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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 23 April 1993

TRANSPORT

Traffic Pollution

Mr. Jon Owen Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce measures to reduce the noise and pollution resulting from increases in the amount of road traffic.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle : There is a wide range of measures already in place or planned which will reduce noise and pollution from road traffic. These include the recently adopted European Commission directive 92/93, which will introduce lower noise limits for cars, lorries and coaches by 1995. Lower noise limits for motor cycles are also being considered in the European Community.

Tight new emission standards for both cars and lorries throughout the European Community are coming in over the next few years. Since the beginning of this year most new cars have to be fitted with catalytic converters. These reduce harmful emissions by about 80 per cent.

The MOT emissions check introduced for cars in November 1991 is helping to reduce emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. Since 1 September there has been a metered smoke test in the annual test for heavy diesels.

The Government have recently issued a consultative document seeking views on ways of limiting CO emissions. Transport must certainly play its part. We are particularly keen to encourage more economical use of fuel by road transport. We have already taken steps to do this. In the Budget speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a 10 per cent. increase in road fuel duties. He also announced that in future Budgets he will increase duty on all road fuels by at least 3 per cent. in real terms. We are also discussing with our EC partners how best to encourage manufacturers to produce more fuel efficient cars.

Measures to reduce congestion in urban areas will also help--these involve a mix of traffic management, parking controls and better public transport. We are also looking at a number of other initiatives which could have the effect, in the longer term, of reducing the rate of traffic growth including road pricing in urban areas and using the planning system to reduce the need for travel.

British Rail

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met the chairman of British Rail to discuss the level of spending on maintenance of BR track.

Mr. Freeman : The Secretary of State regularly meets the BR chairman and board members to discuss a wide range of matters relating to the railways. It is for the board to decide on its expenditure on track maintenance within the overall external financing limit.


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Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 31 March, Official Report, column 301, what estimate he has made about the number of miles of British Rail track which are, or are likely to be, subject to speed restrictions caused by reduced maintenance resulting from reductions in the planned level of public service obligation grant in 1993-94.

Mr. Freeman : Speed restrictions, for maintenance and other reasons, are constantly changing. It is therefore not possible to give any estimate of such restrictions for 1993-94.

Rail Privatisation

Mr. Bellingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what conclusions he has come to about liability for injuries caused by railway accidents after rail privatisation.

Mr. Freeman : I have concluded that the basis of

liability--negligence--should be the same as it is for all transport accidents so as not to disadvantage rail in relation to competing modes of transport. I shall shortly appoint insurance advisers to make recomendations about effective insurance arrangements in the industry, taking into account the position on liability. Operators will be required by licence to have in place adequate insurance.

EMPLOYMENT

Training Consultants

Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if she will issue guidance as to the means by which training consultants gather information about their past students, in connection with Government -funded schemes.

Mr. McLoughlin : Training and enterprise councils, which deliver Government-funded training locally, are private companies and are free to gather information about students in the manner that best suits local circumstances.

We have issued a training and enterprise council management information guide, which may be passed on to training providers and specifies when information about past students should be gathered.

Training Companies

Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if she will bring forward proposals to ban the practice of a training company offering financial rewards to former trainees on an employment training course who inform them that they now have a job.

Mr. McLoughlin : The Employment Department partly funds training and enterprise councils by payments for trainees who gain jobs after leaving ET. TECs and their training providers are free to use their own methods to gather information about the employment status of former trainees so that they can claim these payments. We do not intend to ban the offer of financial rewards to former trainees as an incentive to provide this information.


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OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT

Forestry

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on the findings of the recently published evaluation of six forestry projects funded by the Overseas Development Administration and the Commonwealth Development Corporation ;

(2) if he plans to take action on the basis of conclusions reached in the recent evaluation of British Government-funded forestry projects in developing countries.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : A copy of the recently published evaluation synthesis report on six forestry projects, including one co-funded by the Commonwealth Development Corporation, was placed in the Library of the House earlier this year, together with copies of the individual evaluation reports.

Independent consultants played major roles in each of the individual project evaluations and in the evaluation synthesis study. The evaluators judged five of the projects to be partially successful and the sixth successful. Large areas of trees were successfully established and the environmental impact was generally positive. But institutional achievements were mixed and rarely sustainable, while there were also some problems with timber utilisation. These projects were started during the 1970s and early 1980s and lessons drawn from the evaluations are being applied to current programmes.

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he plans to publish the results of work to expand and revise the World Conservation Monitoring Centre's database on timber tree species of conservation concern.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We have no plans to publish this work, which forms part of a continuing process of developing the World Conservation Monitoring Centre's timber database. I shall place a copy of WCMC's report to ODA in the Library of the House.

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many environmental impact assessments have been completed in the last 12 months with respect to Overseas Development Administration or CDC-funded forestry projects.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Environmental appraisal is a standard element in the examination of all project proposals following the procedures set out in the Overseas Development Administration's "Manual of Environmental Appraisal", a copy of which is in the Library of the House. Full environmental impact assessments have been undertaken on one ODA and one CDC forestry project in the last year.

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the United Kingdom's position with respect to the renegotiation of the international tropical timber agreement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Along with other tropical timber-consuming countries, the United Kingdom has proposed focussing the objectives of the new agreementt on the sustainable production of tropical timber. We have also


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proposed measures to improve the operational performance of the International Tropical Timber Organisation. We aim to enhance its capacity to meet its target for all internationally traded tropical timber to come from sustainable sources by the year 2000.

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will provide details of the funding so far allocated to implement the tropical forestry action plan from loan compared to grant sources.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : All the Overseas Development Administration's aid related to the tropical forestry action programme is provided on grant terms.

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what relationship exists between the Overseas Development Administration project to expand and revise the World Conservation Monitoring Centre's database on threatened timber species and work funded by the Government of Japan into the conservation status of trees species of conservation concern carried out under the auspices of the same organisation.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The work financed by the Overseas Development Administration was undertaken as preparation for the proposed future development of the initial study which was financed by the Government of Japan. The results were considered at a workshop held in Cambridge in March, under the auspices of the International Tropical Timber Organisation, on methodologies for the assessment of the commercial and biological conservation status of tropical timber trees. The future of this work will be discussed at the International Tropical Timber Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur next month.

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will commit long-term funding to support for monitoring of timber species of conservation concern.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We are considering providing funds for this purpose.

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement regarding progress made in Geneva on the renegotiation of the international tropical timber agreement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Progress is slow. A further meeting will take place from 21 to 25 June.

El Salvador

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the World bank consultative group meeting on El Salvador on 1 April in Paris.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The United Kingdom was not represented at the World Bank consultative group meeting on El Salvador. We understand that representatives pledged their continuing support for El Salvador's peace process and economy recovery, and indicated pledges totalling some $800 million for 1993.


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DUCHY OF LANCASTER

Market Testing

Mr. Jon Owen Jones : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the introduction of market testing throughout the civil service : and what effect this will have on current employees' prospects.

Mr. Waldegrave : The "Citizen's Charter First Report", Cmd 2101, published in November 1992, set out the Government's programme for market testing in central Government up to September 1993. Rolling programmes for subsequent years are being prepared. Generally, the opportunity to bid will be given to employees currently doing the work concerned. The effect on their employment prospects will depend on the individual circumstances of each market test, including their success in winning the work and, where the work is awarded to outside contractors, to contractors' own plans, as well as the scope for redeployment within the civil service.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Car Unlocking Devices

Mr. Mills : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to counter the use of electronic devices which record and can replicate remote control car unlocking systems ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jack : We are aware that devices which are capable of recording and replicating remote controlled car locking systems have recently been advertised on the British market. We are actively looking into their availability and effectiveness with a view to assessing what action may be required.

The motor manufacturers and the vehicle security industry are also aware of the capabilities of these devices and are working to improve the security of their products to counter the threat posed by this technology.

It may reassure my hon. Friend to know that it is already an offence under section 25 of the Theft Act 1968 to carry equipment for use in any burglary or theft. This would cover the use of these particular devices by car thieves and, upon conviction, an offender is liable to imprisonment for up to three years.

Group 4 Security

Mr. Blair : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will publish the conclusions of the inquiry his Department has required from Group 4 into escapes from their prison escort services ;

(2) what conclusions he has drawn from the recent prison escort escapes from those in the custody of Group 4 Security ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the director general of the prison service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Tony Blair, dated April 1993 :


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The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about escapes by prisoners in the custody of Group 4 Court Services Limited.

The Prisoner Escort Monitor has yet to complete the detailed investigations into these escapes. When he has done so, I shall write to you again.

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if the contract with Group 4 to manage the Wolds prison contains any clause prohibiting the employment of convicted criminals ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) if the prisoner transportation contract with Group 4 contains a clause prohibiting the employment of convicted criminals ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the director general of the prison service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated April 1993 :

The Home Secretary has asked me to write to you directly in reply to your recent Parliament Questions asking if the contracts with Group 4 on prisoner transportation and the management of the Wolds Prison contain a clause prohibiting the employment of convicted criminals.

The contracts with Group 4 do not contain such a clause, but they do require all Prisoner Custody Officers (PCOs) to be certified by the Home Secretary in accordance with Section 89 of, and Schedule 10 to, the Criminal Justice Act 1991. PCOs are exempt from the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and therefore, like Prison Officers, all previous convictions are taken into consideration in assessing their fitness for certification and the same assessment criteria apply.

Escaped Prisoners

Dr. Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to prevent dangerous prisoners from escaping while on temporary leave from prison ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the director general of the prison service who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Dr. Robert Spink, dated 22 April 1993 :

The Home Secretary has asked me to write to you in response to your Parliamentary Question asking what steps are taken to prevent dangerous prisoners from escaping while on temporary leave from prison.

Any prisoner who presents a risk to public safety either by absconding or re-offending will not be granted temporary release. Before granting an application to be released temporarily for any purpose a very careful and detailed assessment is made of the risk involved. Any prisoner who has been temporarily released may also be recalled to prison at any time whether the conditions of his licence have been broken or not.

Guidance on the procedures and arrangements for granting temporary release are set out in Circular Instructions 12/1988 (for young offenders), 36/1989 (for adult prisoners) and 43/1992 (home leave), copies of which are in the Library.

Refugees

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy regarding the issuing of United Kingdom travel documents to refugees on exceptional leave to remain.


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Mr. Charles Wardle : People who have been refused asylum in the United Kingdom but granted exceptional leave to remain, in common with others who are not settled here, have no entitlement to Home Office travel documents. However, it is our practice to look at such applications sympathetically and to issue a certificate of identity to those who can show that they are unable to obtain a passport from their own authorities.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many refugees currently in the United Kingdom have been granted exceptional leave to remain ; what proportion of these were issued with brown United Kingdom travel documents in (a) 1990, (bv) 1991 and (c) 1992 ; and if he will analyse these figures by ethnic origin.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The available information is that during the years 1986-92 a total of 29,000 asylum applicants, excluding dependants, not recognised as refugees were granted exceptional leave. Information on the number who have left the United Kingdom, or been granted leave to stay on another basis, is not readily available.

Information on the number and nationalities of these cases issued with a certificate of identity is not available. Persons with exceptional leave are not identified separately in the statistics of issues of these certificates.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Board

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many metropolitan police officers made applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for injuries incurred on duty since 1987 ; and how much was paid each year ;

(2) what percentages of total awards made by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in each year since 1987 were made to (a) police and (b) non-police.

Mr. Jack : I regret that the available records do not separately identify applications from, or payments made to, the police or other occupational groups.

Metropolitan Police Vehicles

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many metropolitan police vehicles were damaged beyond repair as a result of chasing suspect vehicles in each year since 1987 ; and what were the costs of their replacement.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Information is not held in the form requested.

Prisoner Transfers

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what is the average number of prisoners being transferred from prison to court and from police station to court in the Greater London area on any day when the courts are sitting ;

(2) how many prisoners in custody were transferred between police stations and prisons to the London courts in each year since 1988.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the director general of the prison service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.


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Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Jeremy Corbyn, dated 22 April 1993 :

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the numbers of prisoners escorted to the London courts.

I am afraid that the information which you requested is collected neither centrally nor routinely by the establishments now responsible for this work. We are in the process of collecting such information covering the last few months for inclusion in the invitation to tender for the court escort service in London, but as yet this work is incomplete. Our best guess is that in excess of 200,000 prisoner movements to and from court are performed each year.

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners escaped from custody whilst being transferred from police stations and prisons to courts in the Greater London area in each year since 1988.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the director general of the prison service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Jeremy Corbyn, dated 23 April 1993 :

The Home Secretary has asked to me to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many prisoners escaped from custody whilst being transferred from police stations and prisons to courts in the Greater London area in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992.

I regret that information is not available centrally on escapes from escorts staffed by the police. This information could only be gathered at disproportionate cost. The information provided relates only to escorts staffed by the Prison Service. Additionally, this information is recorded against individual prison establishments and not by geographical area. The information relates to court escorts manned by the Greater London prisons and refers to escapes between 20 June 1988 and 31 December 1992. This information was not collected centrally until June 1988.




Escapes from court   

escort (London       

Prisons)             

       |Number       

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

1988   |4            

1989   |3            

1990   |6            

1991   |12           

1992   |8            

The information above is derived from incidents reported to the Incident Management Support Unit, a part of the Directorate of Custody.

Civil Damages Claims

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been paid from the Metropolitan police fund to members of the public in settlement of civil damages claims for (a) false imprisonment, (b) assault and (c) malicious prosecution in each year since 1987 ; and for each category how many cases were (i) settled out of court and (ii) settled at trial.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The information is not available in the form requested.

Sam Kulasingham and Prem Sivalingham

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what considerations have been given in to the safety of the convictions of Sam Kulasingham and Prem Sivalingham ; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Jack : Following a number of representations about the safety of these convictions, Essex police were asked to make some further inquiries. A report was received last month. It is now being considered, together with all other relevant factors, in order that my right hon. and learned Friend may decide whether grounds exist for a reference back to the Court of Appeal.

Betting Office Association

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how far the application of the British Betting Office Association for membership of the Bookmakers' committee of the levy board has progressed.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The association's request for representation on the Bookmakers committee is under consideration. We will write to the association quite soon.

EDUCATION

Primary Education

Mr. Knox : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what was spent per primary school pupil in England in the most recent year for which figures are available ; and what the comparable figure was in 1978-79, at constant prices.

Mr. Forth : Figures for expenditure on nursery and primary pupils are not collected separately. In 1990-91, the latest year for which figures on actual spending are available, average spending per pupil in nursery and primary schools in England was £1,437 in 1992-93 prices. This compares to £1,131 for 1978-79 in 1992-93 prices. For 1991-92, it is estimated to rise to £1,467, also in 1992-93 prices. This figure includes estimates of expenditure for six LEAs and is subject to final checking by the Department of the Environment and the Department for Education.

Pupils, Staffordshire

Mr. Knox : To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) how many children were being educated in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in Staffordshire in the most recent year for which figures are available ; and what the comparable figures were in 1978-79 ; (2) what was the pupil- teacher ratio in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in Staffordshire in the most recent year for which figures are available ; and what the comparable figures were in 1978-79.


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