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Written Answers

Volume 477: debated on Wednesday 25 June 1986

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Written Answers

Sudley Art Gallery: Funding

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Sudley Art Gallery in Liverpool will be centrally or locally funded in future.

On 1st April 1986 the Sudley Art Gallery became the responsibility of the trustees of the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside. As such it is now funded centrally from the grant-in-aid the trustees receive from the Office of Arts and Libraries.

Metropolitan Police: Recruitment Timetable

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the average length of time which elapses between an individual applying to join the metropolitan police and his being sworn in as a constable.

I understand from the commissioner that the average figure for the recruits who joined the force in January 1986 was 39 weeks.

Remand Prisoners: Time In Custody

asked Her Majesty's Government:To what extent it is normal practice for courts imposing custodial sentences to take into account time in custody spent on remand by those sentenced; whether time on remand can be disregarded and whether guidance has ever been issued on these matters and if so what.

By virtue of Section 67 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967, as amended, time spent in custody on remand automatically counts towards a custodial sentence imposed on conviction. There are certain minor exceptions to this general rule (which is operated administratively, not by the courts), chiefly relating to terms of custody ordered subsequently by the court for breaches of certain orders, or in default of payment of a fine. The full rules are set out in Home Office Circulars 150/1967, 108/1982 and 42/1983.

Medicines: Product Licence (Parallel Imports) Scheme

asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps they are taking to ascertain the proportion of parallel imports of medicines that are products which have no licence under the Product Licence (Parallel Imports) scheme; whether they can confirm that this could be as much as one-third of those parallel imports, despite progress in issues of licences; what staff they have to check on abuse; and whether they are satisfied that they can put an end to this unlicensed trade in the near future.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security
(Baroness Trumpington)

The Government have concentrated available resources on consideration of parallel import licence applications and on examination of all complaints received about unlicensed imports.It is not possible to confirm or deny that as much as one-third of parallel imports may be unlicensed, but 82 per cent. of applications for product licenses (parallel importing) have now been determined. Checks on abuse are carried out by DHSDS medicine inspectors, inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and investigation officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.The Government believe the combination of steps now taken have markedly reduced the incentives in, and publicised the penalties for, unlicensed trading. But constant policing is still needed to minimise the extent of unlicensed trade.

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many complaints they have received and how many they are currently investigating, about alleged unlawful importation and/or sale of medicines that should be subject to the Product Licence (Parallel Imports) scheme; how many prosecutions are in progress or pending; how many warnings have been issued; and why progress is slow in this matter.

A large number of complaints have been received, but because multiple or duplicate complaints may be involved detailed figures are not available. Each complaint is examined and is followed up if detailed evidence can be obtained. At present two companies have been or are being prosecuted, and another eight are being considered for prosecution; 16 companies are being investigated or being considered for investigation.Warnings have been issued to several companies. In addition, all parallel importers have been reminded of the penalties for trading in unlicensed imported products.The investigation of complaints and the preparation for a successful prosecution is a lengthy procedure, and further delays occur if the defendant elects for trial before a Crown Court.

Social Security Legislation And The Blind

asked Her Majesty's Government:What losses in money and concessions the blind will suffer under the provisions of the Social Security Bill, and whether any income tax concessions will be available to employed blind people.

The basic change specifically affecting blind people in the Social Security Bill is that supplementary benefit, under which a blind allowance is payable, would be replaced by the new income support scheme, under which blind people would qualify automatically for the disability premium, and that the resulting income support rate will also be the starting point for calculation of housing benefit. The effect this would have on blind people's entitlement to benefit cannot be estimated precisely, because no decisions have yet been taken about either the benefit rates payable from April 1987 under the present system or the benefit rates payable from April 1988 under income support. The proposals do not affect the blind person's allowance available under the income tax system.

The Phipps Respiratory Unit

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether "the Phipps Respirant Unit" referred to in a Written Answer to a Question by Lord Houghton of Sowerby [1lth June, col. 382] should be "the Phipps Respiratory Unit".

Armed Forces And Ethnic Minorities

asked Her Majesty's Government:What proportion of the armed forces belong to any of the ethnic minority groups; andWhat proportion of those members of the armed forces who reach NCO rank are drawn from the ethnic minorities.

The information requested is not held.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether any soldier from the ethnic minorities participated in the Trooping the Colour.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are at present implementing measures to improve recruitment in the armed forces with respect to ethnic minorities.

The armed forces are already equal opportunity employers under the terms of the Race Relations Act 1976. Recruitment into the armed forces is by merit alone.