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Written Answers

Volume 688: debated on Friday 26 January 2007

Written Answers

Friday 26 January 2007

Biometrics

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 18 December 2006 (WA 253), what biometric or other information will be contained in the electronic record of the e-Borders programme scheduled to commence in 2008.[HL1410]

The electronic record of the e-Borders programme will contain passenger data submitted to the e-Borders system by air, sea and rail carriers in advance of their travelling in to or out of the UK. For each passenger, this will include the eight key fields of biographical data held in their travel document (name, place and date of birth, gender, nationality, passport number, date of issue and expiry date) details of the specific journey being undertaken, and passenger reservation details where the carrier has been required to supply this.

The system will also contain the results of the risk assessment performed on the passenger and details of their compliance with UK immigration rules.

Full operating capability is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

British Citizenship

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 13 December (WA 195) regarding correspondence via the open letters pages of newspapers, whether this policy applies only in Hong Kong or on a world-wide basis; and whether they will place in the Library of the House any documents which record this policy and the date on which it was adopted. [HL925]

While there is no formal policy in the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office about writing to newspapers, it is not considered appropriate for Her Majesty's Government to conduct correspondence with individuals or groups through open letters pages. Letters sent direct to the Home Office or Foreign and Commonwealth Office will receive a reply.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

To whom the descendants of a deceased person who, in July 1953, became a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies in Uganda by naturalisation or registration can apply to obtain a copy of his naturalisation or registration application records. [HL1034]

Such descendants may request a letter confirming details of naturalisation or registration in Uganda by telephoning the London Enquiry Line on 020 7008 0186, which is open between the hours of 10.00 and 12.00 Monday to Thursday or by writing to Nationality and Consular Registration Section, Consular Division, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Old Admiralty Building, London SW1A 2PA. Any descendants living abroad should contact their nearest British Consulate.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 16 January (WA 143-44) on the joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office visit to Nepal, which Nepalese Ministers attended the meeting on 22 November 2006; and what further steps they are now taking following the expiry of the one-month time limit before which they expected confirmation from the Nepalese authorities of the statements the latter made at the meeting.[HL1404]

No Nepalese Ministers attended this meeting, only officials from the Government of Nepal. An e-mail was sent to the Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 9 January to ask whether it was content with amendments to the meeting record, and for further clarification on a point of law. This has been acknowledged and a response is expected in due course.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What standard of proficiency in the English language is required by persons seeking to acquire British nationality.[HL1414]

Aspiring British citizens must either pass a test of their knowledge of the UK that requires English proficiency to the standard of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), entry three level, or undertake an English course using specially developed citizenship materials. Those taking the second alternative must successfully complete the course by showing progress from one ESOL level to the next. These requirements will shortly be extended to those seeking permanent residence in the UK.

Crime: False Accusations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many of the 32 cases since 1997 referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission turned on false allegations made by accusers. [HL1219]

I understand that of the 32 cases referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission involving convictions for rape or attempted rape, among the reasons for referral doubts as to the reliability of the evidence of the alleged victim featured in 22 of those references.

Firearms

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In light of the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 prescribing a mandatory custodial sentence of five years for unlawful possession of a prohibited weapon other than in exceptional circumstances, whether they have made any assessment of a recent case where a person who was found in possession of a self-contained gas cartridge revolver in a public place was offered a caution. [HL1075]

The decision to discontinue proceedings and to offer a caution was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service having full regard to the circumstances of the case.

Government Offices of the Regions: Costs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much the Government Office for the East of England has spent on internal administration in each year since its creation; and what is this figure expressed as a percentage of its total budget in each relevant year. [HL1137]

The Government Office for the East of England has spent the following amounts, to the nearest thousand pounds, on internal administration in the years since 1995:

1995-96

£6,113k

1996-97

£6,169k

1997-98

£6,271k

1998-99

£6,269k

1999-2000

£7,005k

2000-01

£7,542k

2001-02

£8,632k

2002-03

£9,356k

2003-04

£12,842k

2004-05

£15,076k

2005-06

£13,296K

This covers all running costs including staff costs, accommodation etc.

The Government Office manages directly or indirectly programme funds, which forms only one element of the office's role in the region. The office also has a key role in negotiating and brokering local area agreements and regional strategies, for example. Programme funds which are managed directly have been formally delegated to the GO in recent years. Internal administration as a proportion of this total budget is:

2003-04

5.6 per cent

2004-05

7.1 per cent

2005-06

5.1 per cent

Immigration: Failed Asylum Applicants

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many failed asylum applicants with dependent children were receiving income and other benefits at the most recent date for which figures are available; what was the estimated annual cost of providing these benefits; how many have agreed to return voluntarily; and whether all such cases received support via the National Asylum Support Service. [HL1022]

Internal management information shows that in October 2006 there were approximately 7,730 failed asylum applicants with dependent children receiving support from the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND).

The estimated annual cost of IND support for these families is around £150 million.

In 2006, 570 families of asylum seekers or failed asylum seekers applied for assisted voluntary returns. Our records do not show whether all of these families were receiving support from IND.

No figures are available centrally on the number of cases supported by local authorities on the basis of Section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948. (All numbers of asylum seekers have been rounded to the nearest five).

Name Changes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements exist for ensuring that passports of persons who have changed their names are cancelled pending the issue of a new passport.[HL1412]

There is no legal obligation for a person changing their name to notify the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) of the change until they apply for a passport. However, a person wishing to obtain a British passport in a new name must submit evidence of the change of name and surrender any existing passport held. On the issue of the passport in the new name, the previous passport record is cancelled on the IPS's database. In the event that the passport in the original name is declared to be lost, the details are notified to the Immigration Service, Interpol and others via the Identity and Passport Service's database of lost, stolen and recovered passports.

Police: Reorganisation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 8 January (WA 35–6), what criteria were used in compensating police authorities for expenditure on the Government's police merger plans, now largely dropped, whereby some authorities were compensated in full, but others received smaller sums down to 20 per cent of their expenditure. [HL1349]

An upper limit of £100,000 was set to ensure that the total amount paid to police authorities was affordable from available funds, and that it would provide a threshold under which the majority of forces could expect to be fully reimbursed for their additional costs on this work. Two criteria were employed in exception to this. The first was for those which incurred costs through undertaking work on behalf of a group of forces and police authorities. The second was specific to Lancashire and Cumbria police authorities which were voluntarily undertaking a pilot merger, which was then abandoned.

Prisoners: Alcohol

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many prisoners who are released on temporary licence are subject to a condition that no alcohol will be consumed; and whether the risk assessment which underpins the use of release on temporary licence takes account of the role alcohol played in the offence for which the prisoner was sentenced.[HL1402]

All temporary release licences include a condition prohibiting the offender from consuming alcohol. In exceptional cases—for example, temporary release to a marriage or religious ceremony—this condition may be omitted from the licence depending on the assessment of risk. There is no centrally maintained record of cases where this licence condition has been omitted. Data on the number of releases on temporary licence are published in Home Office Statistical Bulletin Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2005.

Prisoners are not granted temporary release without first passing a rigorous risk assessment. This includes the consideration of the prisoner's criminal history and factors which may have contributed to the offending behaviour, such as any history of alcohol or drugs abuse.

Further details of the policy relating to temporary release are set out in Prison Service Order 6300 Release on Temporary Licence, a copy of which is available on the Prison Service website at www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk.

Prisons: C-NOMIS

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Custody-National Offender Management Information System (C-NOMIS) was implemented at HM Prison Albany on10 December 2006; and when the review of the implementation will be published. [HL1147]

The first release of C-NOMIS was very successfully implemented, as planned, in the HM Prison Service designated early adopter, HMP Albany, on 10 December 2006. It is now in use as the operational case management system for the prison.

Initial performance monitoring and feedback from users has been positive.

First post-implementation and lessons-learnt reviews will be conducted in February 2007, which will inform progress on the C-NOMIS project. There are no plans to publish these.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the Custody-National Offender Management Information System (C-NOMIS) will be implemented by the National Probation Service in Northamptonshire. [HL1149]

No date has yet been set for implementation of C-NOMIS in the Northamptonshire Probation Service.

Progress on availability, further releases of C-NOMIS and their implementation, is the subject of a detailed review planned to report by the end of January 2007. This will be considered along with emerging feedback from implementation in HMP Albany to finalise the way forward and timing.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the implementation of the Custody-National Offender Management Information System (C-NOMIS) will be completed. [HL1150]

No date has yet been set for completing implementation of C-NOMIS across NOMS.

Progress on availability, further releases of C-NOMIS and their implementation, is the subject of a detailed review planned to report by the end of January 2007. This will be considered along with emerging feedback from implementation in HMP Albany to finalise the way forward and timing.

Regional Spatial Strategies

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the North West Regional Assembly's enumeration of cemeteries and places of worship among the “decent high quality services”, the delivery of which their regional spatial strategy aims to ensure; and whether they consider that inclusion of these words would be helpful to small faith groups in other regions.[HL1474]

The North West Regional Assembly has submitted some proposed wording changes to the text of the “Living in the North West” section of the draft submitted North West Regional Spatial Strategy for the independent panel to consider at the current examination in public. This section includes proposed regional policies and supporting text on housing, health, sport, recreation, culture and education.

The proposed changes include the deletion of the word “decent”, and the addition of the words “high quality” concerning the list of services provided by public and private means, and the addition of “places of worship, cemeteries” in the list itself. The guidance on propriety states that Her Majesty's Government and officials are unable to enter into discussions with interested parties on the draft strategy during the examination or while consideration is being given to the panel's report.

The content of other English regions' draft RSSs is a matter initially for their regional assemblies, and is subject to the same statutory process.

Roads: Dartford Crossing

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What number and proportion of vehicles using the Dartford crossing on a daily basis start or end their journey in either Kent or Essex or vice-versa. [HL1497]

Such data as we have can give only an indication of the answer. In October 2003, survey forms were handed to northbound drivers at some of the tollbooths on a weekday. Of those returning forms, 709 out of 3,253 (about 22 per cent) indicated that their journeys began in Kent or East Sussex (figures were not broken down for Kent alone) and finished in Essex. From a postal survey of tag users at about the same time, the equivalent figure was 708 out of 1,589 respondents (approx 45 per cent). About 23 per cent of trips are paid for using tags.

Schools: Extended Schools Programme

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much money has been allocated to the extended schools programme for the years 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07; and how much of that money reaches the schools.[HL1434]

A total of £443.75 million has been allocated to support the development of extended schools from 2003-04 to 2006-07. Of that, £100 million will go direct to schools through the School Standards Grant in 2006-07. The remainder is made up of £15.1 million in 2003-04; £27.8 million in 2004-05; £106.55 million in 2005-06; and £194.3 million in 2006-07. Local authorities and the Training and Development Agency will use this funding to support their strategic plans for developing extended services drawn up in consultation with schools and other key partners. Our expectation is that the vast majority of this funding will be spent at school level.

Transport: Buses and Rail

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proportion of the Department for Transport's budget was spent on (a) buses; (b) heavy-rail; and (c) light-rail in each of the past five years. [HL1247]

The proportions of departmental budget allocated to buses, heavy-rail and light-rail in each of the past five years, in terms of near cash in the departmental expenditure limit (DEL) are as follows:

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Buses

4.1 per cent

4.1 per cent

3.7 per cent

3.8 per cent

3.3 per cent

Heavy-Rail

25.2 per cent

31.8 per cent

35.5 per cent

37.7 per cent

39.1 per cent

Light-Rail

0.2 per cent

1.5 per cent

0.2 per cent

0.3 per cent

0.2 per cent

Transport: Drivers' Working Hours

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 10 October 2006, whether any further progress has been made in relation to breaches of the Drivers' Working Hours Regulations by Irish drivers in the United Kingdom. [HL1599]

We continue to undertake targeted enforcement activity to combat drivers’ hours offences. Last November, the Road Safety Act 2006 received Royal Assent. That includes enabling powers which provide for a graduated fixed penalty and deposit scheme which will allow additional enforcement activity both for these offences and where the driver does not have a UK address. We intend to consult shortly on the detail of the scheme.

In addition, details of all breaches are sent by the Department for Transport Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) to officials in the Irish Road Safety Authority. We are given to understand that all such matters are followed up as necessary by their enforcement officers.

Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why they rejected the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe unanimous decision to mark all new heavy goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes with high conspicuity markings. [HL1565]

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) has agreed that fitment of retro-reflective tape should become mandatory for new heavy trucks (7.5 tonne and over) seeking approval to UN-ECE Regulation 48. A truck with such approval can be sold throughout the UN-ECE area without having to meet any further, national, lighting requirements. We have not rejected this decision: rather we are working to bring the requirement into force via UK regulation by 10 October 2009. This is the earliest date that Contracting Parties to UN-ECE Regulation 48 can refuse to register new heavy trucks not fitted with reflective tape.

Waste Management: Landfill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they intend to take to secure new landfill sites for waste disposal once the present site options are used up by 2017. [HL1479]

There is sufficient landfill capacity to meet current waste arisings. Future capacity is difficult to predict. However, a number of government policies are designed significantly to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill.

More challenging waste targets, progressively lower landfill limits and the escalating landfill tax will all help the UK to move away from its reliance on landfill. These measures will also encourage more sustainable waste management through greater reduction, reuse and recycling.