Home Page

Column 175

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 1 May 1991

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Wales and Chester Circuit

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Attorney-General if he has any proposals for additional combined Crown and county court centres on the Wales and Chester circuit ; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General : It is the Lord Chancellor's policy to create combined court centres wherever it is possible to do so. There are at present two combined court centres on the Wales and Chester circuit, at Merthyr Tydfil and Warrington. The creation of an additional combined court centre at Caernarfon is under consideration.

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Attorney-General if he will give details of current proposals to improve and construct Crown and county court accommodation on the Wales and Chester circuit ; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General : There is an annual programme of planned building maintenance covering all Crown and county court buildings on the Wales and Chester circuit, which comprise 52 properties including 11 listed buildings. In addition, the circuit uses 27 courtrooms hired when needed from local authorities.

Funds have been made available in 1991-92 for major building improvements to the law courts at Cathays park, Cardiff, and maintenance improvements to the Guildhall in Swansea.

The current court building programme comprises :

Schemes currently in construction

Crown court at Chester

Crown court at Newport (Gwent)

Warrington combined court centre

Schemes at the planning or design stage

Cardiff county court

Crown court at Cardiff (adaptation)

Neath and Port Talbot county court

Pontypool county court

Pontypridd county court

Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Attorney-General if he has any proposals to improve the co-ordination of courts listing centres and Crown court centres and combined centres on the Wales and Chester circuit ; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General : The courts have already taken steps to improve listing for both civil and criminal work on all circuits. Greater co-ordination has already been achieved with the emergence of more combined courts and county court trial centres. The practice of allowing listing officers to develop an expertise by remaining sufficiently long in post should ensure that the improvements continue. All listing arrangements are kept under regular review.


Column 176

HOME DEPARTMENT

Home Office Domestic Properties

Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the number of Home Office domestic properties there are in the City of Durham constituency ; how many of these properties since 1985 have been unoccupied at any time for (a) over six months, (b) one year, (c) two years or (d) longer ; and how many are unoccupied at the present time.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : The total number of domestic properties owned by the Home Office in the City of Durham constituency, which includes the prison establishments of Durham, Frankland and Low Newton, is 79, of which 28 are at present unoccupied. Of these 28 properties, 23 are currently on the market for sale and five are retained for re-allocation.

Accurate figures as to the length of time properties have been vacant since 1985 are not readily available, but of the 28 properties at present vacant, four have been unoccupied for over six months, two for one year, two for two years and 19 for longer than two years.

Drink Driving

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer on 22 April, Official Report, column 350, if there is any reason or issue of public policy which requires the factual information about whether a driver killed in a road crash had consumed alcohol to be kept secret until a court case or coroner's inquest.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The sub judice rule applies to both criminal proceedings and coroner's inquests. In the case of an inquest, it is entirely a matter for the coroner, who is an independent judicial officer, to decide in the light of the circumstances of a particular case, what information he may properly release in advance of the hearing.

Northern Ireland Prisoners (Transfers)

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedure is followed when a prisoner from Northern Ireland who is imprisoned in England requests a transfer to a Northern Ireland prison.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : The general procedure for handling prisoners' requests and complaints is set out in Prison Standing Order 5C, a copy of which is in the Library. Requests for transfers to Northern Ireland are considered in consultation with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under criteria announced by the then Home Secretary on 23 June 1989 at column 265.

Civil Protection Co-ordination Group

Mr. Bill Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was discussed at his meeting with the civil protection co- ordination group on 24 April ; if he will place a note of the meeting in the Library ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten : The meeting was held at the request of the civil protection co-ordination group to give the group the opportunity to put to my right hon. Friend its


Column 177

views on the need to maintain a civil defence capability ; on the future of planning for civil emergencies in peacetime ; and on the case for a new Civil Protection Act. It is not our practice to publish the notes of such meetings.

Polling Stations (Disabled Access)

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any plans to publish guidelines to district councils concerning the physical accessibility of polling stations and the need to inform disabled people in advance of the physical accessibility of a polling station.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : Existing Home Office guidelines to district and London borough councils in England and Wales emphasise their statutory obligation to designate as polling places, so far as is practicable, only places which are accessible to disabled people. We shall discuss with representatives of local authorities whether there are other ways of making it easier for disabled people to exercise their right to vote.

Management Consultants (Fees)

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total sum paid out in fees by his Department to management consultants in 1979-80 and in each following year ; and what is his estimate for 1990-91 and budget for 1991-92.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : For information before 1989-90, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the then Home Secretary on 15 March 1990 at column 360.

The equivalent estimate of payments made for the financial year 1989-90 is £1,566,000 ; the latest estimated expenditure for 1990-91 is £2,909,000 and the budget for 1991-92 is £1,100,000.

Data Protection Registrar (Staff)

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give for each year from 1979-80, including 1991-92, the number of staff actually employed on 1 April and the full complement of staff including vacant posts, by grade, in the statistical divisions in the Office of the Data Protection Registrar ; and if he will differentiate between staff in statistical posts and staff in administrative posts.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : I understand that the office of the Data Protection Registrar does not have a specialist statistical division or staff. Statistics are produced and analysed by his staff as part of their normal duties.

Asylum

Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he has issued with regard to the amount of bail to be lodged in respect of asylum seekers released after detention ; and what is the average amount of bail demanded in (a) December 1990 and (b) April 1991.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : None. The grant of bail is a judicial decision for the individual adjudicator. The other information requested is not recorded centrally.


Column 178

Animal Experiments

Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has concerning the percentage of all licensed animal experiments in the latest year for which figures are available which were carried out for the development of cosmetics and toiletries.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : The only statistics collected on cosmetics and toiletries relate to procedures carried out in safety evaluation. In 1989 less than 0.4 per cent. of all procedures started in Great Britain were concerned with the safety testing of cosmetics and toiletries.

Paul Alexander Cleeland (Trial)

Mr. John Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that the Home Office document on Paul Alexander Cleeland's trial, dated February 1987, which has been deposited in the Library, is corrected to reflect accurately the courts transcript of Mr. Justice Lane's summing up concerning Mr. McGafferty's forensic evidence ; and if he will make an authoritative statement to establish the truth on this matter.

Mr. John Patten : We will make arrangements for the necessary amendment to be made to the Home Office memorandum on the case of Mr. Paul Cleeland and for a copy of the revised document to be placed in the Library. My right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary will take account of the significance of this error in considering whether there are grounds to intervene in Mr. Cleeland's conviction.

Police Forces (Costs)

Sir John Wheeler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of the total costs of provincial police forces will be met from all central sources of funding, direct and indirect, in the current financial year ; and what percentage will be raised locally.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Specific grant will be paid at the rate of 51 per cent. on all provincial police forces' revenue expenditure and on approved capital expenditure. A proportion of the remaining 49 per cent. is provided by central Government through revenue support grant, redistributed business rates and community charge grant. Support other than specific grant is not hypothecated to particular services, and decisions on what portion of this other support should go to meet police expenditure are at the discretion of the local authority concerned. We estimate that, overall, some 90 per cent. of police expenditure is met directly or indirectly through central funding, including revenue support grant redistributed business rates and community charge grant.

Drug-related Offences

Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people have been charged, over the last five years, for drug- related offences in the Stoke Newington division of the Metropolitan police district ; and what is the rate of such charges in Stoke Newington relative to other Metropolitan police district divisions ;

(2) what is the average length of sentence for those charged and convicted for drug-related offences in the


Column 179

Hackney division of the Metropolitan police district in the last five years ; and what is the national average for offences in the same category ;

(3) how many of those charged with drug-related offences as a result of the activities of the Stoke Newington division of the Metropolitan police have been found guilty in the last five years ; (4) how many drug-related arrests were made by the Stoke Newington division of the Metropolitan police in the last five years ; and what is the rate of such arrests in Stoke Newington relative to other Metropolitan police district divisions.

Mr. John Patten [holding answer 18 April 1991] : The information requested, which relates to the Stoke Newington division of the Metropolitan Police district, is contained in the tables below.


Table 1                                                 

Persons arrested for, charged with and found guilty of, 

drug offences:                                          

Stoke Newington division of the Metropolitan police (   

MPD)                                                    

Number of persons                                       

                               |1986|1987|1988|1989     

--------------------------------------------------------

Arrests<1>                     |147 |231 |246 |329      

  Percentage of all MPD drug                            

    arrests<1>                 |1.5 |2.2 |1.6 |1.7      

Charged<1><2>                  |113 |173 |173 |213      

  Percentage of all charged by                          

    MPD with drug offences     |1.4 |2.3 |1.6 |1.6      

Found guilty                   |129 |93  |71  |125      

Sentenced to immediate custody 43    26   22   29       

<1> Source: Metropolitan police.                        

<2> The number of persons charged, and the number dealt 

with at court, may not be consistent because a person   

charged may not appear in court until the following     

year.                                                   


Table 2                                           

Average sentence, length of those sentenced to    

immediate custody for                             

drug offences:                                    

Stoke Newington division of the Metropolitan      

police (MPD) and                                  

United Kingdom national average                   

Months                                            

                         |1986|1987|1988|1989     

--------------------------------------------------

Stoke Newington division                          

  of MPD                 |31.2|22.3|25.0|21.6     

United Kingdom national                           

  average                |19.8|20.9|21.3|23.6     

TRANSPORT

London Docklands

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will supply figures for each financial year since 1981 for the amount of public expenditure by his Department on (a) public transport infrastructure and (b) road infrastructure that is either in the London docklands urban development area or will serve it.

Mr. Roger Freeman : The Department of Transport makes grants to British Rail and, since 1984, to London Regional Transport--LRT. It is the responsibility of those two organisations to provide public transport infrastructure to and within docklands. Capital expenditure on the Docklands light railway by LRT, including contributions from developers, has been as follows :


Column 180


          |£ million          

------------------------------

1984-85   |26                 

1985-86   |33                 

1986-87   |16                 

1987-88   |61                 

1988-89   |51                 

1989-90   |93                 

1990-91   |153                

Information on expenditure by London Buses, London Underground and Network SouthEast on infrastructure serving docklands is not readily available.

The Government have made a grant of £500,000 to the consortium responsible for the riverbus service.

The following schemes in the national road programme which serve the London Docklands area were completed or under construction during this period :

A2 Rochester Way Relief Road

A13 Leamouth Road

A13 West India Dock Road

A406 South Woodford-Barking Relief Road

East London Traffic Control System

Expenditure on these schemes was :


              |£ million          

----------------------------------

Up to 1987-88 |119                

1988-89       |11                 

1989-90       |10                 

1990-91       |15                 

The Department is also responsible for maintenance and minor improvements to trunk roads in this area, and for the operation of the Woolwich ferry. Expenditure was as follows. Detailed figures for years prior to 1987-88 are not readily available.


          |£ million          

------------------------------

1987-88   |3                  

1988-89   |6                  

1989-90   |8                  

1990-91   |12                 

British Rail (Investment)

Mr. Doran : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what investment has been approved for repairing and improving the British Rail track signalling systems (a) in England and Wales and (b) in Scotland.

Mr. Freeman : Approvals of this kind are generally a matter for British Rail. I understand from British Rail that some £358.4 million, at 1990-91 prices, of investment has been authorised so far on signalling and track schemes over the next five years. This includes £8.5 million for the Scottish region. Figures are not available for minor repair work that is not classified as investment.

The Minch (Fishing Boat Incidents)

Mr. Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish details of the number of recorded incidents involving fishing boats and oil tankers in the Minch for each of the past 10 years.

Mr. McLoughlin : Numerous incidents off north-west Scotland have been recorded by the coastguard during the period but it is not possible to isolate those involving fishing vessels in the Minches. Two minor incidents


Column 181

involving tankers in the Minches have been identified, one in 1981 and one in 1984, neither of which involved any other vessel.

Management Consultants (Fees)

Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the total sum paid out in fees by his Department to management consultants in 1979-80 and in each following year ; and what is his estimate for 1990- 91 and budget for 1991-92.

Mr. McLoughlin : The latest figures for fees paid by the Department to management consultants are as follows :


           |£                    

---------------------------------

1984-85    |250,000              

1985-86    |272,000              

1986-87    |218,000              

1987-88    |371,000              

1988-89    |604,000              

1989-90    |734,000              

1990-91    |<1>843,000           

1991-92    |<2>580,000           

<1> Latest estimate.             

<2> Budget.                      

This excludes fees on computing  

consultancies.                   

Information for earlier years could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

Railway Crossings

Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many manually controlled gated railway crossings are still operational in (a) Scotland and (b) the United Kingdom ; (2) if he will list the level crossings in (a) Scotland and (b) the United Kingdom which are protected by wooden gates ; and which of those have been listed ;

(3) if he will list in the Official Report the locations of the remaining manually controlled gated railway crossings in (a) Scotland and (b) the United Kingdom.

Mr. McLoughlin : This information is not readily available.

Mr. McAllion : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the average annual cost of a manually controlled gated railway crossing to British Rail ; and what specific assistance he provides towards meeting this cost.

Mr. McLoughlin : The average annual cost is about £52,500. A level crossing grant of 50 per cent. is paid by the Government, under EC Regulation 1192/69, towards the cost of maintaining and operating level crossings.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will ensure that hon. Members are given full access to the evidence of the W. S. Atkins review into the channel tunnel rail link ;

(2) if he will place in the Library the full report and findings of the W. S. Atkins review into the channel tunnel rail link ; (3) if he will state the terms of reference given to W. S. Atkins for it to make an appraisal of the alternative schemes for the channel tunnel rail link ;


Column 182

(4) what steps he has taken to assure himself that W. S. Atkins was given all information required to make a proper professional appraisal of alternative schemes for the channel tunnel rail link.

Mr. Freeman : An interim report by W. S. Atkins, a copy of which is in the Library, contains the terms of reference for its review of the objectivity of British Rail's study of route options for the rail link. It has been for W. S. Atkins to decide what information it needed. The results of British Rail's study, which I expect to receive shortly, will be accompanied by the final report by W. S. Atkins, which will be published in due course.

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he has taken to satisfy himself that Coopers and Lybrand was given all information required to make a proper professional appraisal of alternative schemes for the channel tunnel rail link ; (2) if he will state the terms of reference given to Coopers and Lybrand for it to make an appraisal of alternative schemes for the channel tunnel rail link ;

(3) if he will ensure the full report by Coopers and Lybrand into traffic forecasts for the channel tunnel rail link is placed in the Library.

Mr. Freeman : Coopers and Lybrand Deloitte was commissioned by British Rail to evaluate the benefits for commuter services of alternative routes for a high speed channel tunnel rail link. It has been its responsibility to obtain whatever information it needed. Its evaluation will form part of the report on the rail link project which we expect to receive soon from British Rail, but in advance of our receiving and considering that report I cannot say what specific documents it will consist of and what documents will be published.

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will seek an explanation from British Rail as to the reasons for the delay in publication of the review into the channel tunnel rail link.

Mr. Freeman : British Rail expects to submit its proposals to my right hon. and learned Friend this month.

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will ensure that a full review of the environmental impact of the various channel tunnel rail link projects is made available in the Library.

Mr. Freeman : Environmental considerations will form part of the assessment British Rail are making of the route options for the rail link. They are therefore likely to be included in the material that will in due course be published.

Public Transport

Dr. Dafydd Elis Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will outline the scope and purpose of the public service obligation grant in funding public transport in Wales ; what has been the level of grant in Wales in each year since 1985-86 ; which projects have been assisted ; and what is the estimated amount of public service obligation grant to be spent in Wales in 1991-92.

Mr. Freeman : Subsidy is paid by the Government to the British Railways board in the form of the Public Service Obligation grant under EC regulation 1191/69 and section


Column 183

3 of the Railways Act 1974, which compensates BR for maintaining loss making passenger services. Grant is paid as a total to the board and the Government do not allocate it between sectors or geographical areas. Figures for PSO grant in respect of each of the past five years are given in the table. The figure for 1991-92 has not yet been decided.


          |Cash     |1990-91            

          |£ million|prices             

                    |£ million          

----------------------------------------

1986-87   |690      |883                

1987-88   |761      |925                

1988-89   |534      |606                

1989-90   |499      |520                

1990-91   |600      |600                

LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL

The Times

Mr. Peter Bottomley : To ask the Lord President of the Council, pursuant to his answer of 24 April, what information he has on whether The Times volunteered to surrender some of its space when it dropped Times Parliamentary Debates in 1897 or its mini- Hansard in 1991.

Mr. MacGregor : I am not aware of any such suggestion from The Times.

Select Committees

Sir Peter Emery : To ask the Lord President of the Council when he will publish the Government's response to the second report of Session 1989 -90 from the House of Commons Select Committee on Procedure on the working of the Select Committee system.

Mr. MacGregor : I have today published the Government response and copies have been placed in the Library.

The Government welcome the Procedure Committee's comprehensive report, the first Parliamentary inquiry into the present system since it was set up in 1979. The Select Committee system has been shown to be sound, with no need for major reform. The Committees are making an important contribution to parliamentary scrutiny of the Executive. The Government welcome and accept most of the recommendations addressed to them by the Procedure Committee. Amendments to standing orders will be brought forward shortly :

--to increase the size of the Education, Science and Arts Committee and empower it to appoint a Sub-Committee to look at science and technology issues ;

--to extend select committee scrutiny to matters within the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor's and Law Officers' Departments, including the work of staff provided for the administrative work of courts and tribunals but excluding individual cases and appointments, advice given within government by the Law Officers, and prosecution policy.

The Government welcome the proposed liaison arrangements, aimed at reducing unproductive duplication and overlap between the Public Accounts Committee and the departmental select committees. They accept the


Column 184

recommendations concerning the role of the National Audit Office, subject to understandings designed to ensure that any use made by the departmental select committees of NAO resources does not prejudice the main thrust of the NAO's work for the PAC.

The Government also reaffirm their existing policy to make as much information as possible available to Select Committees. Their approach will continue to be constructive and open within certain well-established conventions which can be justified in the interests of good government.


Next Section

  Home Page