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Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Government attach high priority to tackling drug misuse in all its aspects and have developed a comprehensive strategy for that purpose, which is overseen by the ministerial group on the misuse of drugs. The group, which I chair, receives regular assessments of the drug misuse situation as it affects the United Kingdom, based on information from a number of sources.
In furtherance of the strategy, we are working through the United Nations, the Council of Europe's Pompidou group and bilaterally to strengthen international
Column 509co-operation against drug trafficking. We have given the police and Customs services substantial new resources to enable them to seize increased amounts of drugs. We have passed the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986, under which some £11 million of drug traffickers' assets has been ordered to be confiscated. Prevention, publicity and education are being stepped up, while funds for the expansion of drug misuse treatment and rehabilitation services have been increased to some £17.5 million in 1989-90.
Mr. John Patten : I represented the United Kingdom at this meeting, which discussed a range of topics of concern to European Community Ministers of Justice. I stressed the need for stronger co-operation to confiscate the assets of drug traffickers and other major criminals. I urged that the arrangements to enforce the payment of maintenance to women whose husbands moved to another Community country were not effective and should be made to work in practice. Similarly, on measures to prevent the abduction of children from one country to another, I stressed the need for practical action to help individual citizens.
Mr. Renton : The Government are continuing to meet interested parties to try to devise reforms which are both workable and likely to command parliamentary majority. As yet, there is insufficient agreement to support early legislation in this area.
Mr. John Patten : Fire service pay is determined by an agreement of the national joint council for local authorities' fire brigades, under which the rate of pay of qualified firefighters is adjusted in November each year to a level which equates to that for the upper quartile of male manual workers, calculated by reference to the Department of Employment's new earnings survey.
We have received a number of representations from hon. and right hon. Members and from members of the public on conditions of service issues in the fire service. We have explained that my right hon. and noble Friend Earl Ferrers, the Minister of State, has recently had a series of meetings with the member organisations of the national joint council with a view to establishing a working party to address a number of conditions of service- related issues raised by the Audit Commission and to consider whether the current pay formula represents the best way forward for the future.
Mr. John Patten : The contribution that the public can make towards reducing crime is the theme of a three-year publicity campaign which we started in March 1988 ; the associated crime prevention handbook, which contains a great deal of practical advice, is now in its second edition and nearly 2.5 million copies of it have been distributed. In May 1988 an independent crime prevention organisation, Crime Concern, was launched with financial support from the Home Office, with the objective of stimulating and developing local crime prevention activity. The development of crime prevention in the inner city is being taken forward through the safer cities programme which was launched in March 1988.
51. Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next expects to meet representatives of the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Broadcasting Authority ; and what subjects he expects to discuss.
Mr. John Patten : Neighbourhood watch continues to grow in Suffolk and there are now more than 200 schemes covering over 10,000 households. There are crime prevention panels in Ipswich, Stowmarket and Needham Market and the Mid Suffolk police liaison committee is active in spreading the crime prevention message to the rural community. In the first three months of this year burglary figures were nearly 9 per cent. lower than in the corresponding period for 1988.
54. Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many serving Metropolitan police officers have been suspended from duty following allegations of improper conduct in each of the past three years.
|Number --------------------- 1986 |73 1987 |95 1988 |74
55. Mr. Duffy : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to meet representatives of the drinks and fast food industries to discuss problems arising from drinking and disorder.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House in his capacity as chairman of the ministerial group on alcohol misuse, has invited representatives of the drinks, fast food and leisure industries and the licensed trade to discuss these matters. A meeting should take place later this month or early next. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and I will also be present.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : Prison medical officers in examining inmates on reception identify as a priority those who, by reason of their mental state, may require particular attention whether of a medical or general management nature. In such cases, referral to a psychiatrist would be an early course of further action.
The police and prison services are working closely together to ensure similar early identification, and correct follow-up action can be taken in the case of a defendant who, because of overcrowding in local prisons and remand centres, is initially held in a police cell, where this cannot be avoided.
Mr. John Patten : I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to questions from the hon. Members for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Jones) and Walsall, South (Mr. George) on 15 December 1988 at column 716.
Mr. Amess : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) males and (b) females have been (i) charged and (ii) convicted under section 1 of the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act 1988.
Mr. John Patten : Section 1 of the Protection against Cruel Tethering Act 1988 amended the Protection of Animals Act 1911. It is not possible from the information held centrally to isolate such offences from others under the Protection of Animals Act 1911.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has received a copy of the chief constable's annual report on the policing of Greater Manchester ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The only representations received have been from my hon. Friend on behalf of the Isle of Wight Youth Trust. Of the 19 surplus prison quarters on the Isle of Wight, 10 are to be demolished-- mainly on grounds of prison security--and nine sold.
Mr. Hurd : Parliamentary approval of the expenditure on this inquiry will be sought in a revised Estimate for the Home Office vote for "administration etc." (class XI, vote 3). Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £100,000 is being met by a repayable advance from the contingencies fund.
Mr. Lester : To ask the Secretary of State for Home Department what conclusions he has reached following his Department's review of arrangements for handling major civil disasters in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Hurd : Our emergency services have shown repeatedly how effectively they respond to widely differing disasters, but a number of suggestions have been made as to ways in which central Government could provide better support for those with operational responsibilities.
The whole field of emergency response has therefore been reviewed. Consultations have involved the emergency services, local authorities, professional emergency planners, voluntary bodies and interested individuals, as well as other Government departments. A senior level seminar for those with operational responsibilities was held at the civil defence college, Easingwold, last November.
Our main conclusions are :
(a) prime responsibility for handling particular disasters should remain at the local level. It would not be helped by anything in the nature of a national disaster squad' ;
(b) we need improved arrangements to give national oversight to the development of co-ordinated emergency planning, and to address specific practical issues raised by recent disasters ;
(c) more needs to be done to encourage and develop co-ordination of the various services at the local level.
Column 513To help meet these objectives I shall be appointing a civil emergencies adviser, charged with oversight of the whole subject and reporting directly to me. I shall announce a name as soon as I can. The adviser will consider matters of current concern in the field of civil emergency planning in peacetime, with a view to helping those with operational responsibilities to achieve the highest standards of co- ordination and compatibility between their contingency arrangements. He will not have an operational role during an emergency, but will be closely concerned with general questions of planning and training and with drawing out the broad lessons to be learnt from particular incidents. To achieve this he will work closely with senior officers of the emergency services, local authorities, voluntary bodies, safety inspectorates, Government Departments and others directly concerned. He will be supported by a small civil emergencies secretariat within the Home Office, working in association with the Cabinet Office. The secretariat will begin preliminary work immediately.
A number of specific issues have been identified in the course of the review which I shall want the adviser to take forward as a matter of priority. These include the handling of casualty inquiries, psychological damage to survivors and relatives, assistance for foreign disasters, training and exercises. He may wish to draw on the work of existing groups which are already looking at some of the issues, or to convene interdisciplinary expert groups to address detailed questions.
To support the adviser's work I am giving the civil defence college at Easingwold a wider remit and will expect it also to address questions of peacetime emergency planning irrespective of any wartime connections. This will be reflected in a change of name to "emergency planning college".
In the course of the review local authorities argued strongly for a duty to be imposed on them to plan for peacetime emergencies. I have noted their views, but I am not at present convinced of the need for legislation. Much can be done without it. I will, however, keep the position under review as work progresses.
The arrangements I have set out here do not alter the relationships or responsibilities of central Government Departments. The Department with the closest involvement acts as "lead department" co-ordinating the central Government response, organising the necessary executive action and keeping Parliament and the public informed. The lead department is supported by arrangements for collective discussion should that prove necessary. The new arrangements are complementary to existing arrangements and will provide as a new element, a central focus for the shared views and experience of the emergency services, local authorities and voluntary bodies.
I am placing in the Libraries of both Houses a more comprehensive statement about the conduct and outcome of the review.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if magistrates will be able to impose the condition of participation in electronic surveillance schemes without the defendant's consent ;
(2) if the consent of the defendant will be required before a condition of bail is imposed by a magistrates' court in England and Wales.
Mr. John Patten : The defendant's consent to a condition of bail is not required under the Bail Act 1976, and the Government have no plans to alter the Act in this respect. The trials of electronic monitoring will, however, proceed on the basis that in each case the willingness of the defendant to participate in the scheme will be established before the equipment is installed.
Mr. Bill Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give details for each fire authority of the amounts of grant aid paid towards (a) salary costs, (b) training costs and (c) other costs in respect of each brigade emergency planning staff officer in 1986-87.
Mr. John Patten : The amounts of grant aid paid in respect of each brigade emergency planning staff officer for 1986-87 are given in the table. Training costs are not separately identified in records of grant paid.
Fire authority |Salary costs |Training and other costs ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Avon |8,979 |- Bedfordshire |- |- Berkshire |14,190 |1,424 Buckinghamshire |14,255 |1,328 Cambridgeshire |16,818 |292 Cheshire |19,003 |831 Cleveland |14,402 |2,129 Clwyd |17,240 |1,160 Cornwall |16,446 |366 Cumbria |19,181 |2,506 Derbyshire |- |- Devon |14,837 |3,206 Dorset |15,194 |67 Durham |18,024 |1,996 Dyfed |10,454 |2,767 Essex |20,127 |1,488 Mid-Glamorgan |- |- South Glamorgan |- |- West Glamorgan |10,491 |948 Gloucestershire |- |- Gwent |- |- Gwynedd |18,641 |2,553 Hampshire |15,027 |3,934 Hereford and Worcester |17,397 |1,292 Hertfordshire |11,917 |2,294 Humberside |16,100 |1,916 Isle of Wight |13,210 |1,336 Kent |13,740 |3,116 Lancashire |16,999 |14 Leicestershire |- |- Lincolnshire |16,913 |- London |12,012 |4,968 Greater Manchester |- |- Merseyside |- |- West Midlands |- |- Norfolk |12,448 |2,588 Northamptonshire |15,849 |3,116 Northumberland |- |- Nottinghamshire |16,193 |4,428 Oxfordshire |11,746 |2,018 Powys |14,144 |579 Shropshire |- |- Somerset |21,157 |414 Staffordshire |13,771 |1,575 Suffolk |10,833 |255 Surrey |16,571 |- East Sussex |- |- West Sussex |12,342 |4,837 Tyne and Wear |17,381 |2,563 Warwickshire |10,418 |1,987 Wiltshire |15,139 |2,966 North Yorkshire |9,825 |852 South Yorkshire |- |- West Yorkshire |14,626 |2,475
Mr. Bill Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give details of proposed expenditure in 1989-90, 1990 -91 and future years on (a) the construction of a new lecture theatre at the civil defence college, Easingwold and (b) the refurbishment and upgrading of the bedroom annexes at the civil defence college, Easingwold ; and if he will make a statement upon the future programme at the civil defence college.
£,000 |1989-90|1990-91|1991-92 ---------------------------------------------------- New Lecture Theatre |285 |471 |452 Bedroom Annex |105 |75 |NIL
Construction and refurbishment programmes at the college are planned on the basis of need and the availability of funding.
Mr. Bill Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the amounts of Home Office civil defence grant aid paid to each of the district authorities employing emergency planning staff funded by such grant for each year from 1979-80 to the present.
Mr. John Patten : Civil defence grant in respect of expenditure incurred by district authorities is normally claimed on their behalf by the relevant county or fire and civil defence authority. No records are held of the amounts in respect of individual districts.
Mr. Bill Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make arrangements to place in the Library of the House the minutes of, and any papers relating to, regional fire advisers meetings since 1979.
Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has the report commissioned by midlands local authorities to consider the electrification of the midland main line ; what representations he has received from Leicestershire's Conservative county councillors about its recommendations ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 516though I receive representations about the line from time to time. Services and journey times along the line have recently been substantially improved, and BR plans to improve them further when rolling stock becomes available from the east coast main line, following my right hon. Friend's announcement on 12 June of additional rolling stock. It is for British Rail to propose electrification schemes where it believes that they would be worthwhile. The midland main line is not presently due for reinvestment.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Pembroke on 10 April Official Report, column 409, whether he now has plans to bring forward legislation to abolish the power of local authorities to restrict the number of taxis which might be operated in their area.
Mr. Channon : I am today publishing a consultative document entitled "The Future of Marine Radionavigation in United Kingdom Waters" which seeks the views of the marine community about decisions needed on the land-based system of radio navigation to be provided in United Kingdom waters into the next century. In essence the choice appears to be between continuing with the present Decca navigator system, which is operated by Racal Decca Marine Navigation Ltd. under contract to the general lighthouse authorities, or adopting a system known as Loran C as part of an international co-operative venture. The consultative document sets out the considerations to be weighed and reaches a provisional view favouring participation in the Loran C project. I have, however, not yet reached a firm conclusion and I am inviting views from all interested parties. These should be sent to the Department of Transport not later than 11 September. I expect to take a decision later this year taking account of the responses received and the position reached on the current international discussions on the Loran C option. If my decision were to be in favour of the Loran C system, this would be contingent on a formal memorandum of understanding being concluded between the participating countries.
Copies of the consultative document have been placed in the Library.
Mr. Bendall : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether London Underground Limited has reported to him on progress with work on the Underground ticketing system to ensure that exit gates open automatically in the event of a single phase power failure.
Mr. Portillo : London Underground informs me that the work has been completed some two weeks ahead of schedule and assures me that all the gates will now spring open automatically if there is a power failure of any sort.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if, further to his answer of 16 May, Official Report, column 112 , about the cost of installing automatic ticket barriers at London Underground stations, he will indicate (i) the revised costs when the full cost of the computer is included, and (ii) what proportion of the cost of computers could be attributed to the purpose of running the automatic ticket gates.
Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Mid-Staffordshire of 7 June, if he will investigate the reasons why he has not yet received British Rail's submission for the electrification of the cross-city line from Lichfield to Redditch via Birmingham New Street ; if he will publish in the Official Report copies of relevant correspondence between his Department and British Rail ; and if he will now make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : The position is described in my replies of 6 June to the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) which included a summary of discussions between British Rail and the Department. Since these meetings, I understand that British Rail carried out further work on engineering and financial matters. I expect a formal submission shortly.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what commitment, including provision of finance, Her Majesty's Government have received from London Regional Transport of the extension of its safe centre exit door mechanisms to all buses ; what is his estimate of the date when this is likely to be achieved ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : We have not received such a proposal from London Regional Transport or London Buses Ltd. However, I understand that London Buses is currently testing a safety mechanism which automatically reopens bus doors if they come into contact with an obstruction when closing.
Safety is the Department's and LRT's highest priority. The Department has recently issued for comment draft
Column 518regulations which include provisions to reduce the risk of people being trapped in power-operated bus doors. The consultation period ended on 31 May and responses are now being considered.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will make representations to the chairman of London Regional Transport to change its policy so that prior permission is not required for individuals confined to a wheelchair to use London Underground provided they are accompanied by an able-bodied person ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : Existing regulations are for the protection and convenience of disabled passengers. I understand that passengers in wheelchairs may use the surface and sub-surface Underground lines and need only advise staff at their local station of their wish to travel. Prior notice is necessary so that staff can ensure that there are no local difficulties preventing easy wheelchair access, and can give assistance if required.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his answer to the hon. Member for Leyton of 26 April about concessionary fares on buses, stating that it is for local authorities to decide whether to make any changes in their present arrangements, represents a change from the pledges made by Her Majesty's Government during the passage of the London Regional Transport Act assuring the continuance of the free fares system for pensioners in London ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : There has been no change in the Government's stance on concessionary fares for elderly, disabled and blind Londoners. The present concessionary scheme in London is voluntarily agreed between the London boroughs. It is primarily a local authority decision as to what concessions are provided ; that is no change from the position prior to the passage of the London Regional Transport Act 1984. However, this is underpinned in law by a reserve scheme which guarantees free travel should the boroughs fail to agree voluntarily upon a uniform Londonwide scheme.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the railway inspectorate has examined any proposal for new Underground rolling stock submitted to them by London Underground Ltd. which would provide for (a) fewer seats or (b) more people to stand, than the current carriages ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Portillo : The railway inspectorate is currently considering London Underground Ltd's specification for replacing rolling stock on the Central line. This shows slightly fewer seats per train than existing stock and more space for standing passengers. The capacity of the replacement stock is not directly a matter for the inspectorate, which is principally concerned with its safety of operation.
Mr. Portillo : Assaults on passengers on buses in London are dealt with by the Metropolitan police. London Regional Transport does not maintain a central statistical record of such assaults. The numbers of recorded assaults on passengers on London Underground in each of the four years were :
Year |Numbers ------------------------ 1985 |467 1986 |646 1987 |635 1988 |777
Passenger assaults in the first quarter of 1989 were 185 which represented an 11 per cent. reduction on the figure of 207 for the same period last year. A figure for 1984 is not available.
Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to receive the consultant's reports on the south London assessment study ; if he will outline the action that will be followed by his Department after these reports have been considered ; and if he will make a statement.