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Written Answers

Volume 620: debated on Thursday 14 December 2000

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Written Answers

Thursday, 14th December 2000.

The Magistracy: Report

asked Her Majesty's Government:When they intend to publish the joint Home Office and Lord Chancellor's Department research into stipendiary and lay magistrates, which was announced in November 1999. [HL167]

The research which was jointly commissioned by the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Home Office last year to assess the relative costs, effectiveness and other benefits and disadvantages of the lay and professional judiciary in the magistrates' courts has been published today under the title The judiciary in the magistrates' courts. Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, and are also available on the Home Office website.The report has been passed to Lord Justice Auld to inform his review of the work of the criminal courts, the conclusions of which are expected in the New Year.

Local Transport Capital Settlement

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will announce details of the local transport capital settlement. [HL166]

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

The Government's transport strategy and investment plans were set out in Transport 2010: the 10 Year Plan, published in July 2000. The 10-year plan provided the long-term framework for investment, which is now being implemented. It will put right the effects of years of under-investment that this Government inherited. The 10-year plan provided for £59 billion of expenditure on local transport—£30.6 billion of public revenue expenditure, £19.3 billion public capital investment, and £9 billion of private investment.This Local Transport Capital Settlement is the first five-year allocation from the £19.3 billion of public capital investment. The total allocation for English local highways authorities outside London for the period 2001–02 to 2005–06 will be £8.4 billion. The five-year allocation is as follows:

LTP allocations (£ billion)2001–022002–032003–042004–052005–065 year total
Major schemes, integrated transport schemes, and maintenance schemes1.361.521.671.941.938.43
These figures do not sum exactly to total due to rounding.

Every authority will benefit from this significantly increased funding, which in 2001–02 represents a doubling over last year's allocation for English authorities outside London, with further increases in subsequent years.

Using this funding, local authorities, working in partnership with local people, transport operators, businesses and interest groups, will be able to make a real difference to the quality of transport in their areas.

In making these allocations, we have accepted, or provisionally accepted, 67 new major schemes (those with a gross cost of over £5 million). These include 28 public transport and integrated transport schemes, including bus priority measures and guided bus schemes, to make journeys faster and more reliable with major new interchanges, and 39 road schemes, such as local bypasses and relief roads.

This allocation will also enable authorities to take forward the many smaller-scale improvements contained in their local transport plans. These include improvements to public transport, such as priority bus routes, improved integration, better access to bus, rail, and light rail stations, more park and ride schemes, and improved waiting facilities at interchanges. They also include schemes to make local roads safer and less congested, and measures to encourage cycling and walking.

Within the overall allocation, we have also made provision for authorities to repair local roads and bridges, as announced in the other place on 13 November 2000 [ Official Report, col. 492W]. This funding, along with the additional revenue funding being made available through the highways maintenance standard spending assessment, should enable authorities to meet the target to halt the deterioration of local roads by 2004.

Copies of the press notice and a list of allocations for individual authorities have been placed in the Library of the House.

Home Office Certificates Of Identity

asked her Majesty's Government:What steps they will take with the European Union to ensure that Home Office Certificates of Identity issued to persons granted exceptional leave to remain are accepted as valid travel documents in other European countries, or that these documents are replaced by some other travel documents which would be acceptable throughout Europe. [HL17]

The Home Office Certificate of Identity (CID) is a travel document issued to foreign nationals, other than refugees, who are resident in the United Kingdom and cannot obtain a passport from their national authorities. This type of document is not issued under an international convention but on a discretionary basis. The CID, which guarantees the holder return to the United Kingdom within the document's validity. has traditionally been widely accepted for travel. However, it is for the authorities of each country to decide whether they will accept the CID as a valid form of travel document and I am aware that a number of our European Union partners are no longer doing so. My officials are in discussion with colleagues from the countries concerned in order to identify their particular concerns and, if possible, give assurances, which might encourage them to accept the CID for travel.There are no proposals to replace the CID and it is not obvious how any alternative would solve the issue of acceptability.

Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988: Visitors' Permit

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have any evidence of danger to the public having arisen through the practice of some police forces of issuing visitors permits under the Firearms Acts for a full year rather than for the declared duration of each visit to the United Kingdom. [HL9]

Section 17(6) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 allows the police to issue a British Visitors' Permit for a given period, so long as that period does not exceed 12 months. This gives the police the flexibility to issue a Permit to a non-United Kingdom resident who may have legitimate reasons for bringing specified firearms or ammunition into the United Kingdom on a number of occasions within any 12-month period.It is for the police to decide whether to issue a Permit for a 12-month period or for a shorter more specific duration, placing such conditions on the Permit as they see fit. They would treat every case on its individual merits and we have not been made aware of any occasions where the use of this discretion has led to a threat to public safety.

Kosovo: Enforced Returns During Winter

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will enforce the return of Kosovan nationals back to Kosovo during the winter period. [HL168]

In response to a request to host countries by the United Nations Authorities in Kosovo (UNMIK) to cease enforcing the return of Kosovans to Kosovo during the severe Balkan winter, we have given this careful consideration and decided that a wholesale suspension of enforced returns back to Kosovo would not be justified. We do not accept that single people or couples who have put forward manifestly unfounded applications and who may, for example, have arrived in the United Kingdom in recent months and long after peace was secured in Kosovo and who have families and homes there, could not return to them. But we have agreed to suspend temporarily the enforced return of families with children or vulnerable dependants or other vulnerable cases in recognition of the difficulties that larger family groups and vulnerable people may present to UNMIK in terms of providing support and accommodation during the winter period.This position has been fully explained to UNMIK, who have also been assured that in line with their previous request we will continue to inform them of returns in advance where it is possible to do so. UNMIK have said they understand our position and have expressed gratitude for the considered way in which the United Kingdom has approached the accommodation problems in Kosovo.

Terrorism Act 2000: Codes Of Practice

asked Her Majesty's Government:When they will lay before Parliament the draft United Kingdom-wide codes of practice under the Terrorism Act 2000. [HL169]

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today laid before Parliament the draft code of practice for the audio recording of interviews. It is the intention of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary to lay the remaining two UK-wide draft codes of practice, relating to the functions of Examining Officers and Authorised Officers, early in the New Year.

Immigration And Asylum Act 1999: Marriage Provisions

asked Her Majesty's Government:What arrangements they have made for the implementation of the marriage provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. [HL170]

The marriage powers in Section 24 and Part IX of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 will come into effect on 1 January 2001.In support of this, the Reporting of Suspicious Marriages (Scotland) Regulations 2000 and the Reporting of Suspicious Marriages (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2000 were made on 8 December. These provide for the reporting of suspicious marriages in Scotland and Northern Ireland to the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND).The Reporting of Suspicious Marriages and the Registration of Marriages (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2000 were made on 29 November. These regulations provide for the reporting of suspicious marriages in England and Wales to IND, and prescribe procedures for the Registrar General for England and Wales to waive or reduce the new 15-day waiting period, and various consequential amendments to forms. The related Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Fees) (Amendment) Order 2000 was laid before Parliament on 30 November. This order prescribes the fees payable for the entry of a notice of marriage in the marriage notice book and for an application to the Registrar General to waive or reduce the 15-day waiting period.

Illicit Trade: Advisory Panel Report

asked Her Majesty's Government:When they will publish the report of the Advisory Panel on Illicit Trade. [HL138]

The Advisory Panel's report will be published on Monday 18 December, when copies will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Fisheries Control And Enforcement: International Co-Operation

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will report on the level of co-operation that exists between the UK, other EU member states and third countries on fisheries control and enforcement. [HL139]

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

There is extensive co-operation between enforcement authorities in the UK and those of other member states and third countries. Such co-operation is important to ensure the effective application of measures designed to conserve fish stocks. Examples of co-operation involving enforcement authorities in the UK over the last 12 months include:

  • exchanging and sharing intelligence on enforcement activity;
  • bilateral meetings with Irish and Norwegian authorities;
  • joint enforcement operations with the Netherlands in the North Sea;
  • participation of inspectors from other member states and Norway in UK enforcement training courses;
  • participation in the International Conference on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance organised by the European Commission in Brussels;
  • enforcement operations in waters covered by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission;
  • the development of an operational protocol on satellite monitoring with France, Spain, Belgium and Ireland. Similar operational protocols are also being developed with other countries.

Nhs: Delayed Discharge Of Elderly Patients

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 21 November (H.L. Deb., col. 655), what is their estimate of the cost to the National Health Service of the delay in the discharge from National Health Service hospitals of patients over 75 who no longer need hospital care but who are unable to transfer to other more appropriate care. [HL25]

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

Patients who have their discharge from an acute hospital bed delayed may be awaiting transfer to other National Health Service care (such as intermediate care), transfer to a nursing or residential care home or for a package of care and support to allow them to return to their own home. In these circumstances it would be very difficult to quantify the precise costs to the NHS of all delayed discharges.

Patient Treatment: Withdrawal For Research Purposes

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the withdrawal of a treatment regime from patients in order to study the effect of that withdrawal is in accordance with ethical guidelines. [HL27]

The ethical acceptability of any research proposal involving patients should first be reviewed and approved by a research ethics committee before the study is undertaken. If the proposal is not approved by the research ethics committee, the study must not be carried out.

Lifespan Nhs Trust: Discharge Of Chiropody Patients

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the discharge of patients of the Lifespan National Health Service Trust on the ground of "low chiropodial need" was in accordance with ethical guidelines, taking into account that these patients were later readmitted following deterioration of their conditions. [HL28]

Lifespan Healthcare NHS Trust reviewed 11,000 chiropody patients in 1997 and identified 5,600 patients as being in a low risk category.These patients were subsequently discharged back to the care of their general practitioner after being given advice on how to return to the podiatry services if their condition should deteriorate. Of these, 620 patients have been readmitted following deterioration in their condition.Future practice will be influenced by the findings from a current research project into tracking patients discharged from the chiropody and podiatry services.