Previous Section Home Page

Column 399

Benefits

Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how may social security beneficiaries are paid (a) weekly in cash at post offices, (b) four-weekly by bank giro credit and (c) three-monthly by bank giro credit.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The main benefits for which the option of payment by automated credit transfer is available are retirement pension and child benefit. The latest figures available are :


                                   |Number             

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

Retirement pension                                     

(a) Order book                     |6,730,961          

(b) Four weekly ACT                |1,461,891          

(c) 13 weekly ACT                  |69,396             

                                                       

Child benefit                                          

(a) Order book-weekly              |3,466,604          

              -four weekly         |2,195,481          

(b) Four weekly ACT                |1,051,290          

(c) 13 weekly ACT is not available                     

Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the cost of paying social security beneficiaries paid four-weekly by bank giro credit in the middle of the four-week period rather than at the end of it.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : There would be additional benefit costs, estimated at £177 million, in the first year due to the advancing of payments and a continuing cost due to loss of interest to the national insurance fund and consolidated fund, which based on current case loads and average payments and assuming an interest rate of 10 per cent. per annum would be about £18 million per year.

Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what administrative savings arise from paying social security beneficiaries by bank giro credit rather than in cash at post offices.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Based on current case loads and costs the administrative savings are estimated to be of the order of £25 million a year.

Earnings Rule

Sir Ian Gilmour : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how the abolition of the pensioner earnings rule will affect women (a) below the age of 60 years and (b) aged 60 to 65 years who are drawing category B pensions, through the contributions of their husbands.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The position for these women from 1 October 1989 is as follows :

(a) Where a married woman below the age of 60 years is concerned, if her husband has reached age 65 and claimed category A retirement pension, he will continue to be entitled to the dependent adult's addition to his retirement pension in respect of his wife. The earnings rule of £34.70 a week attached to this addition will continue to apply.

(b) As now, a woman whose husband has deferred taking his retirement pension will not be able to claim her category B retirement pension. However, a married woman aged 60 to 65 years who can claim a category B retirement pension based on her husband's contribution record will not be subject to an earnings rule on her pension.


Column 400

HOME DEPARTMENT

Wandsworth Prison

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present prison officer staffing level at Wandsworth prison ; what was the level set out in the Brisco report ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The number of officers in post at Wandsworth prison on 17 April and the staffing levels recommended in the report of the regional manpower team to which the hon. Member refers are as follows :


                                |Recommended     |In post 17 April                 

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

Discipline staff                                                                   

  officers                      |302             |302                              

  principal and senior officers |57              |44                               

Specialist staff                                                                   

  officers                      |78              |72                               

  principal and senior officers |28              |19                               

There is likely to be some increase in the number of staff in post at Wandsworth as more officers are recruited to the service over the next few months.

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last discussed prison officer staffing levels with the Governor of Wandsworth prison ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Staffing levels are discussed in the normal course between governors and regional management. Staffing at Wandsworth was also discussed by the governor and senior prison service officials during the industrial dispute earlier this year.

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether extra prison officers were allocated to Wandsworth prison on 1 April under the national agreement ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Staff required for 1989-90 under the terms of the fresh start framework agreement were recruited nationally before 1 April. The allocation to individual establishments is made on the basis of an assessment by management of their relative need. Wandsworth is likely to see some increase in the number of staff in post in the coming months.

Mr. Mark John Stone (Passport)

Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will examine the circumstances arising from the allegations made by Mr. S. N. Stone of St. John's close, Rugeley, Staffordshire in his letter of 22 March to the Head of Administration, Passport Office, India Buildings, Water street, Liverpool ; and when Mr. Mark John Stone of the same address will receive his passport.

Mr. Renton : The Liverpool passport office replied on 3 April to the points raised in Mr. Stone's letter. The passport was posted to him on 10 April. A refund will be made in respect of the additional costs he incurred in obtaining a British visitor's passport while waiting for his son's standard passport application to be processed.

Foreign Citizens (Imprisonment)

Mr. Wheeler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state, against each country of


Column 401

which they are a national, the number of foreign citizens presently imprisoned in the United Kingdom, setting out against each (i) the nature of the offence, (ii) the sentence imposed and (iii) the remaining term of imprisonment left to serve.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Information about individual foreign citizens could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The readily available information is given in the following two tables. The recording of nationality for


Column 402

citizens of Commonwealth countries, Pakistan and the Irish Republic is not always reliable. The remaining term of imprisonment left to serve varies between individuals according to sentence length, date of reception into a Prison Service establishment, whether parole licence is granted and for how long, and whether full remission of sentence was earned ; the readily available information gives the average remaining term for the sentence length group assuming full remission but without making allowance for parole.


Column 401


|c|Population of known foreign national prisoners in Prison Service|c|                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

|c|establishments in England and Wales on 31 December 1988: |c|                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

|c|by type of offence and nationality|c|                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                        Offence                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Nationality                            |Violence against the     |Sexual offences          |Burglary                 |Robbery                  |Theft, handling fraud and|Drugs offences           |Other offences           |Offence not recorded     |Courts martial           |Total                                              

                                       |person                                                                                                 |forgery                                                                                                                                                                              

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

                                       |India                    |83                       |18                       |4                        |8                        |17                       |121                      |34                       |7                        |-                                                  

Pakistan                               |137                      |41                       |26                       |26                       |62                       |213                      |68                       |12                       |1                        |586                                                

Other Asian Commonwealth countries     |16                       |8                        |-                        |3                        |6                        |17                       |7                        |2                        |-                        |59                                                 

Nigeria                                |4                        |8                        |2                        |3                        |33                       |307                      |52                       |9                        |-                        |418                                                

Ghana                                  |3                        |2                        |1                        |3                        |4                        |53                       |12                       |-                        |-                        |78                                                 

Sierra Leone                           |-                        |-                        |-                        |-                        |-                        |2                        |1                        |-                        |-                        |3                                                  

Other African Commonwealth countries   |18                       |4                        |3                        |10                       |9                        |34                       |14                       |6                        |-                        |98                                                 

Jamaica                                |114                      |43                       |28                       |57                       |22                       |119                      |40                       |15                       |-                        |438                                                

Other Caribbean Commonwealth countries |33                       |19                       |9                        |18                       |9                        |34                       |12                       |3                        |-                        |137                                                

Eire		    }                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Other EEC countries}                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

South American	    }                   |148                      |41                       |82                       |68                       |68                       |95                       |63                       |20                       |-                        |585                                                

countries	    }                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

USA                }                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Other nationalities                    |95                       |34                       |41                       |37                       |84                       |212                      |71                       |17                       |-                        |591                                                

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

Total                                  |651                      |218                      |196                      |233                      |314                      |1,207                    |374                      |91                       |1                        |3,285                                              


|c|Population of known foreign national prisoners in Prison Service|c|                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

|c|establishments in England and Wales on 31 December 1988: |c|                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

|c|by length of sentence and nationality.|c|                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Nationality             |Up to 1 month          |Over 1 month up to 3   |Over 3 months up to 6  |Over 6 months up to 12 |Over 12 months up to 18|Over 18 months up to 4 |Over 4 years less than |Life                   |Not recorded           |Total                                          

                                                |months                 |months                 |months                 |months                 |years                  |life                                                                                                                   

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

India -                 |3                      |4                      |14                     |9                      |46                     |168                    |48                     |-                      |292                                                                    

Pakistan                |16                     |16                     |18                     |39                     |27                     |124                    |250                    |95                     |1                      |586                                            

Other Asian                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 Commonwealth                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 countries              |-                      |-                      |3                      |4                      |1                      |19                     |25                     |7                      |-                      |59                                             

Nigeria                 |-                      |2                      |1                      |7                      |16                     |170                    |218                    |3                      |1                      |418                                            

Ghana                   |-                      |1                      |2                      |-                      |2                      |33                     |40                     |-                      |-                      |78                                             

Sierra Leone            |-                      |-                      |-                      |-                      |-                      |2                      |1                      |-                      |-                      |3                                              

Other African                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 Commonwealth                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 countries              |-                      |2                      |4                      |5                      |7                      |35                     |36                     |9                      |-                      |98                                             

Jamaica                 |1                      |5                      |13                     |28                     |27                     |151                    |181                    |32                     |-                      |438                                            

Other Caribbean                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 Commonwealth                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 countries              |-                      |-                      |3                      |5                      |7                      |44                     |62                     |16                     |-                      |137                                            

Eire; Other EEC                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 countries; South                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 American countries;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 USA                    |3                      |10                     |28                     |37                     |58                     |190                    |192                    |67                     |-                      |585                                            

Other nationalities     |1                      |8                      |14                     |36                     |35                     |160                    |290                    |46                     |1                      |591                                            

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

Total                   |21                     |47                     |90                     |175                    |189                    |974                    |1,463                  |323                    |3                      |3,285                                          

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Average time remaining                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 to serve<1>            |6 days                 |17 days                |7 weeks                |10 weeks               |25 weeks               |11 months              |34 months                                                              |21 months                                      

<1>Average time remaining to serve estimates assume full remission but make no allowance for release on parole. Estimates are based on those records for which an earliest date of release was available.                                                                                       


Column 403

Parking Enforcement

98. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has now received the report of the working party on parking enforcement.

Mr. Hurd : The working party on parking enforcement has now submitted its report, which I am considering.

Computers

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many instances have been detected in his Department of computer (a) hacking, (b) viruses, (c) logic bombs, (d) trojan horses or (e) other types of computer misuse, whether prepetrated by authorised or unauthorised users of computers ; and how many unsuccessful attempts have been recorded ; (2) if he will make a statement on all recorded cases of unauthorised access to his Department's computer files ;

(3) pursuant to his answer of 15 March, Official Report, column 228, if he can quantify the assessed risk of damage to sensitive computerised files ;

(4) what measures his Department has taken to protect data in transit by electronic means ;

(5) if he can quantify the risk of damage by hackers to sensitive computerised files in his Department.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : It would not be in the interests of computer security to disclose such information.

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give details of his Department's policy on reviews of the security of its computer files.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to her question on 15 March, at column 228.

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether staff are briefed about computer hacking and computer viruses ; and whether there are contingency plans to deal with computer downtime caused by unauthorised penetration.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : As appropriate, staff are trained in such matters. Contingency plans exist where necessary, but their effectiveness would be reduced if details were made public.

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received about the use of the public telephone network of the United Kingdom as a means of distributing obscene and offensive material in the form of computer bulletin boards accessible to any person using a home computer with a telephone ; and if he will make a statement on his proposals to bring such practice to an end.

Mr. Renton : We have received some such representations. Computer bulletin boards are technically non-licensable cable programme services under the Cable and Broadcasting Act 1984, and the general provisions of the Act concerning obscenity, defamation and incitement to racial hatred apply to them. We are considering, in the context of the follow up to our recent White Paper on broadcasting, whether any further regulation is required.

Detective Sergeant Kenneth Morgan

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from


Column 404

the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis as to the years during which Detective Sergeant Kenneth Morgan worked with former Chief Superintendent Kenneth Etheridge.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I understand from the Commissioner that former Chief Superintendent Etheridge served with the Metropolitan police company fraud squad from 1971 until 1977 when he retired from the force. Detective Sergeant Morgan joined the squad in 1974 and remained there until 1978. I understand, however, that throughout the three years during which the two men served with the squad they were not involved on the same work.

Her Majesty's Prison, Leeds

Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish the prison department report into the conditions of young prisoners at Her Majesty's prison, Leeds.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to a question from the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) on 10 April, at column 325.

Firearms

Mr. Corbett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps he has taken to ensure that police forces in England and Wales make use of application forms for the grant of a shotgun certificate which have been amended to comply with the provisions of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 ;

(2) whether he will advise police forces in England and Wales not to make use of application forms for the grant of a shotgun licence which are not in accordance with the provisions of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : The new controls on shotguns, prescribed in the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988, will come into force this summer. An amended form of application for the grant of a shotgun certificate will be prescribed in revised firearms rules which will come into force at the same time. In the meantime, the existing form of application prescribed in the Firearms Rules 1969 must continue to be used.

Football Match (Hillsborough)

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department at what level the publication of statements on 18 April by South Yorkshire police concerning the conduct of Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough semi- cup final was authorised ; if he will publish a copy of that statement and the name of the officer who made it ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : Statements made by officers of the South Yorkshire police are a matter for the chief constable. It would not be helpful for me to publish statements or counter-statements which have been made about the circumstances leading to the tragedy, or to name those who made them. It is for Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry to establish the facts.

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements will be made for every


Column 405

person involved in or affected by the Hillsborough tragedy who wishes to complain about police strategies, tactics, behaviour or practice at or appertaining to that event to be heard at Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry ; if he will take steps to ensure that any such complainant will be able to make their complaint formally and officially ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten : It is for the inquiry to determine the arrangements for hearing evidence which it considers will help establish the causes of the tragedy.

Statutory provision exists under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 for complaints by members of the public against the police to be dealt with thoroughly.

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands force on whether any representations from the public appertaining to police activity and strategy at the Hillsborough tragedy will be admissible to the police inquiry ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hurd : Anyone who has information which he believes could help the inquiry should make this available to the chief constable of the West Midlands police without delay.

Football Matches (Safety)

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what statutory provision is made for the availability of oxygen and respiration equipment at football league and cup fixtures ; what requirement there is to provide a contingency plan in the event of an emergency ; how often safety arrangements are required to be reviewed ; and who is responsible for enforcing such regulations.

Mr. John Patten : The Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 requires the operator of a sports ground designated under the Act to apply for a safety certificate from the local authority. Safety certificates, which are issued under the 1975 Act, contain terms and conditions which are necessary or expedient to secure reasonable safety at the ground in question when it is in use. They may include requirements for contingency planning, training and safety reviews.

The terms and conditions of a safety certificate and their enforcement are the responsibility of the issuing local authority.

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reports he has received about assaults on police officers and emergency service personnel on duty at Hillsborough on Saturday 15 April.

Mr. John Patten : I am informed by the chief constable that information about any assaults on police officers has not yet been collated. The chief fire officer informs me that so far none of his staff has reported any assault. The chief ambulance officer reports that, so far, three staff have reported an assault but that the debriefing of his staff is not yet complete.

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of South Yorkshire as to what arrangements are being made to return items belonging to deceased Hillsborough victims to their relatives.


Column 406

Mr. Hurd : I understand from the chief constable of the West Midlands police, who is conducting the police inquiry into the Hillsborough tragedy, that the items, which it is thought may play an important part in the investigation, are being held temporarily. The police are conscious of the need to return these personal items as quickly as possible to the relatives of the deceased and are proceeding urgently with the investigation.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Relocation

99. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations have been received about locating civil servants out of London to the Isle of Wight.

Mr. Brooke : I have not received any such representations. However, Government Departments are now undertaking the serious and substantial relocation reviews referred to in the answer that I gave on 9 February 1989, at columns 751-2, to my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley (Mr. Cran) ; these reviews are directed towards finding sites which offer advantages in terms of the recruitment and retention of staff, value for money and operational efficiency. Decisions will be announced by departmental Ministers once the essential parts of the review process have been completed.

Government Advertisements

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list those Government advertisements in the last three years to which the Independent Broadcasting Authority has objected or to which the authority has sought changes ; and if he will make a statement about each such occasion.

Mr. Lilley : All Government advertisements comply with the requirements and procedures of the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

Petrol Prices

Mr. Amos : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the recent increases in petrol prices following upon his decisions in the Budget.

Mr. Lilley [holding answer 20 April 1989] : My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it clear in his Budget speech that he expected the full decrease in the duty on unleaded petrol to be passed on to the consumer. The evidence suggests that the new differential between unleaded and leaded petrol has been fully reflected in pump prices.

Computers

113. Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has made any estimate of cost of providing free of charge a computer for every household in the United Kingdom linked to a national fibre-optic cable network.

Mr. Forth [holding answer 20 April 1989] : I have been asked to reply.

The costs involved would depend inter alia on the type of computer. There are some 18 million households connected to the national telecommunications networks.


Column 407

PA Consulting Group in its report "Evolution of the United Kingdom Communications Infrastructure" estimated that a national fibre-optic grid, artificially advanced, would cost an additional £21 billion over 20 years. Computers can, however, be linked up whether or not the networks are fibre-optic.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Select Committee on Sound Broadcasting

Mr. Allen : To ask the Lord President of the Council if the will take steps to reconstitute the Select Committee on Sound Broadcasting.

Mr. Wakeham : I have no plans to do so at present.

Health and Safety Executive

Mr. Allen : To ask the Lord President of the Council what advice the Health and Safety Executive has offered arising from its recent visit to the House.

Mr Wakeham : None.

Ten-minute Bills

Mr. Allen : To ask the Lord President of the Council in what month he expects to bring forward proposals on the system of queuing for ten- minute rule Bills.

Mr. Wakeham : I cannot say at present.

Fire Drills

Mr. Allen : To ask the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed answering on behalf of the House of Commons Commission (1) on what dates fire drills have been held in the House since 1979 ;

(2) what procedures are followed in the House's fire drills ; (3) when a fire drill last took place in which (a) hon. and right hon. Members, (b) staff and (c) hon. and right hon. Members and staff were evacuated from the House.

Mr. Beith : Since 1979 fire exercises have been held as follows : 16 December 1980 House of Commons

17 September 1981 Underground Car Park

22 July 1982 Norman Shaw North

4 August 1982 Underground Car Park

25 April 1983 House of Commons

10 April 1984 3 Dean's Yard

11 December 1984 House of Commons

20 May 1985 St. Stephen's House

27 November 1985 Norman Shaw South

1 July 1986 2 The Abbey Garden

3 June 1987 St.Stephen's House

3 December 1987 House of Commons Zone 4

7 October 1988 House of Commons Zone 7

8 December 1988 Norman Shaw North

7 January 1989 7 Old Palace Yard

16 February 1989 3 Dean's Yard

The normal procedure is for the fire alarm to be activated and for all occupants of the premises, including both Members and staff, to evacuate the zone or building to a predetermined assembly point. These exercises are supervised by the fire officer and the London fire brigade has participated on a number of occasions. Plans to increase the frequency of fire exercises are already in hand.


Column 408


Next Section

  Home Page