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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 20 October 1993

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Dining Rooms

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chairman of the Catering Committee if he will publish a list of those organisations which have used dining rooms A, B and C in the past six months.

Mr. Colin Shepherd : No.

Office Accommodation

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee how many hon. Members currently share an office.

Mr. Ray Powell : One hundred and thirty-six hon. Members are accommodated in double rooms, 27 in treble rooms and 12 in rooms of four Members. Twenty-one have desks in open plan accommodation in the Cloisters.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee if he will issue a questionnaire to hon. Members to discover their office accommodation needs and their level of satisfaction with current office accommodation.

Mr. Ray Powell : It has been the objective of successive Select Committees responsible for Members' accommodation to work towards a situation where every Member who so wishes is able to have a room of his or her own. Progress towards that goal is a high priority for the Accommodation and Works Committee in consultation with the Serjeant at Arms and the Parliamentary Works Directorate. I shall therefore arrange for my hon. Friend's suggestion to be considered.

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee in what circumstances the premises of the United Kingdom branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association would have to vacate its office at short notice to make way for a military guard of honour ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael J. Martin : Matters relating to Westminster Hall are the joint responsibility of the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Speaker and the Lord Chancellor.

Official Hospitality

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Lord President of the Council how much was spent on official hospitality in his Department in the financial year 1992-93.

Mr. Newton : The Privy Council Office, which includes the private office of the Lord Privy Seal and Lord President as well as the Judicial Committee and Privy Council proper, spent £10,885 in financial year 1992-93 on official hospitality.


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LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Official Hospitality

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how much was spent on official hospitality in his Department in the financial year 1992-93.

Mr. John M. Taylor : In 1992-93 expenditure on official hospitality in the Lord Chancellor's Department was £20,697.44p.

WALES

Transport Funding

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will give all details of European regional development funds which have been allocated for transport initiatives in the last 12 months and which are proposed for the next 12 months.

Sir Wyn Roberts : No ERDF funds have been allocated to specific transport initiatives, but ERDF grant has part-financed various transport measures including provision of park and ride facilities, bus routes and new passenger rail services. It is too soon to indicate what schemes or initiatives might be submitted for approval in 1994.

Official Hospitality

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much was spent on official hospitality in his Department in the financial year 1992-93.

Mr. Redwood : The amount spent by the Welsh Office on official hospitality in 1992-93 was £38,382.

Valleys Programme

Mr. Richards : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when details of the latest programme for the valleys will be published.

Mr. Redwood : Details of the new programme for the valleys, launched by my predecessor on 1 April are set out in a brochure which I have published today. Copies have been sent to those Members in valleys constituencies. I have also placed copies in the Library of the House.

Under the previous programme for the valleys, launched in June 1988, 2,000 acres of derelict land were cleared in the biggest venture of its kind in Europe, 2.6 million sq ft of industrial floor-space was provided and £700 million of private sector investment was generated. In addition, 24,000 jobs were created or safeguarded.

My aim for the new programme will be to build on this success, to complete the process of restoring prosperity to the valleys area and to fulfil the aspirations of its people. The new programme has five key aims :

to create more, better quality jobs ;

to improve training, education and transport ;

to improve the environment ;

to improve people's health ;

to improve the quality and choice of housing.

I expect total public expenditure under the new programme to exceed £1 billion.


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HEALTH

Official Hospitality

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent on official hospitality in her Department in the financial year 1992-93.

Mr. Sackville : In 1992-93, the Department of Health spent £246,374 on hospitality.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Official Hospitality

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was spent on official hospitality in his Department in the financial year 1992-93.

Sir John Wheeler : £535,299.

Audit Review Group

Mr. Trimble : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make available copies of the follow-up report of the audit review group.

Sir John Wheeler : I have arranged for copies of the report to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

TRANSPORT

Railtrack

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the Government's intention with regard to the time scale for the privatisation of Railtrack.

Mr. Freeman : As we said in the White Paper "New Opportunities for the Railways", Cm 2012, the Government would like to see the private sector owning as much as possible of the railway in the longer term. No target date has been set for the transfer of Railtrack to private sector ownership.

Relief Road, Manchester

Mr. Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what procedures he intends to implement in order to assess the environmental impact of the proposed Greater Manchester western and northern relief road.

Mr. Key : If the scheme goes ahead following the public consultation, the proposals will be assessed in terms of the impact on existing communities, air and water qualities, the landscape, agriculture, nature conservation, heritage values and recreation. An environmental statement, describing those impacts and the measures we intend to take in mitigation, will be published in accordance with EC directive 85/337.

Official Hospitality

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent on official hospitality in his Department in the financial year 1992-93.

Mr. Norris : The Department of Transport, excluding its agencies, spent £231,547 on official hospitality during 1992-93.


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Exhaust Pollution

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what studies have been done by his Department on the linkage of asthma and bronchial disorders to exhaust pollution in London ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sackville [holding answer 18 October 1993] : I have been asked to repy.

The Department is funding a research project which will examine the effects of the December 1991 air pollution episode in London when the highest recorded peak of nitrogen dioxide occurred.

In addition, the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants which was established by the chief medical officer last year has set up a sub- group on asthma which will make recommendations on research relating to asthma and air pollution.

The main agency through which the Government support biomedical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council which receives its grant in aid from the office of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my right hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State on 10 March at column 616 , which stated that the MRC is sponsoring some research into factors contributing to the rise in asthma and has set up a working party to examine the aetiology of asthma under the chairmanship of Professor A. J. Newman Taylor. It is considering a range of possible contributory factors to current levels of asthma, including air pollution. The Department is represented on the working party and on the MRC committee on toxic hazards in the workplace and the environment, both of which will consider areas of need for further research.

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

Official Hospitality

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much was spent on official hospitality in his Department in the financial year 1992-93.

Mr. Waldegrave : The expenditure by my Department, excluding expenditure in respect of the Prime Minister's office, on official hospitality in the financial year 1992-93 was £33,320.

Initiatives Programme

Mrs. Browning : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what arrangements he has made for making payments to projects approved under the Office of Science and Technology's White Paper initiatives programme.

Mr. Waldegrave : Payments associated with such initiatives began earlier this month. Parliamentary approval to this new expenditure will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Cabinet Office : Office of Public Service and Science : science vote--class XVIII, vote 2. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure of up to £400,000 for agreed projects is being met by a repayable advance from the contingencies fund.


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HOME DEPARTMENT

Blakenhurst Prison

Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many disturbances have occurred at Blakenhurst since it opened ; and if he will provide details.

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 Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 18 October 1993 :

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about disturbances at HM Prison Blakenhurst.

The Prison Service does not classify incidents as disturbances', but records a range of different types of incident which disrupt the smooth running of establishments.

Since Blakenhurst began receiving prisoners on 26 May 1993, there have been four incidents of concerted indiscipline, and two rooftop demonstrations ; all six incidents were passive throughout. These are the details :--

9 August 1993 : 50 prisoners refused to return to their cells at the end of evening association. They were protesting about the quality of the food and about the imminent transfer to training prisons of a number of prisoners. They returned to their cells after 3 hours.

13 September 1993 : 62 prisoners refused to return to their cells after evening association. Their complaints included the timing of meals, lack of available work, poor choice of video entertainment and new restrictions on access around the houseblocks. The incident was resolved after 3 hours.

20 September 1993 : 60 prisoners refused to return to their cells at the end of evening association ; they did so after one hour. 23 September 1993 : a prisoner climbed onto the roof of the segregation unit to protest about his location in the unit. He remained there for 4 hours. No damage was caused.

24 September 1993 : another prisoner climbed onto the roof of the segregation unit to protest about his location in the unit. He surrendered after 3 hours 50 minutes.

9 October 1993 : ten prisoners refused to return to their cells after evening association. Four of the prisoners were due to be relocated in the segregation unit following an alleged assault on two staff members. The situation was resolved after 2 hours.

Cautions

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were cautioned by the police in (a) 1990, (b) 1991 and (c) 1992, (1) in total, (2) for indictable offences, (3) for indictable only offences, (4) for either way offences or (5) for summary offences.

Mr. Maclean : The information requested for the years 1990 to 1992-- which is provisional--is given in the table.


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Number of persons cautioned by type of offence 1990 to      

1992<1>                                                     

England and Wales                                           

                            |1990   |1991   |<1>1992        

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

All offences                |269,112|278,765|321,294        

Total indictable            |166,349|179,885|216,163        

Indictable only             |1,703  |1,577  |1,736          

Triable either way          |164,646|178,308|214,427        

Summary offences (excluding                                 

  motoring)                 |102,763|98,880 |105,131        

<1> Provisional.                                            

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what number and percentage of people cautioned in 1990, 1991 and 1992 had (a) no previous cautions, (b) one previous caution, (c) two previous cautions, (d) three previous cautions, (e) four previous cautions, (f) five previous cautions or (g) six or more previous cautions.

Mr. Maclean : The information is not available in the form requested. The latest available information on previous cautioning history of persons cautioned in England and Wales is shown in the table.


The past cautioning history of a sample<1> of 2,787   

offenders cautioned in                                

England and Wales in 1991                             

The number of     |Percentage of the                  

previous cautions |sample                             

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

None              |79.9                               

1                 |12.8                               

2                 |4.3                                

3                 |1.2                                

4                 |0.8                                

5                 |0.2                                

6 or more         |0.8                                

<1> The sample was based on returns from all police   

forces in England and Wales for all offenders         

cautioned between 25 and 29 November 1991.            

Theft

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide a table showing for each of the years 1979 to 1992 the total number of offences in the category of theft and handling stolen goods ; and how many in each year were (a) shoplifting, (b) handling and (c) other categories of theft.

Mr. Maclean : The requested information is contained in the following table :


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Notifiable offences of theft and handling stolen goods recorded by the police 1979-92                 

England and Wales  Number of offences                                                                 

Year             |Total           |Theft from shops|Handling stolen |Other theft                      

                                                   |goods                                             

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

1979             |1,416,143       |203,122         |45,290          |1,167,731                        

1980             |1,463,469       |206,175         |38,815          |1,218,479                        

1981             |1,603,151       |225,342         |40,793          |1,337,016                        

1982             |1,755,853       |242,304         |43,589          |1,469,960                        

1983             |1,705,924       |235,512         |44,871          |1,425,541                        

1984             |1,807,981       |248,792         |45,046          |1,514,143                        

1985             |1,884,069       |281,557         |45,336          |1,557,176                        

1986             |2,003,873       |255,463         |41,497          |1,706,913                        

1987             |2,052,005       |247,064         |45,968          |1,758,973                        

1988             |1,931,274       |216,242         |49,262          |1,665,770                        

1989             |2,012,760       |222,974         |44,867          |1,744,919                        

1990             |2,374,409       |250,301         |46,822          |2,077,286                        

1991             |2,761,119       |281,276         |51,495          |2,428,348                        

1992             |2,851,638       |288,672         |49,836          |2,513,130                        

Bail Statistics

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people (a) were released on bail in (i) 1990, (ii) 1991 and (iii) 1992, (b) reoffended on bail and (c) were bailed again by the courts.

Mr. Maclean : The estimated number of persons remanded on bail at magistrates courts in England and Wales is published annually in "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales". Table 8.5 shows that 441, 900 people were remanded in 1990 : 452,500 in 1991 and 458,700 in 1992. Information on numbers offending while on bail and on those bailed again is not collected centrally.

A Home Office research report--RPU report 65 "Offending while on bail ; a survey of recent studies"--gives some information about recent studies relating to offences while on bail. The survey concludes that, on average, between 10 and 12 per cent. of defendants on bail are subsequently convicted of an offence committed on bail and nowhere was the figure more than 17 per cent. A copy of this report is available in the Library of the House.

Offences Statistics

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many notifiable offences were recorded by the police in the year ended June 1993.

Mr. Maclean : The requested information is not yet available.

Asylum

Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current average waiting time for asylum applications, from receipt of application to determination.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The estimated average length of time between the receipt of an asylum application and the decision, for cases decided in the second quarter of 1993, was 18 months. This figure reflects work on the resolution of older and more complex cases, as a result of the increase in staffing in the asylum and special cases division. Following the implementation of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993 on 26 July, priority has been given to cases received after that date, with the aim of resolving the majority within three months. However, comprehensive information on the average decision times since implementation of the Act is not yet available.

Political Conferences

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give details of the total policing costs associated with the 1993 annual conferences of (a) the Liberal Democrats, (b) the Labour party and (c) the Conservative party.

Mr. Charles Wardle : I understand from the chief officers of the forces concerned that the estimated costs are :


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                                          |£                  

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

(a) Liberal Democrat (Devon and Cornwall) |14,500             

(b) Labour (Sussex)                       |31,000             

(c) Conservative (Lancashire)             |1,500,000          

Juvenile Offenders

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what work his Department has undertaken to establish the number of persistent juvenile offenders ; and what is his estimate of the number of such offenders at the present time.

Mr. Maclean : A survey of police forces and local authority social services departments last year identified 106 juveniles who met the criteria for persistent offenders specified in that survey. It was immediately recognised that this figure was a significant underestimate : not all respondents--including two of the largest police forces--held their information in a way which allowed them to produce precise numerical data. Consequently, further research on persistent juvenile offending was commissioned by the Home Office. The report is expected to be available in the near future.

Official Hospitality

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent on official hospitality in his Department in the financial year 1992-93.

Mr. Howard : My Department's expenditure on official hospitality in the financial year 1992-93 was £21,651.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Bosnia

Sir Russell Johnston : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Elletson) of 6 July, Official Report , column 85 , what steps Her Majesty's Government took, before co-sponsoring United Nations Security Council resolution 816, to verify allegations of a breach of the no-fly zone over Gladovici on 13 March other than consideration of the UNPROFOR press notice.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : I refer the hon. Member to the answers which my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office gave to his written question of 18 October, Official Report , columns 83-84 . We are satisfied with the standard of United Nations reporting on the observance of the no-fly zone over

Bosnia-Herzogovina, including the information provided about the breach over Gladovici on 13 March.

Ivory

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will give details of all countries for which ivory export permits have been


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issued by the authorities in Hong Kong since the entering of the reservation in respect of the ivory trade ; and if he will provide full details of the ivory exported.

Mr. Goodlad : Since the entering of the reservation and up to 14 October 1993, details of commercial ivory exported from Hong Kong are as follows :


Importing countrNature and                            

                quantity                              

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

China          |7946.70 kg  |raw ivory                

Korea          |273.60 kg   |worked ivory             

Taiwan         |24.20 kg    |worked ivory             

Mexico         |195.20 kg   |worked ivory             

Saudia Arabia  |8.80 kg     |worked ivory             

Andorra        |112.60 kg   |worked ivory             

Australia      |8.00 kg     |worked ivory             

USA            |0.73 kg     |worked ivory             

United Kingdom |0.85 kg     |worked ivory             

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much ivory has been confiscated by the Hong Kong authorities since 1 February 1991; and how many prosecutions for illegal export have been initiated since that date.

Mr. Goodlad : Between 1 February 1991 and 14 October 1993, the Hong Kong authorities confiscated 1,210.9 kg of ivory and initiated two prosecutions for illegal export.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many exports of ivory have been authorised from Hong Kong since midnight on 17 July 1990.

Mr. Goodlad : No commercial exports of ivory have been authorised from Hong Kong between midnight on 17 July 1990 and 14 October 1993 except for seven shipments of pre-convention specimens of worked ivory totalling 1.58 kg.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many spot checks have been made by the Hong Kong authorities of ivory holding premises since 1 February 1991; and if any irregularities were discovered.

Mr. Goodlad : The Hong Kong authorities have made 778 spot checks on ivory holding premises between 1 February 1991 and 14 October 1993. No irregularities were discovered.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current stock of all ivory known to be held in Hong Kong ; and on what date it was last assessed.

Mr. Goodlad : The total commercial ivory stock held in Hong Kong on 17 July 1990 was 463 tonnes, to the nearest tonne. No commercial exports of ivory, except pre-convention specimens of worked ivory, have been authorised since then.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current number of possession licences issued to holders of ivory stocks in Hong Kong.

Mr. Goodlad : As at 14 October 1993, there were 899 possession licences held by commercial ivory stock holders in Hong Kong.


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