Skip to main content

Written Statements

Volume 694: debated on Monday 16 July 2007

Written Statements

Monday 16 July 2007

Armed Forces: Defence Medical Education and Training Agency

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The following key targets have been set for the chief executive of the Defence Medical Education and Training Agency (DMETA) for the financial year 2007-08:

Key Target 1—Deployable Personnel

To meet 100 per cent of the Commanders-in-Chief requirements for secondary care personnel under DMETA command for operational deployments.

Key Target 2Individual Military Continuation Training

To ensure that 90 per cent of all DMETA personnel whose medical category permits achieve their service's annual mandatory individual military training.

Key Target 3Medical Professional and Career Training

To provide initial training (phase 2) that meets the requirements, professional standards and timescales defined by the single services.

To provide career, professional and continuation training (phase 3) that meets the requirements, professional standards and timescales defined by the single services, and the statutory requirements of the relevant national bodies.

Key Target 4—Efficiency

To reduce the ratio of personnel engaged in support activities compared with direct activities.

Key Target 5—Customer Focus

To maintain the customer confidence index score within a stated range.

Key Target 6Harmony/Separated Service

To ensure compliance with the single services’ harmony guidelines for all deployable personnel under DMETA's command.

BNFL: AWE Management Limited

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (John Hutton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Further to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry's announcement on 24 October 2006, (Official Report, col. 85WS) regarding the sale by British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) of British Nuclear Group (BNG) and establishment of a National Nuclear Laboratory, I would like to announce that BNFL has commenced the process to sell the group’s one-third stake in Atomic Weapons Establishment Management Limited (AWEML). AWEML is currently owned equally by BNFL, Serco and Lockheed Martin. In addition to seeking to maximise shareholder return through the sale process, the Government and BNFL will seek to ensure that an AWEML consortium is in place to manage the enduring performance of AWEML's subsidiary, AWE plc, in continuing to meet the requirements of its customer, the Ministry of Defence.

I will update Parliament on the progress of the sale at a later date.

Gambling: Casinos

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (James Purnell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In response to a Question from Andy Reed on 11 July, the Prime Minister said that during the summer we would look at whether regeneration may be a better way of meeting economic and social needs than the creation of regional casinos. I know that there is a great deal of interest in this issue across both Houses and beyond, and I am making this Statement to provide further detail to enable those directly involved to plan accordingly.

The Gambling Act 2005 provides for the licensing of one regional, eight large and eight small casinos. The Government’s national policy statement on casinos, published in December 2004, sought to accommodate the desire expressed by many local authorities to explore the potential economic and regenerative benefits of new casino developments within our overriding objective of keeping crime out of gambling, keeping it fair and protecting children and vulnerable people.

In October 2005, my right honourable friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood established the independent Casino Advisory Panel to advise her on the authorities that should be given the power to issue the new casino licences. Sixty-eight local authorities applied to the panel, including 27 applications for the single regional casino. On 30 January, the panel recommended that Manchester should be permitted to issue the regional casino premises licence, and it recommended the 16 authorities that should be permitted to issue large and small casino licences.

Having carefully considered the independent panel’s report, and following consultation with colleagues in the devolved Administrations, on 28 March the Government brought before the House an order giving effect to the recommendations. That order was passed in the House of Commons by a majority of 24. It was, however, narrowly rejected by the House of Lords.

The Government have reflected on the debates in both Houses. There are a number of important conclusions to be drawn.

The first is that there was a clear consensus across all parties that the eight large and eight small casinos—the 16—should be awarded to the authorities identified by the Casino Advisory Panel.

Since Parliament debated this issue, there have been local elections in many of the areas concerned. Some have experienced a change of political control, and in the remaining authorities some of the individual councillors involved in relevant decisions may have changed.

Our reform of gambling policy has placed a great emphasis on the importance of local consultation and local accountability; we have given local people through their elected representatives a greater say in the licensing of gambling premises in their communities. This includes for the first time giving authorities the power to resolve not to license a new casino.

Against this backdrop, I have decided to write to the authorities concerned to ask them to confirm their continued desire to license a new casino. I am sure that both Houses will wish to take account of a renewed commitment from the areas concerned when the time comes to consider this matter again. If any of the authorities have had a change of heart, I will not include them in the new legislation. The Gambling Act requires only that up to eight authorities in each category are identified.

While there may have been broad agreement on the 16, it was equally clear that, as the Prime Minister made plain last week, there is no such consensus over the regional casino. Although much of the debate focused on the merits of the Casino Advisory Panel’s recommendation of Manchester as compared to Blackpool, many Members of all sides of both Houses expressed serious doubts about whether we should have a regional casino at all. We have taken heed of those concerns.

The Gambling Act, which is due to come into force on 1 September this year, introduces one of the most rigorous regulatory regimes anywhere in the world. It is why we enshrined at the heart of that legislation the three key objectives of keeping crime out of gambling, keeping it fair for the consumer and—our number-one priority—protecting children and vulnerable people.

Later in the year, the independent Gambling Commission will publish a new study into the prevalence of gambling. This will provide updated information about the rate of gambling and problem gambling in this country. The gambling industry is on notice that if, despite the very stringent safeguards we have introduced, the incidence of problem gambling increases, we have taken the powers to introduce even tougher protections. I have also decided that it is right to pause and to wait for the results of the prevalence study to be published in September before reaching a decision on how best to respond to the decision of the House of Lords to defeat the casino areas order.

The Government’s overriding priority has always been to minimise the potential for harm arising from such developments. At the same time, we have wanted to respond positively to the significant number of local authorities keen to explore the potential of a regional casino to contribute to regeneration in their communities. That is why the new casino provisions were introduced in the first place. The need for regeneration in east Manchester was a significant factor in the success of the city’s application to the Casino Advisory Panel.

In view of the very real concern surrounding the regional casino, it would be prudent to examine afresh whether deprived areas can be equally well served by other forms of regeneration. The Government are taking forward this issue.

In the mean time, we are proceeding with the urgent task of completing the implementation of the Gambling Act. Protecting children and consumers is our number-one priority. I will ensure that our new system of regulation, as it covers every aspect of casinos and other gambling premises—from advertising to checks on entry to controls on games and machines—will place public protection first.

Gulf Veterans: Mortality Data

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As part of the Government's continuing commitment to investigate Gulf veterans’ illnesses openly and honestly, data on the mortality of veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict are published regularly. The most recent figures for 1 April 1991 to 30 June 2007 were published on Friday 13 July 2007 as a national statistic on the Defence Analytical Services Agency website. Copies were also placed in the Library.

The data for Gulf veterans are compared to those of a control group known as the “era cohort”, consisting of Armed Forces personnel of a similar profile, in terms of age, gender, service, regular/reservists status and rank, who were in service on 1 January 1991 but were not deployed to the Gulf. As in the previous release, the era group has been adjusted for a small difference in the age-profile of those aged 40 years and over, to ensure appropriate comparisons.

Key points to note in the data are:

there have been 845 deaths among the Gulf veterans and 864 in the age-adjusted era comparison group; and

the 845 deaths among Gulf veterans compare with approximately 1,393 deaths which would have been expected in a similar sized cohort taken from the general population of the UK with the same age and gender profile. This reflects the strong emphasis on fitness when recruiting and retaining service personnel.

These statistics continue to confirm that UK veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict do not suffer an excess of overall mortality compared with service personnel who did not deploy.

The full notice can be viewed at www.dasa.mod.uk

Health Select Committee: Audiology Services

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Ivan Lewis), has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government have today laid before Parliament their response to the Health Select Committee report on audiology services (Cm 7140).

The Government are responding to the conclusions and recommendations raised by the committee, covering issues such as the waiting times challenge in audiology services; service delivery, patient pathways and good practice; the use of the independent sector; and capacity.

The Government’s response is available in the Library.

Prisons: Population

My right honourable friend the Minister of State (David Hanson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 19 June 2007 (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 96) my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the then Lord Chancellor, announced a new scheme, the end of custody licence (ECL), which introduced a presumption in favour of release on licence for prisoners serving between four weeks and four years for the final 18 days of their sentence, subject to meeting strict eligibility criteria and providing a release address. Prisoners who would normally be subject to supervision on release (prisoners serving 12 months or more or under 22 years of age) are required to meet their probation officer after release and to have regular contact after that, in line with their supervision plan. All prisoners released on ECL are liable to recall if they are reported to have misbehaved during the period of the licence.

The first releases under the scheme took place on 29 June 2007.

Tables with the full set of data for this report have been made available in the Libraries, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The tables are being published on the Ministry of Justice website today at www.justice.gov.uk/publications/endofcustodylicence.htm

The following information applies only to the releases and recalls in the first week of operation of the scheme, and future reports will be published monthly:

between implementation of the ECL scheme on 29 June 2007 and 5 July 2007, there were 1,701 releases on ECL. Of these, 1,552 (91 per cent) were male and 149 (9 per cent) were female;

the greatest number of releases was for offenders serving sentences for theft and handling, with 404 (24 per cent of all releases) coming from this offence group; and,

1,412 (83 per cent) of releases were from sentences of less than 12 months, with the remaining 289 (17 per cent) from sentences of 12 months to less than four years.

The number of releases on ECL each day are shown in the table:

Date

Number of releases

Friday 29 June 2007

884

Monday 2 July 2007

506

Tuesday 3 July 2007

124 

Wednesday 4 July 2007

87

Thursday 5 July 2007

100

There were 30 notified decisions to recall between 29 June and 5 July. The most common reason for recall was the offender being out of touch with their supervising probation officer, with 11 (37 per cent) of recalls being for this reason.

Any prisoners falling into the following categories are excluded from release on ECL:

registered sex offenders, whether or not they are currently serving a sentence for a sexual offence;

prisoners serving sentences for serious violence as specified in Prison Service Instruction 27/2007;

prisoners who have previously escaped from custody;

prisoners who have previously breached temporary release conditions during the current sentence, have offended during a period under temporary release at any time, or who are currently serving a sentence for failing to return from temporary release;

prisoners who report that they do not have a release address;

foreign national prisoners who will be subject to deportation at the end of their sentence;

prisoners who are subject to extradition proceedings;

sentenced prisoners who have been remanded into custody on further charges or who are awaiting sentence;

prisoners who, within the period of their current sentence, had been recalled either from HDC or from normal licence;.

prisoners under 18;

prisoners serving DTO sentences; and

prisoners required to undertake a treatment programme as a condition of the normal (end of sentence) supervision licence that could not be arranged during the period of ECL.

The data presented in this Statement are drawn from the prison administrative IT 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. While the figures shown have been checked as far as practicable, they should be regarded as approximate and not necessarily accurate to the last whole number.

Table 1—ECL releases: by offence, sentence length, age, ethnic group and sex

 

Males

Females

Total

All ECL releases between 29 June 2007 and 5 July 2007

1,552

149

1,701

By offence

 

 

 

Violence against the person (1)

317

27

344

Robbery

22

2

24

Burglary

148

1

149

Theft and Handling

354

50

404

Fraud and Forgery

31

6

37

Drug offences

57

8

65

Motoring offences

213

6

219

Other offences

379

48

427

Offence not recorded

31

1

32

By sentence length

 

 

 

Less than or equal to six months

1,105

122

1,227

Greater than six months to less than 12 months

171

14

185

12 months to less than four years

276

13

289

By age

 

 

 

18-20

216

17

233

21-24

313

18

331

25-29

356

38

394

30-39

416

59

475

40-49

193

13

206

50-59

47

4

51

60 and over

11

0

11

By ethnic group

 

 

 

White

1,334

131

1,465

Mixed

34

6

40

Asian or Asian British

70

0

70

Black or Black British

108

11

119

Chinese or other ethnic group

4

1

5

Not stated

1

0

1

Unrecorded

0

0

0

1991 Census ethnic codes

1

0

1

(1) Excludes serious violent offences such as murder, manslaughter, wounding with intent to commit grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, child cruelty and serious explosives offences. A full list of exclusions can be found in Prison Service Instruction 27/2007.

Data sources and quality: these figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. See data sources and quality section of report for more information.

Table 2—ECL releases by discharging establishment (1)

Releases between 29 June and 5 July 2007

Establishment

Releases

Males

Altcourse

12

Acklington

4

Ashwell

4

Aylesbury

1

Belmarsh

18

Buckley Hall

4

Blundeston

2

Bedford

41

Brockhill

8

Bristol

13

Birmingham

40

Bullingdon

25

Brinsford

1

Blakenhurst

50

Bullwood Hall

6

Brixton

13

Chelmsford

34

Cardiff

15

Camp Hill

6

Coldingley

1

Castington

3

Channings Wood

6

Canterbury

5

Dartmoor

3

Durham

34

Doncaster

61

Dorchester

8

Deerbolt

20

Erlestoke

3

Standford Hill

22

Everthorpe

20

Exeter

31

Elmley

19

Forest Bank

45

Ford

17

Featherstone

2

Gloucester

16

Guys Marsh

14

Grendon (Spring Hill)

6

Glen Parva

31

Hollesley Bay (Warren Hill)

12

Moorland Open

11

Hewell Grange

9

Holme House

31

Hindley

3

Hull

6

Highdown

24

Haverigg

15

Kirkham

46

Lancaster

6

Leicester

14

Leeds

41

Lindholme

11

Lincoln

15

Liverpool

47

Littlehey

1

Lewes

9

Leyhill

25

Moorland

12

Manchester

54

Maidstone

1

Edmunds Hill

21

Nottingham

14

Northallerton

28

North Sea Camp

30

Norwich

23

Onley

20

Peterborough

21

Portland

15

Preston

19

Parc

38

Pentonville

19

Rochester

3

Reading

8

Ranby

28

Risley

10

Stafford

1

Stoke Heath

26

Stocken

4

Swinfen Hall

3

Sudbury

11

Swansea

15

Shrewsbury

14

Thorn Cross

4

Usk (Prescoed)

8

Winchester

11

Wealstun

5

Woodhill

27

Wayland

3

Wymott

7

Wolds

2

Wormwood Scrubs

28

Wandsworth

29

Total

1,552

Females

Askham Grange

1

Bronzefield

18

Drake Hall

7

Downview

6

East Sutton Park

1

Eastwood Park

16

Foston Hall

17

Holloway

17

Low Newton

10

Morton Hall

1

New Hall

22

Peterborough

16

Send

2

Styal

15

Total

149

Males and Females Total

1,701

(1) Prisons not releasing any prisoners on ECL between 29 June and 5 July 2007 are not included in this breakdown.

Data sources and quality: these figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. See data sources and quality section of report for more information.

Table 3—ECL recalls by sentence length and reason for recall

Decisions to recall between 29 June and 5 July 2007

Decisions to recall as notified to NOMS

30

By reason for recall

Reoffended (1)

6

Failed to reside (2)

6

Out of touch (3)

11

Poor behaviour (4)

7

Number of offenders unlawfully at large on 5 July 2007

18

In addition, NOMS has been notified of one offender released a week earlier than his due ECL date of 5 July and two other prisoners now back in custody, having been recalled following release without appropriate authorisation.

(1) The number of actual further offences committed, as notified to NOMS, is eight. This number is higher than that of recalls for reoffending, because offenders will sometimes commit/be charged with more than one offence and not all offences are identified while the offender is serving the period of ECL. Some offences will be identified and notified to NOMS after the offender has completed the period of ECL and is therefore not liable to be recalled.

(2) The offender did not live, whether for one night or longer, at the address given on the ECL licence and which the governor had approved for the purpose of release on ECL.

(3) The offender did not report on release or thereafter to his supervising probation officer as required by the conditions of the supervision licence. (This would apply to offenders serving sentences of 12 months or over and all those under 22 who are subject to supervision by the National Probation Service).

(4) The offender has exhibited behaviour that indicates non-compliance, or a risk of reoffending or harm in respect of the conditions of the licence.

Data sources and quality: all the figures above are as notified to NOMS and may therefore be subject to inaccuracies. There may be recalls, reoffending, further offences, offenders returned to custody and offenders release not in accordance with the scheme, some of which may not have been notified to us.