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Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information requested is available only for the Indian sub-continent, where 5,800 spouses and 4,300 children were awaiting a decision on their application for entry clearance for settlement in the United Kingdom at 30 November 1989.
40. Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultations he has had with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of County Councils on the application of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act.
41. Mr. Pike ; To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when it is proposed to start the DNA testing scheme for applicants for settlement in the United Kingdom.
Column 873Mr. John Patten : The parties to the case pay the fees for blood tests ordered by magistrates courts in civil cases. Some parties are legally aided. The maximum fee that may be charged for a court-directed blood test, which may include a DNA test, is £115.90 per sample exclusive of VAT. So, where a party is legally aided, the maximum cost to the Exchequer of a blood test is £115.90 per sample excluding VAT.
Mr. John Patten : We are still considering the case for legislation to reconstitute the magistrates courts service as an executive agency on the lines proposed in the report of the 1989 scrutiny of magistrates courts. In the meantime we are taking forward a programme of action largely drawn from the report aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the courts, including the identification and dissemination of best practice on case listing, fine enforcement and other matters ; a review of criminal and domestic court procedures ; the promotion of court user groups ; practical evaluations of pre-trial reviews, new methods of paying fines and the use of bailiffs in executing bail warrants ; the preparation of a standard specification for magistrates' courts computers ; and the development of resource and other management training programmes for justices' clerks and their staff. As was indicated in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) on 9 November 1989 at column 262 our intention is to introduce cash limits on grants supporting current expenditure on magistrates courts.
Mr. Mellor : High priority is given to measures to prevent the transmission of HIV infection in prison. The main plank of the prevention strategy is education. Our latest initiative is a new package of education materials, including a video film, entitled "AIDS Inside and Out". Other measures include medical inquiry and examination at the reception stage, counselling of individual prisoners, and limited regime restrictions for prisoners identified as HIV antibody positive.
Mr. Mellor : On 17 January 1990 the prison population of England and Wales included 63 prisoners reported as having been identified as HIV antibody positive. By that date 270 such prisoners had been so reported since reporting began in March 1985.
Mr. Mellor : We understand that the shadow Radio Authority plans in the next few months to invite letters of intent from would-be providers of new local radio services. This will assist it in establishing the nature of the demand in different areas, and in drawing up a plan for the progressive introduction of new stations over several years starting early in 1991. It is not possible at this stage to say what will happen in particular areas.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : There have been no proposals for European Community regulations which would affect the continuation of Greenwich mean time in Britain ; and none is expected unless requested by the United Kingdom.
Mr. Waddington : I attended a meeting of Trevi Ministers under the French presidency in Paris on 14 and 15 December. I shall be attending the one to be held under the Irish presidency in Dublin in June.
Column 875Mr. John Patten : Information for 1988 was published in tables 2.5 and 2.7 of "Criminal Statistics England and Wales, 1988", Cm 847, a copy of which is available in the Library. Further detailed figures for the 12 months to the end of September 1989 for local police force areas have also been placed in the Library. In the 12 months to September 1989, Suffolk police recorded 31,149 offences--125 more than in the previous 12 months.
representatives of ACPO to consider aspects of this subject and expect to be consulting the association in the near future about new inter- departmental guidance on crime prevention.
66. Mr. Adley : 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 how many no-coach-parking signs have been ordered by the Metropolitan police, in each of the last five years.
67. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he proposes to introduce any proposals which would seek to restrict those allowed to be in charge of dogs in public to persons over 16 years of age.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : In the 12 months to 16 January 1990, we received letters from 19 hon. Members and from seven members of the public either advocating, or inquiring about the merits of, a lottery or lotteries with major prizes, on a national scale, and one previous parliamentary question about any legislative plans which we might have in this respect.
Mr. John Patten : Experiments in four magistrates courts have suggested that a unit fine system can be operated successfully. Subject to a full evaluation of these experiments, we are likely to propose a legislative framework for unit fines.
Mr. Mellor : The prison building programme continues to make good progress. Out of the full programme of 28 new prisons, eight have already opened and 14 are at various stages of planning and construction, leaving only six on which construction work has not yet started. Construction is, however, planned to begin on two of these in 1991-92 and 1992-93. Sites and planning permissions are being sought for the four remaining prisons, but decisions on when and where to start building them have been deferred pending further analysis of the lower projected prison population.
The changes in the projections have allowed the emphasis of the prison building programme to be changed from building new prisons to speeding up improvements to the existing estate. Essential health, safety and security measures are now being brought forward, while at the same time progress is being maintained on a wide range of refurbishment and redevelopment work already under way
Column 877at many establishments. Some of these developments involve virtually rebuilding older prisons which are in such excellent locations that they need to be preserved. Most important to the general quality of life in the older prisons, a substantial reduction in slopping out is a major part of the expanded programme.
Mr. John Patten : The available information relates to the number of offenders who were cautioned by the police or convicted for indictable offences by the courts. In 1978, 34 per cent. of those cautioned or convicted were juveniles and in 1988 the figure was 23 per cent. Such information is available from "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales", 1988 (table 5.22), a copy of which is in the Library.
79. Mr. David Martin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the latest totals for assets confiscated from convicted drug traffickers, and assets frozen, pending trials for drug trafficking offences.
Mr. John Patten : The figures are substantially as given in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith) on 7 December at column 381, except that the national drugs intelligence unit's current estimate is that more than £16 million has been ordered to be confiscated since the Drug Trafficking Offences Act came into force in January 1987.
142. Mrs. Maureen Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment has been made of the efficiency of the Drugs Trafficking Offences Act 1986 in dealing with drug traffickers.
Mr. Mellor : The Government have kept the provisions of the Drug Trafficking Offences Act under close scrutiny since they came into effect in January 1987. The Act has worked well and has been a major weapon in the fight against drug trafficking, both domestically and internationally. In a recent case, for example, nearly £3 million was ordered to be confiscated from a group of convicted drug traffickers, bringing current estimates of the total ordered to be confiscated under the Act to more than £16 million.
The Government accept, however, that a provision of such significance may need adjustment in the light of experience. Some changes to the drug trafficking and money laundering provisions, to bring them fully into line with the requirements of the 1988 United Nations convention against illicit drug trafficking, are proposed in
Column 878the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Bill, now before Parliament. The Government are also considering the relevant recommendations of the Home Affairs Committee report on drug trafficking and related serious crime (HC 370), and is discussing with practitioners how the working of the Act might be further improved. This is a continuing process, and the Government will not hesitate to make any changes which may be found to be necessary.
Mr. Mellor : The ministerial group on the misuse of drugs, which I chair, receives regular assessments of the extent of drug misuse and trafficking in the United Kingdom. The picture as regards heroin is mixed : although provisional figures show an increase in Customs seizures in 1989 of over 40 per cent. to 332 kilos, latest reports indicate a levelling off in some areas in the supply of heroin at street level. It is, however, clear that the United Kingdom is facing an increasing threat from cocaine : provisional figures of Customs seizures of this drug in 1989 increased by some 50 per cent. to 424 kilos and more cocaine than heroin has been seized by Customs in each of the past three years. Traffic in other drugs such as amphetamines, cannabis, LSD and MDMA (ecstasy) remains of concern.
Mr. John Patten : In 1989-90 the Home Office granted £3.7 million for local victims support schemes and £210,000 to victim support headquarters. Details of funding for 1990-91 will be published shortly in the public expenditure White Paper.
Mr. John Patten : The working of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 is kept under review. Much of the pressure for change is to extend the categories which are excepted from the provisions of the Act. We consider that the Act does, on the whole, strike a reasonable balance between the need to protect the interests of the public and the interests of former offenders.
The effectiveness of the Act depends on its provisions being made known to ex-offenders. With that aim we issue free of charge large numbers of the leaflet "Wiping the Slate Clean", which is available for example, to all citizens advice bureaux.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The costs incurred by the Metropolitan police in providing assistance are recoverable. I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that claims for £1.5 million for the period up to 19 November have been presented and paid. Claims for a further £3.4 million for the period up to the end of December have been submitted.
Mr. John Patten : Section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 came into force on 29 September 1988. During 1988, there were 150 prosecutions for this offence. Information for 1989 will not be available until autumn 1990.
94. Mr. Robert Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next proposes to meet the chairman of the British Broadcasting Corporation ; and what matters he intends to discuss.
95. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any proposals to bring the regulation of video surveillance into line with article 8 of the European convention on human rights ; and if he will make a statement.
98. Dr. Marek : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimated response time to postal applications for passports during the Easter and summer peak periods as well as off-peak periods.
117. Ms. Quinn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimated response time to postal applications for passports during the Easter and summer peak periods and in off-peak periods.
Mr. Peter Lloyd : The passport department will be aiming in 1990 to process all straightforward, non-urgent passport applications within a maximum of 30 working days during the peak period between January and June, and within 20 working days at other times. Urgent cases will receive priority and should not normally be subject to delay.
109. Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has considered extending the powers of the police to suppress under-age drinking of alcohol ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. John Patten : The Licensing Act 1988 made it easier for police to take action against landlords who sell alcohol to people under 18. I am satisfied that police powers in enforcing the licensing law are sufficient and effective. There is also a part for schools to play in providing health education about the dangers of alcohol misuse, and for parents in discouraging their children from drinking alcohol.