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Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action his Department is taking over crack ; how many seizures have been reported to date ; what social background persons successfully prosecuted
Column 636for using or handling this drug have come from ; and if he is planning a prevention advertising campaign in the near future.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : We already have a comprehensive programme of action in place to tackle both the supply of and the demand for drugs. Many of the measures being taken or planned, will have an impact on the misuse of cocaine in the form known as crack. These include :
provision of drug-related assistance to Latin American countries, including a substantial package of training and equipment for Colombia ;
specialist customs teams to combat cocaine smuggling ;
the stepping up of police action against the supply of crack and the provision of a fact sheet on crack for drug education co-ordinators in every local education authority.
Some 75 seizures of crack were reported in the first nine months of 1989. Information is not available about the social background of persons prosecuted for offences involving crack.
The ministerial group on the misuse of drugs is considering plans for the next phase of the national drug misuse prevention campaign, which will be aimed at the misuse of all drugs. In addition my right hon. Friend the Member for Whitney (Mr. Hurd) recently announced plans for nine local drug prevention teams which will operate within the community and will help to prevent the spread of the misuse of drugs, including crack.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he intends to publish research commissioned by his Department, on the amount of crime committed to finance drug addiction.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : It is usual practice for the authors of research commissioned by the Home Office to publish their findings. A summary of recent research on the links between drug misuse and crime was published in the Home Office Research Bulletin No. 26 (pp 30-33) on 8 May 1989. A copy was placed in the Library.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek a report from Her Majesty's inspectorate of fire brigades on the closure of the London fire control office at Stratford.
Mr. John Patten : Her Majesty's chief inspector of fire services is aware of the decision of the chief fire officer to close the Stratford control room and is monitoring the situation.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received any representations about the morale of officers of the control offices of the London fire brigade.
Mr. John Patten : Her Majesty's chief inspector of fire services has received a copy of an unsigned note purporting to have been written by London fire brigade control room staff.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis as to why the Metropolitan police have withdrawn from joint arrangements with Southwark and Islington councils to provide rape suites in these boroughs.
Mr. Peter Loyd : I understand from the Commissioner that a new examination suite for rape victims has just been opened in Copenhagen street, Islington. Premises offered by Southwark borough council were not considered to be in a suitable location and there are plans instead to use accommodation adjacent to Carter street police station when rebuilding takes place.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he intends to increase the number of specialist units providing treatment for sex offenders in prison.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : We have no present plans to do so. The research referred to in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) on 4 May 1989 at columns 231-32 will, when the results are available, facilitate an assessment of the current provision of help for sex offenders in prison.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide figures for the numbers of applicants who sat the police initial recruitment examinations in the Metropolitan police district in 1986, 1987 and 1988 broken down separately for white and black applicants.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that the relevant information is as follows :
Year |White Candidates|Black and Asian |Total |Candidates ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1986 |1,884 |179 |2,063 1987 |1,859 |228 |2,087 1988 |2,306 |127 |2,433
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he intends to take with regard to the youth remand wing at Leeds prison, following the publication of the report on teenage suicides at the prison by the Howard League for Penal Reform.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : We are studying the report. It has yet to be decided whether any of its recommendations should be pursued.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking to improve the pay and conditions of forensic scientists to tackle the shortage of staff at the Metropolitan police forensic science laboratory.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I understand that the Metropolitan police are looking at the case for pay improvements for staff in their forensic science laboratory. We will consider any case as soon as it is submitted.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide information on staffing cover at Whatton young offender institution between 1 October 1988 and 1989.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Total staff in post at Whatton at 1 October 1988 numbered 112, of whom 63 were officers (including senior and principal officers). At 1 October 1989 there were 116, of whom 65 were officers. Between these dates, total staffing levels varied between 111 and 118 and officer levels between 62 and 68.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what action he is taking to tackle bullying and intimidation amongst inmates at Whatton young offender institution ; (2) what preparation and training has been given to staff at Whatton young offender institution to help them to cope with the increasing number of juveniles serving longer sentences and with previous convictions who have been allocated to Whatton since October 1988.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : Following the introduction of the unified custodial sentence for young offenders last October, Whatton young offender institution now holds young adults aged 17 to 20 serving sentences of up to four months and juvenile offenders serving sentences of up to 12 months and there have been some control problems asociated with this population.
Regional staff have been working closely with the governor and his staff to develop the regime at Whatton. All staff have already been given training in communications, dealing with difficult inmates and resolving conflict. Further guidance on dealing with particular problems associated with the management and control of sentenced juvenile offenders is planned.
Violence and bullying in prison service establishments is regarded very seriously and every effort is made to combat it. Converting dormitory into cubicle accommodation can assist and three dormitories at Whatton have recently been converted.
Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his Department is undertaking research into crime screening.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The current Home Office research programme includes a study of detective work. The future direction of the study depends on the outcome of preliminary work, but it may well include an investigation into crime screening. Although the introduction and evaluation of crime screening in police forces is an operational matter for chief officers, its use is also examined by Her Majesty's inspectors of constabulary in their annual inspections.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how much public money has been spent on adapting the BBC Westerglen transmission station, Falkirk, for possible use in the event of a nuclear war ; and where the money came from ;
(2) what communications he has had with the BBC about the possible use of the Westerglen transmission station, Falkirk, in the event of a nuclear war ;
(3) what efforts were made by his Department to assess local opinion regarding the adaptation of the Westerglen transmission station, Falkirk, for possible use in the event of a nuclear war ;
Column 639(4) whether he will make a statement giving the details of, and the justification for, the adaptation of the Westerglen transmission station, Falkirk, for possible use in the event of a nuclear war.
Mr. Renton : Planning permission has been obtained from Falkirk district council to build limited emergency facilities at the Westerglen transmitter site and work is expected to begin shortly. Such facilities attract Government grant, but it is not the practice to disclose details in individual cases.
I understand that the building work currently being undertaken at the site is to refurbish and upgrade the existing transmitting facilities as part of the BBC's ongoing maintenance programme.
Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in the light of the judgment in the case of Lance Corporal Clive Shorters, convicted at Stafford crown court on 14 September 1989 on two counts of arson, he will ask the Falklands Islands Government to reopen the inquiry into the fire at the King Edward Memorial Hospital at Port Stanley in 1984.
Mr. Sainsbury : I have been asked to reply.
The Falkland Islands police force, the Royal Military Police and Staffordshire CID have just completed a further investigation of the incidents leading to the death of eight people in the fire at King Edward the Seventh Memorial Hospital, Port Stanley, in April 1984. Many witnesses, including Mr. Shorters, have been re-interviewed. Once they have considered the results of this investigation, the authorities in Port Stanley will consider whether any further steps should be taken in the Falkland Islands in relation to the fire.
Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of letters from hon. Members to his Department received a reply (a) in under four weeks, (b) within four to six weeks, (c) within six to eight weeks and (d) over eight weeks, in each of the last three years.
Mr. Sainsbury : The information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations have been made to the Russian authorities about the case of Moisey Issakovich Volfenson and Maya Issakovna Luthzkaya, their daughter Elena Moiseevna Volfenson and mother Manya Genehovna Lutzkaya of Kiev ;
(2) what representations have been made to the Russian authorities about the case of Roman and Larissa Litovsky and their children Kosya and Sasha of Kiev.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have not previously raised these particular cases with the Soviet authorities, but we shall be
Column 640happy to do so if the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) will provide the necessary details about each case.
Mr. Stanbrook : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is satisfied that the developer-built premises leased outside the traditional diplomatic district of Brussels as the new British embassy are of the style, quality, location and construction appropriate for a leading member of the European Community.
Mr. Sainsbury : Her Majesty's proposed new embassy building in Brussels is in an acceptable location being in the same prime diplomatic area as the present embassy. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is in negotiation with the agents for the building and expect to have available shortly full details about the quality of materials and the standard of construction. These aspects will be investigated fully before a legally binding agreement is signed.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the governments of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey concerning the treatment of Kurdish people ; how often prisons and refugee camps for Kurdish people have been visited by representatives of Her Majesty's Government since January ; and what meetings have been held with Kurdish organisations.
Mr. Waldegrave : The question of human rights and particularly the Kurds has recently been raised with the Turkish Government, who claimed that efforts to solve remaining problems would continue. Members of Her Majesty's embassy in Ankara have visited all three refugee camps since January. Her Majesty's embassy maintains contacts with representatives of a wide political spectrum in Turkey. We regularly make clear to the Iraqi Government our concerns about Iraq's human rights record. We have no diplomatic relations with Iran or Syria and have made no direct representations to them, but we continue to make our views on human rights known to those Governments by our statements at international meetings.
Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what recent occasions he has met Dr. Jonas Savimbi of the Angolan UNITA movement ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs met Dr. Savimbi on 13 October during his recent private visit to Britain. He was accompanied by myself and by FCO officials. We stressed to Dr. Savimbi the urgent need to restore the ceasefire in Angola and to resume negotiations with the Angolan Government without preconditions.
Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the position of refugees in Hong Kong and the compulsory repatriation of people to Vietnam.
Mr. Maude : There are about 13,000 Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong whom resettlement countries have pledged to resettle within three years. Those who have been determined not to be refugees have no prospect of resettlement and, as agreed by the Geneva conference in June, should return to their country of origin. Repatriation is an internationally accepted method for dealing with illegal immigrants. There is no reason why it should not apply to Vietnamese.
Mr. Dunn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many member states of the Commonwealth are multi- party democracies.
Mr. Waldegrave : The Commonwealth consists of 49 independent sovereign states, of which 33 are multi-party democracies and six whose parliaments consist of elected independent members.
Mr. Onslow : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to make a decision that will enable a head teacher to be appointed at Pyrford county first school.
Mr. Alan Howarth : A decision has been made and the interested parties have been informed.
Mr. Couchman : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will give details of any revised cash limits for his Department's votes.
Mr. MacGregor : Subject to parliamentary approval to the necessary Supplementary Estimates, cash limits for the following votes will be revised as follows :
Class and vote |Current cash limit|Change |Revised cash limit |£ |£ |£ ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- XXIII.1 |494,136,000 |+2,777,000 |496,913,000 XII.2 |3,123,761,000 |+1,026,000 |3,124,787,000 XII.4 |73,477,000 |+3,420,000 |76,897,000
The whole of the increases on Class XII, Votes 1 and 2 and £177, 000 of the increase on Class XII, Vote 4 are attributable to permitted carry- forward of capital underspends. My Department's overall entitlement to carry-forward under the end-year flexibility scheme was announced by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 20 July 1989 ( Official Report, columns 257-62). The carry-forward on Class XII, Vote 1 is £635,000 less than the entitlement of £3,412,000 and the carry- forward on Class XII, Vote 2 is £635,000 greater than the entitlement of £391,000. There is therefore no
Column 642change in the overall amount of end-year flexibility carry-over from that announced by the Chief Secretary on 20 July, but its distribution is different. This is because services formerly borne on Class XII, Vote 1 in 1988-89 are now borne on Class XII, Vote 2 in 1989-90.
The balance of the increase on Class XII, Vote 4 of £3,243,000 is for initial expenditure on the provision of a new headquarters building in Westminster for my Department.
These increases will be charged to the Reserve and will not, therefore, add to the planned total of public expenditure.
Mr. John Marshall : To ask he Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the outcome of the meeting of Education Ministers in Luxembourg on 6 October.
Mr. MacGregor : Together with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr. Jackson), I attended a Council meeting of the European Community Education Ministers on 6 October. We discussed the Commission communication on guidelines for the medium term in the sphere of education and training and agreed conclusions on co- operation and Community policy in this area in the run up to 1993. These conclusions identify objectives shared by member states as a basis for future co-operation activities. A point of particular concern to us was that the conclusions recognise that future co-operation must have special regard to the principles that the fundamental powers in matters of general education policy lie with member states, that Community action should be subsidiary to action by member states and only undertaken where it can usefully complement it, and that linguistic and cultural diversity should be respected.
Ministers agreed to encourage initiatives related to the development of national youth cards and on the co-ordination of national experiments in the public or private sector which might lead eventually to a European youth card.
Ministers also discussed Community co-operation in technical and vocational education and proposals to combat failure at school. The Commission gave presentations on the European Schools and the extension to individual EFTA countries of participation in the COMETT programme of co-operation between higher education and industry in technology training.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what considerations he takes into account, when approving or applying for permission to initiate smaller scale schemes of capital improvements to railway infrastructure, not subject to the investment return criteria normally imposed.
Mr. Portillo : British Rail submits certain schemes over £10 million for infrastructure or rolling stock to my right hon. Friend for authorisation. Smaller schemes are approved by British Rail. Schemes are currently appraised using an 8 per cent. discount rate, and we expect to approve schemes which either :
Column 643(i) earn a commercial return ;
(ii) represent the most cost-effective way of continuing to provide grant- aided services to the agreed quality standards ;
(iii) will be worth while because the cost will be less than the revenues to be earned from passengers and the benefits to non-users, eg in relief of road congestion ;
(iv) offer land development advantages, where beneficiaries may be expected to make an appropriate contribution to costs.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has on the likely running times in minutes of trains from Brussels, Lille, and Paris to the Cheriton portal of the Channel tunnel, using the fastest routes now authorised and the approximate running times likely from thence to Manchester, Leicester, and Doncaster using (i) existing routes and short new links and (ii) a high speed link from Cheriton to London ; and what is his estimate of effect of routing in London via White City and/or Stratford, instead of King's Cross.
Mr. Portillo : British Rail predicts that in 1993 the journey times for through passenger services from the Channel tunnel portal at Cheriton will be one hour 50 minutes to both Paris and Brussels, and 50 minutes to Lille. Some 20 minutes will be saved on the journey time to Brussels with the completion of the new line in Belgium now expected in 1995. The journey time from Cheriton to Manchester will be four hours 25 minutes and three hours 55 minutes to Doncaster. No direct passenger service to Leicester will be technically feasible. With the completion of a new line between Cheriton and London King's Cross, BR expect that passenger services to Manchester would take three hours 55 minutes and Doncaster two hours 55 minutes. The difference in journey time if the through services were to be routed via a new line to Stratford would not be great. BR estimates that, depending on the destination, around six to 10 minutes would be added to journeys. BR considers that the main point about King's Cross is that it would be a far more convenient interchange for passengers from the North and Midlands wishing to connect with the high frequency international services starting in London.
Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will estimate the amount of public money, other than on essential site-specific environmental work referred to in his answer of 23 October, to be expended on the proposed Severn barrage.
Mr. Peter Morrison : Before a Severn tidal barrage could go ahead, a full environmental impact assessment would need to be carried out over several years. This could cost about £10 to £15 million. Over the next two years only essential work on the Severn barrage will be undertaken. This will include :
some site-specific environmental work ;
a study of the organisation and financing issues for a barrage. The work to be undertaken immediately is under discussion with the Severn tidal power group in the light of its recent report. The Department will also be funding generic tidal research and development in support of site-specific work
Column 644on the Severn, Mersey and other estuaries. This work mainly addresses environmental issues. The total cost of generic environmental studies completed since 1986 and currently under way amounts to £1 million.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what contribution has been made by the United Kingdom to the International Atomic Energy Agency annual operating budget for 1990 ; what proportion of the total budget this constitutes ; and what was the basis on which the United Kingdom contribution was calculated.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The United Kingdom's subscription to the International Atomic Energy Agency's 1990 regular budget will be $7.7 million, equivalent to 4.99 per cent. This subscription will be paid in the financial year 1990-91. The assessment on member states is based on the United Nations formula for the scale of contributions, adjusted to take account of the safeguards and non-safeguards components of the budget.
Mr. Jack : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what estimates his Department had in June from the Central Electricity Generating Board for the remaining operational life for each of the Magnox power stations.
Mr. Michael Spicer : I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave him on 23 October at column 296.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he will consult representatives of local government and relevant professional and other bodies on his determination under part VI of the Local Government and Housing Bill of housing revenue account subsidy for 1990-91 ; and what proposals he will be making.
Mr. Peter Walker : My Department is today sending local housing authorities in Wales, the Council of Welsh Districts and other interested bodies, consultation papers on the proposed new housing revenue account subsidy. The papers contain my detailed proposals for a method of calculating the new subsidy for which the Local Government and Housing Bill makes provision. They also include details of the guideline rents, and of the allowances for expenditure on management and maintenance which we propose to take into account in calculating each authority's entitlement to subsidy in 1990-91. Comments are invited within six weeks. I am putting a copy of the consultation papers in the Library together with a list of the guidelines proposed for each authority. For the rent guideline, taking into account prevailing rent levels in Wales, I propose to assume next year an average rent increase of two per cent. above the allowance for inflation.
I also propose to use the provisions in part VI of the Bill to allow the aggregate notional rental income for Wales to be apportioned between housing authorities by reference to variations in the aggregate values of local authority dwellings. This leads to different guideline rents for different authorities. A set of rules to limit changes ensures
Column 645that no guideline rent would represent an increase of more than £4.50 a week over the average rent in any authority this year and permits, at the lower end of the scale, guideline increases which are restricted to the allowance for inflation over an authority's existing rent level.
The proposals represent a balanced approach to the establishment of sensible levels of rents in different parts of the Principality. For the management and maintenance expenditure guideline, I propose to assume a 3 per cent. growth per dwelling above the allowance for inflation next year for each housing authority in Wales.
The guidelines both for rent and for management and maintenance spending are no more than the assumptions my Department will make in calculating subsidy. Each council will have to decide for itself what level of rents it sets and how much it spends on managing and maintaining its stock.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he will decide the future of the community health councils in Wales ; if he will give three months consultation period ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Grist : We intend to issue very shortly a consultation document on the proposal that there should be one community health council for each DHA area. It is our intention to allow a three month period for comment and decisions on the future community health council structure in Wales will be taken as quickly as possible thereafter.
Mr. Baldry : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether any changes will be made to his Department's cash limits and running costs limit for 1989-90.
Mr. Ridley : Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimates, the cash limit for class V, vote 3 (administration, regulation of domestic trade and industry, and consumer protection) will be increased by £4,951,000 from £243,230, 000 to £248,181,000. The increase covers provision of £3,500,000 for the acquisition of a site in Teddington for the National Physical Laboratory (offset by a corresponding reduction in class V, vote 2), and reflects the take-up of entitlement to carry forward provision for an underspending in 1988-89 under the end-year flexibility arrangements as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 20 July 1989. The full entitlements of £813,000 on capital expenditure and £1,251,000 on running costs are taken up. These increases are partially offset by a net transfer of £613,000 to the Central Statistical Office (CSO) (Class XIX Vote 18) in respect of staff recently transferred to the CSO. As a result of these changes, the running cost limit for the department has been increased by £338, 000 from £304,760,000 to £305,098,000. The net effect of these changes will be charged to the Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.
The cash limit for class V, vote 2 (support for industry) will be reduced by £7,800,000 from £578,637,000 to