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Animal Experiments

Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to carry out a review of the legislation and procedures governing the use of animals in laboratories ; whether he will list the changes made in respect of animal experiments since 1979 ; and if he will make a statement of Government policy on this matter.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 represented a major reform in the law regulating the use of laboratory animals. The Government are committed to the underlying principle of the legislation, which is to prevent all avoidable animal suffering and unnecessary animal use, while recognising the legitimate needs of science.

The Animal Procedures Committee, established under the 1986 Act, is required to monitor the working of the legislation and advise my right hon. and learned Friend on ways of improving its operation. It is the practice for the committee's annual report, which is laid before Parliament, to describe any significant changes that have occurred in these arrangements. The annual reports also describe the results of the committee's deliberations on particular areas of research or concern.

Wheel Clamps

Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many vehicles were clamped by private contractors employed by the Metropolitan


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police in each of the past five years ; what were the fees charged for removal of clamps in each of the past five years ; and what are the criteria for assessing increases in these fees.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The figures for the numbers of vehicles clamped and the charge made for each of the past five years are given in the table. The charge is set at a level to recover the full cost to the police of the clamping operation. The charge is subject to annual review.


Year      |Number of|Charge             

          |clamps   |£                  

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

1988-89   |130,553  |25                 

1989-90   |156,747  |30                 

1990-91   |152,881  |30                 

1991-92   |128,180  |32                 

1992-93   |93,541   |38                 

Kenya (Immigration Officers)

Mr. Blair : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the function of the British and Dutch immigration officers stationed at Nairobi and Mombasa airports ; how long they have been there ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Two chief immigration officers from the immigration service and three Dutch immigration officials were in Kenya at various times between 15 August and 6 November 1993 to train and advise airline staff at Nairobi and Mombasa airports in the identification of inadequately documented passengers. Two of the officers concerned are currently in Kenya for 10 days to assess the effectiveness of the earlier training.

Teachers, London

Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of teachers employed in schools in each of the London boroughs whose salaries are paid in full or part from section 11 funding ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 17 February to the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), Official Report, columns 904-906).

Death Penalty

Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has held with the Lord Chancellor since 17 December 1990 concerning the continued existence of the death penalty for the crimes of treason, treason felony and piracy ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : There were a number of exchanges between my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) and the Lord Chancellor on this subject after 17 December 1990. I understand that the law relating to treason, treason- felony and piracy remains on the Law Commission's agenda for codification of the criminal law.


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Immigration

Mr. Gerrard : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines are given to immigration officers at ports of entry to assist them in considering the cases of those seeking to re-enter the United Kingdom after a trip abroad, during the period of a valid visa.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Passengers whose stay in the United Kingdom was subject to a time limit and who return after a temporary absence abroad are considered under paragraph 60 of the immigration rules--HC251. The same time limit and any conditions attached will normally be reimposed if the requirements of the rules are met, unless admission is sought in a different capacity from the one in which leave to enter or remain was last given.

Visas

Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current position within the European Community concerning the harmonisation of visa arrangements ; what effect this will have on the current United Kingdom visa arrangements ; what

representations he has received concerning the effect of such changes on trade and other relations ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The European Commission recently put forward proposals to give effect to article 100c of the treaty of Rome, which provides for the determination of the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa when crossing the external frontiers of the member states. In accordance with the procedures for parliamentary scrutiny of European Community documents, the Commission document was deposited on 18 January, and the Government submitted their explanatory memorandum on 1 February. My right hon. and learned Friend has received no representations concerning the possible effect of the Commission's proposals on trade and other relations.

Police (Protective Clothing)

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he intends to introduce legislation to make it compulsory for police authorities to provide individual head gear for firearms teams in their police forces ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) when he intends to provide the necessary finance to police authorities to enable them to purchase individual head gear for firearms teams in their police forces ; and if he will make a statement ;

(3) when he intends to provide the necessary finance to police authorities to enable them to purchase knife-proof vests for their police forces ; and if he will make a statement ;

(4) when he intends to introduce legislation to make it compulsory for police authorities to provide knife-proof vests for members of their police forces ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle : We have no plans to introduce such legislation. It is for chief officers of police to decide how to equip their officers. Police protective equipment is purchased out of normal police funds.


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Children's Services

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average length of time employers currently have to wait for clearance through the police vetting procedure of prospective employees who wish to work with children.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The last full year for which comprehensive figures are available is the year to 31 March 1993. Not all forces provided an average response time and it is, therefore, not possible to give an overall average.

Where a force only needs to consult records which are available within the force, the majority respond in 14 days or less, with just over half responding in seven days or under. Where inquiries have to be made of other police forces, an extra delay of three weeks or more can be incurred.

A few forces, though have average response times significantly longer than these, with one force responding within an average of 70 days where internal inquiries only were needed and 75 days where inquiries of other forces were required.

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many requests for vetting of prospective employees wishing to work with children each police authority received in the last year for which figures are available from (a) education authorities, (b) the independent education sector, (c) social services departments, (d) health authorities and (e) the voluntary sector.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The last year for which figures are available is the year to 31 March 1993, when the total number of child protection checks carried out by police forces in England and Wales was 663,103. The number of child protection checks carried out by each force, excluding checks made for the voluntary organisations consultancy service, was as follows :


                   |Number           

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

Avon and Somerset  |16,641           

Bedfordshire       |7,847            

Cambridgeshire     |10,589           

Cheshire           |15,965           

City of London     |119              

Cleveland          |5,716            

Cumbria            |3,901            

Derbyshire         |9,944            

Devon and Cornwall |17,951           

Dorset             |12,973           

Durham             |9,179            

Dyfed-Powys        |12,198           

Essex              |17,725           

Gloucestershire    |<1>7,500         

Greater Manchester |30,653           

Gwent              |4,319            

Hampshire          |27,463           

Hertfordshire      |12,588           

Humberside         |9,040            

Kent               |17,239           

Lancashire         |18,555           

Leicestershire     |19,653           

Lincolnshire       |7,128            

Merseyside         |25,078           

Metropolitan       |82,875           

Norfolk            |10,702           

Northamptonshire   |7,499            

Northumbria        |15,325           

North Wales        |9,701            

North Yorkshire    |6,019            

Nottinghamshire    |14,910           

South Wales        |12,915           

South Yorkshire    |16,313           

Staffordshire      |7,414            

Surrey             |12,337           

Suffolk            |5,003            

Sussex             |15,460           

Thames Valley      |29,562           

Warwickshire       |10,772           

West Mercia        |17,485           

West Midlands      |33,282           

West Yorkshire     |14,812           

Wiltshire          |12,122           

<1> Approximate.                     

In the same period the voluntary organisations consultancy service made 8,631 requests to police forces for checks to be made on behalf of certain national voluntary child care organisations. In addition, some of the checks requested by local authorities may have been made on behalf of voluntary organisations.

A further breakdown in the way sought is not available.

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are to require the voluntary sector to use the police vetting service of prospective employees wishing to work with children.

Mr. Charles Wardle : None. However, the current review by the Home Office of arrangements for access to criminal records for vetting purposes may result in checks being made more widely available to the voluntary child care sector, should it wish to use them.

National Lottery

Ms Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to prevent rivals to the national lottery from establishing themselves.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Provided that the competitors operate within the law, there are no grounds for the Government to take such steps.

Firearms Certificates

Mr. Pickthall : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the length of time that should elapse before a person with a serious criminal conviction can successfully apply for a shotgun or firearms certificate.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Section 21 of the Firearms Act 1968 provides that a person who has been sentenced to imprisonment, including detention in a young offenders institution, for a term of three years or more is prohibited at any time from having a firearm or ammunition in their possession. A person sentenced to a term of three months or more but less than three years is prohibited from having a firearm or ammunition in his or her possession at any time for a period of five years from the date of his or her release.

The issue of firearm and shotgun certificates is a matter for the local chief officer of police.

Notwithstanding the expiry of a person's prohibition, a chief officer may grant a certificate only if he is satisfied that the applicant can be permitted to possess a firearm without danger to public safety or the peace. An applicant aggrieved by the decision of a chief officer may appeal to the Crown court.


Column 162

Sentencing

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to order an examination into disparity of sentencing by judges.

Mr. Maclean [holding answer 18 February 1994] : The Government have no such plans. Decisions on sentencing in individual cases are for the courts to determine in the light of all the circumstances of the offence and the offender. There is an avenue of appeal against sentence in all cases.

Dog Fouling

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are to increase the maximum penalty for dog fouling to bring it into line with the maximum penalty for dropping litter.

Mr. Atkins : I have been asked to reply.

We have no plans to change the maximum level of penalty which can be adopted by local authorities and others, in their dog fouling byelaws. However, dog fouling legislation is being looked at by the advisory group on litter as part of its review of litter legislation. Its report is expected in the spring.

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are to introduce a national register of individuals identified as unsuitable for employment involving close contact with children.

Mr. Bowis : I have been asked to reply.

My Department already runs the consultancy service which advises prospective employers in the child care system about people who may be unsuitable to work with children. The consultancy list includes the names of those on the Department for Education's list 99 debarred from teaching by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION

Commonwealth Institute

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received on the Government's proposal to end their funding of the Commonwealth Institute after March 1996 ; what consultation there has been with the Commonwealth secretariat about the proposal ; if he will reconsider the proposal ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I refer the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe to the answers I gave the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) on 14 February 1994, Official Report, columns 569-70.

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current annual funding of (a) the Commonwealth Institute and (b) the military training assistance scheme.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The current annual funding of the Commonwealth Institute is £3 million. An additional funding of £2.4 million between now and March 1996 has been allocated for redundancies. The military training assistance scheme funding in 1993-94 is £13.4 million.


Column 163

Balkans Customs Corridor

Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the United Kingdom's contribution to the European Commission's initiative, under the PHARE programme, for a Balkan customs corridor ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd [pursuant to his reply, 15 February 1994, c. 685] : The European Commission has recently announced that support for a Balkans customs corridor will form part of a proposed wider initiative for transit improvement in the Balkan region for which up to 100 million ecu-- around £77 million--could be made available. Firm proposals for assistance using PHARE programme funds have yet to be finalised and presented to member states for opinion.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Early-day Motions

Mr. Steen : To ask the Lord President of the Council what is the average number of signatures added to early-day motions per week ; and what is the total annual cost to public funds of early-day motions.

Mr. Newton : The average number of hon. Members' signatures added to early-day motions in each sitting week in calendar year 1993 was 3,091 ; the total cost to public funds of printing and publishing early-day motions during 1993 is estimated by Her Majesty's Stationery Office to have been £2,290,000.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Lord President of the Council, pursuant to his answer of 7 February, Official Report, column 78 , how many early-day motions were tabled in 1992-93 ; and how many early-day motions have been debated since 1979.

Mr. Newton : There were 2,574 early-day motions tabled in Session 1992-93.

There is no definitive list of motions debated in the House which first appeared on the Order Paper as early-day motions. The majority of such motions are prayers against statutory instruments. The number of motions to annul or revoke an instrument debated on the Floor of the House from 1979 to 1980 Session to date is 208. Other than prayers, it seems that there have not been more than four motions debated in the House since 1979 which began as early-day motions.

PRIME MINISTER

Russia

Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Prime Minister what is his policy towards Russia's application to join the Group of Seven.

The Prime Minister : I believe that there is a strong case for building a closer political dialogue between Russia and the Group of Seven, by creating a political Group of Eight, although it would not be appropriate in current circumstances for Russia to join the economic G7. I shall be taking this up with my G7 colleagues.


Column 164

Engagements

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 22 February.

Sir Peter Tapsell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 22 February.

The Prime Minister : This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having further meetings later today.

10 Downing Street

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister if he will give details of items on loan to 10 Downing street which have been mislaid since 1979.

The Prime Minister : No.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister if he will give details of all items of works of art, furniture, china, gold and silver artefacts currently on loan in 10 Downing street.

The Prime Minister : No.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister which paintings and other works of art on display in 10 Downing street in October 1990 have subsequently been removed.

The Prime Minister : The information requested can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Overseas Visits (Media)

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister if he will give details of amounts outstanding from media organisations for costs arising from using official transport on overseas visits.

The Prime Minister : It is not my practice to give details of outstanding accounts.

Official Gifts

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister which official gifts were retained by his predecessor at the end of her period of office.

The Prime Minister : My right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven would have retained those gifts of small value that she wished to keep, and those gifts of higher value that she had chosen to purchase.

Overseas Visits

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Prime Minister which countries he has visited in an official capacity since November 1990.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 21 February 1994] : The information requested is as follows :


Country                  |Dates                                    

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

Italy                    |13-15 December 1990                      

United States of America |20-22 December 1990                      

Saudi Arabia             |6-8 January 1991                         

Oman                     |8-9 January 1991                         

Egypt                    |9 January 1991                           

France                   |14 January 1991                          

France                   |20 January 1991                          

Germany                  |11 February 1991                         

Soviet Union             |4-5 March 1991                           

Germany                  |11 March 1991                            

Bermuda                  |15-16 March 1991                         

Luxembourg               |8 April 1991                             

France                   |24 June 1991                             

Luxembourg               |28-29 June 1991                          

Spain                    |2-13 June 1991                           

Spain                    |2 August 1991                            

United States of America |27-30 August 1991                        

China/Russia             |1-6 September 1991                       

France                   |11-12 September 1991                     

Netherlands              |18 September 1991                        

Zimbabwe                 |14-22 October 1991                       

Italy                    |7-8 November 1991                        

Germany                  |10 November 1991                         

Italy                    |27 November 1991                         

Germany                  |27 November 1991                         

Netherlands              |1 December 1991                          

Republic of Ireland      |4 December 1991                          

Netherlands              |8-10 December 1991                       

United States of America |30-31 January 1992                       

Poland                   |25-26 May 1992                           

Czechoslovakia           |26-28 May 1992                           

Hungary                  |28-29 May 1992                           

Germany                  |5 June 1992                              

USA                      |6-9 June 1992                            

Colombia                 |9-10 June 1992                           

Brazil                   |10-12 June 1992                          

Portugal                 |25-27 June 1992                          

Germany                  |6-8 July 1992                            

Finland                  |9-10 July 1992                           

Spain                    |7-9 August 1992                          

Spain                    |16-17 September 1992                     

France                   |30 September 1992                        

Egypt                    |23-25 October 1992                       

Belgium                  |23 November 1992                         

Italy/Greece             |27-28 November 1992                      

Luxembourg               |30 November 1992                         

Spain                    |30 November 1992                         

                         |1 December 1992                          

Portugal                 |1 December 1992                          

Denmark                  |2 December 1992                          

Netherlands              |6-7 December 1992                        

Republic of Ireland      |7 December 1992                          

France                   |15-16 December 1992                      

Canada                   |17-18 December 1992                      

USA                      |18-20 December 1992                      

Bosnia                   |22 December 1992                         

India                    |23-28 January 1993                       

Oman                     |28 January 1993                          

Saudi Arabia             |28 January 1993                          

USA                      |23-25 February 1993                      

Switzerland              |5-6 April 1993                           

Austria                  |6 April 1993                             

France                   |27-28 May 1993                           

Denmark                  |20-22 June 1993                          

Japan                    |5-9 July 1993                            

Sweden                   |11-13 August 1993                        

Portugal                 |23 August 1993                           

Japan                    |18-21 September 1993                     

Malaysia                 |21-22 September 1993                     

Monaco                   |23 September 1993                        

Cyprus                   |21-25 October 1993                       

Belgium                  |28-29 October 1993                       

Germany                  |25 November 1993                         

Republic of Ireland      |3 December 1993                          

Belgium                  |9-11 December 1993                       

Belgium                  |9-11 January 1994                        

Russia                   |14-16 February 1994                      


Column 166

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Co-operatives

Mr. McMaster : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to encourage the development of retail, wholesale and manufacturing co-operatives.

Mr. McLoughlin : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 8 February, Official Report, column 121.

Petroleum Coke

Mr. Redmond : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will require coal merchants selling petroleum coke to issue to all purchasers pamphlets on the dangers of the fuel.

Mr. McLoughlin : Section 10--the general safety requirement--of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 already makes it an offence to supply consumer goods which are not reasonably safe, having regard to all the circumstances. These circumstances include the manner in which the goods are marketed and any instructions or warnings given with the goods concerning their use. Accordingly, my Department has advised known suppliers of petroleum coke that failure to provide consumers with written instructions about the safe use of this fuel and the precautions that should be taken could render themselves liable to prosecution under section 10 of the Act.

My Department has also notified local authority trading standards departments, which are responsible for the day-to-day enforcement of the safety provisions of the Act, of this advice.

Australian House Coal

Mr. Redmond : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will seek from his counterparts in France and Belgium details of deaths in 1992 and 1993 attributed to fumes from defective Australian house coal.

Mr. McLoughlin : My Department has requested this information from the relevant authorities in France and Belgium, and I will write to the hon. Member when a response is received.

Post Offices

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the President of the Board of Trade which post offices in Ayrshire are still under the direct authority of the Post Office.

Mr. McLoughlin : I understand from the Post Office that there are five--Ayr, Irvine, Kilmarnock, Kilwinning and Saltcoats.

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many post offices throughout the United Kingdom have been franchised in each year since introduction of the policy.

Mr. McLoughlin : I understand from the Post Office that the numbers are as follows :


           |Number       

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

1989-90    |153          

1990-91    |164          

1991-92    |147          

1992-93    |108          

<1>1993-94 |56           

<1> To January.          

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has received from the Post Office of the financial benefits of franchising as opposed to maintaining post offices under its direct control.

Mr. McLoughlin : I understand from the Post Office that the financial benefits are as follows :


Net recurring benefit of each    

year's conversions               

           |£ millions           

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

1989-90    |4.4                  

1990-91    |3.9                  

1991-92    |4.1                  

1992-93    |3.4                  

Over the same period, one-off income from fees has exceeded one-off costs associated with conversions by £13.1 million.

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has received from the Post Office to franchise the operating of Kilwinning and Irvine main post offices.

Mr. McLoughlin : None.

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what procedures are used by the Post Office to monitor the performance of agency post offices.

Mr. McLoughlin : I understand from the Post Office that Post Office Counters Ltd. monitors the performance of agency post offices across the generic areas of financial accounting, customer service and accuracy of transactions. It does so directly through regular financial and procedural audits and the support of retail network managers, and indirectly through customer research and "mystery shopper" surveys.

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many post and sub-post offices have been given agency status in Ayrshire ; and if he will list them.

Mr. McLoughlin : I understand from the Post Office that the following 13 post offices in Ayrshire have been converted from directly managed to agency status :

Ardrossan

Beith

Brodick

Burns Statue Ayr

Cumnock

Dalry

Girvan

Largs

Maypole

Prestwick

Stevenson

Troon

West Kilbride

In addition, there are 101 sub-post offices in Ayrshire.

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement indicating how many people are employed at (a) Kilwinning and (b) Irvine main post offices.


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