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Child Care

Ms Harman : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much her Department spends on child care provision for the under-fives and out-of-school


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provision for children aged over five either directly, excluding provision for departmental staff, or indirectly through resources made available to local authorities or other organisations ; what form of provision is thereby provided ; how many places are thereby provided ; and if she will make a statement on child care.

Mr. Jack : In the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food expenditure on child care is only for the benefit of Ministry staff and provision is subject to the need to establish a value-for-money case.

Fish Landing Prices

Mr. Morley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to the European Commission in relation to minimum landing prices for fish.

Mr. Jack : [holding answer 8 March 1994] : In recent discussions in the Council of Ministers, our representations on minimum import prices have been guided by the fact that we believe they have only a short-term role in exceptional circumstances. We will continue to oppose their permanent application. From a United Kingdom perspective, minimum import prices have the serious disadvantage of making our processing industry pay more for essential raw material which cannot be obtained from Community sources.

Milk

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what quantity and value of milk and milk products formerly distributed under the school milk scheme have been redirected since 1 April 1993 ; and what have been their destinations.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : No definitive information is available on the quantity, value or use to which the milk and milk products no longer utilised under the school milk scheme have been put.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Administration

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his answer of 16 December, Official Report, column 874, if he will publish in the Official Report a substansive answer to the question tabled by the hon. Member for Cardiff West, for answer on 16 December 1993 concerning the administrative expenditure of his Department.

Sir John Wheeler : The information which I provided the hon. Member in a letter dated 11 January was as follows :

i. The provisional outturn from 1992-93 is £697 million. ii. The running costs limit for 1993-94 is £730 million (£707 million at 1992-93 prices). An estimated outturn will be published in the Spring in the "1994 Departmental Report and the Unified Budget Statement".

The 1994 departmental report on expenditure plans and priorities which is available in the Library, gives updated information on these matters.


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Independent Commissioner for the Holding Centres

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he hopes to publish Sir Louis Blom-Cooper's first annual report as Independent Commissioner for the Holding Centres.

Sir Patrick Mayhew : I have today arranged for copies of Sir Louis Blom-Cooper's first annual report as Independent Commissioner for the Holding Centres to be placed in the Library.

I welcome the report, which contains a very comprehensive and detailed examination of the procedures governing the custody of detainees in the police offices.

I am pleased to note that Sir Louis reports that he has "found absolutely nothing that might give anyone the slightest cause for concern about the care and treatment of detainees held in the custody of uniformed officers of the RUC".

It is most important that the police offices should permit the very necessary detention provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act to be operated properly and effectively. The police must be able to take all proper measures to secure the information they need in the interests of justice, and suspects while in custody must be treated fairly and in accordance with all relevant statutory and administrative safeguards. The Independent Commissioner provides a valuable source of information and advice in that regard, and I am most grateful to Sir Louis Blom-Cooper for his work throughout the past year.

I intend to give careful and detailed consideration to the report.

Ministerial Offices

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many bottles of (a) whisky and gin and (b) sherry and port were consumed by his private offices in 1993-94.

Sir John Wheeler : The cost of such purchases is included in the entertainment expenditure for the Department, which is published in the departmental annual report.

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the cost of new furniture for his private office during the year 1993- 94.

Sir John Wheeler : Such purchases are included within the Department's overall administration expenditure which is published every year in the departmental annual report.

Lough Neagh

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken to conserve fish stocks in Lough Neagh.

Mr. Ancram : The Fisheries Consolidated and Amendment Byelaws (NI) 1989 (1989 No. 483) as amended by the Fisheries Amendment Byelaws (NI) 1992 (1992 No. 483) contain measures to conserve fish stocks in Lough Neagh. The byelaws are available in the Library.

The 1992 byelaws increased the minimum size of mesh which may be used in set nets or trammel nets for the taking of pollen, trout, perch, pike and beam respectively. They increased the minimum takeable size of pollen and trout respectively and introduced a minimum takeable size for perch. They also introduced an annual close season


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--1 March to 31 May--and a weekend closure-- 0600 hours Saturday to 0600 hours Monday--in respect of commercial fishing for perch, bream and pike.

These measures are enforced by the Fisheries Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland.

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the estimated length of illegal nets confiscated on Lough Neagh in each of the last three years ; and what action is being taken by the Fisheries Conservancy Board to control illegal netting on Lough Neagh.

Mr. Ancram : The length of illegal nets confiscated on Lough Neagh is set out in the table :


Year     |Length           

         |of nets-         

         |metres           

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

1991     |15,340           

1992     |52,590           

1993     |38,185           

The Fisheries Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland controls illegal netting through regular patrols on the lough. The number of patrols has doubled since early 1993.

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to introduce quotas for fish harvested from Lough Neagh.

Mr. Ancram : No. There are no powers to impose quotas in respect of freshwater fish species and existing controls are considered to be adequate to conserve fish stocks in Lough Neagh.

Constitutional Talks

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on further constitutional talks on the future of Northern Ireland.

Mr. Ancram : My right hon. and learned Friend recently met the leaders of the three Northern Ireland parties that have been engaged in private bilateral discussions with me. He showed them a document containing ideas for giving direction to the talks process based on earlier discussions and covering all the main relationships. I am holding further meetings with representatives from the parties to discuss these ideas. At the last intergovernmental conference on 10 March both Governments mandated further intensive work to provide a framework to carry the talks process forward.

Ministerial Receptions

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the cost of receptions held by Ministers in his Department in 1993-94.

Sir John Wheeler : The cost of such receptions is included in the entertainment expenditure for the Northern Ireland Office and Northern Ireland Departments which is published in the departmental annual report.

Blood Donation

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in which of the Northern Ireland health board areas there is a surplus of donated blood ; and in how many areas blood plasma is in short supply.


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Mr. Ancram [holding answer 10 March 1994] : The Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service is a regional service and figures are not collected on a board basis. Since April 1993 blood collection and needs for Northern Ireland have been in balance. There has been no shortage or surplus of either donated blood or blood plasma.

LORD CHANCELLORS DEPARTMENT

Legal Aid

4. Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proposals he has to facilitate representative actions on behalf of groups of victims in drug safety, consumer safety, safety at work and medical standards under legal aid.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Legal Aid Board and others have suggested changes in the procedures surrounding multi-party actions which are being considered.

Debt Recovery

Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what action he is taking to improve procedures for the recovery of debts due as a result of court judgments ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John M. Taylor : Both the Lord Chancellor and I are committed to improving the efficiency of the court system through simplifying and streamlining procedures, reducing paperwork and reducing the need to attend court. In my answer to the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown) on 18 February 1994, column 1006, I mentioned the changes to county court procedures made in recent years and the plans for the introduction of some minor amendments to debt recovery procedures later this year. In addition, work is currently being done to improve the oral examination procedure with a view to introducing the new system by the beginning of 1995. There are also plans to look at ways of simplifying and improving the garnishee and charging order procedures later this year. Any proposed changes will be subject to our usual wide-ranging public consultation and it would not, therefore, be appropriate to make a statement about these initiatives at this stage.

Road Accidents

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what were the numbers of road accidents (a) per police officer and (b) per 100,000 population for each year since 1979 and this year to date for (i) South Yorkshire, (ii) North Yorkshire, (iii) West Yorkshire and (iv) Humberside police authority areas.

Mr. Key : I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is shown in the table. Information for 1993 and the year to date is not yet available.


Injury accidents by police force area: 1979-1992                        

Rate                                                                    

             Rate per police                                            

             officer                                                    

Year        |North      |West       |South      |Humberside             

of accident |Yorkshire  |Yorkshire  |Yorkshire                          

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

1979        |2.4        |1.7        |1.8        |2.0                    

1980        |2.4        |1.7        |1.7        |2.0                    

1981        |2.4        |1.7        |1.6        |1.9                    

1982        |2.4        |1.7        |1.7        |2.0                    

1983        |2.3        |1.6        |1.6        |1.9                    

1984        |2.3        |1.7        |1.6        |2.1                    

1985        |2.2        |1.6        |1.5        |2.1                    

1986        |2.4        |1.6        |1.6        |2.1                    

1987        |2.3        |1.6        |1.4        |2.0                    

1988        |2.5        |1.6        |1.5        |2.1                    

1989        |2.6        |1.7        |1.7        |2.2                    

1990        |2.5        |1.7        |1.6        |2.2                    

1991        |2.3        |1.6        |1.4        |1.9                    

1992        |2.2        |1.7        |1.5        |1.9                    


Injury accidents by police force area: 1979-1992                  

Rate                                                              

            Rate per 100,000                                      

            population                                            

Year of    |North     |West      |South     |Humberside           

accident   |Yorkshire |Yorkshire |Yorkshire                       

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

1979       |484       |401       |354       |438                  

1980       |480       |425       |370       |464                  

1981       |477       |419       |360       |444                  

1982       |482       |429       |381       |451                  

1983       |450       |390       |344       |432                  

1984       |441       |405       |345       |472                  

1985       |439       |386       |336       |475                  

1986       |468       |392       |344       |478                  

1987       |451       |393       |321       |462                  

1988       |488       |412       |348       |482                  

1989       |509       |423       |379       |507                  

1990       |476       |429       |375       |499                  

1991       |440       |405       |333       |428                  

1992       |422       |401       |338       |439                  

HOME DEPARTMENT

Ministerial Offices

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost of new furniture for his private office during the year 1993-94.

Mr. Howard : Such purchases are included within my Department's overall administration expenditure which is published every year in the annual report.

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many bottles of (a) whisky and gin and (b) sherry and port were consumed by his private offices in 1993-94.

Mr. Howard : Such consumption is included in the entertainment expenditure for my Department which is published in the annual report.

Freephone and Freepost

Mr. Donohoe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the use of freephone and freepost facilities currently being operated by his Department ; how much these facilities are costing ; for what purposes these facilities are being used ; and how much his Department has spent on operating freephone and freepost facilities in each financial year since 1979.

Mr. Howard : Exceptionally, where there has been a major incident, the Prison Service has set up a temporary


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free telephone number for the use of relatives of those affected. The expenditure is small and could be quantified only at disproportionate expense. Freepost facilities are not used.

National Alliance of Women's Organisations

Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give his reasons for withdrawing core funding from the National Alliance of Women's Organisations.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Home Office has never paid core funding to the National Alliance of Women's Organisations, so there is no question of its being withdrawn.

Ministerial Receptions

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost of receptions held by Ministers in his Department in 1993 -94.

Mr. Howard : The cost of such receptions is included in the entertainment expenditure for my Department which is published in the annual report.

Women's Voluntary Sector

Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what support his Department gives to the women's voluntary sector.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Home Office does not support work carried out by voluntary organisations exclusively on women's issues. Under the drugs prevention initiative funding has been provided for 20 separate drug prevention projects targeted specifically at women.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will allow asylum seekers in Britain to be joined by family members who have been given asylum in other European countries.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Close family members are entitled to join refugees granted asylum in this country. The same arrangements would not be justified for asylum seekers before it has been established whether they qualify for refugee status and have a long-term future here.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average length of time that asylum seekers are held in detention ; and what are the figures for each year since 1990, including provisional figures for 1994 to date.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The information requested is not available.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people who have been given exceptional leave to remain have not had their exceptional leave to remain status renewed in each year since 1991 and in 1994 to date.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Precise figures are not available but, in each of the three years 1991-93, the number of asylum applications refused an extension of exceptional leave does not exceed a figure of the order of 15. Information for 1994 to date is not yet available.


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Mr. Gerrard : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 22 February, Official Report , column 151 to show many of those asylum seekers held in detention who had applied (a) before 26 July 1993 and (b) after 26 July 1993 had been in detention for the whole of their stay in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The information requested is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Gerrard : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 22 February, Official Report , column 151 , how many of the asylum seekers currently detained are being held in ordinary prisons ; how many of these are being held with people convicted on criminal charges ; and how many of these are being held with people awaiting trial.

Mr. Charles Wardle : On 9 March 1994, 274 asylum seekers were detained in Prison Service establishments, including 82 at the Home Office holding centre, Haslar, which is used almost exclusively for immigration detainees.

At Haslar there are 14 convicted prisoners who undertake tasks connected with the running of the centre which the detainees cannot be required to do. The further details requested are not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The general policy is not, however, to hold immigration detainees together with convicted inmates unless the detainees are themselves convicted prisoners or strict segregation would be to their disadvantage by preventing them from having access to facilities enjoyed by others.

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people seeking political asylum in the United Kingdom were detained (a) in hostels or detention centres, (b) in police custody, in hostels or detention centres, (b) in police custody, (c) in prisons and (d) in other places on 1 January and on 1 October, 1 July and 1 April 1993.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The information requested is not available.

Young Offenders

Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy on whether future secure accommodation for young offenders should be sited in the grounds of adult prisons.

Mr. Maclean : The search for suitable sites on which to locate the new secure training centres for persistent juvenile offenders has included an evaluation of Prison Service sites, both those which are redundant and those surplus to requirements. No final decisions have been taken, but if Prison Service sites are used for one or more of the centres, they will operate as self-contained and fully autonomous units.

Sheehy Inquiry

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the detailed accounts of the Sheehy inquiry.

Mr. Charles Wardle : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 2 December 1993, columns 665-66.


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Detainees (Access to Doctors)

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what access people held in detention by the immigration service have to a doctor.

Mr. Charles Wardle : It is our normal practice to ask port medical inspectors to examine those passengers who are detained upon their arrival in the United Kingdom. Those subsequently detained in immigration detention centres have access on a daily basis to either a resident or visiting doctor. The Prison Service is responsible for providing similar access to a doctor for those Immigration Act detainees accommodated in prisons, and the police for those held for short periods in police cells.

Criminals (Payments)

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to make it a criminal offence to make payments to convicted criminals, their relatives, or agents for publishing, by any means, details of their criminal past or crimes.

Mr. Maclean : None. It would not be feasible to devise legal restraints sufficiently broad to prevent criminals, or their associates, from profiting from published accounts of their criminal activities, while at the same time avoiding unjustifiable restrictions on media reporting of matters of legitimate public interest. Enforcement could be particularly difficult since payment could be made indirectly, covertly or outside the jurisdiction of the courts.

Video Evidence

Mrs. Golding : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what equipment his Department is using to prepare video evidence for use in courts ; and what assessment he has made of the quality.

Mr. Maclean : The procurement of equipment for the preparation of video evidence is a matter for chief officers of police but the Home Office has issued technical guidelines to assist them. Video playback equipment for viewing video evidence is now available in 71 Crown court centres. The Home Office has commissioned research into the new provisions for child witnesses in the Criminal Justice Act 1991, which will include an assessment of the quality and acceptability of video taped statements. Also, an interdepartmental working group was reconvened in February 1994 to consider the effectiveness of current arrangements for the presentation of video-recorded evidence at court.

Heroin

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the findings of the reports "Trends in the Cost Effectiveness of Enforcement Activity in the Illicit Heroin Market 1979-1990", published by the centre for health economics at York university ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : We shall be considering the report, which was published on 7 March 1994. Heroin trafficking is a clandestine activity and so, as the authors readily acknowledge, the report relies on many assumptions, estimates and crude measures of the effectiveness of


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enforcement. It is also debatable whether conclusions can be drawn about the effectiveness of drug enforcement from assumptions about the market in one particular drug.

In any case there have been significant developments in drug enforcement since the period covered by the report including improvements in the provision of drugs intelligence and the introduction by Customs of the new and successful flexible anti-smuggling teams.

Drugs (Police Informants)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police informants involved in informing on drug-related crimes have been prosecuted for acting as agents provocateur in each year since 1979.

Mr. Maclean : Information on prosecutions of police informants is not collected centrally.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what percentage of drug seizures made by the police and HM Customs and Excise were facilitated by police informants in each year since 1979 ;

(2) how many police informants have been engaged by the police to provide information on drug-related crime in each year since 1979.

Mr. Charles Wardle : This information is not available.

Yugoslavia

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many citizens of the former Yugoslavia, by current republic, are (a) permanent residents, (b) students, (c) visitors, (d) asylum applicants and (e) refugees in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Charles Wardle : At 31 January 1994 an estimated 6,640 nationals of former Yugoslavia, excluding dependants, were awaiting a decision on their application for asylum in the United Kingdom. During the period 1 January 1985 to 31 January 1994 a total of nine nationals of the former Yugoslavia were granted asylum, and 114 were given exceptional leave. An analysis by republic of origin, and the other information requested for those in the United Kingdom, are not available.

Algeria

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many citizens of Algeria are in Britain as (a) permanent residents, (b) students, (c) visitors, (d) asylum seekers and (e) refugees.

Mr. Charles Wardle : At 31 January 1994, an estimate of about 350 nationals of Algeria, excluding dependants, were awaiting a decision on their application for asylum in the United Kingdom. During the period 1 January 1985 to 31 January 1994 a total of 15 nationals of Algeria were granted asylum, and 31 were given exceptional leave. The other information requested for those in the United Kingdom is not available.

Criminal Injuries Compensation

Mr. Boateng : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he or his officials have (a) requested or (b) received advice from the Attorney-General or his officials concerning the legality of the procedures by which he is seeking to reform the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.


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Mr. Maclean : It is the convention neither to confirm nor deny having sought or received the advice of the Attorney-General on legal matters.


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