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Rating Reform

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce regulations to restrict the sale, copying or inspection of the electoral register when the electoral registrar obtains information from the poll tax registers.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : No. The considerations governing the sale, copying and inspection of the electoral register have not changed since the present policy was comprehensively reviewed in 1985-86. The Representation of the People Regulations 1986 already forbid the supply of data which is not required to be published in the register itself.

Police Cells

Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what new measures he is taking to reduce the number of prisoners held in police cells.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The measures initiated last year, which are continuing to deliver more prison accommodation, are being supplemented by a programme of vigorous management action to obtain the maximum capacity from the accommodation currently available.

Pornography (Imports)

Mr. Gerald Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that following 1992 there will remain sufficient safeguards to prevent the import of pornographic material into the United Kingdom from Europe.

Mr. Renton : We intend to maintain tough controls on such material. The scope for exercising control at the point


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of importation is among the matters we shall be discussing with our European Community partners in the general context of 1992.

Airport Security

Mr. George : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much is spent by his Department on private security firms performing services at immigration detention centres at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester airports, for each year since 1985 ; and how many firms are involved.

Mr. Renton : Group 4 Total Security Ltd. holds the sole contract for the provision of orderly and escort services for persons detained under the Immigration Act 1971 in the immigration detention centres at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester. There is no longer a detention centre at Birmingham airport.

The contract was let to Group 4 Total Security Ltd. with effect from 31 December 1988 following competitive tenders. Between 1 July 1970 and 30 December 1988 the contract was held by Securicor Ltd. The cost of the services is a matter of commercial and contractual confidentiality which it would not be right to disclose.

Carriers Liability

Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the receipts to date under the Carriers Liability Act ; and what are the arrears.

Mr. Renton : Payments totalling £3.888 million had been received up to 31 January 1989, and £4.349 million was outstanding.

Special Constables

Mr. Sumberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables there are at present in England and Wales ; and what plans he has to encourage further recruitment.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The strength of the special constabulary in England and Wales at the end of 1987 (the latest available figure) was 16,209.

Recruitment is a matter for individual chief constables. My right hon. Friend convened a conference in December 1987 in order to enable chief officers to discuss all aspects of the special constabulary, particularly how to increase its strength and improve its deployment. A report has been circulated to all forces.

The Government are also reviewing the allowances paid to special constables, in consultation with the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales.

Confiscation Orders

Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to seek to extend the power of courts to issue confiscation orders.

Mr. John Patten : We have no present plans to extend the powers of courts to make confiscation orders, but the Prevention of Terrorism Bill would give courts additional powers to order forfeiture of funds destined for use in connection with terrorism.


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Broadcasting in the '90s"

Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further representations he has received from the British Broadcasting Corporation on the implications for its existing levels of service of the proposals in his White Paper ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Renton : The British Broadcasting Corporation's response to the White Paper was published on Monday 6 February. We keep in close touch with the BBC about broadcasting policy issues.

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many responses he has received to his White Paper on broadcasting.

Mr. McTaggart : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many representations he has now received on the broadcasting White Paper.

Mr. Renton : Just over 1,200 written responses so far. We would welcome any further representations before the consultation period ends on 28 February.

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he defines night hours in his White Paper on broadcasting.

Mr. Renton : The White Paper refers to the definition given by the Peacock committee, namely the period between 1 am and 6 am (paragraph 3.12). It will be for the ITC to determine the boundaries between the different licence periods on Channels 3 and 5.

Penal System (Privatisation)

Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what representations he has received from private companies about privatisation within the penal system ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) if he will list those companies which have tendered for private remand prisons ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : No such tenders have been either invited or received. A number of private companies have submitted comments in response to the Green Paper "Private Sector Involvement in the Remand System" (Cm. 434, July 1988), and expressed interest in becoming involved in the areas of work which the Green Paper considers. My right hon. Friend expects to make an announcement shortly on the results of the Green Paper consultation and of the associated management consultancy study into the practicality of the options described in the Green Paper.

Prisoners (Transfers)

Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special category A Irish prisoners have been transferred from a jail in England and Wales to a jail in Northern Ireland during the last 12 months ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : None, but one is awaiting transfer.

Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many requests for transfers to jails


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in Northern Ireland are currently outstanding from prisoners who are serving their sentences in England and Wales ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Nineteen requests for permanent transfer and nine for temporary transfer to Northern Ireland are awaiting a final decision.

Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average length of time taken to process a request for transfer to a jail in Northern Ireland from a prisoner who is currently serving his or her sentence in England or Wales ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Approximately 13 weeks.

Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether a decision has yet been made about the application for transfer to a jail in Northern Ireland from prisoner 463799 (McCartney) ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : No. A decision will be reached as soon as possible.

Broadcasting

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what information he has on the number of broadcasting transmitter faults reported and repaired in 1988 ;

(2) what information he has on the cost in each of the last five years of maintenance on the broadcasting transmitter networks.

Mr. Renton : We do not have the information requested. Broadcasting transmission is the responsibility of the IBA and the BBC.

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has on the number of broadcast hours on (a) BBC-1, (b) BBC-2, (c) independent television and (d) Channel 4 made by United Kingdom independent producers in 1988 ; and at what cost.

Mr. Renton : The information requested is not currently available. I will write to the hon. Gentleman when it is.

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish a table showing the cost of transmission for each independent television company and for Channel 4 (a) in cash terms and (b) per capita in catchment areas.

Mr. Renton : No. Broadcasting transmission costs are the responsibility of the BBC and the IBA.

Broadcasting Companies (Training)

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of training presently conducted by (a) the British Broadcasting Corporation, (b) the Independent Broadcasting Authority, (c) the Independent Television companies and (d) Channel 4, independent producers will be required to undertake.

Mr. Renton : The White Paper "Broadcasting in the '90s" does not propose any requirement for independent producers to undertake training.


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Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Independent Television Commission will be required to undertake the training for transmission presently conducted by the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

Mr. Renton : We shall not make detailed decisions on the responsibilities of the ITC in relation to transmission until we have received and considered the study which we have commissioned from Price Waterhouse. In a fully privatised transmission system the presumption is that any training necessary would be carried out by the private transmission operators.

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what information he has on the investment by (a) the Independent Broadcasting Authority, (b) each independent television company and (c) Channel 4 in training in each of the past five years ;

(2) what information he has on the investment by the BBC in training in each of the last five years.

Mr. Renton : I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to questions from him on 14 February 1989 at column 115 .

Broadcasting Companies (Disabled Employees)

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he will publish a table showing what proportion of the total work force (a) the British Broadcasting Corporation, (b) each Independent Television company and (c) Channel 4 were registered disabled in each of the past five years ;

(2) whether he will publish a table showing how many registered disabled persons were employed by (a) the BBC, (b) ITV companies and (c) Channel 4 in each of the past five years.

Mr. Renton : The information requested is not held centrally.

Police Expenditure

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any guidelines are issued to police forces regarding the cost of pursuing prosecutions so as to place a limit on expenditure in relation to petty offences ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : No. The decision whether to initiate a prosecution in a particular case is an operational matter for the chief officer of the police force concerned.

Police Searches

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he issues on the conduct of inquiries carried out by a police force on behalf of another force as to whether officers may be authorised to carry out searches without being accompanied by officers from the originating force ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Hogg : None. Police constables in England and Wales have full constabulary powers throughout England and Wales. It is not therefore necessary for a police officer carrying out a search to be accompanied by an officer from the force that initiated the inquiry. Guidance to the police on the conduct of searching persons and premises


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generally is contained in the codes of practice issued in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Rape

Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to ensure a specific minimum sentence for those convicted of rape ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten : Our criminal justice system does not provide for minimum sentences, except for the offence of murder. It is for the courts to consider the circumstances of each case and decide on a sentence which reflects the gravity of the individual offence, within the maximum penalties determined by Parliament. Following guidance given by the Court of Appeal, the proportion of convicted rapists receiving sentences of five years' imprisonment or longer increased from 42 per cent. in 1985 to 79 per cent. in 1987.

Police Cars

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy on the use of unmarked police cars ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The use of unmarked police vehicles is an operational matter for individual chief officers of police.

Mr. Charles Pitts

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the letters to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State from the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey dated 12 December, 1988, 28 December 1988 and 6 January, on a matter relating to his constituent, Mr. Charles Pitts, who is a prisoner at Her Majesty's Prison Wandsworth will be answered ; and if he will give the reasons why the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey has not received replies to these letters before now.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I have written to the hon. Member. The correspondence raised a number of issues on which detailed inquiries needed to be made.

Metropolitan Police (Properties)

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many properties owned by the Metropolitan police are unlawfully occupied.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that none of these properties is unlawfully occupied.

Police (Assaults)

Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement outlining any plans which he has to introduce legislation to increase penalties available for assaults upon police officers.

Mr. John Patten [holding answer 21 February 1989] : We have no plans to increase the present maximum


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penalties (six months' imprisonment or a fine of £2,000 or both), which are the maxima for offences tried in magistrates courts. More serious assaults would normally be dealt with as offences against the person, with higher maximum penalties, including life imprisonment for wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and attempted murder.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Inflation

5. Mr. Ronnie Campbell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest forecast for inflation for 1989-90.

Mr. Major : My right hon. Friend the Chancellor will be giving a forecast in his Budget statement next month.

35. Mr. Cummings : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many members of the European Community have inflation rates lower than that in Britain.

Mr. Lilley : Nine.

66. Mr. Jack Thompson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest target for inflation.

Mr. Lilley : The ultimate objective of this Government is price stability.

Interest (Taxation)

17. Mr. Sedgemore : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has any plans to change the arrangements for taxing interest on building society and bank deposits.

Mr. Brooke : I cannot anticipate my right hon. Friend's Budget statement.

Scotch Whisky

19. Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the revenue obtained from excise duty and value-added tax from the sales of Scotch whisky in the latest year for which figures are available.

Mr. Brooke : Figures are not directly available for Scotch whisky. The revenue yield for excise duty and value added tax on Scotch whisky was about 95 per cent. of that from those taxes on all whiskies.

Employee Shareholders

20. Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the number of employee shareholders in the United Kingdom.

48. Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the number of employee shareholders in the United Kingdom.

64. Mr. Andrew Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the number of employee shareholders in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Norman Lamont : About 1 million employees have received shares, or options over shares, through the approved share schemes, open to all employees.


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Indirect Taxation

21. Mr. Henderson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of total tax revenue arose from indirect taxes in 1988 ; and what figures he has for the United States of American, Japan and West Germany.

Mr. Major : The latest directly comparable OECD figures are for 1986. They show that the share of indirect taxes in the total was 43 per cent. for the United Kingdom, 29 per cent. for the United States of America, 27 per cent. for Japan and 30 per cent. for West Germany.

Self-employment

22. Mr. Norris : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the total growth in self-employment since 1979.

61. Mr. Lord : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the total growth in self-employment since 1979.

80. Mr. Kirkhope : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the total growth in self-employment since 1979.

102. Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the total growth in self-employment since 1979.

Mr. Major : Between June 1979 and September 1988 the number of self- employed people in Great Britain rose by 60 per cent. to nearly 3 million.

Bank of England (Governor)

23. Mr. Oppenheim : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met the Governor of the Bank of England ; and what was discussed.

58. Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will next be meeting the Governor of the Bank of England ; and what matters will be raised.

62. Mr. Cousins : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met the Governor of the Bank of England ; and what was discussed.

88. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent meetings he has had with the Governor of the Bank of England ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norman Lamont : My right hon. Friend meets the governor from time to time to discuss a variety of matters.

Public Sector Price Increases

24. Mr. Beith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the effect of public sector price increases on the inflation rate.


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