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Column 801Stirling Council--Women's Group
Stockport Trades Council
Tameside Metropolitan Borough
Thamesdown Law Centre
Tooting and Balham Law Centre Ltd.
Tower Hamlets Law Centre
Trades Union Congress
Trades Union Congress--West Midlands Regional Council
Transport and General Workers' Union
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers-- Cheltenham Private Trade Branch
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers--
Cumbrian Co-op F20
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers--
Leeds Private Trade Branch
Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers--
(North Eastern Division)
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers--
West End One Branch
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Yorkshire Regional Branch)
United Road Transport Union
West Midlands Low Pay Unit
West Yorkshire Low Pay Unit
Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council
Women For Change
York City Council
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action he is taking to investigate allegations made by the BBC "Watchdog" programme that named employers were paying illegally low rates of pay to employees and falsifying accounts ; and if he will make a statement.
The inspectorate treats all of its inquiries and investigations as confidential and the results are disclosed only to those directly involved.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the characteristics of the two cases of underpayment in the Yorkshire and Humberside area which were prosecuted, and on the action taken over the 629 cases of underpayment not prosecuted.
Mr. Nicholls : The cases met the wages inspectorate's criteria for prosecution action. The policy of the inspectorate under all Governments has been to seek compliance by advice and persuasion and to consider prosecution only where an offence is deliberate or repeated and where the evidence is considered adequate to prove a charge in court.
In the great majority of cases where underpayments are found, the employers are being inspected for the first time and many of them are unaware of the regulations. In these and other circumstances where underpayment occurs, the employer is notified of his obligations and asked to give an undertaking to pay not less than the statutory minimum rate in the future. Where the inspectorate has reason to believe that the underpayment may continue, the establishment is identified for re-inspection.
Column 802from 13 weeks to 26 weeks, how many claims for unemployment benefit have been received at Stockton unemployment benefit office ; in how many of these cases benefit has been suspended ; in how many of these cases the maximum 26 weeks' suspension has been initially applied by the adjudication officer ; in cases where the maximum 26 weeks' suspension has been applied, in how many cases the length of the suspension has been reduced on review of the case ; and in how many of the cases where the 26 weeks' suspension has been initially applied, the suspension has been reduced on appeal ;
(2) since the increase in the maximum number of weeks' suspension of unemployment benefit from 13 weeks to 26 weeks, how many claims for unemployment benefit have been received at Billingham unemployment benefit office ; in how many of these cases benefit has been suspended ; in how many of these cases the maximum 26 weeks' suspension has been initially applied by the adjudication officer ; in cases where the maximum 26 weeks' suspension has been applied, in how many cases the length of the suspension has been reduced on review of the case ; and in how many of the cases where the 26 weeks' suspension has been initially applied, the suspension has been reduced on appeal ;
(3) since the increase in the maximum number of weeks' suspension of unemployment benefit from 13 weeks to 26 weeks, how many claims for unemployment benefit have been received nationally ; in how many of these cases benefit has been suspended ; in how many of these cases the maximum 26 weeks' suspension has been initially applied by the adjudication officer ; in cases where the maximum 26 weeks' suspension has been applied, in how many cases the length of the suspension has been reduced on review of the case ; and in how many of the cases where the 26 weeks' suspension has been initially applied, the suspension has been reduced on appeal,
Information is not available on how many of these claims were disqualified by the adjudication officer, nor on the numbers where the maximum period of disqualification had been imposed or reduced on review or appeal.
|c|Number of claims taken for period April 1988 to December 1988.|c| Locations |Number ------------------------------- Stockton |10,312 Billingham |3,361 National |2,938,226
Mr. Nicholls : The Health and Safety Commission issued a consultative document in December 1986 containing proposals for regulations to require construction workers to wear head protection. The commission has received a large number of representations in response to the document, both on the proposals as a whole and on their implications for the Sikh community. My colleagues and I have also received letters on the subject.
Mr. Jack : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will announce the results of the review of the rates of allowance payable under the job release scheme and the part-time job release scheme.
Mr. Lee : Although the job release scheme closed on 31 January 1988, the allowances will continue to be paid to participants for up to five years. Following our annual review, the allowances payable from 10 April 1989 under the job release schemes will be as follows : Full-time scheme
For disabled men who entered the Scheme aged 60, 61, 62, and 63 : those who are married with a dependent wife whose net income from all sources does not exceed £14 a week : £79.25 a week, taxable ; those who do not have a dependent wife or whose wife's income exceeds £14 a week : £62.25 a week, taxable.
For women who entered the scheme aged 59 and men who entered the scheme aged 64 :
those who are married with a dependent spouse whose net income from all sources does not exceed £14 a week : £73.75, tax free ; those who are married or whose spouses' income exceeds £14 a week : £58.85 a week, tax free.
The part-time job release scheme closed on 30 May 1986. The new rates of allowance for those still remaining on the scheme will be as follows :
For disabled men who entered the part-time scheme aged 60, and 61 and men who entered the scheme aged 62 and 63 :
those who are married with a dependent wife whose net income does not exceed £14 a week : £46.95 a week, taxable ;
those who do not have a dependent wife or whose wife's income exceeds £14 a week : £39.10 a week taxable.
The spouses earnings limit which affects whether the higher or lower rate is paid has been raised from £13 to £14 and the participants earnings limit has been raised from £4 to £5.
Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what information his Department has about the number of community insulation projects which were operating in September 1988 and in February of the current year.
Mr. Nicholls [holding answer 14 March 1989] : Although the total number of community insulation projects at those two dates is not known, most community insulation projects are registered with Neighbourhood Energy Action. I understand that 444 projects were registered in September 1988 and 260 in February 1989.
Mr. Strang : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest number of (a) factory and (b) agricultural inspectors employed by the Health and Safety Executive ; how many of these are field inspectors ; and how many of these inspectors were employed in each of the inspectorate grades.
Mr. Nicholls [holding answer 20 March 1989] : On 1 March 1989, 608.5 factory and 165 agricultural inspectors were employed in the Health and Safety Executive. Of these, 532.5 factory and 142 agricultural inspectors were employed in the Executive's factory and agricultural inspectorate division's field force based in area offices.
Column 804The breakdown by grade of factory and agricultural inspectors employed in HSE is as follows :
|Number |(of which in the field |force) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (i) Factory Inspectors Chief inspector |1.0 |(-) Deputy chief inspector |4.0 |(-) Senior area director |4.0 |(2.0) Area director |17.0 |(17.0) Superintending inspector |3.0 |(-) Deputy superintending inspector |38.0 |(24.0) Inspector 1A |163.5 |(124.5) Inspector 1B |275.0 |(262.0) Inspector II |103.0 |(103.0) |------- |------- Total |608.5 |(532.5) (ii) Agricultural inspectors Chief inspector |1.0 |(-) Deputy chief inspector |2.0 |(-) Deputy superintending inspector |3.0 |(3.0) Principal inspector 1 |7.0 |(6.0) Principal inspector |29.0 |(24.0) Inspector |98.0 |(84.0) Assistant inspector |25.0 |(25.0) |------- |------- Total |165.0 |(142.0)
Mr. Grylls : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the recent decision by the Court of Appeal to refuse leave to appeal to Jeremy Bamber in respect of his conviction on five counts of murder, he will now make a statement about the conduct of police investigations in this case.
Mr. Hurd : After Mr. Bamber's conviction on 28 October 1986, I asked the then chief constable of Essex, Mr. Robert Bunyard, to submit to me an urgent report on the conduct of the investigation of this case by his force. That report acknowledged that mistakes had been made in the early stages of this investigation and made proposals designed to prevent any recurrence. At my request, Sir Richard Barratt, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, discussed with Mr. Bunyard the issues raised in that report and then, in a separate review, sought to identify lessons from this case which might be applied to the police service generally.
It is clear that errors were made in the early stages of the police investigation contrary to existing force practice.
First, the senior investigating officer having assessed the scene of the crime and considered the information provided by Jeremy Bamber, wrongly concluded that Sheila Caffell had taken her own life after shooting her parents and her twin sons. In consequence of this error of judgment, he did not follow normal procedures of potential murder cases and was reluctant to take account of information which challenged his original assessment.
Secondly, there was inadequate supervision of the senior investigating officer to ensure that the existing force practices were observed and that inquiries took account of the information coming to light.
It is clear that prompt and effective action to remedy these shortcomings was taken once the chief constable and senior officers were made aware of the misgivings which
Column 805relatives of the Bamber family expressed. Proper procedures were then implemented and they produced the evidence which was then presented to the jury.
I have today placed in the Library a list of the 18 substantive recommendations made by Sir Richard for adoption throughout the police service. They are designed to reinforce standard procedures and ensure proper management supervision to minimise the risk of prejudicing the outcome of a major inquiry.
The recommendations do not call for radical changes in police procedures, rather they clarify and confirm existing good practice so that it is consistently followed.
The recommendations have been forwarded to the Association of Chief Police Officers for their consideration and implementation as necessary.
Mr. Hurd : The Government's proposals for law and order services were set out in the consultation document "Capital Expenditure and Finance for Home Office Services" issued on 28 October 1988. I remain of the view that capital spending on the police, probation and magistrates courts services should generally be subject to the capital control system applicable to all local authorities proposed in the Local Government and Housing Bill now before the House. To meet concerns about the risk of credit approvals being vired away from law and order services, thus jeopardising their capital programmes, I intend, at least initially, that credit approvals should be issued in the form of supplementary credit approvals thereby hypothecating them to those services. I do not intend to recover the specific grant element contained in receipts generated by these services, but to protect the national taxpayer's investment I propose to provide that the reserved part of such receipts should be 75 per cent. I shall also ensure that our support for capital projects is based upon Government priorities and policies through the continuation of a system of project approvals to which payment of grant would be linked. Authorities would be free to spend available resources on projects which do not secure a place in the approved programme but such spending would not attract capital grant. I am satisfied that the arrangements I propose for law and order services will meet the objectives of the new local authority capital finance system and that authorities will be able to maintain sufficient levels of capital expenditure on those services, while exercising a strict control on Exchequer support in the form of capital grants.
Mr. Hurd : Under the four-year programme of police manpower increases announced in May 1986, I said that I would be prepared to authorise annual increases in Metropolitan police manpower of up to 300 in the police establishment and 150 in the civil staff ceiling, subject to my being satisfied that earlier increases had been properly
Column 806used. In the first three years of the programme I authorised increases totalling 900 in the police establishment, and 450 in the civil staff ceiling.
Having reviewed the use to which Metropolitan police manpower has been put over the past year, I am satisfied with the progress which has been made. During 1988, almost 600 additional officers were posted to the areas and divisions of the Metropolitan police ; the number of man days on foot patrols rose by 16 per cent. ; recorded crime reduced and clear-up rates rose. 134 posts were civilianised during the year.
I have therefore decided to authorise the final increases of 300 officers and 150 civil staff, plus the 100 extra civil staff which I announced in the autumn. Of the 250 civil staff, 200 will be used for civilianisation. This will bring the Metropolitan police establishment to the record level of 28,415 as from 1 April 1989.
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, Official Report, 27 January, columns 769-70, how the inspections by his Department's health and safety officers are validated ; and if there are any prison inspections by the Health and Safety Executive.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Inspections carried out by Home Office health and safety officers are validated by random inspections undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive. These random inspections include prison service establishments.
Formal hygiene inspections of prisons carried out by Home Office health and safety officers are also subject to random, unannounced validation inspections by an environmental health officer from the Department of Health.
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many fires there have been in prisons in the last ten years ; who is responsible for fire precautions in prisons ; and who validates the inspections that take place.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Between 1 January 1979 and 31 December 1988, 2, 829 fires were reported in penal establishments. Many of these would have been small fires (for example, a lighted rag or newspaper thrown out of a cell windows, and quickly extinguished by prison staff. The responsibility for fire precautions in each establishment rests with the governor, who nominates a fire officer from among his staff to be responsible to him for all fire safety matters. Governors and fire officers are encouraged to maintain close contact with their local fire brigade.
The responsibility for implementing recommendations resulting from fire prevention surveys conducted by local brigades rests with prison service line management, ie, governors, supported by regional directors and ultimately by headquarters, where the advice of Her Majesty's fire service inspectorate is available if any question arises as to the validity of a particular recommendation.
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South on 27 January, Official Report, column 769-70, how many validating prison
Column 807inspections by environmental health officers from the Department of Health were carried out in the last year for which figures are available.
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, 27 January, Official Report, column 769-70, on how many occasions local authority environmental health officers have been called in to prisons to provide assistance and expertise in tracing the source of food poisoning ; and to which prisons they were called.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Since 1984, local authority environmental health officers have been called in to prison service establishments on seven occasions to provide assistance and expertise in tracing the source of food poisoning.
The establishments involved were :
1984--Her Majesty's Prison, Leeds
1985--Her Majesty's Prison, Leeds
1987--Her Majesty's Prison, Wakefield
1988--Her Majesty's Prison, Cardiff
Her Majesty's Prison, Rudgate
Her Majesty's Prison, Lincoln
1989--Her Majesty's Young Offenders Institute, Hollesley Bay Colony
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, 27 January, Official Report, column 769-70, he will consider requesting the help of local authority environmental health officers in order to prevent food poisoning outbreaks as well as to investigate them.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : We are satisfied that formal hygiene inspections of prison catering facilities by Home Office health and safety officers and Home Office supply and transport catering branch are of a standard comparable to those carried out by local authority environmental health officers. Home Office inspectors have considerable knowledge and experience of food hygiene problems associated with large scale catering operations. Their standards are monitored by random validation inspections undertaken by an environmental health officer from the Department of Health. Prison governors and medical officers have authority to invite local authority environmental health officers to visit their establishment in an informal advisory capacity should they consider this appropriate.
There are no plans to change existing arrangements at present.
Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the speed at which entry clearance cases are now being dealt with when referred to his Department.
Column 808either for further inquiries to enable the entry clearance officer to reach a decision or for the department to take a decision. In all cases, applications are dealt with as promptly as possible although the need to make inquiries and the volume of work arising from these and on other applications to the Home Office are unavoidable sources of delay. Accordingly, remedies have to be sought not only in respect of entry clearance cases themselves but also in reducing nugatory work wherever possible elsewhere in the control system in order to free resources to be applied to what work remains. Against that background, the following measures are in train or have been taken. Many referred entry clearance applications require the sponsors in the United Kingdom to be interviewed. These interviews are carried out by the immigration service and, depending on seasonal commitments at the ports, have been subject to delay. Arrangements are now in hand to streamline the handling of interview requirements to smooth out delays so far as practicable by securing a better balance between interview requests to the immigration service and their available manpower. The objective remains of carrying out interviews within three months of receipt of papers in the United Kingdom.
We are also introducing on a phased basis arrangements giving entry clearance officers abroad greater delegated authority to decide entry clearance applications locally. We expect that these new arrangements will be fully in place by January 1990 and will make an important contribution to expediting decisions.
More generally, the Government have taken a number of steps to seek to improve the time taken to process all applications handled by the Department. We introduced immigration rules changes in February 1988 to reduce the amount of nugatory work carried out by the Department and to free resources for resolving essential applications. Wider advertising, improved procedures and the recruitment of part-timers have helped the staffing situation considerably in recent months. Since 1988, a net additional total of 136 staff has been recruited. We are also introducing wherever possible improved working procedures to ensure that applications are processed as promptly as possible. We believe that, taken together, these initiatives in the United Kingdom and abroad will significantly improve the overall quality of service including directly or indirectly to entry clearance applicants. Their effect will be kept under review.