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Written Answers

Volume 622: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2001

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Written Answers

Wednesday, 21st February 2001.

Ultra-Low Sulphur Petrol

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress is being made on the introduction of ultra-low sulphur petrol in the United Kingdom. [HL944]

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Pre-Budget Report in November that the Government would reduce duty on ultra-low sulphur petrol (ULSP) on Budget day this year, in recognition of its environmental benefits, subject to consultation and it being widely available.Ministers have today met the major oil companies to discuss this issue. On the basis of that meeting, I am glad to say that we believe that the oil companies are on track to meet their target to supply ULSP nationwide at their retail sites by the end of March.Ministers also asked representatives of independent petrol retailers to meet us today. They operate over 5,000 retail sites across the country. Many are small businesses, often playing a vital role supplying rural and urban communities.Although some independents are already supplying up to 50 per cent ULSP, their representatives indicated that they anticipate that it could take independent retailers longer to complete the nationwide transition to ULSP than for the major oil companies, because of constraints on the capacity of UK oil refineries.The independent retailers could move faster by increasing imports, but this might cause uncertainty in the wholesale and retail markets and would not necessarily be to the benefit of motorists.The Government's objectives are to ensure that everyone should be able to share the environmental benefits of ULSP, and the benefits of the duty cut associated with it. It is in the whole country's interests that these objectives are achieved, and achieved as smoothly as possible.Any decisions on actual duty rates will be taken and announced by the Chancellor in the Budget itself but, as a sensible measure that will be supported by independent petrol retailers, to guarantee that all motorists would benefit from a cut in duty on Budget day, I can announce that the Government intend to match any reduction in duty on ULSP that is announced in the Budget with a reduction in duty on unleaded petrol for a temporary period until 14 June 2001.This will ensure that the introduction of ULSP across the country will happen in the smoothest way, and that car-drivers—especially in rural areas supplied by independent petrol retailers—will be able to benefit from any duty cut that is announced in the Budget for ULSP. We want to match nationwide availability at the major oil companies with all motorists benefiting from any duty cut at independent stations too.In this way we best achieve our aims set out in November—first, that the long-term benefits to the environment are achieved; second, that motorists would be able to benefit from a cut in petrol duty on Budget day; and third, that the benefit would go to all motorists in all areas.

Arable Area Payments: Payment Dates

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the postponement of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) due date from 31 December 2001 to 31 January 2001 is for this year only; whether the next payment will be due on 31 December or 31 January 2002; or whether it is likely that the due date will be further postponed in 2002. [HL639]

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

The change in payment dates under the Arable Area Payments Scheme (AAPS) is contained in EU Regulations agreed by the Council of Ministers and applies until further notice. From 2000 onwards payments must be made between 16 November and 31 January (up to 1999 these were made between 16 October and 31 December). Payments on set-aside used for the production of non-food raw materials must be paid between 16 November and 31 March. MAFF and the other UK agricultural departments aim to make payments as soon as possible within those time periods. In England in 2000 half of all payments were made within the first two weeks after 16 November.

National Intelligence Model

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether all police forces in England and Wales have adopted the National Intelligence Model. [HL925]

The National Intelligence Model was developed by the National Criminal Intelligence Service on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers and has been adopted by them. We look forward to all forces in England and Wales implementing it. The model offers the prospect of forces working to common standards and discipline in intelligence-led policing which will benefit them locally and also provide benefits in tackling crime at regional and national levels. The use of intelligence to inform operational decisions is necessary if forces are to make the most effective use of their resources and to respond to changing forms of crime. We are making up to £10.6 million available in 2001–02 towards the capital costs of implementation of the model.

Lawrence Steering Group

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether there exists within Scotland Yard a committee known as the Lawrence Steering Group; what are its proper designation, terms of reference, membership and frequency of meeting; to whom does it report; and what authority it possesses. [HL726]

As my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced in another place on 18 May 1999, he set up the Lawrence Steering Group, which he chairs. Its terms of reference are:to oversee and audit the implementation of the Home Secretary's Action Plan, published in March 1999 as the Government's response to the report of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.The group has met 10 times so far. Details of membership of the steering group are as follows:Members representing official bodies:

  • The right honourable Jack Straw MP—Home Secretary
  • Charles Clarke MP—Minister of State, Home Office
  • Jacqui Smith MP—Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for School Standards, Department for Education and Employment
  • Gurbux Singh—Chairman, Commission for Racial Equality
  • Bob Purkiss—Commission for Racial Equality
  • Mark Addison—Chief Executive, Crown Prosecution Service
  • Dan Crompton—Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary
  • Maqsood Ahmad—Assistant Inspector of Constabulary
  • Ian Blair—Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police
  • Tony Burden—President, The Association of Chief Police Officers
  • Fred Broughton—Chairman, The Police Federation
  • Peter Gammon MBE—Chairman, The Superintendents' Association
  • Ruth Henig—Chair, Association of Police Authorities
  • Ravi Chand—National Black Police Association

Independent members of the Steering Group:

  • The Baroness Howells of St Davids OBE
  • Beverley Thompson OBE
  • Doreen Lawrence
  • Neville Lawrence
  • Judy Clements
  • Keith Kerr
  • Usha Sood
  • Sir Herman Ouseley
  • Mark Blake

Violent Crime

asked Her Majesty's Government;To what they attribute the recent rise in crimes of violence; and which sections of the population are the principal victims of violent crime. [HL734]

The British Crime Survey, which is widely accepted as the most authoritative source of information on the real rates of crime, indicates that violent crime has been falling since 1995, and reduced by 4 per cent between 1997 and 1999, the latest date for which figures are available. It is none the less true that there has been an increase in the number of violent crimes recorded by the police.The increase in recorded crime figures in recent years may be due, at least in part, to the fact that additional assault offences were introduced into the recorded crime series in April 1998 and racially aggravated harassment in September 1998. Within violent crime, the change in counting rules impacted most on violence against the person, which now includes common assault and assault on a constable. The numbers of recorded crimes in this category were inflated nationally by the change in counting rules by 118 per cent.Another reason for the increase may be the determined effort to encourage more reporting of racial harassment, homophobic offences and domestic violence. We would expect the recorded figures to rise in these categories as people become less tolerant of these types of violence, and of assaults arising from fights between acquaintances, and therefore more willing to report incidents.The reasons for the recent rise in robbery are complex. The 2000 British Crime Survey suggests that risks for younger people may be increasing. According to evidence from police forces, the number of younger offenders and victims has increased. There is also some evidence to suggest that mobile phone theft may account for some of the increase.Figures from the 2000 British Crime Survey show that the risk of being a victim of violent crime is greatest for men aged between 16–24. Young women are also more at risk of experiencing violence than are older women. Risk decreases sharply for the older population. Personal characteristics influence risk, with the following groups being at higher risk: unemployed adults, single adults, single parents, separated adults and those who go to the pub more than three times a week.

The type and location of the household are also factors that influence risk of violent crime. Risks are high where the home is rented privately and in areas of high physical disorder. Risks of violent crime in rural areas are only half the level of those in inner cities and other areas.

Drawing on the British Crime Survey, it is also possible to identify which occupations may be most at risk of experiencing violence at work. Those most at risk are the police, social workers, probation officers, publicans and bar staff, security guards, nurses and other health care professionals, transport workers, especialy taxi drivers, welfare, community and youth workers, teachers, managers/proprietors in retail sales and national and local government administrators. Victims of violence at work also have a high risk of being victimised again.

Immigrants: Fiscal Contribution

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will publish the methodology and calculations which led the Home Office to conclude that Britain's foreign born population pays 10 per cent more than it receives from government; and how this compares with the generality of the population. [HL879]

These figures are taken from the recently published Home Office study Migration: An economic and social analysis. They represent an initial estimate of the fiscal contribution that migrants make to the economy—that is the value of the taxes they pay over and above what they consume in benefits and other public services. However, as noted in the Home Office study, there are a wide range of possible assumptions that affect estimates of the contributions of both migrants and the United Kingdom-born population. Work is under way to refine these assumptions and it is the intention to publish the findings from this analysis, which will include details of the methodology used and the calculations.

Boards Of Visitors And Justices Of The Peace

asked Her Majesty's Government:Which boards of visitors do not meet the requirement of Section 6(2) of the Prison Act 1952 that each board should have not less than two Justices of the Peace. [HL842]

Appointments and resignations on boards of visitors are a frequent occurrence and the composition of any board can therefore change daily. However, as at 19 February 2001 the boards listed below did not have at least two Justices of the Peace on their Board and did not therefore meet the requirements of Section 6(2) of the Prison Act 1952.

  • Deerbolt
  • Drake Hall
  • East Sutton Park
  • Haslar
  • Lindholme
  • Maidstone
  • Moorland
  • Onley
  • Portland
  • Rochester
  • Rye Hill
  • Shepton Mallet
  • Standford Hill

Remanded And Sentenced Under-16S: Education

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many young people under the age of 16 have completed their sentence in a Secure Training Centre; how many of that number have now returned to full-time education in schools; and how many are receiving educational provision outside schools. [HL745]

Since 1 April 2000, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales has assumed responsibility for the commissioning and purchasing of secure accommodation for remanded and sentenced young people. They have provided the following information There are currently three Secure Training Centres (STCs) in operation as detailed in the table below:

Date of openingApril 1998July 1999Sept 1999
Total number of under-16s who have completed their sentence (as at 15.2.01)359 (133 since February 2000)169135
Number who returned to full time education in schools9 (since February 2000)169
Number who received educational provision outside schools68 (since February 2000)9017
This information is not held centrally and in the time available it has not been possible to check more than the last year's files at Medway. I will write to the noble Lord with the full figures relating to Medway Secure Training Centres when they become available.

Blood Donors: Information Leaflet

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the advice given to potential blood donors in the document

Do Not Give Blood Without Reading This Leaflet still reflects the considered views of the National Health Service; and, if not whether, and, if so for what reasons, the leaflet has been withdrawn. [HL748]

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

The National Blood Service continues to issue this leaflet to potential blood donors every day. The guidance on eligibility to donate blood is drawn up by the United Kingdom blood services standing advisory committee on the care and selection of donors, which reviews the criteria on a regular basis.

Squatter's Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have any plans to reform the law on squatters' rights. [HL650]

In relation to registered land, the Law Commission and HM Land Registry published a consultative document Land Registration for the Twenty-First Century (Law Commission No. 254) in 1998. The document included proposals to reform the law of adverse possession. They intend to publish their recommendations in a report in early summer. The Government will consider the report and will introduce legislation to implement those recommendations it accepts when parliamentary time allows. There are no plans to reform the law of adverse possession in relation to unregistered land.