances surrounding various payments allegedly made to Mr. Charles Haughey are at the centre of investigations being conducted by a Tribunal of Inquiry in the Republic of Ireland. No similar or other investigations have been instituted in Northern Ireland, neither has there been received any request for assistance to that Tribunal of Inquiry.

Environmental Protection Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps have been taken to establish an independent Environmental Protection Agency in Northern Ireland. [14074]

No steps have been taken to establish an Environmental Protection Agency in Northern Ireland.The Environmental and Heritage Service, a Next Steps Agency within the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland was set up on 1 April 1996 to assume operational responsibility for environmental issues.

Electricity Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will make a statement on the progress of discussions about the level of electricity prices in Northern Ireland.[14283]

Electricity prices are coming down. Northern Ireland Electricity reduced tariffs form 1 April 1997 by an average 8 per cent. for domestic and up to 3 per cent. for industrial and commercial customers. The MMC review of NIE's price controls will have retrospective effect from 1 April 1997 and will lead to further tariff reductions of at least 6 per cent. for domestic and 2 per cent. for industrial and commercial customers. The precise details of the revised price controls are currently the subject of legal action. In addition, the Director General of Electricity Supply has secured voluntary agreements on lower generation costs at both Coolkeeragh and Belfast West power stations. He has announced his intention to refer the Ballylumford and Kilroot contracts to the MMC and, in the absence of voluntary agreement on these contracts, is likely to do so very shortly.The Government are discussing with the Director General and NIE how best to use the £45 million balance of the £60 million support package for the future benefit of all electricity consumers.

Stormont

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans she has to (a) remove and (b) relocate (i) statues and (ii) memorials in Parliament Buildings, Stormont. [14052]

Some items were removed from Parliament Buildings during refurbishment to a secure store for their protection. Consideration will be given to the appropriate relocation of these items in due course.

Telecommunication Masts

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will commission research into potential harmful effects of microwave radiation emitted from telecommunication masts. [14053]

No. The National Radiological Protection Board advises Government on the risks to health of exposure to electromagnetic fields. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 3 November, Official Report, column 7, which details research in this area.

Delegated Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list all (a) secondary, (b) other delegated legislation and (c) all deregulation orders her Department made during the summer adjournment. [14386]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 5 November, Official Report, column 216, by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Cattle

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the numbers of cows (a) exported from Northern Ireland (b) slaughtered in Northern Ireland and sold for human consumption and (c) slaughtered and incinerated in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years and in the current year to date. [14051]

The information requested is as follows:

A. Export1 of cows from Northern Ireland
Number
1992456
199368
1994112
1995222
199625,261
1997 (to date)25,295
1Includes exports to GB
2Animals exported to GB for cull under the Over Thirty Months Scheme.
B. Cows slaughtered in Northern Ireland and sold for human consumption
Number
199264,116
199360,686
199466,206
199569,523
199616,774
1997 (to date)1193
1From 29 March no animals over 30 months of age were slaughtered and used for human consumption on /SEAC advice. The 1997 figure represents animals which calved and were later slaughtered before reaching 30 months of age.
C. Cows slaughtered and incinerated1 in Northern Ireland
Number
1992392
C. Cows slaughtered and incinerated1 in Northern Ireland
Number
1993587
1994456
1995222
1996127
1997 (to date)42
1Totals include heifers.
For sake of completeness, the number of cows slaughtered and their carcasses rendered (but not yet incinerated) under the Over-Thirty-Months' Scheme:

Number
199686,381
1997 (to date)66,827

Monitor Consultancy

To ask the Secretary of Stare for Northern Ireland if she will list (a) the nature and value of contracts her Department has entered into and (b) discussions ministers or officials have held with the Monitor Consultancy since 1990. [14948]

[holding answer 7 November 1997]: The Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Departments have had no contract with Monitor Consultancy.

Beef Cattle

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans she has for the introduction of a beef cattle subsidy to be paid at slaughter. [14772]

[holding answer 7 November 1997]: A beef deseasonalisation premium will be paid in Northern Ireland in 1998, as in 1997, on eligible steer cattle which are slaughtered between 1 January and 10 June 1998.

Mr Andy Wood

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions she had with the Minister without Portfolio (a) in respect of her Office's information officer Mr. Andy Wood before he was replaced at his post and (b) in respect of identifying his replacement; and if she will make a statement. [14524]

Before asking for Mr. Wood to be removed from the post of Director of the Northern Ireland Information Service I did not discuss his removal with my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio. After Mr. Wood's removal, my right hon. Friend was one of a number of colleagues that I consulted about Mr. Wood's replacement.On foot of those consultations I put in hand a review of the structures and working practices of the Northern Ireland Information Service. I have just received the report of that review, one consequence of which is that the Northern Ireland Office will shortly be advertising an open competition of the post of Director of the Northern Ireland Information Service.

Scotland

Student Awards Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will set up an inquiry into the administration of the Student Awards Agency for Scotland. [14292]

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Student Awards Agency for Scotland to provide a full report on the difficulties encountered by the Agency in processing student award applications timeously this year so that we can determine what measures need to be implemented to prevent a recurrence.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what factors underlie the delays in the payment of grants by the Student Awards Agency for the current academic year; and what steps he is taking to address the problem. [14291]

A number of factors have combined to affect adversely the ability of the Student Awards Agency for Scotland to process awards within its normal timescale in the current academic year. Most of these flow from the introduction of a new awards processing system in April of this year. There were a larger number of initial problems encountered than had been anticipated and these, together with delays in converting data from the previous system, unfamiliarity with the new system, and the need to enter large volumes of 'standing' data in its first year of operation, resulted in a backlog of applications building up. The profile of receipt of applications is heavily concentrated into the months from May to September and it is extremely difficult for the Agency to recover from a backlog once one has developed. The new awards system has, however, performed well after the initial problems were overcome. It has proved resilient under intensive use and significant improvements in efficiency are expected to be realised in future years.Scottish higher and further education institutions were provided with an advance of their block grant in recognition of the fact that their income from tuition fees in October would be less than they had reason to expect. This was also designed to enable institutions to offer short term assistance to those students in financial difficulties because of delays in receiving their grant cheques, and was in addition to the Access Funds which are normally used for this purpose. Meanwhile, the Agency was set a demanding target to clear the vast majority of the backlog by the end of October, which has largely been achieved. It is expected to be up to date with processing applications by the end of November.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many applications for grants by students from Scotland to study at Scottish universities and colleges for the Session 1997–98 were received by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (a) before the normal closing date and (b) after it; how many were processed and paid (i) by the beginning of the student term, (ii) by four weeks after the beginning of the term and (iii) at the latest count; and how many remain unpaid. [14293]

The closing date for the receipt of undergraduate applications by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland in academic year 1997–98 is 31 January 1998 and it is not therefore a factor in the present situation. Students continuing a period of full-time education were, however, advised to apply by 15 May 1997 in order to ensure that any grant payable would be available at the start of the first term. New students are encouraged to apply as soon as they receive an unconditional offer of a place on a course.Of the 71,436 applications received from continuing students up to 3 November 1997, 20,656 were received by 15 May. At the same date 40,434 applications had been received from new students. Applications are not attributed to a specific course at the point of receipt and term dates vary between institutions. The best estimate is that about 27,750 applications had been received four or more weeks before the start of the term, which is the normal period allowed for processing fully completed applications.As at 3 November, 42,884 awards had been processed in sufficient time to allow any payment to be made at the beginning of the students' terms and a further 22,721 had been processed in time to allow any payment to be made by 4 weeks after the beginning of the term. A total of 90,217 applications had been processed and 28,927 had yet to be processed; many of the latter are likely to be "fees only" cases with no payment due to the student.These figures cover all Scottish domiciled students eligible for support under the Students' Allowances Scheme and the Student Nursing and Midwifery Bursary Scheme rather than only those attending Scottish institutions. Detailed figures split by institutional location are not readily available.

Eu Students (Tuition Fees)

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements he proposes to put in place to discover the incomes of the parents of EU students at Scottish universities so that they can be assessed for the students' contribution to their tuition fees. [14294]

The student award application forms already have facilities for the collection of information on parental, spouse and student income, as required, and these will in future be used to collect the necessary information from EU students.We are currently considering the nature of the documentation which will be required to support the information provided, and the most appropriate means of dealing with currency differences, to enable EU students' contributions to tuition costs to be assessed on the same basis as those of Scottish domiciled students. Detailed guidance on how this will work in practice will be available early in 1998.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Animal Welfare

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what criteria he plans to use in determining whether to suspend or revoke an authorisation issued under the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997; and if he will make a statement. [13914]

A transporter can be removed from operating under a General Authorisation or a Specific Authorisation can be revoked or suspended in the event of repeated infringements against the Order or any one infringement which involves serious suffering to animals. These sanctions apply whether or not the infringement leads to a criminal conviction.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in how many cases he is currently considering suspension or revocation of an authorisation issued under the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997; and if he will make a statement. [13915]

The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997 came into force on 1 July this year, with the Specific Authorisation Scheme operational from 1 October. We have not yet had cause to revoke or suspend any authorisations, but we have made it clear we will not hesitate to use these powers wherever appropriate.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has to alter the minimum values system under which horses, donkeys and ponies are prevented from being sent for slaughter abroad; and if he will make a statement. [13916]

I have no plans to alter the legislation which requires a minimum valuation to be provided for specified categories of equines before a welfare export licence is issued.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to ensure that exported animals receive (a) a mid-journey break and (b) a 24-hour break once they have left the UK when such breaks are required by directive 95/29/EC; and if he will make a statement. [13920]

Enforcement of the rest period requirements of EU Directive 95/29 is the responsibility of the authorities of the member state in which a rest is required to take place. For their part, the Government ensure that exporters plan journeys in accordance with the EU rules, making such arrangements for rest periods as are required. We will not hesitate to use the sanctions provided by the Directive against transporters who are shown to have made false declarations about the journeys they have undertaken.

Common Agricultural Policy

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the costs to his Department of monitoring and enforcing the terms of the common agricultural policy. [14429]

Separate figures for the costs of monitoring and enforcing the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) are not available. Such costs form part of the overall administration costs of seeking to implement CAP obligations efficiently. These costs are set out in the Departmental Report 1997 (CM3604) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Intervention Board.

House Of Commons

Human Rights

To ask the President of the Council what her timetable will be for establishing a Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights. [14759]

The Government intend to take into account what is said during the passage of the Human Rights Bill before deciding what form of parliamentary committee and terms of reference to recommend.

Mail Services

To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what was the amount of money paid to the management consultants for their study and advice on trying to improve the flow of mail (a) internally and (b) through the Royal Mail to hon. Members. [15075]

The consultancy was let following a competitive tender. The cost is commercially confidential.

To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what problems have been identified in the delivery of internal and external mail to, and within, the Palace of Westminster since the recent changes; and if she will make a statement on measures that will be taken to improve the system. [15074]

At its meeting on 4 November the Administration Committee raised with the Serjeant at Arms certain problems with the new postal arrangements that had been brought to its attention by hon. Members. It was agreed that there had been some initial difficulties, but my Committee does support the new initiative, and considers that once the identified problems are remedied a more efficient service should result. It was reported to the Committee that there had been some industrial action by Royal Mail staff in Essex, and this may well have affected deliveries adversely in my hon. Friend's and other hon. Members' constituencies in this region.

To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what was the total cost of implementing the recent changes to the internal and external mail systems in the Palace of Westminster. [15076]

The total works and equipment costs to date borne by the House Authorities are £45,096 excluding VAT. Costs borne by Royal Mail are not available.

To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee what plans the Committee has to seek an assessment of the changes to the mail system made by the Department of the Serjeant at Arms; and if she will make a statement. [15077]

A review of the changes will be carried out once the new system has been successfully settled in, and the result will be reported to the Committee for its consideration.

Trade And Industry

Hawk Aircraft (Indonesia)

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will state the value of the export credits extended as part of the 1996 deal to supply Hawk aircraft to Indonesia, (a) in absolute terms and (b) as a percentage of the value of the arms deal with Indonesia. [12584]

The ECGD loan in support of the supply of Hawk aircraft amounted to £280 million. ECGD's support for this transaction amounted to 87 per cent. of the total support it provided for defence business with Indonesia in 1995–96.

Delegated Legislation

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list all (a) secondary, (b) other delegated legislation and (c) all deregulation orders her Department made during the summer adjournment. [14388]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) on 3 November, Official Report, columns 43–44, and also to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 5 November, Official Report column 216.

Correspondence

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the average time taken by her Department to give full answers to letters received from hon. Members. [13960]

[holding answer 4 November 1997]: My Department has a target of answering 90 per cent. of correspondence from hon. Members within 10 working days. In addition I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 3 November 1997, Official Report, column 5. Figures for handling DTI correspondence will be published in due course.

India

To ask the President of the Board of Trade which representatives of British industry are to accompany her on her forthcoming tour of India. [14691]

I will be accompanied by a delegation drawn from the consultancy, infrastructure, power, oil and gas, Scotch Whisky, financial, insurance and education and training sectors.

Cabinet 2000

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what response she has made to the proposal of the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux for a public-private partnership to support its Cabinet 2000 project; and if she will make a statement. [14475]

NACAB has put proposals to the DTI for additional funding as part of the grant-in-aid we provide each year to finance part of the Cabinet 2000 project. It is itself seeking separate funding from the corporate sector, from its member bureaux and from other potential sponsors such as the National Lotteries Charities Board. The bid for additional funds from my Department is being considered as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Holocaust (Confiscated Funds)

To ask the President of the Board of Trade when she expects the work identifying confiscated funds deposited by victims of the holocaust to be completed; and if she will make a statement. [14485]

I have announced, 31 July, Official Report, column 641, that the Government have set in train a research project to examine papers relevant to the Trading with the Enemy legislation under which the property of residents of enemy countries was confiscated during the Second World War. The project, which has been co-ordinated by the FCO in close partnership with the DTI is making good progress, but is not yet complete. As previously announced, a report of the findings will be published as soon as possible.

River Wear (Quays)

To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many deep water quays on the River Wear are currently leased to (a) NESL/British Shipbuilders and (b) Tyne and Wear Development corporation; what is the present state of repair of each quay; what is the remaining term of each lease; and if she will make a statement. [14682]

This Department does not lease any land or quays to either British Shipbuilders or the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation.

Tax Advice

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the policy of her Department on the purchase of tax avoidance advice; and if she will make a statement. [13264]

[holding answer 5 November 1997]: The Department has sought external advice on tax matters in order properly to carry out its role (e.g. in relation to privatisation) but not for tax avoidance purposes.

Lookalike Products

To ask the President of the Board of Trade when the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs will meet the British Brands Group to discuss lookalike products. [14618]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: The British Brands Group has made its views clear to me in writing on the question of lookalike products. I have no plans to meet representatives of the group at this time.

Cable Television (West Midlands)

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list those towns in the west midlands region which have undergone street trenching by cable television companies. [14727]

The information is not available in the form requested. However the figures below show the number of homes passed by cable companies operating in the west midlands.

Construction of cable networks in the west midlands area (Latest available figures)
FranchiseHomes in franchise areaHomes passed to datePercentage of homes passed
Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell, Cannock508,900325,40663·9
Telford56,93952,55492·2
Shrewsbury58,000
Stoke and Newcastle Under Lyme175,00068,14138·9
Stafford and Stone37,27133,48827·9
Lichfield/Burntwood/Rugeley39,290
Tamworth/North Warwicks/Meriden43,315
Birmingham/Solihull460,000404,39287·9
Wythall4,000
Coventry119,000112,98394·9
Stratford/Warwick/Leamington50,00057,509100
Rugby24,00011,36247·3
Daventry8,710
Nuneaton/Bedworth43,000
Figures provided by the Independent Television Commission.

Overall figures for the west midlands area (where construction has started).

Total homes in franchise areas: 1,513,715.

Total homes passed in franchise areas: 1,065,835.

Total percentage of homes passed in franchise areas: 70.4 per cent.

Mr Roger Levitt

To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if she will make a statement on the application to extradite Mr. Roger Levitt from the United States of America; [14741](2) if she will make a statement on the advice given by her Department to the New York judge considering the application to extradite Mr. Roger Levitt; and if she will make a statement [14742]

Mr. Roger Levitt is charged with an offence of making a false statement contrary to Section 451 of the Companies Act 1985. Acting on advice from independent counsel my Department submitted an extradition request to the United States of America in June 1997 through the Home Office.It was for the District Attorney in New York to make representations to the New York judge considering the application. In doing so he made reference to advice from my Department about the facts of the case, about submissions made on Mr. Levitt's behalf to that judge and about the likely position in relation to bail in the UK in the event of Mr. Levitt's return.The Divisional Court granted leave on 31 October from Mr. Levitt to apply for Judicial Review of the decision to request Mr. Levitt's extradition, and the request for such extradition.In the light of arguments presented on behalf of Mr. Levitt my Department has reviewed the decision to request Mr. Levitt's extradition and has concluded that the extradition request should not be maintained. Accordingly it will be withdrawn. Warrants remain open in the UK for Mr. Levitt's arrest in connection both with the Section 451 offence and on a charge of breaching a company director disqualification order.

Culture, Media And Sport

Radio Stations (West Midlands)

12.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many broadcasting licences have been granted by the Radio Authority to radio stations in the west midlands since September 1996; and how many of these were granted to community radio stations. [13438]

Since September 1996 the Radio Authority has granted one independent local radio licence in the West Midlands. The winning application, from 107.7 the Wolf, proposes a programme format dedicated to the specific needs of the community.

National Lottery

13.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will review the accessibility of lottery funding to bids for children's play initiatives; and if he will make a statement. [13439]

In the White Paper, "The People's Lottery", I made it clear that we are particularly committed to the development of children's play. I am currently discussing with the Lottery distributors how we can best ensure that Lottery funding for it is more easily accessible.

15.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what criteria will be applied to consideration of lottery bids which include an estimate of revenue funding to ensure that successful existing institutions remain viable. [13442]

It is for distributors to determine the detailed criteria for awards. For capital schemes, they may provide a revenue grant or an endowment to cover the costs of a project or to ensure its completion. We are looking at this area as part of the review of distribution announced in the White Paper, "The People's Lottery".

17.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has for allocating national lottery money to health-related projects. [13444]

19.

To ask the Secretary of Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has for allocating lottery money to health-related projects. [13446]

25.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has for allocating national lottery money to health-related projects. [13452]

In the White Paper, "The People's Lottery", I announced the creation of a new good cause encompassing health, education and the environment. We want to enable people to improve their health and well-being, especially in the most deprived areas of the country. We therefore aim to establish a core network of healthy living centres, supported by the lottery, by 2001.

23.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he takes to ensure a reasonable balance of lottery grants for national, regional and local projects; and if he will make a statement. [13450]

In the White Paper, "The People's Lottery", I announced our intention to ensure that Lottery money is spent according to a strategy drawn up in the light of need across all regions and parts of the country and between different groups in society. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already announced a pilot scheme where some distributors will work together on small community grants in Scotland. We hope to see this kind of approach extended where appropriate as soon as possible.

Eastern Arts Board

14.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to meet the Chair and Director of the Eastern Arts Board to discuss the development of the arts in their region. [13440]

I met the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Eastern Arts Board during my visit to Cambridge on 7 October. I was delighted to learn of the high quality of artistic activity in the region and was impressed with the commitment of Eastern Arts Board to the arts in the area.

Industrial Heritage

16.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the importance he attaches to the role of museums in preserving the country's industrial heritage. [13443]

The industrial heritage is of immense importance to our understanding both of the past and the present. Museums have a crucial role to play in its preservation and interpretation.

Uefa Cup

18.

To ask the Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sport if he has raised with the European Commission the issue of UEFA debarring the winner of the Coca-Cola cup from participating in the UEFA Cup. [13445]

This is a matter for the Football Authorities and I understand the Football League is pursuing it with the European Commission. I share some of the concerns expressed and will be following developments with interest.

Film Industry

20.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress he is making in increasing the figures of British cinema audiences watching British films. [13447]

British films are enjoying a very successful year and we hope to build on that success. We have established an all-industry working group, headed by myself, and Mr. Stewart Till, Head of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, with the aim of doubling the domestic market share for British films. I expect the working group to report in February 1998.

Jazz

21.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what role he plans for the Arts Council of England in developing audiences for jazz. [13448]

Jazz is an art form without boundaries and with very many ardent supporters, including myself. The Arts Council of England published a jazz policy document last November. All the Council's funding for jazz is designed to develop and build new audiences; the Government agree that the development of audiences in all art forms is a high priority.

Millennium Projects

22.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been allocated to date by the Millennium Commission to projects to mark the millennium. [13449]

Since its first grant announcement two years ago, the Millennium Commission has awarded a total of £1.015 billion to 114 projects on 2,720 sites, £19 million to 13 Award partners benefiting 8,000 individuals and £449 million to the New Millennium Experience at Greenwich.

Operetta

24.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what is his policy toward promoting provincial touring light operetta. [13451]

My Department attaches a high priority to encouraging the widest possible range of touring artistic activity. The Arts Council of England is responsible for devising specific touring policies across artforms and by particular organisations. National companies, regional organisations and a range of specific bodies tour productions of light operetta around the country.

Arts (Accessibility)

26.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture. Media and Sport what plans he has to make the arts more accessible to a wider range of people. [13453]

Access is at the heart of my policies. I believe strongly that the public has a right to better access in return for the public funding which goes into the arts. I have made a number of specific proposals aimed at increasing access to the arts. These include plans to pilot open theatre nights and an Artscard scheme for young people. I will be announcing the results of our review of access to national museums and galleries within the next few weeks.

World Cup

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps the Government are taking to promote England's bid to host the World Cup in 2006. [14981]

I have just returned from accompanying an FA delegation to North and Central America to promote the World Cup bid. The trip was very successful and the Government will continue to offer all the support they can to the FA. I will shortly be writing to hon. Members giving full details and exhorting them to use every opportunity to back the bid.

British Academy Of Sport

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recommendations he has received from the English Sports Council, the British Olympic Association and other sporting organisations about the location of the British Academy of Sport. [13737]

We have received a number of representations from sporting organisations about the location of the British Academy of Sport. We are currently considering the United Kingdom Sports Council's recommendations on the location and will make an announcement shortly.

Home Department

Irish Republic (British Subjects)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate the number of British (a) subjects and (b) passport holders presently resident in the Irish Republic. [14050]

[holding answer 3 November 1997]: There is no requirement for British subjects or those persons deemed never to have ceased to be British subjects to register or make themselves known to the British Embassy in Dublin. It is therefore impossible to estimate the number of British subjects resident in the Republic of Ireland. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 1995 there were approximately 50,000 British passport holders resident in the Republic of Ireland.

Surveillance Systems

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals have been made to his Department governing the use of evidence from CCTV cameras alone in securing criminal convictions; and if he will make a statement. [13762]

We have received no proposals which would affect the admissibility of evidence gathered by closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras. I have written to the hon. Member in response to this Question and his Question of 27 October, Official Report, column 568, to confirm that rumours earlier this year were based on a spurious press report that a European Directive on Data Protection could affect the admissibility of CCTV evidence. It will not have any such effect. I have placed a copy of my letter in the Library, together with a copy of information provided by the European Commission.

Immigration

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications by persons of independent means had been dealt with by the immigration and nationality department in 1997, as at 1 October. [14240]

The information requested is given in the table.

Persons of independent means1 1 January to 30 September 1997
Number of persons2
Given leave to enter the country50
After-entry application for an extension of stay dealt with3220
1The requirement restricting persons of independent means to those who are at least 60 years old was introduced on 1 October 1994, but extant cases were not affected.
2Figures are provisional.
3Including persons of independent means seeking an extension of stay in another category or seeking settlement, and other persons seeking an extension of stay as a retired person of independent means.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the backlog of cases for each of the immigration and nationality directorate's divisions on 1 October. [14242]

The information requested is given in the table.

Cases outstanding1 in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at 1 October 1997
Number2 of cases
After Entry and Appeals Directorate317,000
Asylum Directorate452,500
European Directorate3,900
Nationality Directorate73,000
Immigration Service Enforcement Directorate524,000
Finance and Services Directorate66,100
1Includes unactioned cases and work in progress.
2Rounded to the nearest hundred.
3Includes referred entry clearance applications and appeals awaiting preparation of statements.
4Cases awaiting an initial decision and asylum appeals awaiting validation and preparation.
5Excluding cases where illegal entry papers have been served but there is an outstanding asylum application/appeal; these cases are included in the Asylum Directorate figure.
6Items of correspondence (mainly passports, letters and new applications being sorted and allocated to caseworkers).

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what, at 1 October, was the average waiting time for consideration of applications for each of the divisions of the immigration and nationality directorate. [14223]

The available information is given in the table.

Average waiting time from receipt of application to decision for applications decided in the immigration and nationality directorate on 1 October 1997
Months
After entry and appeals directorate14
Asylum directorate2:
Pre-1993 Act applications55
Post-1993 Act applications13
European directorate3:
Residence permits:
11 per cent. within1
35 per cent. within2
67 per cent. within6
Average waiting time from receipt of application to decision for applications decided in the immigration and nationality directorate on 1 October 1997
Months
Residence documents:
6 per cent. within1
19 per cent. within2
43 per cent. within6
Nationality directorate:
Naturalisations17
Independent registrations46
Right of abode5
1Data relate to the third quarter of 1997.
2Data relate to the six months March to August 1997.
3Data relate to cases dealt with in September 1997.
4Registration not dependent upon a parent's application for naturalisation.

Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners were held at each prison on 1 October; what is the design capacity of each prison; and what were the occupancy levels at 1 October as a percentage of that capacity. [14247]

The number of prisoners held at each establishment in England and Wales on 1 October 1997 is listed in column one of the following table.The Prison Service uses the concept of Certified Normal Accommodation (CNA) to define the uncrowded capacity of each establishment. For prisons built in recent years, this is equivalent to design capacity. The CNA measure can also be applied to older prisons, particularly those built in the last century, whose design capacity is no longer relevant because of significant building and/or modernisation work.The CNA of each establishment is listed in column two of table 1. The occupancy level at each establishment is expressed as a percentage of CNA and can be found in column three of table 1.

Table 1—Population and CNA by Prison on 1 October 1997
Prison namePopulationCNAPopulation to CNA (per cent.)
Acklington65266298
Albany434436100
Aldington12714588
Ashwell453444102
Askham Grange12613097
Aylesbury31331898
Bedford393347113
Belmarsh863822105
Birmingham1,027719143
Blakenhurst842647130
Blantyre House120120100
Blundeston40242495
Brinsford535477112
Bristol590487121
Brixton579483120
Brockhill12115976
Buckley Hall382350109
Bullingdon69177090
Bullwood Hall126126100
Camphill522470111
Canterbury264158167
Cardiff730531137
Castington32033097
Channings Wood608482126
Table 1—Population and CNA by Prison on 1 October 1997
Prison namePopulationCNAPopulation to CNA (per cent.)
Chelmsford465448104
Colchester3232100
Coldingley29529899
Cookham Wood147120123
Dartmoor622578108
Deerbolt42443498
Doncaster1,108771144
Dorchester244147166
Dover30631697
Downview342327105
Drake Hall27728199
Durham937667140
East Sutton Park9994105
Eastwood Park136135101
Elmley843760111
Erlestoke30531098
Everthorpe459433106
Exeter465267174
Featherstone59559999
Feltham905849107
Ford43948690
Foston11915079
Frankland455447102
Full Sutton53357693
Garth641633101
Gartree370364102
Glen Parva875720122
Gloucester281219128
Grendon43846195
Guys Marsh322300107
Haslar15715899
Hatfield13518075
Haverigg553530104
Hewell Grange19820398
Highdown719649111
Highpoint698679103
Hindley532527101
Hollesley Bay44545897
Holloway529517102
Holme House87197190
Hull49151995
Huntercombe261256102
Kingston11712991
Kirkham66670295
Kirklevington180180100
Lancaster217218100
Lancaster Farms49249699
Latchmere House18819397
Leeds914800114
Leicester351219160
Lewes490485101
Leyhill36641089
Lincoln638434147
Lindholme693686101
Littlehey643624103
Liverpool1,5021,216124
Long Lartin391379103
Low Newton289189153
Maidstone552541102
Manchester1,029852121
Moorland658620106
Morton Hall20320898
Mount629588107
New Hall336327103
North Sea Camp20221395
Northallerton245152161
Norwich746570131
Nottingham413401103
Onley611550111
Parkhurst359349103
Pentonville929726128
Portland536526102
Preston668414161
Ranby581518112
Reading240203118
Table 1—Population and CNA by Prison on 1 October 1997
Prison namePopulationCNAPopulation to CNA (per cent.)
Risley882851104
Rochester39843392
Send231231100
Shepton Mallet216158137
Shrewsbury332181183
Stafford627568110
Standford Hill30038478
Stocken464436106
Stoke Heath42445493
Styal267262102
Sudbury49951198
Swaleside571512112
Swansea348260134
Swinfen Hall19720895
Thorn Cross22331671
Usk290246118
Verne572552104
Wakefield609522117
Wandsworth907811112
Wayland642620104
Wealstun58059198
Weare35840090
Wellingborough32135291
Werrington15722071
Wetherby32436090
Whatton22222698
Whitemoor521522100
Winchester612463132
Wolds399360111
Woodhill687616112
Wormwood Scrubs1,3631,171116
Wymott80180999
Total62,70657,630109

Hampshire Police Authority

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what criteria he has used to determine which of the applications to be independent members of the Hampshire Police Authority he will approve; [14454](2) when the Hampshire Police Authority will receive confirmation of the Home Office's selections for new independent members of the Authority. [14455]

I have selected a shortlist of candidates to fill the vacancies for two independent members on the Hampshire Police Authority. My officials are writing to the Clerk to the Authority to inform him of the shortlisted candidates. The councillor and magistrate members of the Authority will then decide who from the shortlist should be appointed to the Authority.The following criteria apply to the selection of all independent members:As well as being of good character, independent members of police authorities should:

possess good communication skills;
be able to demonstrate the ability to challenge accepted views in a constructive way;
be able to represent a wide range of people in the community; have an understanding of their policing needs, and of the pressures and challenges which face the police themselves;
have skills and experience which would broaden the expertise available to the authority.

Applications for appointment as an independent member of a police authority are invited from all eligible persons irrespective of ethnic origin, religious belief, gender, sexual orientation, disability or any other irrelevant factor.

Cs Spray

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Chief of West Mercia Police on the incident at a house in Bicton Heath, Shrewsbury on Sunday 26 October which led to a five month old baby being taken to hospital as a result of the effects of CS spray; and if he will make a statement. [14489]

West Mercia Police are unaware of an infant being exposed to CS during this incident, in which a man was sprayed, and no complaint has been received in respect of any such allegation.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis indicating the amount of CS spray which the Commissioner has (a) purchased and (b) distributed; if all police officers receiving the spray will be trained in its use and in official guidelines relating to its use; what arrangements he has made for its storage, and inventory; and if he will make a statement. [14482]

The Commissioner tells me that the Metropolitan Police has made an initial purchase of 28,200 operational CS incapacitant sprays which have been distributed to all Operational Command Units. Prior to being issued with CS spray, officers will undertake an initial four hour training course. Additionally, they will receive refresher training at least once a year which emphasises the importance of after care for persons sprayed.CS sprays will be stored in specifically designed secure cabinets at the Operational Command Units. These cabinets are marked in accordance with fire and chemical storage regulations. A detailed record is maintained in relation to all devices. Each device is individually serial numbered and is issued against signature. The record of issue is then updated following discharge or disposal of the device.

Deaths In Police Custody

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to publish the report on the circumstances of deaths in police custody; and if he will make a statement. [14484]

The report of the research by the Home Office Police Research Group into deaths in police custody from 1990 onwards is expected to be published at the turn of the year.

Elections (European Parliament)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will change the polling day for the next election for the European Parliament from a Thursday to a Sunday. [14677]

We do not think it would be right to change the polling day for the 1999 elections to the European Parliament, which will be held under a new regional list system.

Remand Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current number of prisoners in England and Wales held on remand for a period (a) up to three months, (b) over three months and up to six months, (c) over six months and up to 12 months and (d) over 12 months. [14546]

The latest available provisional information for England and Wales is for 30 June 1997 and is given in the table. This information is also published in successive volumes of "Prison Statistics, England and Wales" (tables 2.3 and 2.4 of the 1996 edition, Cm 3732), copies of which are in the Library.

Remand prisoners in prisons in England and Wales by length of time since first reception1 on 30 June 1997
Time since first remand30 June 19972
Up to and including three months8,100
More than three months, up to and including six months2,300
More than six months, up to and including 12 months1,400
Over 12 months300
Total12,100
1Awaiting trial or sentence. Time since first reception on remand into a Prison Service establishment. This includes any intervening time spent on bail, but excludes time spent in police cells beforehand.
2Rounded provisional estimates.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the potential effects on remand prisoners' rights to a fair trial of arbitrary restrictions in the period leading up to and during their court appearances; what steps he has taken to ensure that the Prison Service is aware of this problem; and what special measures exist for the supervision monitoring of the treatment of prisoners in these circumstances. [13091]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: It is our policy that detention must not affect a person's right to a fair trial. In recognition of their special status, all unconvicted prisoners have extra privileges such as: the right to wear their own clothing; the right not to work; the right to extra visits, telephone calls and letters; and the right to continue their (legitimate) business activities. In addition, all prisons have legal aid officers and access to unlimited visits with their legal representative. Nearly all local prisons and remand centres have bail information schemes which assist prisoners to obtain bail if appropriate.Both Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons and the Prison Service Standards Audit, on their visits to local prisons, seek to ensure that the rights and privileges of unconvicted prisons are observed.

Mr Ronnie Clark

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in the investigation of the death of Mr. Ronnie Clark in Wellingborough prison on 1 March; and if he will make a statement. [14486]

The inquest into the death of Mr. Clarke was held on 9 October 1997 at Kettering Coroner's Court. The jury returned a unanimous open verdict. The Coroner made no criticism of either the actions of staff or Prison Service policy and procedure.The Prison Service will consider the findings of the Coroner's investigation, together with its own inquiries, to examine carefully whether there are any lessons to be learned.

Prison Medical Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prison establishments in England and Wales provide an induction programme for staff joining the Prison Service from the national health service. [14505]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: All Prison Service establishments are expected to arrange a two-week induction programme under the guidance of a senior medical officer for all new entrant medical staff whether they are from the National Health Service or elsewhere.In addition, new entrant doctors are expected to attend a week long centrally organised course within six months of joining the Prison Service.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prison establishments in England and Wales are currently without a full or part-time medical officer. [14507]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: Fourteen establishments currently have vacancies for either full or part-time permanently appointed medical officers. Where appropriate medical cover at these establishments is augmented by the use of locum doctors. The Prison Service holds periodic recruitment drives to fill such vacancies, and the next one will be held shortly.

Danny Mcnamee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the security classification of Gilbert (Danny) McNamee; and if this prisoner will be returned to a special secure unit prior to or during his forthcoming hearing at the Court of Appeal. [13090]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: Decisions concerning the security categorisation of Gilbert (Danny) McNamee, who is located in a Northern Ireland prison, are a matter for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.Should Mr. McNamee return to this jurisdiction for any reason, an assessment of his security category will be made in the light of security information available at the time.

Special Secure Units

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners are presently detained in each special secure unit stating (a) the nature of the crimes for which they were convicted and (b) their security category status. [13089]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: There are seven prisoners, all Category A Exceptional Escape Risk prisoners, held in Whitemoor Special Secure Unit. Two were convicted of importation of drugs; two of customs evasion; and the remaining three prisoners of murder, conspiracy to murder and armed robbery, respectively. Full Sutton Special Secure Unit is temporarily closed and the accommodation which formed the Unit at Belmarsh now only holds Category A High Escape Risk prisoners and is not run as a Special Secure Unit.

Prisons (Drug Misuse)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of (a) doctors and (b) other staff, currently working in the Prison Service, have received any recognised training in dealing with drug misusers. [14506]

[holding answer 6 November 1997]: Forty-eight out of 197 (25 per cent.) doctors working in the Prison Service have either a Diploma in Addictive Behaviour or Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists which will have included training in substance misuse. A further 26 doctors have started diploma level training during 1996–97.Information is not centrally available in the form requested for other Prison Service staff. However, during 1996–97 over 230 health care staff attended a two day substance awareness course specifically designed for that purpose. In addition, 44 staff started diploma level training on substance misuse.

Life Sentences

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners in England and Wales are presently serving a life sentence; and what is the total annual cost of keeping these prisoners in custody. [14909]

The latest available information is for 30 September 1997. On that date there were 3,794 life sentence prisoners in England and Wales. Information on life sentence prisoners is also published in "Prison Statistics, England and Wales" (Chapter 8 of the 1996 edition, Cm 3732), a copy of which is in the Library.Information on the cost of prisoners by their type of sentence is not collected centrally. The average annual net operating cost of a prison place in 1996–97 was £24,775.

Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further consideration he plans to give to the possible establishment of a Human Rights Commission. [14761]

I have nothing to add at this stage to what we said about this in paragraph 3.8–3.12 of the White Paper "Rights Brought Home: The Human Rights Bill" (Cm 3782), which we published on 24 October, and during the Second Reading debate in Another Place on 3 November.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what functions a Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights would perform; and what powers would be vested in it. [14760]

I have nothing to add at this stage to what we said about this in paragraph 3.6–3.7 of the White Paper "Rights Brought Home: The Human Rights Bill" (Cm 3782), which we published on 24 October, and during the Second Reading debate in Another Place on 3 November.

Asylum Seekers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what statistical monitoring is undertaken in relation to the detention and imprisonment of asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement. [15174]

Statistical information on persons who had sought asylum and were detained as at specific points in time is available. A copy of the most recent statistics is attached.

Table 1: Number of people recorded as being detained1,2 on 31 October 1997 who had sought asylum at some stage, by gender and immigration status
GenderPortIllegal entrantsSubject to deportation actionTotal
Male28335256691
Female3314249
Total31636658740
1Persons detained solely under the powers contained in Schedule 2 or 3 of the Immigration Act 1971.
2These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.
Table 2: Number of people recorded as being detained on1,2 31 October 1997 who had sought asylum at some stage, by stage of application and immigration status
Stage of applicationPortIllegal entrantsSubject to deportation actionTotal
Awaiting initial decision1581668332
Awaiting result of appeal1049028222
Awaiting result of further challenge or documentation for removal35411022186
Total31636658740
1Persons detained solely under the powers contained in Schedule 2 or 3 of the Immigration Act 1971.
2These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.
3Includes those persons awaiting the result of a further appeal/other challenge or awaiting removal pending documentation.
Table 3: Number of people recorded as being detained1,2 on 31 October 1997 who had sought asylum at some stage, by length of detention3 and immigration status.
LengthPortIllegal entrantsSubject to deportation actionTotal
0-1 Month110910910228
1-2 Months83878178
2-6 Months8511824227
6-12 Months28471287
12 Months +115420
Total31636658740
1Persons detained solely under the powers contained in Schedule 2 or 3 of the Immigration Act 1971.
2These figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.
3In some cases the date a person enters detention may be understated due to the method of recording.
Table 4: Number of people recorded as being detained1,2 on 31 October 1997 who had sought asylum at some stage, by nationality and immigration status
NationalityPortIllegal entrantsSubject to deportation actionTotal
India1579296
Nigeria40341488
Pakistan1930756
Algeria1328647
China People's Republic of1421035
Ghana1212327
Turkey1016026
Romania223025
Czech Republic222024
Yugoslavia915024
Bangladesh613322
Kenya192122
Sri Lanka99321
Albania315018
Cyprus132015
Slovakia150015
Angola74213
Bulgaria91212
Gambia6129
Ivory Coast5308
Jamaica1348
Lithuania4217
Poland1607
Russia1607
Sudan4307
South Africa5117
Uganda7007
Ecuador6006
Colombia5005
Iran4105
Morocco2204
Ukraine (Ukrainian SS)0314
Afghanistan1203
Lebanon2103
Somalia3003
Tanzania2013
Armenia0202
Guinea2002
Kazakhstan0202
Liberia2002
Libya (Arab Republic)0202
Nepal0202
Philippines1102
Palestine1102
Table 4: Number of people recorded as being detained1,2 on 31 October 1997 who had sought asylum at some stage, by nationality and immigration status
NationalityPortIllegal entrantsSubject to deportation actionTotal
Sierra Leone1102
Tunisia0112
Ukraine2002
Zaire2002
Zimbabwe1102
Nationality doubtful28010
Others65415
Total31636658740
1Persons detained solely under the powers contained in Schedule 2 or 3 of the Immigration Act 1971.
2Those figures include people who have been in detention for less than a month. Because of the delay in recording receptions into, and releases from, detention and the large number of persons detained for a short period, the figures should be used with caution.

Freemasonry (Police And Judiciary)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Government have to implement the Home Affairs Committee's recommendations on freemasonry in the police and judiciary (Third report, Session 1996–97, HC 192). [15283]

I will be writing to the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee later this month with the Government's response to the Committee's recommendation on freemasonry in the police and judiciary. A copy of my letter will be placed in the Library.

Firearms

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what estimate he has made of (a) the likely total cost of the compensation scheme under the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 and (b) the number of claims still to be made; [14811](2) what is the average time taken to settle claims for compensation under options (i) A and (ii) B under the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997; and in each case, how many claims have been settled and what is the total value of the compensation paid to date. [14810]

Our estimate of the total cost of the compensation scheme remains £166 million. All claims had to have been made by the end of the surrender period on 30 September. Over 38,000 claims have been received in the Firearms Compensation Section from police forces. The average time to settle claims under both options A and B is currently 13 weeks.To date, 15,000 payments have been made at a cost of over £20 million.

"The Mail On Sunday"

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he plans to apply for the lifting of the injunction presently in force against The Mail on Sunday. [14696]

No. The injunction remains necessary in order to prevent the publication of any further material which could damage national security. I would also refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis), 6 November 1997, Official Report, column 215.

Proposed Prisons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment exercises his Department has conducted into the possibility of establishing an extra prison in the (a) West Chelmsford constituency and (b) mid Essex area during the past five years. [15072]

During the last five years, the Prison Service has had brought to its attention a number of sites in Essex for the possible construction of new prisons. None of these were in the West Chelmsford constituency and, without exception, to date all have been considered unsuitable.

House Of Lords Judgments

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he intends to implement the House of Lords judgment in Regina v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Pierson given on 24 July. [15640]

This judgment concerned the discretion of any holder of my office to increase a tariff once set for an adult convicted of murder. The majority of the House found that it is lawful for the Secretary of State to increase a tariff previously set, as set out in a reply given by my predecessor, the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) on 27 July 1993, Official Report, columns 863–65. However, one of that majority found that that statement did not purport to apply to a decision to increase a tariff set before 27 July 1993, and so a different majority found that the increase of the tariff in the Pierson case was unlawful.So far as the procedures for setting and reviewing tariffs of adult murderers are concerned, I am continuing the practice of my predecessor, as described in his answers of 27 July 1993,

Official Report, columns 861–64 and 7 December 1994, Official Report, columns 234–35. In particular, before setting tariff, I am continuing to take the advice of the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice, informing the prisoner of the substance of that advice and inviting representations about it, and giving reasons for any departure on my part from the judicial review.

With regard to the discretion to alter tariff, I reiterate that the view which I take (or a Minister acting under my authority takes) at the beginning of a mandatory life sentence, of the period necessary to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence is an initial view of the minimum period necessary to satisfy those requirements. It therefore remains possible for me, or a future Secretary of State, exceptionally to revise that view of the minimum period, either by reducing it, or by increasing it where I, or a successor in my office, conclude that, putting aside questions of risk, the minimum requirements of retribution and deterrence will not have been satisfied at the expiry of the period which had previously been determined. The procedure for considering any increase of a tariff once set will include the opportunity for the prisoner to make representations after being informed that the Secretary of State is minded to increase tariff, and to be given reasons for any subsequent decision to increase it.

So far as the potential for a reduction in tariff is concerned, I shall be open to the possibility that, in exceptional circumstances, including for example, exceptional progress by the prisoner whilst in custody, a review and reduction of the tariff may be appropriate. I shall have this possibility in mind when reviewing at the 25 year point the cases of prisoners given a whole life tariff and in that respect will consider issues beyond the sole criteria of retribution and deterrence described in the answer given on 7 December 1994. Prisoners will continue to be given the opportunity to make representations and to have access to the material before me.

I intend to apply these policies in respect of all tariffs for adult murderers, whether or not they were originally set before 27 July 1993 and whether or not they were originally fixed by me personally, or a Minister acting on my behalf, or by or on behalf of a previous holder of my office. In the Pierson case, where the tariff has now been quashed, I intend to invite representations from the prisoner before re-setting tariff at a level which I consider appropriate.

I take the opportunity to confirm that my approach on the release of adults convicted of murder once tariff has expired will reflect the policy set out in the answer given 27 July 1993. In particular, the release of such a person will continue to depend not only on the expiry of tariff and on my being satisfied that the level of risk of his committing further imprisonable offences presented by his release is acceptably low, but also on the need to maintain public confidence in the system of criminal justice. The position of a prisoner subject to a mandatory life sentence continues to be distinct from that of a prisoner serving a discretionary life sentence, a decision on whose final release is a matter for the Parole Board alone.

Everything in this answer about my practice in relation to mandatory life sentence prisoners applies equally to persons who are, or will be, sentenced, to custody for life under section 8 of the Criminal Justice Act 1982. For present purposes, a life sentence imposed under section 2 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 is treated as a discretionary life sentence.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he intends to implement the House of Lords judgment in Regina V Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte V and T given on 12 June. [15641]

This judgment was concerned with the periods of imprisonment, known as the tariff, set by my predecessor, the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) as being necessary to reflect the requirements of retribution and deterrence in the cases of the two boys convicted of the murder of James Bulger. The House of Lords concluded that the current arrangements for reviewing tariff in the cases of offenders under the age of eighteen, convicted of murder and sentenced to detention at Her Majesty's pleasure under section 53(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, failed adequately to reflect the distinctive nature of that sentence. In particular, the judgment requires that the initial view of what is necessary by way of retribution and deterrence should be capable of reduction in the light of the offender's personal development while in custody, and that the offender's personal development should therefore be considered alongside the public interest in retribution and deterrence in keeping the tariff period under review.The House of Lords did not conclude, however, that the sentence of detention at Her Majesty's pleasure was purely reformative in character, nor that the Secretary of State's declaration of an initial view of what was necessary by way of retribution and deterrence was unlawful. The public properly expects the unique crime of murder to attract an appropriate punishment, regardless of the age or circumstances of the offender. It is in the interests of victims' families, public confidence, and of the individual offender that a clear indication should be given, relatively quickly following conviction, of the Secretary of State's initial view of the minimum period of imprisonment necessary to reflect the seriousness of the particular offence. I intend to continue to provide that initial view as at present, taking into account the advice of the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice, any representations made on the offender's behalf and the overarching requirements of public confidence in the sentence of detention at Her Majesty's pleasure. That initial view will continue also to reflect an awareness of the offender's age and personal circumstances at the time of conviction.Public confidence in the sentence will not be maintained if that initial tariff is curtailed lightly or as a matter of course. Rather, it should be reduced only where the balance between the public interest in punishment on the one hand, and the public interest in the offender's welfare on the other, has clearly shifted so as to justify such a reduction. Moreover, the more serious the circumstances of the offence, as reflected in the length of the initial tariff, the higher will be the threshold at which the public interest in the offender's welfare may outweigh the public interest in the offender's punishment.However, I have also to act on the House of Lords' conclusion that the law requires the sentence's effect upon the offender to be kept under review and that there may be circumstances in which the desirability of promoting the child's eventual re-integration into society may justify a revision of the initial view on tariff.Taking these considerations into account, this is the new procedure which I shall adopt. I shall continue to seek the advice of the trial judge and of the Lord Chief Justice in deciding what punishment is required in any individual case of a person convicted under section 53(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. I shall then set an initial tariff with that advice, and the offender's personal circumstances, in mind. I shall continue to invite representations on the prisoner's behalf and give reasons for decisions.Officials in my Department will receive annual reports on the progress and development of young people sentenced under section 53(1) whose initial tariff has yet to expire. Where there appears to be a case for considering a reduction in tariff, that will be brought to the attention of Ministers.

When half of the initial tariff period has expired, I, or a Minister acting on my behalf, will consider a report on the prisoner's progress and development, and invite representations on the question of tariff, with a view to determining whether the tariff period originally set is still appropriate. In complex and difficult cases, I shall seek the assistance of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health in securing independent professional advice (that is to say, independent of those already charged with the care of the offender) on the young offender's condition and development.

Any request for a review of tariff before it expires will be considered on its merits, whether that request is made by or on behalf of the offender or by one of the agencies or individuals responsible for his or her care.