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Mr. Rifkind : I have concluded that the Department would benefit from establishment as an agency and hope that this may be achieved on 1 April 1990. It will be the first such agency from within my areas of responsibility.
The agency will be headed by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland who, as chief executive, will enjoy extensive managerial freedom to organise the work of the agency so as to provide the best possible service to the public within a policy and resources framework which I shall set. The Keeper will be responsible to me for meeting specific objectives and challenging targets but will be free to determine how those are to be achieved. The staff of the agency will remain within the Civil Service.
Column 729have them marked with their post code ; owners should contact the police crime prevention officer who will be able to advise on local arrangements for marking to be carried out.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many petitions for transfer from a gaol in England and Wales to a gaol in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland are currently outstanding ;
(2) how many petitions for transfer from gaols in England and Wales to gaols in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland have been received in the last 10 years ; and how many have been successful ; (3) how many prisoners who are serving a prison sentence in England and Wales have been transferred following a petition, to a gaol in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland in the last 10 years.
Mr. Mellor : The table gives the numbers of petitions that have been received for permanent transfer under section 26(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1961 from prisons in England and Wales to prisons in Northern Ireland, and the number granted, in each year since 1980.
Year |Petitions|Transfers ---------------------------------------- 1980 |10 |1 1981 |7 |- 1982 |7 |- 1983 |20 |3 1984 |12 |1 1985 |26 |4 1986 |25 |2 1987 |31 |3 1988 |62 |10 1989 |55 |17
There are 15 petitions for permanent transfer to Northern Ireland to which a final reply has not yet been given ; and three prisoners whose transfers have been agreed are currently awaiting transfer. Transfers of prisoners are not possible between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland as, although the Republic of Ireland has signed the Council of Europe
Column 730convention on the transfer of sentenced persons, it has not yet ratified it. The United Kingdom ratified the convention in 1985.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners in England and Wales who orginally came from (a) Northern Ireland or (b) the Republic of Ireland are deemed category A.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners who are currently serving a prison sentence in England and Wales originally emanated from (a) Northern Ireland or (b) the Republic of Ireland.
Mr. Mellor : According to the records held centrally, on 30 September 1989, about 320 sentenced prisoners in prison service establishments in England and Wales who were citizens of the United Kingdom or whose citizenship was unknown were known to have been born in Northern Ireland.
The recording of nationality in the records held currently for citizens of the Republic of Ireland is not completely reliable because it depends upon information provided by the prisoner. On 30 September, about 460 sentenced prisoners in establishments in England and Wales were recorded as citizens of or born in the Republic of Ireland.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners who are serving a sentence in England and Wales have petitioned for transfer to gaol in either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland on more than (a) two occasions, (b) four occasions, (c) six occasions, (d) eight occasions or (e) 10 occasions.
Mr. Kaufman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek an explanation from the NTVLRO as to the reasons for its delay in making a substantive response to Manchester city council's application for Keary close, Gorton, to be accepted as eligible for the reduced television licence ; and if he will request the NTVLRO to make such a response without further delay.
Mr. Mellor : On 18 April 1989 NTVLRO refused an application made in March 1989 by the city of Manchester social services department in respect of accommodation at Annesley gardens and Keary close. In response to representations dated 16 June, NTVLRO wrote again on 28 June 1989 seeking more information. NTVLRO has no trace of a reply to that letter, and has therefore been unable to consider the matter further.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to authorise the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to make available to the public telephone numbers of ambulance stations in London.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the provision of concessionary television licences for pensioners living in residential or sheltered accommodation ;
(2) what is his estimate of the number of individuals currently covered by the television concessionary licence available to retirement pensioners' sheltered and residential accommodation.
Mr. Mellor : The concessionary licence is available to retirement pensioners and disabled people living in residential or nursing homes, or in equivalent sheltered accommodation provided by a local authority or a housing association. New regulations governing the issue of the licence came into force on 19 May 1988.
Since then about 33,000 schemes have been reviewed by NTVLRO. Four thousand outstanding applications will be resolved when further information requested by NTVLRO is supplied by the applicant authorities.
The annual £5 fee is now payable per household, rather than per individual. At 30 November 1989, it is estimated that about 864,240 people in 677,835 households were covered by the licence.
Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the Government's proposals for extending to the English-speaking population of Wales similar television broadcasting facilities to those provided to Welsh speakers by S4C.
Mr. Mellor : The Government have made no proposal to provide a specific alternative to S4C programmes. But English speakers in Wales already receive three UHF channels and the majority of English programmes on the fourth channel, and with the encouragement of the Government's Broadcasting Bill the choice for the viewer is likely progressively to increase through the addition of new services.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : I understand from the chief constable of the West Midlands that Mr. Matthews was transferred to uniform duties in 1985. This was a management decision and not the result of any disciplinary action.
Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list any cases in the last two years where persons facing explosives charges have been released despite positive forensic tests.
Mr. Waddington : Positive results were obtained from three separate tests--(i) gas chromatography with chemiluminescent detection ; (i) gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection ; (iii) thin layer chromatography.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list, for each region, the names of the individual members of boards of visitors of prisons for England and Wales ; who their representing body is ; and if he will indicate those who are members of an ethnic minority.
Mr. Mellor : I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) on 20 December 1989 at column 270. I am arranging for details of the current membership of the board of visitors for each prison establishment in England and Wales to be placed in the Library but it would not be appropriate, without seeking their individual consent, to indicate those who are members of ethnic minorities.
The Co-ordinating Committee of Boards of Visitors considers and raises matters of common concern to boards with the Department.
Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what conclusions he has reached on the review of the organisation and location above establishment level of the prison service in England and Wales.
Column 733Mr. Waddington : The report was published on 10 August and copies were placed in the Library. I have been able to consider the report's recommendations in the light of over 150 written submissions, and of comments made in presentations conducted by prison service management. I have myself had discussions with many people in the service, and have met representatives of all the major trade unions concerned.
I am satisfied that it is right to accept all the main recommendations of the review. The Prisons Board will be restructured by the creation of operational directorates. The regional system will be replaced by area managers who will be part of the headquarters structure. More work will be devolved to establishments from headquarters and regional offices. The whole of headquarters up to and including the Director General will in due course be relocated to the midlands. Work will begin to determine whether, and if so when, the prison service should become an executive agency.
The new organisation will come into being in September and will be based in existing accommodation in London and Birmingham until a new midlands location is available.
I believe that these radical changes will place the service in a stronger position to meet the challenges it faces. They will build on the existing major programme of reforms and modernisation resulting from "Fresh Start", the prison building and refurbishment programme, an increased use of information technology and renewed work to improve regimes for inmates.
Mr. Waddington : I am placing copies of the commissioner's strategy statement for 1990 in the Library today. I am also sending copies to all right hon. and hon. Members whose constituencies fall wholly or partly within the Metropolitan police district. I am inviting London Members to discuss the statement with me.
Mr. Gummer : Every animal going to slaughter which has eaten contaminated feed is tested and consumers can be fully assured that the meat will not enter the food chain unless it is safe for it to do so.
Column 734in operation to enable livestock to be removed from restricted farms as soon as that can be done without compromising the safety of the food chain.
Mr. Gummer : The Dutch authorities alerted my officials on 1 November that a consignment of contaminated feed had been imported into the United Kingdom. Subsequently there was close liaison between Dutch officials and United Kingdom embassy staff in the Hague and between officials in London in our efforts to clarify the events leading to the contamination. A more detailed account will become available once the Dutch court case on this matter is concluded.
Mr. Gummer : My overriding concern has been to protect the consumer. I therefore required the milk from affected farms to be segregated and converted into butter and powder. An intensive sampling/testing programme was introduced and the restrictions were not lifted until we were satisfied that there was no longer any danger to public health.
Mr. Gummer : The level of the green pound will be considered as part of the annual price review. The Commission is to produce proposals on the long-term future of the agrimonetary system ; when these emerge they will be considered by the Council.
Mr. Curry : The main factors affecting bread production are : raw material prices, mainly grain, which have eased in the past few months ; and labour costs, which have recently increased quite significantly, together with energy and other manufacturing costs. However, the price increases announced by the major bakeries are likely to be offset by the effects of discounting and other promotions by retailers.
Mr. Maclean : "Sell-by" dates will soon be phased out and "use by" dates for highly perishable foods will be introduced. This will give better protection and information to our consumers. I am presently considering with interested parties whether guidelines should be developed setting out the criteria to be used to determine which foodstuffs should carry a "use by" date.
Mr. Maclean : It is our policy to encourage the widest availability of wholesome, attractive foods throughout the country as set out in the recent White Paper, "Food Safety--Protecting the Consumer" (Cm. 732), and the Food Safety Bill. While encouraging freedom of choice, we give the highest priority to the safety of the consumer and examples of recent work to improve this are set out in the White Paper. For the future the Food Safety Bill sets out proposals for a wider, stronger and more flexible legislative base for improving food safety right through the food chain from the farm to the shop. My right hon. Friend has established a food safety directorate which brings together all the main aspects of
Column 736the Ministry's food safety work. We shall continue to be advised by various independent expert committees on all aspects of food safety.
59. Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to meet the local authority associations to discuss the role of environmental health officers in ensuring food safety.
Mr. Maclean : My right hon. Friend maintains regular contacts with the enforcement authorities. In addition, I have recently met several local authority associations to discuss the enforcement of food safety legislation in the context of the Food Safety Bill and my officials are discussing with the local authority and enforcement associations the implementation of the Official Control of Foodstuffs Directive.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether requirements of food safety measures in the Food Safety Bill have been taken into account in the calculations of the standard spending assessment of metropolitan and non-metropolitan local authorities for 1990- 91 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : The majority of new requirements involving costs to local authorities will be in regulations to be made after the Bill has received Royal Assent. Local authorities are unlikely to have to incur additional expenditure before 1 April 1991. This is why the additional £30 million to enable local authorities to enforce the additional requirements of the Bill is to be taken into account in the revenue support grant settlement for 1991-92.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will outline his consultation process with local authorities concerning the additional costs to them of the measures in the Food Safety Bill ; if he will list those local authorities which have been consulted ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : Officials in the Departments concerned held discussions with a number of organisations and individuals from local authorities in order to assess the resources needed. The following local authority bodies were consulted :
The Institution of Environmental Health Officers ;
The Association of District Councils ;
The Association of County Councils ;
The Local Authorities Co-ordinating Body on Trading Standards ; The Association of Public Analysts ;
The Association of Metropolitan Authorities ;
The Association of Port Health Authorities ;
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ;
The Institute of Trading Standards Administration.
The Government have announced that an additional £30 million will be taken into account in the revenue support grant for 1991-92 onwards. This has been widely welcomed.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will describe the formulation and basis of his calculation of the additional cost to local authorities of the Food Safety Bill ; how he expects this to be distributed among (a) shire counties, (b) non- metropolitan districts and boroughs, and (c) metropolitan districts and boroughs including London ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 737Mr. Gummer : Officials in the Departments concerned consulted interested parties in order to assess the additional resources local authorities would need in order to finance the additional requirements arising from the Food Safety Bill. The Government concluded that an additional £30 million should be taken into account in the revenue support grant settlement for 1991-92 onwards. The additional resources will be distributed between local authorities according to the usual conventions.
Mr. Gummer : I have received 54 letters from right hon. and hon. Members and members of the public. Most expressed support for my decision to prohibit straw burning subject to strictly limited exemptions, on which I shall be consulting the industry.
Mr. Curry : I have nothing to add to what my fellow Parliamentary Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and the Border (Mr. Maclean) said in the Adjournment debate on 13 December ( Official Report, columns 1142-48.)