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Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that members of the Iranian embassy are not involved in financing or assisting in any way organised violence connected with the campaign centred on the book "The Satanic Verses" ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : Iran closed its embassy in London and withdrew all its diplomats on 28 February 1989 at the Government's request, following the threats issued by the Iranian leadership to the lives of Mr. Salmon Rushdie and his publishers. The Government have made it plain that the promotion of organised violence in the United Kingdom will not be tolerated, and all necessary measures will continue to be taken against it.
Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ask for a report from the chief constable of West Yorkshire police on the rioting during and following a meeting organised by the Council of Mosques in Bradford on Saturday 17 June, and in particular whether any Iranian students were involved on an organised basis in the disruption, and the level of policing available from the start of the meeting at 11 am, and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : I understand from the chief constable of West Yorkshire police that around 3,000 Moslems, including, it is believed, a small number of Iranian students, took part in the demonstration. The organisers and stewards co-operated fully with the police and the meeting itself was conducted in an orderly manner. After the meeting some 200 youths ran through the centre of Bradford jostling bystanders and causing some damage to cars and other property. A small number of police officers and members of the public were hurt. At the meeting there were initially six officers present with larger numbers in reserve nearby. During the disturbances lasting around 90 minutes some 200 police officers were deployed.
Mr. Corbett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many samples of freebase cocaine or crack have been submitted to the forensic science laboratories and the laboratory of the Government chemist in each of the last three years.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : In 1986, 1987 and 1988 there were zero, five and 15 samples confirmed as crack submitted to these laboratories. A further 12 samples have been confirmed as crack in the first five months of this year. In addition over the same three-year period five, seven and 13 samples had features of crack with a further 10 identified this year.
Mr. Corbett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what in each of the last three years for which figures are available, have been the number of deaths in which cocaine in any form has been a cause or contributory factor.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The Home Office collects information on the deaths by overdose of drug misusers. The number of such deaths in which cocaine in any form was recorded as a cause or contributory factor in the three years to 31 December 1987, the latest for which figures are available, is given in the following table :
|Number --------------------- 1985 |1 1986 |7 1987 |9
Column 398Library listing by name all the medical and scientific authorities on whom he relies for his statements about the harmful effects of crack, the smokeable, base-form of cocaine.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : "Drug Misuse--a basic briefing" prepared by the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependency includes, among the harmful effects of cocaine, the following : misusers may develop a strong psychological dependence ; misuse can lead to an extreme state of agitation, anxiety, paranoia and perhaps hallucination ; continued misuse may cause a state of mind similar to paranoid psychosis ; although rare, excessive doses can cause death from respiratory or heart failure. It also states that smoking cocaine is a more potent method of administration than "snorting" and that the effects are felt more immediately. I am placing a copy of the booklet in the Library.
Cocaine smoked in the form of crack is a recent phenomenon, but experience from the United States suggests that because crack acts more rapidly it poses a much greater risk of addiction. The ministerial group on the misuse of drugs has instituted a review of the available medical and scientific literature on the effects of crack.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to establish from the European Commission whether the directive on the harmonisation of conditions of residence, as proposed in the Community "Charter for Fundamental Social Rights" Com. 89- 248-final, will fall to be presented to the Council on the basis of majority voting.
Mr. Renton : The voting arrangements for a particular proposal depend on the substance of the proposal and on the specific article(s) of the treaty of Rome, as amended by the Single European Act, appropriate to this. Until a draft proposal is agreed by the Commission it is not possible to know on which article the Commission will be basing its proposals.
Mr. Wheeler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has reached his decisions on the recommendations contained in the report of the Police Complaints Authority "Triennial Review 1985-1988.
Mr. Hurd : Yes. I announced on 14 November 1988 that a consultation document on the recommendations was being sent to the police representative bodies, the local authority associations, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Police Complaints Authority. The document was also being made available to anyone else on request. I have given further consideration to the recommendations in the light of the comments received.
I have decided to accept 11 of the authority's recommendations in whole or in part.
Of these 11 recommendations, three have been or will be dealt with by administrative action by my Department as follows :
I intend that recommendation (4) should be met by making available to the authority information which chief officers currently supply to Her Majesty's chief inspectorate of constabulary.
Column 399I have accepted the following recommendations which will be implemented by amendments to regulations. I have asked my officials to bring forward the necessary amendments as quickly as possible. (
(3) that "complaint about the conduct" should be enlarged to embrace all such matters arising out of or in the course of the incident complained of as the authority may determine by investigation or otherwise (paragraph 1.8) ;
(4) that chief officers be under an obligation to provide us with such information on the informal resolution procedure as we may reasonably require to enable us to fulfil the mandate of section 97(4) (paragraph 1.14) ;
(7) that the police authority be required to deal with complaints against senior officers through a small disciplinary sub-committee, enjoined to a proper judicial approach to the task (paragraph 1.26). (
(5) That the words "or informally resolved" should be added to those conditions necessary for dispensation under regulation 3 on the ground that the complaint is repetitious (paragraph 1.17) ; (
(15) that the authority be given an equivalent discretionary power and propose that it be done by way of amendment of the Police (Anonymous, Repetitious Etc. Complaints) Regulations 1985, to include words such as "or vexatious, oppressive, or an abuse of the complaints system" in the description of complaints for which we can grant a dispensation from investigation (paragraph 2.29) ; (
(16) that there should be a time limit of 12 months from the date of the incident, or the latest incident, giving rise to the complaint within which to bring it to notice. There should be the usual safeguard to enable us to exercise discretion to extend the time limit where good reason for delay is shown and no injustice is likely to be caused (paragraph 2.30).
It will not be possible to give direct effect to the third of these recommendations by regulation. But I intend to bring forward amendments to regulations which will achieve the purpose sought by the authority.
I have also accepted five recommendations for action at the next legislative opportunity.
(9) That the language of sections 90 and 92 be amended to make it clear beyond doubt what is intended (paragraph 1.41) ;
(10) that the Act be amended to enable the authority to give its reasons for preferring charges at the stage of recommendations, when the chief officer must be consulted (paragraph 1.42) ;
(11) that an alternative composition of a disciplinary tribunal should be considered (paragraph 1.45) ;
(13 a ) that section 98 be restructured so as to provide : that the authority has discretion to publish such information as is reasonably necessary to inform the public of the outcome of investigations, without derogation from the principle of confidentiality between the authority, complainants and those who provide information (paragraph 2.11) ;
(17) that the authority be granted a discretion to dispense with supervision in cases where it is satisfied on proper evidence that the injury sustained is minor, notwithstanding the definition in section 87(4), whether this is apparent from the start or becomes so only in the course of the investigation (paragraph 2.31).
The purpose of the first two of these recommendations will be achieved by administrative action pending legislation.
I propose to review the case for the following two recommendations when next contemplating legislation on the complaints procedures. (1) That there should be a definition of complaint in the Act which distinguishes between categories of complaint (paragraph 1.5) ;
Column 400(6) that the authority should be able to satisfy itself in suitable cases that a complaint has been withdrawn by an entirely voluntary and well-informed consent (paragraph 1.17).
I have asked my officials to hold further discussions with the Police Complaints Authority and the police on two recommendations before I come to a final decision :
(12) That steps be taken, perhaps by regulation, to lay down a time scale within which the various procedures necessary to bring about a disciplinary hearing are to be completed (paragraph 1.47) ; (
(13b) that section 98 be restructured so as to provide : that chief officers be restricted in the use of their copy of a report of a supervised investigation, to the purpose for which they receive their copy under the Act and that they publish no part of it (paragraph 2.11).
I have decided not to accept four of the authority's recommendations :
(2) That the last word about recording or de-recording a complaint should be with the independent authority rather than with the police (paragraph 1.6)
(8) that the powers described in section 88 of the Act should be extended to the authority in those cases where it appears to them that by reason of their gravity or exceptional circumstances the investigations should be supervised even if there is no complaint (paragraph 1.34) ;
(14) that we ought to have the right to exercise the power to require the production of documents in our own name, which right is at present in doubt (paragraph 2.15) ;
(18) that all incidents in the course of which a firearm is discharged, whether accidentally or deliberately, should be mandatorily referable to us. This would enable there to be an independent presence at the examination of the circumstances surrounding those incidents which understandably give rise to public anxiety (paragraph 2.33).
Finally, I have noted the authority's comment that the question of a lower level of summary disciplinary hearings is worthy of further discussion (paragraph 3.20).
I have been heartened by the positive response to the consultation document on the authority's recommendations and I am satisfied that the action I have outlined above will further enhance the operation of the procedures for dealing with complaints against the police.
Mr. Hurd : A Green Paper entitled Summer Time--A Consultation Document', Cm. 722, is published by HMSO today. The document seeks views on three options for future summer time arrangements with a closing date for responses of 29 September 1989.
Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to review the operation of the extended fixed penalty system introduced on 1 October 1986 under the provisions of part III of the Transport Act 1982, now part III of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : A working group comprising representatives of the Home Office, Department of Transport, the police service and the courts was formed early in 1988 to review the operation of the extended penalty system. I have received its report, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.
Column 401The report concludes that the new procedures are broadly meeting their objectives which were :
(i) to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of road traffic law enforcement ;
(ii) to improve police-public relations in road traffic encounters ;
(iii) to reduce the burden of prosecution for the police, the Crown prosecution service and the courts ; and
(iv) to improve the level of compliance as compared with the previous fixed penalty system.
The working group has, however, identified a number of areas where some "fine tuning" is required.
While the extension of the fixed penalty system to a far wider range of less serious road traffic offences has produced a substantial drop in the number of court proceedings, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of fixed penalty notices issued. This has placed a considerable burden on the courts and the police in registering and enforcing unpaid fixed penalties.
The new arrangements whereby unpaid fixed penalties are enhanced by 50 per cent. and registered and enforced as fines has led to some improvement in early payment rates, particularly in London where, under the previous system, the problem of unpaid fixed penalties was most acute. However, there is still scope for improvement and the working group has identified a number of administrative measures to reduce the number of cases reaching the fine enforcement stage and, for those which do, to ensure that fine recovery is achieved as effectively and efficiently as possible.
The working group recommends that the fixed penalty levels should be increased. The levels were set in 1986 at £12 for non-endorsable offences and £24 for endorsable offences. The report recommends that these should be increased to £15 and £30 respectively with effect from 1 January 1990. As required by section 88 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, I shall be consulting representative organisations about these proposed increases. I shall also be seeking views about those of the working group's other recommendations which would involve primary legislation.
Mr. Hurd : I have received the inquiry's report. I am examining it, first with a view to publication subject to the need to avoid prejudicing the position of individuals or any proceedings which might take place.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the changes in the planned figures for his Department's expenditure for 1989-90 and subsequent years in Cm. 607 from the plans for those years in Cm. 288 ; and for what reasons.
Mr. Cope : The plans for the years 1989-90 and 1990-91 in Cm. 607 show a decrease of £232 million and £340 million respectively from the plans in Cm. 288. This was mainly because the rapid growth in the economy and fall in unemployment allowed a decrease in planned expenditure on employment and training programmes.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the reasons for any differences between the 1988-89 public expenditure plans for his Department published in Cm. 288 and the latest 1988-89 estimated outturn ; and how much of any increase is attributable to use of the Reserve.
Mr. Cope : The estimated outturn for 1988-89 is 22 per cent. lower than the 1988-89 public expenditure plans published in Cm. 288. This is due mainly to training volumes being lower than planned for adult and youth training because of the rapid growth of the economy and decrease in unemployment.
Mr. Cope : Since the publication of Cm. 288 the Department has entered into the following new commitments which will involve spending in the years after 1991-92 : Employment training, business growth training, training and enterprise councils, compacts, enterprise in higher education and Seville expo 92. In addition, as announced in the Official Report , 27 October 1988, column 318, from 1 April 1990 the Health and Safety Commission will take over the Department of Energy's responsibility for contracting research programmes related to the safety of established thermal nuclear power stations.
Mr. Cope : The European Commission published its guidelines concerning European social fund intervention in respect of action against long-term unemployment and occupational integration of young people in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 24 February 1989. My Department circulated these guidelines, the new European social fund regulations and its own guidance to all past fund applicants and representatives of the local authority associations on 11 April 1989. My Department also circulated to them on 21 June 1989 its own guidance on how to complete the European Commission's form for operational programmes, "Application For Assistance From The European Social Fund".
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the total number of unfilled vacancies and the unemployment figure in Doncaster and Mexborough, for April of each year from 1979 to 1989.
Mr. Lee : The following is the available information, which is also in the Library. The table shows the number of unfilled vacancies at jobcentres covering the area most closely corresponding to the Doncaster travel-to-work area, together with the number of unemployed claimants in the Doncaster travel-to-work area, for April of each year from 1984 to 1989. Unemployment figures are affected by changes in the coverage of the count. Corresponding figures for 1979 to 1983 are not available.
Unemployment and unfilled vacancies in Doncaster travel-to-work area for April 1984 to 1989 |Number of unemployed|Number of unfilled |claimants |vacancies ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1984 |18,555 |<1>156 1985 |19,575 |<1>128 1986 |21,897 |178 1987 |20,692 |352 1988 |17,491 |382 1989 |13,327 |462 <1> Number of unfilled vacancies given are for the month of March as April data are not available.
Mr. Leadbitter : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the training schemes sponsored by his Department, the total numbers targeted for those schemes, the actual numbers attending, the costs, and the payments made to trainees in each of the last five years.
Mr. Lee : Figures for total numbers targeted and payments made to trainees can be calculated only at disproportionate cost. The following table shows the numbers of people in Great Britain who started on an adult or youth training scheme, sponsored by the Training Agency (formerly Training Commission, formerly Manpower Services Commission), for each year from 1984-85 to 1988-89 and the cost.
F/Y ended March |Adult Training (000's)|Cost £ million |YTS (000's) |Cost £ million ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1985 |183 |265.2 |397 |780.7 1986 |328 |261.9 |406 |809.8 1987 |534 |302.8 |420 |861.0 1988 |619 |341.5 |398 |991.0 <1>1989 |640 |626.3 |397 |993.8 <1>Starts for 1988-89 are subject to revision and costs figures have not been audited.
Mr. Leadbitter : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what response he has made to the Confederation of British Industry industrial trends survey suggesting a shortage of skilled labour ; (2) what response he has made to the survey published by the Institute of Directors suggesting nearly half the companies questioned said it had become more difficult to recruit skilled employees.
Mr. Cope : I am aware of the results of these surveys. The Government are continuing to encourage employers to define and tackle their own skill needs particularly through the introduction of training and enterprise councils and business growth training. The Government are also helping young people and the unemployed to learn new skills through YTS and employment training.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will seek to establish from the European Commission whether the directives on a minimum wage, on trade union rights, on employee participation and on holiday entitlement and rest period for part time workers as proposed in the "Community charter for fundamental social rights" Com. 89-248-final, will fall to be presented to the Council on the basis of majority voting.
Mr. Cope : The voting arrangements for a particular proposal depend on the substance of the proposal and on the specific article(s) of the Treaty of Rome, as amended by the Single European Act, appropriate to this. Until a draft proposal is agreed by the Commission it is not possible to know on which article the Commission will be basing its proposals.
Mr. Nicholls [holding answer 26 June 1989] : Money advanced by the Training Agency to the Council for Social Aid was in accordance with the terms of the council's contract with the Training Agency. The precise terms of this contract are confidential to the parties involved.
Mr. Nicholls [holding answer 26 June 1989] : Information on enforcement notices is not published except in the minority of cases where notices have implications for the safety of the public and details of these are available at the Health and Safety Executive's local area offices.
Q16. Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Prime Minister when she expects to meet Mencap and other organisations representing the disabled to discuss the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 and its implementation ; and if she will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has no plans to do so. the implementation of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has received about a dozen such representations this year. They have concerned a variety of subjects, such as general environmental and safety issues, accidents involving dangerous goods, improved facilities for lorry drivers, and the possibility of transferring freight from road on to rail.