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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 28 June 1994

HOME DEPARTMENT

Naturalisation

Mr. Keith Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many applicants for naturalisation, who had not been free of immigration conditions for 12 months at the time of their application, were granted British passports in 1992, 1993 and so far this year ;

(2) how many sportsmen and women who applied for naturalisation and had not been free of immigration conditions for 12 months at the time of their application, were granted British passports in 1992, 1993 and so far this year.

Mr. Charles Wardle : This information is not recorded.

Mr. Keith Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what circumstances an applicant for naturalisation is granted a British passport within 12 months of being granted indefinite leave to remain.

Mr. Charles Wardle : An applicant for naturalisation who is not married to a British citizen is normally expected to have been free of immigration time restrictions, but there is discretion to waive this requirement in the special circumstances of any particular case. It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of all the circumstances in which this discretion would be exercised in favour of an applicant, but we would consider doing so where the 12-months period has been missed by only a few months, provided that the other naturalisation requirements were met in full and that the applicant had well-established links with this country. We are normally prepared to overlook more than this only if there exist compelling reasons of a business or compassionate nature. We will also exercise this discretion if, at the time the application is considered and is otherwise in order, the 12-month period has been completed.

Mr. Keith Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long on average it takes to process an application for naturalisation ; and what targets have been set in terms of upper time limits.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Average waiting times for certificates of naturalisation in May 1994 were 15 months. No upper time limits for completing the consideration of applications are set, but we aim to process all applications as expeditiously as possible while ensuring that the


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statutory requirements for naturalisation are met. The target is to reduce average waiting times to below 12 months.

Police Firearms

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the result of the inquiry carried out by the Lancashire police force into the recent loss, and recovery in Blackburn town centre, of police revolvers ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Charles Wardle : I understand that disciplinary proceedings are being taken against a police officer.

Firearms

Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many crimes involving the use of firearms were committed in each of the past five years.

Mr. Maclean : Figures of notifiable offences recorded by the police in which firearms were reported to have been used are published annually in "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales", copies of which can be found in the Library--latest edition, 1992, Cm 2410, table 3.1.

Figures for 1993 are not yet available.

Mrs. Helen Jackson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the number of firearms held on certificate (a) at present and (b) one year ago.

Mr. Maclean : Estimates of the number of firearms held on certificate are published in paragraph 4 of Home Office statistical bulletins "Firearm Certificates Statistics, England and Wales". Copies for 1991 and 1992 can be found in the Library.

Figures for 1993 are not yet available.

Accountancy Firms

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many contracts and for what total sum were let out by his Department and agencies for which it is responsible to (a) Coopers and Lybrand, (b) KPMG Peat Marwick, (c) Ernst and Young, (d) Price Waterhouse, (e) Arthur Andersen, (f) Touche Ross, (g) Grant Thornton, (h) Robson Rhodes and (i) Pannell Kerr Forster for (i) privatisation, (ii) market testing, (iii) management advice, (iv) accounting, (v) audit, (vi) consultancy and (vii) other services in (1) 1980 to 1983, (2) 1984 to 1987, (3) 1988 to 1991 and (4) 1992-93.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The available information on the number of contracts let by the Home Office to each listed company for the specified consultancies and the total sum paid to each company for 1988 to 1991 and 1992-93 is given in the table. Information for the years prior to 1988-89 is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.


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Consultant           |Privatisation|Market       |Management   |Accounting   |Audit        |Consultancy  |Other        |Total                      

                                   |Testing      |advice                                                 |services     |sum                        

                                                                                                                       |£                          

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

1988-1991                                                                                                                                          

Coopers & Lybrand                  |1                                        |1            |3            |3            |822,331                    

KPMG Peat Marwick                                                                          |3                          |303,145                    

Ernst and Young                    |1            |2            |1                          |3                          |614,610                    

Price Waterhouse                                                                           |4                          |1,731,981                  

Arthur Andersen      |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-                          

Touche Ross                                                                                |7            |1            |779,700                    

Grant Thornton       |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-                          

Robson Rhodes        |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-                          

Pannell Kerr Forster |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-                          

                                                                                                                                                   

1992-1993                                                                                                                                          

Coopers & Lybrand                  |1                                                      |1                          |145,000                    

KPMG Peat Marwick                  |1                                                                                  |*-                         

Ernst and Young                                                                            |6            |1            |463,064                    

Price Waterhouse                   |2                                                      |1            |1            |311,760                    

Arthur Andersen      |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-                          

Touche Ross                        |2                                                      |6                          |300,335                    

Grant Thornton       |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-                          

Robson Rhodes                                                  |1                                                      |*-                         

Pannell Kerr Forster |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-            |-                          

* Individual contract values are not given on the grounds of commercial confidentiality.                                                           

Racially Motivated Attacks

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the reported number of racially motivated attacks by white people on non-white people within the Greater London area in each of the last five years.

Mr. Maclean : Figures are not collected centrally on the ethnic origin of perpetrators of racial attacks in relation to the ethnic origin of their victims.

The number of white offenders in cases where there has been an arrest and the number of non-white victims of racial attacks recorded by the Metropolitan police service in the last three years are set out in the table. It cannot be assumed that white people were the offenders in all attacks involving non-white victims.


                 |1991|1992|1993     

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

White offender   |90  |106 |88       

Non-white victim |424 |430 |495      

Attacks are classified as incidents of violence against the person.

Information on the ethnic origin of offenders was not collected before 1991.


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Police (Performance-related Pay)

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the studies and research findings on which he based his decision to introduce a system of performance-related pay for senior police officers.

Mr. Charles Wardle : My right hon. and learned Friend took account of the argument in support of relating pay to overall performance contained in the report of the inquiry into police responsibilities and rewards. But the most influential factor in the Government's decision to introduce performance-related pay for all ranks in the police service was the benefit it will bring to the police service itself. Distinguishing especially good performance from the average performance provides an incentive to people to improve the effectiveness of their contribution, bringing added benefit to both the organisation and the individual, and is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Offenders

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his assessment of the extent to which a small number of offenders commit a disproportionate number of offences, the percentage (a) of each age group and (b) of the total population that such a group constitutes and the percentage (i) of crime committed by the age group and (ii) of total crime committed in England and Wales that is attributable to such a group.

Mr. Maclean : The information in the following table is taken from a birth cohort study using the "Offenders Index" :


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Table: Offenders born in 1953: Estimated<1> percentage of the population convicted<2> of six or more offences, at selected ages,                

and the percentage of the total number of convictions<2> of those born in 1953 attributable to these offenders                                  

England and Wales  Percentages                                                                                                                  

Offenders with six            |Under 17          |Under 21          |Age under 26      |Under 31          |Under 36                             

or more                                                                                                                                         

convictions<2>                                                                                                                                  

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

Males                                                                                                                                           

Percentage of male population                                                                                                                   

  born in 1953                |1                 |3                 |5                 |6                 |6                                    

Percentage of convictions of                                                                                                                    

  those born in 1953          |30                |47                |56                |60                |62                                   

                                                                                                                                                

Females                                                                                                                                         

Percentage of female                                                                                                                            

  population born in 1953     |<3>-              | 0.1              | 0.2              | 0.3              | 0.3                                 

Percentage of convictions of                                                                                                                    

  those born in 1953          |6                 |11                |18                |23                |27                                   

<1> Based on the conviction histories of all offenders born in four selected weeks in 1953.                                                     

<2> For standard list' offences, ie all indictable and triable either way offences and certain summary offences.                                

<3> Indicates less than 0.05 per cent.                                                                                                          

United Kingdom Detention Services Ltd.

Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many cases United Kingdom Detention Services Ltd. has been subject to a financial penalty due to the late delivery of a prisoners or prisoners resulting in the need to accommodate prisoners elsewhere ; and what was the financial penalty on each occasion.

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 28 June 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the number of cases in which United Kingdom Detention Services Ltd. have been subject to a financial penalty due to the late delivery of a prisoner or prisoners resulting in the need to accommodate the prisoners elsewhere.

There have been no cases in which United Kingdom Detention Services Ltd. have been subject to a financial penalty due to the late delivery of a prisoner or prisoners.

Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times the Home Office has paid United Kingdom Detention Services Ltd. for additional journeys or out-of-area journeys in respect of its contract to run Blakenhurst prison ; and what was the amount paid on each occasion.

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 28 June 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the number of times the Home Office has paid United Kingdom Detention Services Ltd. for additional journeys or out of area journeys in respect of their contract to run Blakenhurst Prison ; and the amount paid on each occasion.

No additional payments have been made to United Kingdom Detention Services Ltd. for additional journeys or our of area journeys.

Prisoner Escapes

Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners escaped from prisons in England and Wales on each day from 17 to 20 June ; and if he will list the number of prisoners involved in each escape, the prisons from which they escaped, and whether they have been recaptured.


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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 28 June 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about escape statistics during the period 17-20 June.

During this period, one prisoner escaped from HMYOI Wetherby. No-one else is believed to have been involved. The prisoner concerned returned to Wetherby on 22 June 1994.

Full Sutton Prison

Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the disturbance at HMP Full Sutton on the weekend of 17-19 June ; what damage occurred ; what is the estimated cost of that damage ; and what injuries there were to (a) staff and (b) inmates.

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 28 June 1994 : The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the disturbance at HMP Full Sutton on the weekend of 17th-19th June ; what damage occurred ; what is the estimated cost of that damage and what injuries there were to (a) staff and (b) inmates.

No disturbance took place at Full Sutton on the weekend of 17th-19th June. The only recorded incidents which took place during that period were two minor fires in prisoners' cells which occurred separately. No injuries were sustained by either staff or inmates and the damage caused to clothes, bedding and a single item of furniture were negligible in value. In both cases these small fires were extinguished by staff before the arrival of the fire brigade.

TREASURY

Crown Estate

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether nature conservation orders made under section 29 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 apply to land owned or leased by the Crown Estate Commissioners.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : Section 29 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is applicable to Crown lands, including the Crown Estate, as set out in section 67 of the Act.


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Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what actions taken within the last three years by the Crown Estate Commission has had

"regard to the desirability of conserving the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside"

as required under section 11 of the Countryside Act 1968.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : The policies of the Crown Estate Commissioners on environmental issues are set out in their statement "Stewardship in Action". Activities associated with these policies are described in the annual reports submitted to Parliament each year by the commissioners. Copies of these documents have been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much foreshore land is owned by the Crown Estate ; and how much land owned by the Crown Estate is leased to (a) shooting organisations, (b) conservation bodies and (c) other bodies.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : The Crown Estate owns about half the foreshore in the United Kingdom. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this amounts to some 1,600 miles of which the shooting rights have been leased on about 130 miles, and 480 miles have been leased to conservation bodies. The remainder of leased foreshore--very little is not leased--is let, mainly to local authorities and port and harbour authorities. In Scotland there is a public right to shoot, so that no shooting rights are leased. There, 3,100 miles of foreshore are owned by the Crown Estate of which 84 miles are leased to conservation bodies and 470 to other bodies, mainly local authorities, ports and harbours.

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what responsibilities the Crown Estate Commissioners have for wildlife conservation on land that they own or lease.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : The Crown Estate Commissioners have a duty under the provisions of the Crown Estate Act 1961 to maintain and enhance the value of the estate and the return obtained from it, but with due regard to the requirements of good management. Within this framework the commissioners are committed to an overall objective of balancing environmental with commercial and other needs in order to achieve effective stewardship. Strategies to support this objective are in place in each business group, but more particularly in the agricultural and marine estates, where wildlife conservation is a high priority. More specifically, the commissioners co-operate fully in the work of statutory agencies responsbible for the protection of wildlife in designated areas--for example, sites of special scientific interest and marine nature reserves. Full details of the policy of commissioners are set out in "Stewardship in Action", which can be found in the House of Commons Library.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

United Artists (Cable Laying)

Mr. Amess : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of whether United Artists is fulfilling the terms of its licence to install fibre optic cables


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in the Basildon area and that the criteria for siting of junction boxes is in accordance with the terms of the licence.

Mr. McLoughlin : Regulatory responsibility for ensuring that United Artists fulfills the terms of its build programme rests with Oftel and it is content that the company is meeting its build obligations. The standard of the company's street works and the siting of junction boxes are Highway Authority matters. United Artists' licence includes conditions designed to ensure that the company operates in a responsible manner and adheres to all relevant street works legislation. Street works in the maintainable highway are subject to the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, and its associated regulations, which are enforced by local highway authorities. The company's licence permits it to install junction boxes subject to certain conditions. The company is required to agree guidelines with the planning and highway authorities on the positioning of its above-ground apparatus. It is also required to inform the local authority of its intention to install apparatus and identify where they propose to place the apparatus so that the local authority have an opportunity to make conditions on the siting of the junction box. I have not received any evidence to suggest that junction boxes are not being sited in accordance with licence terms.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will visit the Royal Mail sorting office at Queensferry, Deeside, Clwyd.

Mr. McLoughlin : I have no plans at present to visit Queensferry post office sorting office.

Insolvency Service

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what targets he has set the Insolvency Service for closure of files (a) before 8 July and (b) for 1994.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : The majority of the Department's agencies are set annual targets. For 1994-95 the Insolvency Service has been set the target of reducing the number of its open cases to a level equivalent to approximately 12 months' input. This will result in the closure of 53,000 cases.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the effect of the increased number of insolvency completions on the detection of fraud and the prosecution and disqualification of delinquent company directors.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : Although some specialist resource will be diverted to assist the process of increased case completions, the Insolvency Service still anticipates that it will devote some 25 per cent. more manpower resource to prosecution and disqualification activity in 1994 -95 then in 1993-94.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how much extra funding is being allocated to the Insolvency Service in the current year for (a) file closure and (b) fraud investigation.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : A total of £1.831 million has been allocated to the service from my Department's running


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costs for 1994-95 to fund the additional work required to meet the case closure target of 53,000. The additional allocation provided in relation to fraud investigation for 1994-95 is £1 million.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the cost to the Insolvency Service of employing private sector secondees.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : For 1994-95 the estimated cost of employing private sector secondees and/or of engaging other private sector resources on a short-term basis will be £1.12 million.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his policy on the investigation by the Insolvency Service of potential offences or possible areas of investigation when reviewing whether insolvencies can be completed ; and what are the reasons for this policy.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : The investigation of an insolvency or the consideration of possible offences can be and often is conducted independently of its administration. Where, in reviewing a case with a view to the conclusion of the administration, matters are identified which, prima facie, require further investigation those matters receive full consideration.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on his assessment of how the Insolvency Service's recent investigation in the local office information system will assist (a) the mechanical processing work of the service and (b) the investigation work of the service.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : The Insolvency Service's investment in LOIS-- local office information system--links a relational database to office automation software. The system assists official receivers in streamlining case administration, particularly in the document production area ; and it will provide management with additional information relevant to the allocation of resources and monitoring of performance.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what effect increases in the rate of closure of files by the Insolvency Service will have on checks for fraud and prosecution of fraudulent directors.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : None. The additional cases to be closed in 1994- 95 will already have been vetted for any requirement for further investigation.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many private sector secondees are currently on loan to the Insolvency Service ; and what work they are doing.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : A total of five private secondees are currently in post in the Insolvency Service and a further two are due to start on 4 July 1994. Three of the secondees are working in the disqualification unit on disqualification matters and two are working in official receivers' offices assisting examiners. The two secondees due to start on 4 July 1994 will be working in the disqualification unit on disqualification matters.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade which Insolvency Service targets are affected by the completion of extra insolvencies in the current financial year ; and to what extent.


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Mr. Neil Hamilton : None.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what considerations underlie the allocation of time in the Insolvency Service between mechanical processing work and core investigation functions.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : A minimum amount of routine administration work has to be done on each insolvency. The Insolvency Service seeks to devote the minimum level of resource to such work consistent with a proper discharge of official receivers' statutory duty so that it can maximise the resource devoted to its investigative role.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps have been taken to implement the recommendations of the 18th report of 1993-94 from the Public Accounts Committee on the Insolvency Service executive agency and company director disqualifications.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : The Government's response to the 18th report of the Committee of Public Accounts on the Insolvency Service executive agency and company director disqualifications will be published in due course.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many officials have been to the Insolvency Service on six-month contracts since the establishment of the service.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : None.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many disqualification proceedings are expected to be issued in the current financial year, identifying those proceedings initiated by insolvency practitioners and those by the Insolvency Service.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : There is no target for the number of disqualification proceedings to be issued. On present information, it would appear likely that in 1994-95 between 750 and 800 disqualification proceedings will be commenced, of which between 60 per cent. and 70 per cent. are likely to relate to cases reported on by insolvency practitioners while the remainder will relate to cases dealt with by official receivers.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to increase the prosecution rate for inadequate accounting records by the Insolvency Service.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : The allocation and deployment of additional investigative resources will enable the Insolvency Service to increase the number of reports produced identifying criminal offences, including those relating to a failure to maintain adequate accounting records.

Company Directors

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on his plans to increase the conviction rate of directors who have traded fraudulently.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : Prosecutions by my Department for fraudulent trading resulted in 11 convictions in 1991-92, 24 convictions in 1992-93 and 32 convictions in 1993-94. In relation to offences of fraudulent trading, as


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with other prosecutions for which it is responsible, my Department's practice is to prosecute offenders wherever there is a realistic prospect of a conviction, where the other criteria in the code for Crown prosecutors are satisfied and where bringing such charges will enable the prosecution to put before the court an accurate picture of the defendant's wrongdoing as a whole. These criteria will remain the basis for prosecution decisions.

Pulp and Paper

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made as to the adequacy of the supply of home-produced or imported pulp and paper for packaging and production ; and if he will publish a table showing (a) United Kingdom production, imports and net home disposals of pulp and paper by end-use in each month this year to date compared to 1989, (b) the rate of return on capital required to make it profitable for United Kingdom pulp and paper manufacturers to invest in new capacity in the United Kingdom at current rates of exchange and (c) the actual rates of return on replacement and historic cost in 1993.

Mr. McLoughlin : Estimates of the supply of pulp and paper for packaging and production are a matter for industry. Official statistics on manufacturers sales, imports and exports are published annually by the Central Statistical Office in Business Monitor PAS4710. Copies of this publication are available in the Library of the House. There are no official data on rates of return, but information may be available from commercial organisations which analyse company accounts.

AGIP (Africa) Ltd.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what transactions his Department has had with AGIP (Africa) Ltd.

Mr. Needham : My oil and gas projects and supplies office has not had any transactions with AGIP (Africa) Ltd.


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