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Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the annual number of reported incidents of members of the public discovering live ammunition in areas that had recently been used for training purposes, for each of the last 10 years for which data is available.
Ms. Short : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to whether any of the officers suspended or disciplined in the last five years in the west midlands police force were involved in investigating the murder of Carl Bridgewater.
Mr. Hurd : I understand from the chief constable of the West Midlands police that no officer from that force who was involved in the Carl Bridgewater murder inquiry has been suspended in the last five years. Two such officers have been disciplined in that period.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will direct the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to publish in his annual report the statistics relating to the screening of reported crimes for further investigation ; if he will publish the figures for 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that detailed figures for 1988 are not available centrally, but that the commissioner is considering what information might be published in future annual reports.
Sir John Farr : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the cause of the hold-up by the Home Office in relation to the sale of 44 homes on the Gartree estate to prison officers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : Of the 81 prison quarters on the Gartree estate, 46 were released for sale under the prison service discount sales scheme on 30 June 1988. A total of 21 applications for purchase were received and offers of sale have been made to 18 applicants. Valuations for the other three properties have yet to be received from the district valuer.
Column 704Five of the offers made were accepted and sales are going ahead in the normal way. The main reason for delay on the other sales is the unwillingness of prospective purchasers to accept the terms of the discount scheme. This requires that the properties should be offered for sale on the basis of a valuation made at the date of application to purchase or at the date on which the properties were released for sale, whichever is the later. I have no authority to sanction sales based on a valuation at the date on which the discount scheme first came into effect--June 1987--which is what these prospective purchasers are seeking.
Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constables of Hampshire and Wiltshire on their investigations into the cornfield circles in Hampshire and Wiltshire ; what is the estimated cost of these investigations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will direct the Chief Inspector of Constabulary to inquire into those aspects of the findings of the first report of the Liverpool 8 inquiry into race relations in Liverpool which relate to the Merseyside police ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir Charles Morrison : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to ensure that the Independent Television Commission will have adequate representation of deaf people.
Mr. Renton : The Independent Television Commission will be a regulatory body rather than a representative one. Members will be chosen to cover a wide range of experience and knowledge, but we do not believe it would be right to appoint a member specifically to serve the needs of the deaf.
Sir Charles Morrison : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he intends to lay down regulations that oblige the television broadcasters to ensure that whenever there is an emergency or urgent news flashes, the programme is broadcast so that deaf viewers can fully understand the message ;
(2) whether the proposed requirements for Channels 3 and 5 with regard to subtitling for the deaf will be applied to the BBC channels, Channel 4, cable and satellite channels ; what reasonable target for the amount of subtitles in future years will be set by the Independent Television Commission ; whether the proposed 10 per cent. increase in Teletest subtitles will be a minimum requirement ; whether the proposal will include a requirement to provide a diverse service across all programming ; and whether he is considering any inclusion in the proposal for sign language services and open-in-vision subtitles.
Mr. Hurd : As I announced on 13 June, at column 715, we are proposing that Channel 3 and Channel 5 licensees should, in the first year of the new licences provide 10 per cent. more hours of subtitling than had been achieved on average by the ITV companies in the previous year. The licensees would, of course, be free to provide more hours than this if they so wished. The ITC would take this and other matters into account in judging a suitable target for future years. We envisage that the choice of which programmes should be subtitled should be left to the licence holder. The BBC and Channel 4 will continue to be bound by public service commitments and so can be expected to continue to provide subtitling.
It will be for the broadcasters to determine how information is presented, beyond the requirement to be impartial and accurate in news reporting. Live subtitling is complex, and in some instances would be difficult to provide.
With regard to the additional television channels, which are becoming available, we have always made it clear that we intend to impose on these channels a number of consumer protection requirements to safeguard the public on matters of taste and decency. Beyond that their success or failure will be determined by their ability to attract and retain viewers with their programme service.
Services for the deaf should generally be provided by teletext, although by virtue of their public service obligations the BBC and Channel 4 can be expected to provide specialist services for those viewers without access to a teletext television set.
Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to how many officers involved in the case against Keith Parchment were also involved in the case of the six men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings ;
(2) if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to how many officers involved in the case against Paul Fitzsimmons were also involved in the case of the six men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings ;
(3) if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to how many officers involved in the case against Hassan Khan were also involved in the case against the six men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings ;
(4) if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to how many officers involved in the case against Ernest Callaghan, Anthony Waldron, Robert Burston and Alexander Davies were also involved in the case against the six men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings ;
(5) if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to how many of the officers involved in the case against Paul Dandy were also involved in the case of the six men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings.
(6) if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to how many officers involved in the case against Vincent Palmer were also involved in the case against the six men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings ;
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I understand from the chief constable of the West Midlands Police that no officer involved in the cases of any of the individuals named was also involved in the case concerning those convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings.
Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Police Complaints Authority as to the number of complaints made to them against Detective-Sergeant Michael Hornby ; and what action was taken in each case.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : No. The Police Complaints Authority is not itself empowered to receive complaints against police officers. Any complaint that the authority may receive against an individual officer is passed to the chief constable of the force concerned, so that he may record it and have it investigated under the terms of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 where appropriate under the supervision of the authority.
Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, pursuant to his answer of 11 July, Official Report, column 425, he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to whether Detective-Sergeant Michael Hornby's personal file contains details of the offence for which he was disciplined in 1980.
Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, pursuant to his answer of 11 July, Official Report, column 425, he will call for a report from the chief constable of the West Midlands as to how many complaints have been received against Detective-Sergeant Michael Hornby for each of the last seven years.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I understand from the chief constable of the West Midlands Police that four complaints have been made against Detective- Sergeant Hornby in the last seven years, consisting of one in 1983, two in 1986 and one in 1987 which was subsequently withdrawn.
Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what instructions are given to immigration officers about providing receipts for personal property which is retained by such officers ;
(2) what was the reason for the delay in responding to the letter from the hon. Member for Stretford about Mr. Majid Agha (HO Ref A429590) ;
(3) what were the nature and length of the avoidable delays in arriving at a decision in the case of Mr. Majid Agha ; and what steps have been taken to avoid repetition ;
(4) when the conclusion was arrived at that Mr. Majid Agha resides lawfully in Britain ;
(5) when the passports of Mr. Majid Agha were returned to him by immigration officers following their seizure ;
(6) why the visit to the home of Mr. Majid Agha by immigration officers took place without notice ; why the immigration officers were accompanied by police officers on the visit to Mr. Majid Agha ; and why Mr. Majid Agha's passports were taken by immigration officers.
Mr. Renton : The case to which the hon. Member refers was the subject of a complaint about the conduct of the immigration officers involved in the particular inquiry. Following investigation I wrote to the hon. Member on 8 June. The answers to the additional specific questions are as follows :
The reason why an unannounced visit by immigration and police officers took place was because information was available about the possible commission of immigration and other criminal offences. In the course of the inquiry two passports were taken away, against receipt, and with the consent of the person who was the subject of that inquiry. Instructions to immigration officers are that documents or other items taken during this kind of inquiry should have been provided voluntarily and that a receipt should be provided for any items retained.
The visit took place on 31 January, the decision that the person in question was lawfully settled in the United Kingdom was made on 3 April and the passports returned on 20 April. There were two avoidable delays : one between 10 February and 21 March when the case received insufficient attention due to pressure of work, and one between 3 April and 17 April when the papers were temporarily mislaid in the immigration office at Manchester airport. Local procedures have been revised, aimed at avoiding a repetition of such delays. The reason for the delay in responding to the letter from the hon. Member for Stretford was, as explained in my interim reply of 13 March to his letter of 1 February, that investigation of the complaint and other inquiries at Manchester airport took some time to conclude.
Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when the Government intend to respond to the request of the Association of Chief Police Officers for additional breath-testing powers ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) when the results of the Home Office consultation period on police breath-testing powers will be published ; and in what form.
Mr. Sedgemore : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why no Home Office representative was available to attend the case of Yashpal Singh (TH/1204/88) at Thanet house on 21 July, in which the entry certification officer, New Delhi, is the respondent ; when a Home Office representative will be available to attend a hearing ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Renton : The Home Office presenting officer allocated to the case was unfortunately admitted to hospital on that day. The case was complex and it was not, at short notice, possible to reallocate it. The adjudicator agreed to an adjournment and future listing of the case is a matter for my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has received from chief constables in England and Wales concerning the extent to which they have designated custody officers having a rank other than that of a sergeant and having dual responsibilities within their police station in accordance with the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Chief officers are not required by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to provide my right hon. Friend with such information and he has not received any approaches from them on this point.
Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations his Department has received from the Northumbria police concerning exceptional radio interference on both VHF and UHF radio channels resulting from the European Cellnet system ; what information he has on the extent to which this is causing a breakdown of communications between the command and control systems and police officers on the street ; and what action he is taking to remendy this problem.
Mr. Michael Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will extend the arrangements for the disclosure of police information about those who apply to work with children, which are currently available to local authorities and to voluntary organisations.
Mr. Hurd : We have today announced that, with the agreement of the Association of Chief Police Officers and representatives of the voluntary sector, three pilot schemes are to be set up to allow voluntary organisations access to police information about those who apply to work with children. One of the schemes will cover, principally, national child care organisations, the other two will be based locally in Dudley and Lancashire.
The national scheme will be hosted by the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations and, although it will cover largely national child care organisations, it would not exclude other nationally based organisations.
The two local schemes, hosted by the Dudley Council for Voluntary Service and the Community Council for Lancashire will aim to provide a service for locally organised voluntary groups.
The three new schemes, which will be funded by the Government during the pilot phase, will extend to voluntary organisations the arrangements now available to local authorities and the health service which will allow them access to police information about those seeking to work in posts which would give them substantial and unsupervised access to children.
Mr. Hurd : The necessary consultation with railway operators, fire authorities and others has now been completed and it is my intention to lay regulations within the next two weeks. The first of them will come into effect in mid-September. The regulations will be made under section 12 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and will be subject to the negative resolution procedure.
The regulations are part of the Government's response to Mr. Desmond Fennell's investigation into the King's Cross Underground fire and were announced to the House by my right hon. Friend, the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) last November. They will incorporate the great majority of Mr. Fennell's recommendations concerning fire precautions in underground railway stations and some additional requirements amongst them those concerning the construction of stations.
The regulations will include those requiring the installation of heat detectors and sprinklers in escalators and other areas of high fire risk, for the protection and maintenance of exits so that all of these, including ticket barriers, can be immediately opened in case of fire, and for the training and provision of staff so that in an emergency they will know what to do.
They apply to all underground stations, not only to those in London, and will be enforced by the local fire authority for the area. Fire authorities will have discretion to relax some of these requirements when this is justified by the circumstances.
Mr. Wells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for registration as British citizens made under the transitional provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981 are still outstanding ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Renton : In the financial year 1987-88 some 190,000 such applications for registration were received. I announced to the House on 19 May 1988 at column 1080 that a new nationality office in Liverpool would be opened to assist with the processing of the applications and the new office opened on 22 August 1988. Excellent progress has been made and the number of registration applications now outstanding is less than 60,000. We expect to have taken decisions on the last of the outstanding applications during January 1990--significantly ahead of the target date of 1 April.
The establishment of the Liverpool nationality office to process registration applications has allowed the rest of the nationality division in Lunar house to concentrate exclusively on other categories of application for citizenship. Furthermore, once the registration work is completed, the Liverpool nationality office will begin to process naturalisations, almost doubling the capacity available for that work. In this way, we hope to be able to improve the level of service given to applicants during 1990-91.
The difficulties caused by the rush of applications at the end of 1987 are not yet over, but we are on course to improve the level of service to our customers. The staff of the nationality division, both in Croydon and Liverpool, are to be congratulated on the efforts made to achieve that aim.
Mr. Fraser : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many immigration inspectors have been involved in each of the last six months for which records are available in the authorisation of decisions of immigration officers to make deportation orders against people ; and on what basis each decision for (a) overstaying, (b) breach of conditions or (c) otherwise was taken.
Mr. Renton [holding answer 17 July 1989] : Fourteen immigration inspectors are authorised to take decisions relating to those liable to deportation under section 3(5)(a) of the Immigration Act 1971. Other categories of deportation cases are dealt with exclusively by the deportation section. Decisions in all deportation cases are based on all the known relevant facts in accordance with the immigration rules.
Mr. Forth : Under the comprehensive range of measures, costing £3.5 million this year, which makes up the Action for Cities initiative, good progress continues to be made in the regeneration of our inner cities. In the 57 inner city target areas, unemployment fell by almost 24 per cent. in the 12 months to May 1989. Recorded crime in the Metropolitan police force areas fell by 6 per cent. in 1988. Involvement of private companies continues to grow--over the last six months the number of companies working with the Government's inner city task forces has increased from 450 to 500.
Dr. Woodcock : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will take steps to ensure that the financial assistance given to, and the tax incentives provided for, the Astra project by the Luxembourg Government are in accordance with the treaty of Rome and that these aids will not distort fair competition in the United Kingdom satellite market.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : It is open to the Government to raise with the European Commission any cases in which EC rules on state aids are alleged to have been broken and where British companies have been put to competitive disadvantage. If my hon. Friend would like to give me any further information relating to the aid given to the Astra project by the Luxembourg Government, I would be happy to consider the matter further.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will publish in the Official Report figures for each year since 1979 showing the net increase in the amounts available for investment of life assurance and pension schemes to the nearest £1 million ; and if he will provide a forecast for 1987 and for 1988.
Column 711administered pension funds (excluding net investment by pension funds in insurance-managed funds) are as follows for the year 1979 to 1988.
|£ million ------------------------------ 1979 |10,100 1980 |11,744 1981 |13,533 1982 |15,201 1983 |15,957 1984 |17,668 1985 |18,089 1986 |20,295 1987 |21,035 1988 |20,142 Note: There are some breaks in the series due to definitional changes. The main ones are between 1983 and 1984 and between 1984 and 1985.
Mr. Redwood : No. Tied agents are not providing independent advice on behalf of a client, but are acting as the agent of the company they represent. The Securities and Investments Board has produced further proposals for disclosure of the status of the intermediary and disclosure of expenses in sales of life assurance and unit trusts.
Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what representations he has received concerning cancellation provisions in contracts for timeshare developments ; and what conclusions he has drawn ;
(2) if he will introduce legislation to require timeshare developers to include cooling off periods in contracts and provide for independent arbitration in the event of disputes over timeshare contracts ;
(3) if he will take powers to ban the use of incentive awards and sales presentations by timeshare developers.
Mr. Forth : I receive a steady flow of complaints about timeshare problems mainly criticising the sales techniques used by some companies and the lack of a penalty-free cooling off period in many timeshare contracts. I announced on 2 June that I had asked the Director General of Fair Trading to carry out a review of the whole range of timeshare problems and to make appropriate recommendations in the early part of next year.
Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will withdraw financial assistance from those organisations which are presently receiving assistance to further trade with China.
Mr. Redwood : The Council, at which my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office represented the United Kingdom, discussed several issues, including the proposed European company statute ; the draft EC merger regulation ; and draft directives relating to rights of residence, the legal protection of computer programmes, and the introduction of public purchasing rules into the energy, water, transport and telecommunications sectors.
Mr. Redwood : We have recently considered whether any regulatory issues arise from the operation of "broker funds", defined as "Any arrangement under which a broker (or a nominee of the broker) has rights, not available to individual policyholders, to advise or decide on matters which determine the benefits under policies issued by the life insurance company through the broker.
We have consulted the Securities and Investments Board and other relevant self-regulating organisations. The Securities and Investments Board is today issuing a consultation paper on the marketing and competence issues involving broker funds.
We have concluded that the operation of broker funds may in the past have exhibited some potential for unfairness although we have no firm evidence that there was any unfairness.
Consequently the Department has today written to life offices and other relevant organisations providing guidance to life offices and their auditors on the regulatory position as it affects broker funds, and on certain other issues to which they should have regard in the appointment of brokers to manage funds and in the operation of those funds. I have arranged for a copy of the text of the letter to be placed in the Library of the House. The letter emphasises the importance of section 31A of the Insurance Companies Act 1982. This section requires insurance companies to ensure that adequate arrangements are in force for securing that transactions affecting assets of the company (other than transactions outside its control) do not operate unfairly between different funds of the company. In the Department's view any transaction between funds which is effected in the knowledge that it will, or is likely to, cause detriment to one of the funds must "operate unfairly". While section 31A is already in force we are considering introducing a new regulation later this year requiring companies to report on their arrangements to meet the duty imposed by the section. This regulation--which is the subject of separate consultation with the industry--would require a certificate to be signed by the directors, to be annexed to the annual report, which would state that for the past financial year the company has had in force arrangements to meet this duty. This certificate would be subject to audit. We have
Column 713considered the implications of section 31A for the operation of intermediaries funds, and in particular for the granting of rights to brokers which are not conferred on policyholders generally and detailed guidance is provided in the letter to assist insurance companies to comply with the section. Further, we consider that insurance companies should satisfy themselves as to the competence of any broker or nominee managing any of its funds and to monitor their performance on a regular basis. At all times companies should maintain tight controls on broker fund operations.