Previous Section Home Page

Passport Office (Staff)

76. Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what response he has made to the


Column 715

claim by the Passport Office trade union side for an increase in numbers of permanent staff ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Renton : As I indicated in my reply to a question from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Wray) on 28 November at column 72, passport department officials are in consultation with the trade unions about staffing levels.

83. Mr. Doran : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received about staffing levels in passport offices.

Mr. Renton : A number of hon. Members have written recently on the matter, following an approach to them by the Civil and Public Services Association and the National Union of Civil and Public Servants. Replies will be sent shortly.

Metropolitan Police (Fingerprinting)

77. Mr. Bell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis on the average length of time in the Metropolitan police area taken for the fingerprint department to match a set of fingerprints found at the scene of crime with those of a suspect or suspects.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that searches of


Column 716

this kind are generally completed within a month. Priority is, however, given to cases involving serious offences and where there is a good quality mark, and the time taken in a particular case will depend therefore on the nature of the offence and the quality of the mark obtained at the scene.

Prisoners (Statistics)

78. Mr. Knox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were in prison at the most recent count.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : On Friday 2 December, the latest date for which figures are readily available, 49,235 prisoners were held in prison service establishments in England and Wales. A further 937 prisoners were held in police cells.

Passport Applications

79. Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the number of passport applications at each passport office in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988, to September ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Renton : The table shows the number of passports issued in each of the last three years, and in the first nine months of this year.


Column 715


             |1985     |1986     |1987     |<1>1988            

---------------------------------------------------------------

London       |418,036  |437,857  |355,475  |342,437            

Liverpool    |446,813  |556,664  |554,993  |583,865            

Peterborough |392,460  |482,797  |480,422  |470,982            

Newport      |369,981  |427,800  |439,302  |452,769            

Glasgow      |137,098  |159,954  |159,723  |142,726            

Belfast      |34,655   |45,472   |51,305   |55,713             

             |----     |----     |----     |----               

             |1,799,043|2,110,544|2,041,220|2,048,492          

<1> January to September.                                      

Police Service (Value for Money)

81. Mr. Wood : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures his Department is taking to secure value for money in the police service.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Home Office shares with chief officers of police and local police authorities the responsibility for securing value for money in the police service. Significant improvements in efficiency and effectiveness have been achieved, with the encouragement and support of my Department and Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary, through, for example, the civilianisation of police posts (some 3,300 police officers were released for operational duties in this way in the last five years or so) ; the streamlining of procedures and the elimination of unnecessary paperwork ; the contracting out of support services ; and the introduction of efficiency scrutinies in the police service. The Home Office pays full regard to value for money in exercising central controls on police manpower and capital expenditure on land and buildings, and in fulfilling my right hon. Friend's responsibilities as police authority for the Metropolitan police ; in providing central services for training, research and development, science and technology ; and in promoting good practice across a wide range of police activity.


Column 716

Drug Taking

82. Mr. Michael J. Martin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what extra resources he intends to make available in order to reduce drug taking.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : In accordance with the Government's strategy for reducing both supply and demand, extra resources are being committed for : reducing supplies from India by a contribution of £1 million a year through the United Nations fund for drug abuse control ; increasing the effectiveness of enforcement by the provision of some £10 million for additional specialist drugs investigators and improved technical aids for Her Majesty's Customs and Excise ; developing prevention and education through the latest phase of the drug prevention publicity campaign and, in England and Wales, by an additional year of central funding for drugs education co-ordinators in the area of each local education authority ; and improving treatment and rehabilitation. An additional £3 million is to be provided in 1988-89 for the expansion of drug misuse services in England to help prevent the spread of HIV infection.

Scientific Advisory Group

85. Mr. Clelland : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what payments are made to the


Column 717

members of the scientific advisory group under the chairmanship of Sir Ronald Mason FRS ; and what is the total expenditure made by his Department on this group to date.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : No payments are made to members of the forensic science service scientific advisory group other than reimbursement of travelling and subsistence expenses under the usual Civil Service rules.

Horserace Betting Levy Scheme

86. Mr. Duffy : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much progress has been made in discussions over the 28th horserace betting levy scheme ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten : The chairman of the Horserace Betting levy Board and the Bookmakers' Committee have been asked to submit written representations about the disputed 28th levy scheme to us by 16 December. Each side will then be invited to comment on the other's memorandum of representations. We intend also to make available to both sides any other representations which we receive about the dispute. It will be open to either side to comment on such representations as it wishes. If either side to the dispute wishes to add to its written representations any further points at a meeting with my right hon. Friend, it is our intention to ensure that both sides are represented at any such meeting. This will afford each side the opportunity to comment on points made by the other.

Police Interviews (Tape Recording)

91. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a progress report to the House on the tape recording of interviews with suspects, indicating in how many police authority areas this procedure is now in full operation.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : We understand that about one-third of all forces will be equipped to tape record interviews forcewide by April 1989. By the same date, all forces are expected to have completed plans to introduce tape recording in at least part of their force area. The tape recording of interviews in respect of indictable offences and offences triable either way should be standard practice throughout England and Wales by 1991.

Excessive Drinking

93. Mr. Devlin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to deter foolish and excessive drinking ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten : We have strengthened the powers of licensing justices. Since 22 August, they have had discretion to grant or refuse late -night drinks extensions ; from 1 March 1989 they will be in a position to order, if it is justified, the revocation of current licences for licensed premises at any licensing session. We have also strengthened the law on sales to under-age drinkers. We have prepared crime prevention advice and approved the experimental byelaw in Coventry banning the consumption of alcohol in designated streets and other public places. Similar byelaws will be introduced in six other towns. The ministerial group on alcohol misuse is taking forward further work on other aspects of alcohol misuse.


Column 718

Police Federation

94. Mr. Illsley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will next meet the chairman of the Police Federation ; and what matters he expects to discuss.

Mr. Hurd : I met the chairman of the Police Federation at a social function on 1 December, when conversation ranged over a number of police matters. The date for our next meeting has not yet been fixed.

Private Security Firms

95. Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he intends taking to control the unregulated proliferation of private security firms.

99. Mr. George : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his policy towards matters raised in the report on the private security industry produced by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Mr. John Patten : The Government have made it clear that they look to the private security industry to provide self-regulation. However, following publication of the report on the industry by the Association of Chief Police Officers, I have asked officials to consider with the police and the industry ways in which self-regulation might be improved.

102. Mr. Allason : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider extending to England and Wales the regulations concerning the registration of private security company employees to be registered and vetted, currently in force in Northern Ireland.

Mr. John Patten : The reason for regulating security firms in Northern Ireland is to prevent proscribed organisations from benefiting from their activities. There is no equivalent need for statutory regulation in England and Wales, but following publication of the report by the Association of Chief Police Officers on the private security industry, we are considering ways in which the industry's self-regulatory role might be improved.

Non-violent Crime

96. Mr. Rees : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he proposes to take to achieve a reduction of custodial sentences for offenders convicted of non-violent crimes.

Mr. John Patten : Our proposals are set out in the Green Paper "Punishment, Custody and the Community" (Cm. 424). We have already taken steps to give effect to those which can be implemented under present legislation : we have circulated an action plan to encourage initiatives in developing non-custodial sentences for young adult offenders, and we have issued draft national standards for community service orders. By ensuring that community service is rigorous and demanding, we hope to encourage its use for offenders who might otherwise receive a custodial sentence.


Column 719

Prisons (Building and Refurbishment)

98. Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what new prison building and refurbishment initiatives are planned during the coming year ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The expansion and acceleration of the prison building programme continues with 18 new prisons at various stages of planning, design and construction in addition to the eight new prisons which have already opened. Seven prisons are now being constructed, the first of which should be ready for occupation in 1990. At least two further prisons will be added to this programme from the additional funds recently announced by my right hon. Friend the


Column 720

Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Autumn Statement. The full programme of new prison building is set out in the table. The prison building programme includes major capital projects at existing establishments. Many of these schemes, some of which will take a number of years to complete, involve refurbishment and modernisation of living accommodation, including the provision of integral sanitation, and extra places. Work is also in progress to provide new places at existing establishments by the construction of ten 100-place houseblocks at Dover, Featherstone, Littlehey, Glen Parva (two), Full Sutton (two), New Hall, Stocken and Wayland. Details of the individual major capital projects for the coming year are currently being assembled and these will in due course be published as part of the 1989-90 Supply Estimates.


Column 719


The new prison building programme                                                                                                            

Name                             |Type of                   |Number of places          |Ready for occupation                                 

                                 |establishment                                                                                              

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Already open                                                                                                                                 

 1. Wayland                      |Category C                |484                       |1985                                                 

 2. Stocken                      |Category C                |300                       |1985                                                 

 3. Thorn Cross                  |Youth Offender Institution|300                       |1985                                                 

 4. Full Sutton                  |Category B (Dispersal)    |444                       |1987                                                 

 5. Littlehey                    |Category C                |484                       |1988                                                 

 6. Mount                        |Youth Offender Institution|484                       |1988                                                 

 7. Swaleside                    |Category B                |504                       |1988                                                 

 8. Garth                        |Category B                |512                       |1988                                                 

                                                                                                                                             

Under construction                                                                                                                           

 9. Brinsford                    |Training prison           |448                       |1990                                                 

10. Bullingdon                   |Local prison              |620                       |1991                                                 

11. Whitemoor                    |Training prison           |522                       |1991                                                 

12. Woolwich                     |Local prison              |850                       |1991                                                 

13. Lindholme II                 |Training prison           |620                       |1991                                                 

14. Lancaster Farms              |Youth Offender Institution|360                       |1992                                                 

15. Milton Keynes                |Local prison              |544                       |1992                                                 

                                                                                                                                             

Planning clearance obtained                                                                                                                  

16. Swaleside II                 |Training prison           |620                       |1991                                                 

17. High Down (Banstead)         |Local prison              |620                       |1991                                                 

18. Ashford                      |Training prison           |600                       |1992                                                 

19. Doncaster                    |Local prison              |720                       |1994                                                 

                                                                                                                                             

Planning clearance being sought                                                                                                              

20. Hewell Grange                |Local prison              |620                       |1991                                                 

21. Holme House Farm (Tees-side) |Local prison              |620                       |1992                                                 

22. Kirkham                      |Training prison           |600                       |1992                                                 

23. Rochdale                     |Local prison              |600                       |1994                                                 

                                                                                                                                             

Location and categories yet to be decided                                                                                                    

24-28.                                                                                                                                       

Terrorism

100. Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received concerning the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill.

Mr. Hurd : I have received a number of letters from members of the public expressing support for the Government's proposals for new measures aimed at curbing the finances of terrorist organisations, provision for which is now contained in the Bill. We have also consulted representatives of the banks and other financial institutions, both in London and Belfast, about these proposals and they have welcomed them and assured the Government that they will be co-operating fully with police investigations into dealings in suspected terrorist funds once the new provisions come into force.


Column 720

Police Establishments (Civilians)

101. Mr. Stevens : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the numbers of civilians currently employed in police establishments.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : A total of 42,107 in England and Wales at the end of August (counting part-time staff on a two-for-one-basis).

Women Police Officers

Ms. Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many women police officers there are in the United Kingdom police forces ; and what percentage this is of the total forces.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend is responsible for police forces in England and Wales. At 31 August 1988


Column 721

there were 12,936 women police officers in England and Wales. This represents 10.4 per cent. of the total police strength.

Probation Service

Mr. John Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the planned level of spending on the probation service in England for each of the next five years in real terms.

Mr. John Patten : Current expenditure on the probation service by local authorities in England is estimated to be £205 million in 1988- 89. This represents an increase in real terms of over 60 per cent. since 1979-80, while probation service manpower has risen by 38 per cent. over this period. The proposed level of expenditure in 1989-90 is £219 million. The Government's expenditure plans down to 1991-92, which are set out in cash terms, will be published early next year in the forthcoming public expenditure White Paper.

Cigarettes (Children)

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions were brought against retailers for illegal sales of cigarettes to children in the last year for which figures are available ; of these how many led to convictions ; where these cases were heard ; what penalties were imposed ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten : The information requested is published annually in "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales", 1987, supplementary volume 1 (table S.1. (A) under classification 144) a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Wandsworth Prison

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are to improve facilities for people awaiting entry into Wandsworth prison to visit inmates ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : There are no present plans to improve facilities for visitors waiting access to Wandsworth prison, except that separate entry into the prison for pedestrians will be provided next year. This should enable visitors to be admitted rather more quickly than is possible at present.

Empty Properties (Durham)

Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many properties in the City of Durham constituency which are owned by his Department by subordinate organisations for which his Department is responsible, or by the police authority, are standing empty.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The number of properties owned by the Home Office in the City of Durham constituency that are currently standing empty is 53 of which 15 are currently in the course of disposal, two have structural faults awaiting rectification ; and three are awaiting occupation. No records are maintained by the Home Office of vacant properties in the other categories mentioned.


Column 722

Drugs

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to make the irresponsible prescribing of drugs a criminal act ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 the Secretary of State may, subject to certain statutory procedures, give a direction against any practitioner who in his opinion is or has been prescribing any controlled drugs in an irresponsible manner, prohibiting him from prescribing any or all controlled drugs. It is an offence to contravene such a direction. These provisions seem to us sufficient.

Passports

Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many items of correspondence he has received from hon. Members about the work of the passport department since 1 July.

Mr. Renton : A total of 342 such letters were received between 1 July and 7 December.

Prisons (Rule 43)

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the number of prison inmates on rule 43 on 1 December 1987 and 1988.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Figures for the dates mentioned are not readily available. The number of male prisoners on rule 43 in prisons in England and Wales on 1 January 1988 was 1,916 and on 1 July 1988, the most recent date for which information is available, was 2,126.

MI5

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether in light of the Security Services Bill, he will make it his policy to publish annually the establishment figures for MI5.

Mr. Hurd : No.

Mr. Albert Baker

Mr. Ken Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the case of Mr. Albert Baker No. 241254, Her Majesty's prison, Long Lartin, and consider whether he could complete the rest of his sentence in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Mr. Baker's request for a transfer to Northern Ireland was turned down in February this year after a full review. Mr. Baker was told in April that the Home Office and Northern Ireland Office would be willing to reconsider the matter on the basis of further reports on his suitability for transfer after a year had elapsed.

Deportations

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases regarding applications for deportation of Italian nationals from the United Kingdom to Italy in connection with terrorist offences are


Column 723

still outstanding ; when a decision is likely to be reached by him on each such case ; and how many requests for deportation by the Italian authorities in the last five years have been agreed to and duly implemented.

Mr. Hurd : I assume that the question relates to extradition rather than deportation. There are no requests outstanding from Italy for the extradition of persons in connection with terrorist offences. Within the last five years there has been one request by the Italian authorities for the extradition of a person believed to have terrorist connections and she was surrendered in 1986.

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the reasons for the delay in reaching a decision on the application for the deportation of Roberto Fiore to Italy where he is wanted in connection with the bombing in 1980 of Bologna railway station.

Mr. Hurd : In 1981 the Italian Government requested the extradition of Mr. Fiore for a number of terrorist offences, but the request failed in the courts because a prima facie case could not be established. This requirement has of course been removed in the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

No further request has been received from the Italian Court, but Mr. Fiore has been informed that consideration is being given to his deportation under section 3(5)(b) of the Immigration Act 1971. He has made representations against such action, and the case is being further considered.

Prisoners (Escapes)

Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will list the names of the 152 prisoners who escaped from British prisons between 1 January 1981 and 30 September 1988 and who were unlawfully at large on that date ;

(2) if he will list the names of the 52 prisoners who escaped from closed or high security prisons, between 1 January 1981 and 30 September 1988 and who were unlawfully at large on that date ; (3) if he will give the number of escaped prisoners who were unlawfully at large on 30 September and who were serving prison sentences for crimes of violence ;

(4) if he will list the escaped prisoners who were unlawfully at large on 30 September who were serving prison sentences for fraud offences ;

(5) if he will list the escaped prisoners unlawfully at large on 30 September who were serving sentences for crimes involving drugs.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Figures in relation to adult prisoners who escaped from within a closed prison between 1 January 1981 and 30 September 1988, or who absconded from within an open prison between the same dates, and who were recorded as being unlawfully at large on 30 September 1988, were given in my reply to a question by the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) on 15 November at column 550. It would not be right to publish the details requested, but if the hon. Member has a particular reason for requiring more information about incidents to which the previous reply referred, he may wish to write to me.


Column 724

Extraditions (South Africa)

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to secure the extradition of Colonel Henrik Botha, Stephanus De Jager, William Meteler Kamp and Jacobus La Gramse from South Africa.

Mr. John Patten : The United Kingdom has no extradition treaty with South Africa, and therefore no means of securing the return of these men.

Vigilante Groups

Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy towards police co-operation with vigilante groups in areas where there is a shortage of police on the beat.

Mr. Douglas Hogg [holding answer 14 November 1988] : At the end of August, police strength stood at 124,426, an increase of 12,933 since 1979. My right hon. Friend recently announced that police establishments would be increased by a further 1,100 posts in 1989-90. These increases, together with the civilianisation programmes which all forces are pursuing, mean that the number of police officers available for beat duties has been substantially increased since 1979.

The ultimate responsibility for maintaining law and order rests with the police. We welcome the growing support of members of the public to local crime prevention initiatives, such as neighbourhood watch or the special constabulary, but groups which seek to take over the role of the police, for example by patrolling the streets, are not acceptable.

Motorways (Police Control)

Mr. Lawrence : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he has given to a centralised police control of motorways ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg [holding answer 9 December 1988] : We have no plans at present to centralise control of motorway policing.

Dogs

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek powers to disqualify from ownership of a dog, anyone who knowingly allows the animal to trespass on a railway line.

Mr. Portillo [holding answer 12 December 1988] : I understand that the courts already have powers to disqualify persons from ownership of domestic or captive animals where cruelty or unnecessary suffering is caused to them.

ENVIRONMENT

Radioactive Waste

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress made in his Department's radioactive waste research programme using the "SYVAC" computer programme ; what


Column 725

developments have been made with the "Time 2" environmental change simulation programme ; and what progress has been made with the "VANDAL" research computer model in evaluating future corrosion of nuclear waste containers.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : SYVAC was used during 1982-86 to develop the basis of the Department's approach to the risk assessment of underground disposal of solid radioactive wastes and led to the development of VANDAL. VANDAL is not used for evaluating container corrosion. TIME 2 was developed to help estimate the likely effects on disposal sites of future changes in the environment to approximately 25,000 years. It is being further developed (TIME 4) to permit consideration of periods up to approximately a million years.

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress in the hocus hole closure experiments conducted jointly by his Department and the BRE in support of the radioactive waste management research programme.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The hocus hole closure experiments were performed in November 1986 as part of an OECD/NEA study and have been reported in "Hocus Cruise Report, OECD/NEA Seabed Working Group, edited by C. Papucci, ENEA, La Spezia (Italy), May 1988".

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what restrictions are applied to civil servants in his Department's radioactive waste division travelling to the Soviet Union on holiday.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : None.

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his present estimate per tonne of the cost of the long-term disposal of high-level radioactive waste.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Accurate cost estimates are not possible as high-level waste will not be disposed of for at least 50 years. An indicative estimate for vitrified high-level waste is £200,000 per tonne.

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if there are any plans to export quantities of United Kingdom--generated high level radioactive waste to countries that have commercial contracts with British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. at Sellafield to manage and reprocess spent nuclear fuel.


Next Section

  Home Page