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Written Answers

Volume 622: debated on Tuesday 20 February 2001

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Written Answers

Tuesday, 20th February 2001.

Gutteridge Farm Incident

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will call for a report on the incident on 9 December 2000 when Essex Police told Mr Andrew Bond that they did not have the manpower to deal with intruders who had broken into a barn at Gutteridge Farm in Weeley, Essex, causing criminal damage to wheat stored in the barn. [HL646]

The Chief Constable of the Essex Police has advised me about the incident at Gutteridge Farm on 9 December 2000 in which the police responded to the rave being held on Mr Bond's property without his consent.I understand that the officers attending the incident assisted Mr Bond in so far as he was prepared to exercise his rights as landlord.

Chief Inspector Of Prisons

Guardian of 7 February for a successor to Sir David Ramsbotham as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales from 1 August 2001:

  • (a) why Sir David is to be retired on that date;
  • (b) when and how he was told he was to be retired on that date; and
  • (c) who told him he was to retire on that date. [HL716]
  • Sir David Ramsbotham was appointed for a period of five years, which expired on 30 November 2000. The terms of his appointment allow it to be extended for a maximum period of three years by mutual agreement.The Home Secretary wrote to Sir David on 19 April 2000 to tell him of his decision to offer Sir David an extension of appointment until the end of July 2001. Sir David replied on 27 April accepting the extension to his appointment. The Home Secretary announced in Parliament on 9 June that Sir David would retire on that date (

    Official Report, cols. 392W–93W).

    In a post as high profile and demanding as that of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, we consider it right to look for a fresh focus from time to time on the difficult issues that confront the Prison Service. Sir David will have served nearly six years by the time he retires, and the Home Secretary's judgment is that the time is right for the post to be re-opened to competition.

    Prison Service Chaplain General

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Why there are no non-Christians on the interviewing panel for the selection of new Chaplain General for the Prison Service; and whether they will consult the religious advisory group about this appointment. [HL717]

    Members of the Advisory Group on Religion in Prisons are not being consulted about this appointment which, in line with the normal Prison Service and Civil Service rules on recruitment, will be made by the Prison Service on the recommendation of the recruitment board. As the field for this post has been confined to ordained clergy from within the Anglican communion, the recruitment board will include representatives of the Christian churches in addition to members of the Prison Service Management Board.

    Hinduja Brothers: Citizenship Claims

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether any Minister at the Home Office has discussed the citizenship claims of the Hinduja brothers with the Prime Minister's Envoy, Lord Levy; and [HL668]Whether the Home Office has ever received representations on behalf of the citizenship claims of the Hinduja brothers from the Prime Minister's Special Envoy, Lord Levy; and [HL669]Whether the Home Office has ever received representations on behalf of the citizenship claims of the Hinduja brothers from the sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company. [HL670]

    My right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced on 24 January that he had asked former Treasury Solicitor Sir Anthony Hammond QC to review the full circumstances surrounding approaches to the Home Office in connection with the possibility of an application for naturalisation by Mr S P Hinduja in 1998. Sir Anthony started his review on Thursday 25 January. After an initial reading of the papers, Sir Anthony has decided that, in order to fulfil the terms of reference of his review of the application for naturalisation of S P Hinduja, it is appropriate for him to look at the circumstances of the granting of naturalisation in respect of G P Hinduja because the circumstances of both applications are closely related. For the same reason, he has also decided that it is appropriate for him to look at the circumstances surrounding the inquiries about naturalisation in respect of Prakesh Hinduja.Sir Anthony aims to complete his review as quickly as possible, consistently with the need to conduct a thorough investigation. I understand that on the information currently available to Sir Anthony, he hopes to complete the review by the end of February. The report will be published and copies will be placed in the Printed Paper Office and the Library. It would be inappropriate for me to pre-empt the outcome of this review.

    Metropolitan Police Service: Candidates Witha Criminal Record

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether a criminal record remains a disqualification for service in the Metropolitan Police. [HL727]

    A criminal record is not necessarily a disqualification for service in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) or any other force in England and Wales. Police regulations require a candidate for appointment to a police force to produce satisfactory references as to character. It is for chief officers to decide whether or not a conviction should be a bar to the recruitment of an applicant.In considering an applicant with a previous conviction(s), the overriding rule adopted by the MPS is that no one is eligible for appointment if they have been convicted of any criminal offence which if committed by a serving police officer would result in their dismissal from the MPS; would cause embarrassment to the service; or would create difficulties to the individual in carrying out his/her duties.

    Metropolitan Police Service: Physical Standards

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether physical standards for Metropolitan Police officers have been relaxed since May 1997. [HL728]

    I have been advised by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) that the basic standards have not been relaxed but some changes have been made in relation to applicants' medical and dental history.The changes are the result of a review of the minimum standards applied to recruitment by the MPS Recruitment Task Force. They are designed to bring the criteria applied by the MPS into line with those of other forces in the United Kingdom.All the changes have been carefully considered to ensure the MPS is socially inclusive, nondiscriminatory and fair, while maximising the number, quality and diversity of recruits who meet the minimum standards.

    Victims And Perpetrators Of Violent Crime: Ethnicity

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are now able to answer questions on the ethnicity of the victims of violent crimes and the alleged perpetrators; and [HL735]

    Whether the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 31 January ( WA 63) concerning the ethnicity of those reportedly involved in robberies and assault in the Metropolitan Police area is compatible with his letter of 17 November 2000 to the Lord Tebbit. [HL736]

    My answer of 31 January 2001 referred to the published information on the ethnicity of those arrested in the Metropolitan Police area who were involved in robberies and assaults. No information is collected centrally on the ethnicity of victims for these offences. A proportion of such violent offences will be identified as racist according to the definition adopted following the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. It is information on this subset of violent offences that will be covered by the new data collection that was referred to in my letter of 17 November 2000. This new data collection will include information on the ethnicity of victims of racist violent crimes, their age group and gender.

    Gay Elms And Whitehouse Primary Schools

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What representations have been received from elected councillors from the Bristol South constituency concerning the proposed closure of Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools. [HL696]

    The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment
    (Baroness Blackstone)

    The Government are not aware of any representations being made on the proposed closure of Gay Elms and White house primary schools from elected councillors in Bristol.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What representations have been received from the Member of Parliament for Bristol South concerning the proposed closure of Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools. [HL697]

    The Government are not aware of any representations being made on the proposed closure of Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools from the Member of Parliament for Bristol South.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will examine if Bristol Council has been fair to the people of Bristol South in proposing to close Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools so soon after the closure of Merrywood school, Knowle West, Bristol. [HL698]

    This Government believe that proposals which affect the organisation of schools should be decided locally. It is for local education authorities and other partners in education to bring forward proposals. This Government have introduced a framework of local decision-making whereby decisions such as closures are considered by the local partners in education through the School Organisation Committee (SOC) or the Schools Adjudicator if the SOC can not reach a decision.Bristol City Council members met on 13 February 2001 to consider the proposals to close Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools. Members of the city council voted to reject these proposals. The matter will therefore not proceed to the School Organisation Committee or the Schools Adjudicator.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Given the need for autistic children to have long-term stability and consistency, whether they will examine the proposal to close Gay Elms school to see whether it is compatible with the well-being of the autistic children who attend the school. [HL699]

    This Government believe that decisions which affect the organisation of schools should be taken locally. The proposal to discontinue Gay Elms primary school expected that the resource base for autistic children would remain in its current accommodation on the site of the former Gay Elms infant school. A development group was established to identify a new host school and to secure new accommodation for the future.Members of Bristol City Council met on 13 February 2001 to consider the proposed closure of Gay Elms school. It is my understanding that the council members voted to reject the proposal.

    Health Department And Fsa Del

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have any plans to amend the Department of Health and Food Standards Agency departmental expenditure limit and running costs limit for 2000–01. [HL824]

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health
    (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)

    Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimates for Class II, Votes 1 and 2, the overall departmental expenditure limit for Class II, which includes the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency, will be increased by £196,888,000 from £45,090,755,000 to £45,287,643,000.Of this increase, the Department of Health departmental expenditure limit for 2000–01 will be increased by £196,888,000 from £44,997,888,000 to £45,194,776,000. The increase is the net effect of changes to Class II, Vote 1 (hospital, community health, family health and related services, England) of £156,025,000, made up of £74,977,000 in respect of take-up of end year flexibility, (£35,217,000) for capital and (£39,760,000) for family health services, as set out in Table 7 of the Public Expenditure Outturn White Paper Cm4812 published on 18 July 2000, and £82,214,000 trust end year flexibility; transfers from Northern Ireland of £1,373,000 (£1,307,000) for out of area treatments and (£66,000) for contributions to medical training costs of royal colleges; £144,000 from the Scottish Executive for contributions to medical training costs of royal colleges; £92,000 from the National Assembly for Wales for contributions to medical training costs of royal colleges and £88,000 from Class III, Vote 1 (Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions) for the rough sleepers unit; partially offset by transfers of £512,000 to the National Assembly for Wales for out of area treatments; £1,065,000 to Class XII, Vote 2 (Department of Social Security: administration) for operating costs of the road traffic accident element of the Compensation Recovery Unit; £536,000 to Class IV, Vote I (Home Office administration, police, probation, immigration and other services, England and Wales) (£221,000) for drug action teams development funding and (£315,000) for drug action teams recruitment initiative and £750,000 to Class I, Vote 1 (Department for Education and Employment: programmes and central services) for the Institute of Psychiatry new research facilities.An increase of £1,352,000 for Class II, Vote 2 (Department of Health, administration, miscellaneous health and personal social services, England) is the net effect of transfers (detailed below) and the take-up of £4,000,000 (running costs) end year flexibility as set out in Table 7 of the Public Expenditure Outturn White Paper Cm4812 published on 18 July 2000. Transfers of £1,106,000 from the Scottish Executive (£141,000 running costs) for reserved health bodies; £19,000 (running costs) from Northern Ireland for reserved health bodies; £459,000 from Class IV, Vote 1 (Home Office administration, police probation, immigration and other services, England and Wales), £130,000 (running costs) for the Youth Justice Board inspections and (£329,000) for drug grants and drug related initiatives; £200,000 from Class XII, Vote 3 (Department of Social Security: administration) for the teenage pregnancy campaign; offset by net transfers of £464,000 to Class X, Vote 1 (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) (£1,118,000) for the BSE inquiry, less (£654,000) for research into BSE; and £388,000 to Class 1, Vote 1 (Department for Education and Employment: programmes and central services) (£455,000) for the drug advisers project, less (£67,000) for Protection of Children's Act Tribunal costs; and transfers of £3,000,000 to Class V, Vote 1(Lord Chancellor's Department) for start-up costs for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services (CAFCASS) and £580,000 to Class III, Vote 1 (Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions) for the rough sleepers budget.Within the departmental DEL there is also a net transfer of £308,000 from Class II, Vote 2 (Department of Health, administration, miscellaneous health and personal social services, England) to Class II, Vote 1 (hospital, community health, family health and related services, England), of which £500,000 is reclassified as running costs following agreement by HM Treasury that Mental Health Review Tribunal clerk costs should no longer be classfied as programme costs. There is no increase in Mental Health Review Tribunal costs as a result of this change.The Department of Health's gross running cost limit will be increased by £4,790,000 from £302,490,000 to £307,280,000 as detailed above.The external finance limit for NHS trusts has decreased by £140,242,000 from £451,000,000 to £310,758,000, comprising a reduction in voted trust loans of £173,853,000 partially offset by a take-up of £33,611,000 (non-voted) from HM Treasury for public finance initiative schemes.The external finance limit for the Medicines Control Agency has increased by £5,900,000 from £700,000 to £6,600,000 in respect of take-up of end year flexibility entitlement as mentioned above.There are no changes to the Food Standards Agency element of the DEL.All increases will either be offset by transfers to or from other departmental expenditure limits (detailed above) or charges to the DEL reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

    Vehicle Emissions: Roadside Testing

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress is being made in the implementation of the scheme for roadside testing of vehicle emissions by local authorities. [HL831]

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
    (Lord Whitty)

    We are currently completing essential background work necessary to enable the scheme to work effectively when it is made available to local authorities which have declared air quality management areas, as designated under Section 83 of the Environment Act 1995. We hope that the scheme will come into operation from April 2002, and we plan to consult further with interested parties on detailed issues over the next few months.

    Aviation Industry

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the predicted growth in the aviation industry: and what steps they are taking to accommodate any change. [HL852]

    The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
    (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston)

    The UK air traffic forecasts produced by my department in June 2000 showed that unconstrained demand for passenger air travel may more than double by 2015, reaching approximately 340 million passengers per annum. Cargo air traffic is also predicted to grow. Future unconstrained growth is projected at a rate of 7.5 per cent a year to 2010.We intend to publish a new White Paper on air transport that will provide a framework for the future development of aviation in the UK. We issued a consultation document last December on the future of aviation. This is the first major step towards the White Paper. It invites views and ideas on a wide range of aviation and airports issues that underpin our air transport policy. The consultation document does not specifically address new capacity at airports. We have commissioned a series of regional air service studies that assess options for future capacity. Later this year we will issue individual regional consultation documents on options in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the south west of England, the north of England and the Midlands. They will examine options for the development of a capacity at regional airports and include an appraisal of the economic, environmental and social impacts of these options. We are also studying issues in the south east and east of England on a separate timescale. The South East and East of England Regional Air Service Study (SERAS) is examining all options for the future development of airports in the south east, ranging from no development other than that already included in the planning system, to additional runway and terminal capacity to meet demand in full. This study will be followed by public consultation that will follow the decision on Terminal 5. All of these strands of work will feed into the White Paper on air transport.

    Stewardship Payments

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What proportion of stewardship payments, by number and by value, is overdue by (a) up to 30 days, (b) 30 to 60 days, (c) 61 to 90 days and (d) over 90 days. [HL638]

    The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
    (Baroness Hayman)

    Information is not available in the form requested. There is an administrative target of payments within two months of receipt. As at 31 January, the percentage of claims paid within two months was 79.12 per cent. Because the closing date for receipt of claims was extended from 30 November to 31 December last year, we cannot yet say what proportion of the remaining claims will be paid within the target period. We have experienced some IT difficulties which affected the claims processing capacity but MAFF staff are working to clear the remainder as soon as possible.

    Horticulture Measures In The Eu

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many of the European Union member states have imposed the climate change levy on their horticulturists; how many have imposed the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive measures and to what extent; and how many of these countries have introduced a pesticide tax. [HL676]

    We understand that Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden have some form of energy tax. There is special treatment for the use of natural gas but not electricity in the glasshouse sector in the Netherlands; the rate of tax is lower for the horticultural and manufacturing sectors than for domestic and commercial use in Finland; and in Sweden only part of the tax applies to the manufacturing and agriculture industries. Belgium and France plan to introduce an energy tax in 2001.

    The majority of European member states have transposed the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive. Under the directive, new and substantially changed installations were required to apply for an IPPC permit from 31 October 1999, while existing installations have until 31 October 2007. Member states have varying timetables for introducing existing installations.

    European Union information states that Denmark, France and Sweden have a general pesticides tax. Belgium also has a limited pesticides tax applying solely to a small number of pesticides used in the municipal sector. A number of other countries, including the UK, have a levy.