Mrs. Golding : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if there will be a charge to organisations who wish to check the police register for the suitability of adults who will be working with children.
Mr. Charles Wardle : The possibility of charging for checks on criminal records is one of the issues being considered by the Home Office in its current review of arrangements for access to criminal records for vetting purposes. No decision on this matter has yet been reached.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the number of personnel engaged in fire safety enforcement in England and Wales ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will visit Queensferry fire station to discuss aspects of fire safety responsibility with members of the Clwyd fire brigade.
Number of police officers per 100,000 population in the City of London and in the Metropolitan police district Year |Officers per |100,000 |population --------------------------------------- 1979 |318 1980 |334 1981 |356 1982 |375 1983 |381 1984 |382 1985 |382 1986 |383 1987 |389 1988 |397 1989 |403 1990 |403 1991 |403 1992 |393 1993 |385
Stockton-on-Tees borough council on 21 March giving agreement in principle to the proposal for byelaws prohibiting the consumption of intoxicating liquor in designated parts of Yarm and Thornaby. That letter asked for further essential information about the areas which the council wishes to designate. We expect to be able to give provisional approval to the byelaws once the necessary information has been obtained.
Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for political asylum there have been in each of the past three years by persons travelling from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus ; and how many of these applications have been refused.
Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women were remanded into custody in (a) Great Britain and (b) the west midlands for each quarter for each of the last five years for non-payment of fines imposed for not possessing a television licence.
Letter from D. Lewis to Ms Lynne Jones, dated 23 March 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking how many (a) men and (b) women were remanded into custody in (a) Great Britain and (b) the West
Column 221Midlands for each quarter for each of the last five years for non-payment of fines imposed for not possessing a television licence.
There were none in England and Wales. When a court fine is unpaid the court considers a number of non-custodial options and only then can impose a custodial sentence. Information for Scotland should be obtained from the Secretary of State for Scotland.
Letter from I. Dunbar to Ms Cheryl Gillan, dated 23 March 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent question about the average weekly cost of keeping (a) convicted prisoners and (b) prisoners on remand in prison.
Costs are collected for types of establishment rather than for types of prisoner. The figures for 1992-93 are :
Type of Net operating
establishment cost per prisoner
place per week
Local Prisons and Remand Centres 561
Remand Prison 333
Dispersal prisons 705
Category B Training prisons 481
Category C Training prisons 357
Adult Male Open prisons 285
Young Offender Closed establishments 418
Young Offender Open establishments 392
Female establishments 505
During the year in question convicted prisoners were held in all types of prison except the remand prison and remand centres. Remand prisoners were held in the remand prison, remand centres and local prisons. It is not, therefore, possible to provide an average cost for convicted and remand prisoners separately.
Mr. Kevin Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) in what circumstances under the "Conduct and Discipline in the Prison Service" it would be a disciplinary offence for a prison officer to contact an hon. Member regarding his own employment circumstances ;
(2) what are the rules governing the political activities of members of HM Prison Service ;
(3) in what circumstances under the "Conduct and Discipline in the Prison Service" a prison officer is prevented from raising with his own hon. Member
Column 222concerns relating to (a) the handling of a grievance in his own case and (b) the operation of a particular prison establishment ; (4) if the rules of confidentiality covering prison officers extend beyond individual cases to the general standards of operation of the prison service.
Letter from I. Dunbar to Mr. Kevin Hughes, dated 23 March 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the Office, to reply to your recent Questions about prison officers contacting honourable Members, and the rules about confidentiality and political activities in the Prison Service. Like all civil servants, prison officers have always been subject to the rule that they should not attempt to enlist political or other outside influence to support their own personal claims as civil servants. An internal procedure enables any personal concern of a member of staff to be reviewed, with the ultimate right of appeal to the Permanent Head of the Home Office.
Members of the Prison Service are entitled to raise general matters with their Members of Parliament, but must have regard to their duty of confidentiality and loyal service to the Crown. They should avoid any action which might compromise the right of colleagues or inmates to privacy, and have a duty to protect official information which is held in confidence.
You asked about the circumstances in which it would be a disciplinary offence for a prison officer to raise, with an honourable Member, matters concerned with his own employment in the Prison Service. "Conduct and Discipline in the Prison Service", introduced in July 1993, specifies "attempting to enlist the assistance or support of outside individuals or organisations (including Members of Parliament) to secure advancement or improve one's personal position", and "disclosure of official information held in confidence, whether to inmates, the press or others" are examples of conduct which may attract disciplinary action. It is not possible to state the precise circumstances in which disciplinary action might be taken in these areas, since this would depend on careful consideration of the circumstances of the particular case. The Prison Service Code of Conduct and Discipline specifically provides that disciplinary action against a member of staff who is alleged to have attempted to secure personal advancement by approaching an honourable Member can be taken only with the agreement of the personnel management division at Prison Service Headquarters.
As to the rules governing political activities of members of the Prison Service, the position is that civil servants, including members of the Prison Service, are required to discharge loyally the duties assigned to them by the government of the day of whatever political persuasion. Ministers and the public must have confidence that civil servants' personal views do not cut across the discharge of their official duties. The intent of the rules governing political activities by civil servants is to allow them the greatest possible freedom to participate in public affairs without infringing these fundamental principles. The rules are concerned with the public expression of political views, rather than privately-held opinions. These rules are set out in detail in the Home Office Staff handbook and a Home Office Notice, copies of which are enclosed.
Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the projects, services and organisations which have received funding from the voluntary services unit for each year since 1981, listing the payments made in constant 1993 prices, and distinguishing
Column 223between those projects whose scope is limited to (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland, (d) Northern Ireland, (e) England and Wales and (f) the United Kingdom.
Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to require that media reporting of cases to be brought before the courts in the Irish Republic shall be subject to the same restrictions as govern reporting of cases brought before United Kingdom courts.
Mr. Maclean : Where a warrant for arrest has been issued or granted in a criminal case in the United Kingdom, including a case where that warrant forms part of an extradition request, any person publishing material that creates a substantial risk that the course of justice in the proceedings in question will be seriously impeded or prejudiced is already liable to proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act 1981. There are no plans to extend the scope of the Contempt of Court Act to the period before proceedings are active, as defined by schedule 1 to the Contempt of Court Act 1981.
Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will institute a public inquiry into the length of time it took to bring to trial those accused of the death of Mr. William McGrath, of Morrison street, Bolton, and the access to drugs of the key witnesses in the case who were under police protection ; and if he will make a statement.
The actions taken by police officers in the course of their duties are operational matters and entirely the responsibility of the police. I understand, however, that at no time during this case were any witnesses under police protection.
Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many safer cities programmes were running each year since 1 April 1989 ; what was the total cost of their budgets for each year from 1989-90 ; how many will be running on 1 April ; and what will be the total of their budgets for 1994-95.
Year |Projects |Cost |(£ million) ---------------------------------------------------- 1989-90 |16 |3.3 1990-91 |16 |6.3 1991-92 |20 |7.2 1992-93 |20 |7.7 1993-94 |<1>20 |<2>6.0 <3>1 April 1994 |14 |<2>2.1 <1> The figure for 1993-94 excludes the 10 new areas which were announced in December 1993 and are currently being established. <2> Estimated. <3> Announcements on further projects are planned for 1994-95. As the bulk of the funding for safer cities is to be included in the single regeneration budget to be administered by the Department of the Environment from 1 April 1994, the precise timetable for later waves, together with associated costs, will be drawn up in conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. The costs quoted are therefore only those which remain funded by the Home Office.
The costs include some expenditure, such as project staff salaries and rent for office accommodation, which is incurred by the safer cities central team.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the highest five clear-up rates for primary crime in police authorities in England and Wales in each of the past seven years.
Mr. Maclean [holding answer 21 March 1994] : My Department does not use the term "primary crime". Instead, the figures provided are the percentage of all recorded offences which were cleared up by "primary" means : charged, summoned or cautioned--as opposed to "secondary" means : taken into consideration, interview of convicted offender and other. Police forces with the highest primary clear up rates on this basis are given in the table. The information is not yet available for 1993. Prior to 1989, information in this format is incomplete.
|Per cent. --------------------------------------- 1989 Gwent |48 Dyfed-Powys |42 Suffolk |37 Cumbria, Wiltshire |35 1990 Gwent |43 Dyfed-Powys |39 Suffolk |36 Wiltshire |30 North Wales |28 1991 Gwent |38 Suffolk |34 Dyfed-Powys |32 Wiltshire |29 Cheshire |27 1992 Gwent |35 Dyfed-Powys |30 Suffolk |29 Wiltshire |25 Cheshire |23
Mr. Heseltine : The figures provided in table A of the Department of Trade and Industry's 1994 report are produced in cash terms, consistent with Treasury guidance. They may be adjusted to reflect constant 1992-93 prices, this being the current basis used for such analysis, by means of the GDP deflators which are shown in table 1.1 of the Statistical Supplement to the Financial Statement and Budget Report 1994-95 (Cm 2519). Table 5B.4 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report 1994-95 shows the DTI's overall expenditure for the period 1988-89 to 1996-97 adjusted in this way.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will provide for each of his Department's laboratories and agencies (a) the number of whole-time equivalent staff in post now, (b) the number of WTE staff in post at 1 April 1993, (c) whether operational and management budgets for the 1994-95 year have been determined, (d) whether the agency is subject to review and the date on which that review began and (e) what financial target was set for 1993-94 ; whether it is expected to achieve it ; and what target has been set for 1994-95.
Mr. Heseltine : The information requested in (a), (b) and (d) is set out in the table. Budgets and targets for 1994-95 have not yet been confirmed. Achievements against the 1993-94 financial targets will be published in the agencies' annual reports and accounts : these will be laid before Parliament and placed in the Library of the House.
Number of permanent staff (whole time equivalent) Agency |1 March 1994 |1 April 1993 |Review of agency |Financial target |announced |1993-94 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Accounts services agency |91.0 |88.5 |September 1993 |(i) Recovery of full costs |(ii) Net total not to exceed £90,000 |estimates Companies house |963.0 |983.5 |July 1992 |(i) 6 per cent. return on capital employed |(ii) Recovery of full costs Insolvency service |1,615.0 |1,572.5 |July 1993 |To operate within allocated expenditure |budget Laboratory of the Government |315.5 |313.5 |May 1993 |(i) Recovery of full costs Chemist<1> |(ii) Net total not to exceed -£520,000 in |estimates National engineering laboratory<1> |331.0 |363.5 |May 1993 |(i) Recovery of full costs from |Government work carried out |(ii) Net total not to exceed £2,452,000 in |estimates National Physical laboratory<1> |736.5 |767.5 |May 1993 |(ii) Net total not to exceed -£3,545,000 |in estimates National weights & measures |44.5 |48.0 |May 1993 laboratory<1> |expenditure budget |(ii) Recovery of full costs of fee-earning |activities Patent office |957.5 |1,009.0 |June 1993 |(i) Recovery of full costs |(ii) 6 per cent. return on capital |employed Radiocommunications agency |541.0 |524.5 |(No review announced) |(ii) Net total not to exceed -£3,028,000 |in estimates Warren spring laboratory<1> |203.5 |266.5 |(Merger with AEA to form |(i)Recovery of full costs |the national environmental |(ii) Net total not to exceed £1,900,000 in |technology centre announced |estimates |on 10 June 1993) <1> DTI Laboratories.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list all his Department's schemes and services to promote technology transfer together with the date on which they were opened ; what was the expenditure committed ; and if he will list the projects supported in each scheme or service in expected outturns up to 1 April.
Mr. McLoughlin : The Department's innovation and technology budget covers a number of schemes to promote technology transfer. The major ones are listed in the table, together with the date on which they were opened and,
Column 226where available, the expenditure committed. DTI activity for which technology transfer is not the main objective is not included. In addition, the Department continues to seek to raise awareness in the benefits of participating in EC research and development programmes, many of which incorporate elements of technology transfer.
The additional information requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Title |Commenced |Committed |expenditure |£ millions --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Advanced Control Technology Transfer |1992 |4.6 Biochemical Engineering Programme |1989 |4.3 Biotechnology Means Business |1990 |0.42 Business with Applications Specific Integration Circuits System (ASICS) |1994 |3 Carrier Technology Programme |1992 |18 Engineers to Japan Scheme |1991 |0.5 Environmental Best Practice Programme (jointly funded with the Department of the Environment) |1994 |11 Industrial Units Scheme |1992 |4.07 Manufacturing, Planning and Implementation (MPI) |1991 |8.75 Neural Computing Technology Transfer |1992 |5.75 New and Renewables Programme |1988 |<1>3.5 OSTEMS-Overseas Sciences and Tech Experts Mission Scheme |1986 |<2>0.27 Overseas Technical Information Service (OTIS) |1985 |<2>0.19 Postgraduate Training Partnerships |1992 |6.4 Programme for Competitive Manufacturing |n/a PROST Awareness |1994 |1 Pump Centre |1992 |1.6 Senior Academics in Industry Scheme |1992 |0.8 Teaching Company Schemes (TCS) |1975 |<2>5.5 Technical Action Line (TAL Phase II) |1992 |n/a Technology Audits |1992 |1.9 Vision Technology Transfer Centre |1990 |1.3 <1> Figures for 1994-95 available only. <2> Figures for 1993-94 available only.
Mr. Eggar : The code of practice will reinforce and build upon my Department's existing arrangements for the provision of information. We will be establishing a central contact point to deal with requests for information under the code. Requests for information which can be dealt with simply and quickly will not attract a charge. More complex requests, requiring a significant diversion of resources, will attract a charge in line with the amount of work involved. We will keep our charging arrangements under review at all times. Details of charges and other administrative matters will be made available when the code comes into force.
Mr. Madden : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received concerning telephone customers in the United Kingdom being charged for telephone calls not made to Asia and Africa because of false-answers defects ; what estimate he has as to the numbers of United Kingdom customers so charged ; and how much revenue accrues to British telephone companies as a result.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the total cost of the inspectors' report on Bestwood and Atlanta Fund Managers ; how it has been disbursed to each inspector ; what are the business connections of the inspectors ; when the inspectors were appointed ; and on what date the report was published.
Mr. Neil Hamilton : The inspectors, Mr. Gabriel Moss QC and Mr. John Venning FCA of Robson Rhodes, chartered accountants, were appointed on 23 June 1989. Their report was published on 20 January 1994. The total cost of the inspection was £2,684,000, £202,370 being paid to Mr. Moss and the remainder to Mr. Venning's firm.
(2) what action he takes when a company fails to file its annual return within the prescribed period ;
(3) if he will provide a list of the number of companies which have been fined or have been disincorporated as a result of failure to file annual returns for each or any of the years since 1985.
Letter from D. Durham to Mr. Austin Mitchell, dated 18 March 1994 :
Mr. Hamilton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs, has asked me as Registrar and Chief Executive of Companies House Executive Agency, to reply to the following Parliamentary Questions which you tabled :
*How many incorporated companies have failed to file accounts at Companies House for each of the years since 1985.
*What action is taken when a company fails to file its annual return within the prescribed period.
*How many companies have been fined or have been disincorporated as a result of failure to file annual return for each or any of the years since 1985.
The statistical information which you have requested is published by the President of the Board of Trade in the general annual report of matters within the Companies Act, which is laid before both Houses of Parliament pursuant to section 729 of the Companies Act 1985. However, for your convenience, I have extracted the relevant figures from the reports for each of the years in question. I shall now attempt to clarify the remaining points which you have raised. Companies House tries very hard to ensure that each individual company is reminded of its obligation to deliver annual returns and accounts. On average, some two million letters are issued each year, as a timely reminder before documents become due and, if needs be, in an attempt to secure compliance of the law where documents are found to be outstanding.
Where it is established, having issued reminders, that a defaulting company remains in business or in operation, every effort is made to encourage the company to file with the minimum of delay. Regrettably, however, it is sometimes necessary to institute criminal proceedings in order to secure delivery of the required documentation. Failure to file annual returns or accounts is a criminal offence and, on conviction, a fine of up to a maximum of £5,000 can be imposed upon directors personally by the Court for each separate offence. In addition, where annual accounts are delivered outside the statutory time provided by the Companies Act, the company itself is liable to a civil penalty of up to £1,000 for private companies and £5,000 for public companies, depending on the lateness of the
Column 229accounts. I must stress, however, that the system of late filing penalties is designed to encourge timely filing, with the ultimate aim being that no penalties are levied because all companies file on time. There is no late filing penalty payable in respect of the late delivery of annual returns.
With regards to disincorporation, or dissolution of companies. Section 652 of the Companies Act 1985 provides me with authority to strike off and dissolve a company where I have reason to believe that it is no longer in business or in operation. Before dissolving a company, I am required to issue a number of notices to the company at its registeredd office address, inquiring if it remains in business or in operation. In the absence of any response, a notice is published in the London Gazette warning of my intention to strike the name of the company off the register. A copy of this notice, which is also sent to the company, is placed
Column 230on the company's record. I must emphasise, that dissolution action is not intended to be a punishment for failing to comply with the disclosure requirements of the Companies Act.
Finally, I can assure you that Companies House is committed in everything it does to balance the interests of limited companies who have a statutory duty to provide information, with the interests of the public who have a right by law to such information. If records at Companies House are up-to- date, companies can be investigated and assessed before any dealings take place and a great deal of financial uncertainty and, as is so often the case today, the loss of hard earned money may be avoided.
I hope that I have correctly interpreted the questions which you have tabled and that I have covered the points raised. Should you, however, require any additional information please do not hesitate to contact me.