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Written Answers

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 1 May 2007

Written Answers

Tuesday 1 May 2007

“Titanic”

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to make funding available to promote education relating to the engineering achievement, of which the “Titanic” was an example, in time for the 100th anniversary of its launch. [HL3451]

The department has no plans to provide discrete funding for the promotion of education relating to past engineering achievements. Pupils can study historic design solutions and industrial history through the national curriculum. There are teaching resources available that explore the contribution of past designers and engineers. Through our school science strategy, we are working with key partners, including the Royal Academy of Engineering, to inspire young people to become the scientists and engineers of the future.

Anti-social Behaviour Orders

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many times reporting restrictions have been lifted in anti-social behaviour order proceedings involving children in the past 12 months in England and Wales. [HL2669]

The information requested is not available centrally.

Anti-social behaviour orders are civil orders and therefore not subject to reporting restrictions. ASBOs are designed to protect local communities and their effectiveness will depend on local people knowing about them. However, courts retain the power to impose reporting restrictions if they believe it appropriate to do so.

Corruption

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What statutory measures or common law provisions allow the United Kingdom to fulfil the obligations under European Union Council framework decision 2003/568/JHA of 22 July 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector. [HL2786]

The attached table gives details of the United Kingdom's compliance with the European Union Council framework decision 2003/568/JHA of 22 July 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector.

Council framework decision of 22 July 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector (Official Journal L 192/54-56, 31/7/03)

All the mandatory requirements of the Framework Decision are met by UK law.

Article No.

UK transposition measures

Status

Article 1

Article 1 is confined to definitions

Existing measure/s

Article 2

Article 2 is met by Section 1 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 which applies throughout the UK. The first paragraph of this provision criminalises the action of any “agent” who corruptly accepts or obtains “any or other consideration” for doing acts, or making omissions, or showing favour or disfavour “in relation to his principal's affairs or business”. The expression “agent” includes any person employed by or acting for another, and the expression “principal” includes an employer (see annex). The second paragraph of this provision criminalises the action of any person who corruptly gives or agrees to give or offers “any gift or other consideration” to an “agent” as an inducement or reward for doing acts, or making omissions, or showing favour or disfavour “in relation to his principal's affairs or business”.

Existing measure/s

Article 3

Article 3 on instigation, aiding and abetting is covered under Section 8 of the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861 (which applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland). That lays down that any person who aids, abets, counsels, or procures an indictable offence (and the offences under the 1906 Act are indictable) may be prosecuted and punished as a principal. (“Counsel” and “procure” would cover instigation). Incitement to commit any crime is also a separate common law offence in itself.

In Scotland, participating or instigating is covered under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. Instigation to commit crimes is also a common law offence.

Article 4

The maximum penalty under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 for corruption is seven years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Existing measure/s

Article 4(3) is covered by UK law in the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

Article 5

As regards Article 5(1), the general provision concerning legal persons is made under the Interpretation Act 1978, which (in its Schedule 1) provides that unless the contrary is stated, the word “person” in a statute is to be construed as including a “body of persons, corporate or incorporate”.

Existing measure/s

Article 5.2 is a matter addressed in two ways in UK law. First, under the civil law of negligence, a plaintiff could sue a legal person on the basis that the legal person owed him a duty of care, had failed to fulfil it, and that this had resulted in damage to the plaintiff.. Secondly, Article 5.2 is covered by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, in that where a benefit accrues to a legal person as a result of a crime (any crime, committed by anyone) the proceeds could be recoverable by a civil action under the new Act.

With regard to 5.3, the liability of a legal person does not preclude criminal proceedings against natural persons who are involved in the commission of an offence of the type referred to in Articles 2 and 3.

Article 6

It follows from the provision of the Interpretation Act 1978 referred to above, that legal persons are subject to the same penalties as natural persons. They would thus be liable to unlimited fines in cases taken on indictment.

Existing measure/s

Article 7

As concerns 7.1(a): having regard to the general principles of our criminal law, the courts have held that the 1906 Act can apply to offences committed in whole or in part in our jurisdiction.

Existing measure/s

As concerns 7.1(b), as of 14 February 2002, with the implementation of Part 12 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, Section 109 of that Act extended the normal jurisdiction of our courts in cases of corruption, including the first two offences under Section 1 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, to cover offences by UK nationals which take place outside the UK. There is no dual criminality requirement. We therefore fully implement Article 7.1(b).

As regards Article 7.1(c) the UK exercises its right, under Article 7.2, not to apply this rule in full.

With regard to Article 7.3, it should be noted that the UK also stands ready to extradite its own nationals to face charges abroad.

Article 10

Gibraltar is intending to transpose this measure as soon as legislative time allows.

Crime: Organised Crime

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How the Serious Organised Crime Agency defines organised crime or distinguishes it from other crimes. [HL3272]

There is no statutory or other hard-and-fast definition of organised crime. One definition of organised criminality is given in the Home Office White Paper, One Step Ahead—A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Crime: “those involved, normally working with others, in continuing serious criminal activities for substantial profit, whether based in the UK or elsewhere”.

The annual UK Threat Assessment (UKTA) describes and assesses the threats posed to the UK by serious organised criminals and this informs SOCA's priorities. The UKTA recognises that many serious organised criminals are engaged across a range of criminal activities and markets. These are likely to change over time as serious organised criminals move into new markets or activities.

Crime: Rape

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 21 March (WA 195), on what basis an accurate assessment of the scale of false allegations in rape cases can be made in the absence of statistics being gathered by the police on the incidence of rape accusations being withdrawn following admission of false allegations. [HL3244]

There are several recent research studies which provide us with a reasonable assessment of the scale of false allegations in rape cases, including Home Office Research Study 293 A Gap or a Chasm? Attrition in reported rape cases (2005) and Without Consent (2007), the report of an inspection into the investigation and prosecution of rape cases. Forthcoming Home Office research will also include an assessment of the number of false allegations in rape cases. These studies are based on analysis of rape case files.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Kelly, Lovett and Regan recommendation that accounting rules for rape and sexual violence should be renewed and reclassified is being acted upon. [HL3245]

Under Home Office counting rules, an allegation should be designated a “no crime” where the police have verifiable information that no crime was committed. Allegations designated as “no crimes” are not included in the published recorded crime figures and there are no plans to revisit the counting rules in this respect.

EU: Article 308

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 16 April (WA 14-15), what were the amendments secured by the United Kingdom to ensure that the European Union's programme for prevention, preparedness and consequence-management of terrorism, and other security-related risks was linked to Community competence in that area. [HL3365]

The Government negotiated hard to ensure that the final text of the programme for prevention, preparedness and consequence-management of terrorism and other security-related risks reflects member states' responsibilities for protecting critical infrastructure.

The adopted Council decision reflects our efforts: recitals seven and 10 refer to the Community acting within the scope of its competence (recital 7) and to the primary responsibility for protecting critical infrastructure falling on member states, owners, operators and users (recital 10). Following UK proposals, Articles 1 and 3(1) also refer to the. programme “support[ing] member states’ efforts to prevent, prepare for and to protect people and critical infrastructure”.

The Government secured deletion of the reference in Article 4(2)(a) to threat assessments on critical infrastructure. At Article 4(2)(c), the reference to “common operational measures” was amended to “shared operational measures” and at Article 4(2)(d) “common security standards” was amended to “security standards”.

Immigration: Asylum Seekers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What criteria are applied by the Immigration Minister when considering a request from officials to extend detention of a child asylum seeker for more than 28 days. [HL3337]

Cases are considered in line with the stated detention policy as set out in the 1998 White Paper Fairer, Faster and Firmer: A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum.

The Minister considers each case on its merits, taking into account the families' circumstances and background, the progress being made towards removal and whether there are any factors, including welfare concerns about the children, that argue against maintaining detention.

People Trafficking

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the value of assets so far seized from those convicted of trafficking in persons; for what purposes this is being used; and whether these purposes include the provision of safe houses for victims of trafficking. [HL2989]

Under Reflex, the last set of figures indicates that we seized £5.5 million in criminal assets in operations against organised immigration crime groups, and during Operation Pentameter over £250,000 was seized.

Under a Treasury agreement, all receipts are remitted to the Home Office. Fifty per cent is returned to front-line agencies under an asset-recovery incentivisation scheme. The remainder contributes to core home-spending programmes. The Home Office has provided funding for protecting the victims of trafficking.

Prisoners

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many prisoners are currently untried or unsentenced in (a) HM Prison Pentonville; (b) HM Prison Nottingham; (c) HM Prison Wymott; (d) HM Prison Acklington; (e) HM Prison Wayland; and (f) HM Prison Erlestoke. [HL2703]

The information requested is contained in the table.

These figures have been drawn from administrative data systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system.

Prison Population at 31 January 2007

Convicted unsentenced prisoners

Untried prisoners

Acklington

0

0

Erlestoke

0

0

Nottingham

102

132

Pentonville

210

438

Wayland

0

0

Wymott

0

0

Roads: Drink Driving

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the percentage change in drink-driving-related road deaths compared with other road deaths between 1996–98 and 2005; what is the source of this information; and what is this percentage change and the maximum permitted level of blood alcohol for drivers in each European Union member state. [HL3376]

Provisional estimates suggest that between the 1996-98 average and 2005, there was a 6 per cent increase in the number of people killed in reported personal-injury drink-drive accidents. Over the same period, the estimated number of people killed in non-drink-drive accidents fell by 12 per cent.

Personal injury road accident data in Great Britain are collected by the police and reported to the department using the STATS19 accident report format. Results are published in detail in Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual report. The report for 2005 was published on 28 September 2006 and can be found at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents/casualtiesgbar/roadcasualtiesgreatbritain2005.

Two sources of data are used to assess the extent and characteristics of drink-drive accidents in Great Britain. These sources are:

Coroners' data—Information about the level of alcohol in the blood of road accident fatalities aged 16 or over who die within 12 hours of a road accident is provided by coroners in England and Wales and by procurators fiscal in Scotland; and

STATS19 breath-test dataThe personal injury road accident reporting system (STATS19) provides data on injury accidents in which the driver or rider survived and was also breath-tested at the roadside. If the driver or rider refused to provide a breath-test specimen then they are considered to have failed the test unless they are deemed unable to take the test for medical reasons.

The maximum permitted level of blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers, the annual average number of fatalities and vehicle population for 1996-98, the number of fatalities and vehicle population in 2005, the percentage change in the number of people killed in all reported personal injury road accidents, and the percentage change in the vehicle population in each European Union member state, can be seen in the following table.

A road safety performance index, published by the European Transport Safety Council, contains information on the percentage change in drink-driving deaths relative to other road deaths between 1996-98 and 2005 in European Union member states. This can be accessed at: www.etsc.be/documents/copy_of_copy_of_PIN%20Flash%205.pdf.

EU Country

BAC 1 level

Fatalities 1996-98 annual average 2

Fatalities 2005 2

% change in all fatalities (1996-98 average—2005) 2

Vehicle population 1996-98 annual average 6

Vehicle population 2005 6

% change in all vehicles (1996-98 average—2005) 6

Austria

0.5

1,032

768

-26%

5,038

5,576

11%

Belgium

0.5

1,407

1,089

-23%

5,342

6,159

15%

Bulgaria

0.5

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Cyprus

0.5

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Czech Republic

0.0

1,508

1,286

-15%

Not available

Not available

Not available

Denmark

0.5

501

331

-34%

2,265

2,637

16%

Estonia

0.2

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Finland

0.5

414

379

-8%

2,380

3,000

26%

France

0.5

8,634

5,318

-38%

31,991

38,499

20%

Germany

0.5

8,366

5,361

-36%

50,650

56,322

11%

Greece

0.5

2,148

1,658

-23%

5,511

8,308

51%

Hungary

0.0

1,377

1,278

-7%

2,771

3,370

22%

Ireland 3

0.8

461

335

-27%

1,427

1,937

36%

Italy 4

0.5

6,754

5,625

-17%

41,043

48,348

18%

Latvia

0.5

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Lithuania

0.4

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Luxembourg 4

0.8

63

50

-20%

286

358

25%

Malta

0.8

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Netherlands

0.5

1,136

750

-34%

7,539

8,627

14%

Poland

0.2

6,916

5,444

-21%

12,253

16,815

37%

Portugal

0.5

2,243

1,247

-44%

4,584

5,899

29%

Romania

0.8

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Not available

Slovakia 5

0.0

741

610

-18%

1,556

1,834

18%

Slovenia

0.5

351

258

-27%

893

1,184

33%

Spain

0.5

5,681

4,442

-22%

21,091

29,969

42%

Sweden

0.2

536

440

-18%

4,559

5,291

16%

United Kingdom

0.8

3,688

3,336

-10%

27,612

33,717

22%

1Source: European Transport Safety Commission

2Source: OECD, International Road Traffic and Accident Database

3 2003 fatalities, vehicle population and percentage difference from 2003 to the 1996-98 annual average

4 2004 fatalities, vehicle population and percentage difference from 2004 to the 1996-98 annual average

5 2002 fatalities, vehicle population and percentage difference from 2002 to the 1996-98 annual average

6Source: OECD, International Road Traffic and Accident Database

Roads: Motorway Bridges

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether motorway bridges are inspected for safety on a regular basis. [HL3388]

Motorway bridges in England are inspected regularly in accordance with standard BD63/07, “Inspection of Highway Structures”, to ensure their continuing safety to carry traffic. The categories of inspection include safety, general, principal, special and inspection for assessment and these are undertaken at different intervals.

Secretary of State for Transport

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 20 February (WA 236-37), what means of transport the Secretary of State for Transport used to travel to France; and what meetings he attended. [HL2185]

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport attended an Anglo-French colloque. He travelled by Eurostar.

Tax Credits

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the take-up of tax credits among (a) eligible working families; (b) single parents; and (c) old-age pensioners in (i) Clackmannanshire, and (ii) Scotland. [HL3433]

Estimated take-up rates for tax credits among working families with children, broken down by country and government office region, are shown in table 9 of the HMRC publication Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit Take-up Rates 2004-05, available on the HMRC website at: www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/takeup-rates2004-05.pdf. Tax credit take-up rate estimates are not available for the other breakdowns requested.

Waste Management: Brofiscin Quarry

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the daily average number of trucks or tankers carrying chemical waste to Brofiscin Quarry between 1965 and 1972; in what solid or liquid form the waste was deposited in the quarry; and what was the total number of days during which the waste was deposited. [HL3204]

This information is not available. The site was operated before duty-of-care legislation applied and the operators were therefore not required to keep such records.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether investigations were conducted by scientists, veterinarians and civil engineers at Brofiscin Quarry between 1968 and 1974; if so, what the reason was for the investigations; which government departments received the reports; and, in each case, how many reports. [HL3205]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When Brofiscin Quarry was last used for the extraction of limestone. [HL3206]

It is known from aerial photography that active quarrying at the site was taking place in 1953. Aerial photographs from 1967 suggest quarrying had ceased by this time.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the acceptability of dumping polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other toxic wastes in Brofiscin Quarry between 5 December 1969 (when Monsanto informed its management that disposal of contaminated wastes to landfill was no longer acceptable) and 1972 (when dumping in the quarry ceased) was considered by the relevant licensing authorities. [HL3207]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether samples of dust from houses situated in Groesfaen, near to Brofiscin, or from tree bark in the vicinity of the quarry have been collected and analysed; if so, what were the findings; and, if not, whether they would commission such studies. [HL3208]

Neither the Environment Agency nor the local authority has undertaken such sampling or analysis. There are no plans to do so in the immediate future, as neither pathway has been identified as significant in any of the reports commissioned to date.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why the joint agreement made on 1 February 1972 between Monsanto and Redland Purle, to which the Government were a party, for the remediation of Brofiscin Quarry was never enforced; and whether this agreement is evidence for a claim against Solutia Incorporated in the current Monsanto bankruptcy hearings. [HL3218]

As this is a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government, I have written to their Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside, Carwyn Jones AM. I will share his response with the noble Countess as soon as it is available, and place a copy in the Library of the House.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the condition of the drums in which some hazardous waste, which included polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), was buried in the Brofiscin Quarry is such that long-term toxic effects on human health and the environment are prevented. [HL3219]

The drums in the quarry are buried, and are likely to have been compressed and degraded over time. Monitoring programmes and risk assessments have assumed a worst-case scenario—that the waste mass is not sealed within drums but is free within the quarry void and hence potentially mobile.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there were any objectors to the planning application for the deposit of wastes in the Brofiscin Quarry made in 1965; if so, who were the objectors; whether there were any specific prohibitions; and what categories of waste were permitted on the site. [HL3223]

The only information available is the planning permission granted by the former Glamorgan County Council to Industrial Waste Disposal (Reclamation) Ltd, dated 20 August 1965. This describes the proposed development as “Disposal of Industrial Waste”.

The conditions specified on the permission are:

tipping operations shall be limited to the filling of the excavated area at the western end of the quarry and the height of the tipping shall not exceed that of the general level of the main quarry floor to the east;

there shall be no interference with and no pollution by debris of any watercourse, stream or ditch in the area; and

on completion of the tipping the surface shall be graded so as to avoid ponding and steps taken to promote plant growth.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the levels of chlorodibenzofuran found in (a) surface water following heavy rains, and (b) ground water in the locality of Brofiscin Quarry and in aquifers fed by sources in that locality. [HL3347]

I understand that no chlorodibenzofurans have been detected in any of the samples collected in and around Brofiscin Quarry, and that these samples consisted of soil, groundwater, surface water and vapour.

Waste Management: Newport

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On what date production of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) ceased at the Monsanto site in Newport, Wales; and on what date and from which sites all production of PCBs by any manufacturer ceased in the United Kingdom. [HL3220]

I understand that the production of PCBs ceased in 1977 at the Monsanto, Newport site, and that all UK production ceased in that same year.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Where and how all hazardous wastes from the Monsanto site in Newport, Wales, were disposed of following the closure of the Maendy and Brofiscin quarries in 1972. [HL3222]