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Land Transfers

Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to review his policy in respect of Scottish land asset disposals following the transfer of ownership of the island of Dun Maraig, off Skye, via a German television game; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: We have no plans to impose restrictions on the market for land. In a free society, sellers must generally be allowed to dispose of their possessions as they think best.

Correspondence

Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many "Dear Accounting Officer" letters his Department has written to his non- departmental public bodies in each year since 1984.

Mr. Lang: "Dear Accounting Officer" letters are issued by the Treasury. Where appropriate my departments draw the contents of "Dear Accounting Officer" letters to the attention of non-departmental public bodies which they sponsor.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many train journeys of one hour's duration or more he has made in Britain in the course of official duties in 1994.

Mr. Lang: In the course of official duties throughout Britain in 1994, I have made two train journeys of one hour's duration or more.

Right-to-buy Legislation

Sir David Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what measures are in place to ensure that the right-to-buy legislation is not exercised for profit motives by a resident's family instead of for genuine residency need;

(2) what measures are in place to ensure that the right-to-buy legislation does not deplete council housing stocks to nothing; (3) what measures are in place to ensure that the right-to-buy legislation does not prevent those in real need to secure housing places from obtaining council places.

Mr. Lang: The right-to-buy legislation has been an outstanding success in enabling thousands of public sector tenants to exercise the choice of becoming home owners rather than continuing to rent their homes.

Tenants who are buying their homes are free to make whatever financial arrangements they consider appropriate, subject to the right of the former landlord to recover some or all of the discount if the house is sold within three years of its initial purpose. Local authorities will continue to be significant providers of housing for the foreseeable future. There is no question of council housing stocks being reduced to


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nothing as a consequence of the right-to-buy legislation as there will always be tenants who are unable or unwilling to assume the responsibility of home ownership.

Local authorities are also free to invest the substantial capital receipts generated by the right-to-buy in improving their stocks or in new building to meet local housing needs if they consider it appropriate. In addition, local authorities can act in an enabling capacity in partnership with Scottish Homes, housing associations and the private sector to ensure that housing is available for those in need.

Agricultural Grants

Sir David Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what assessment he has made of the impact upon environmental and conservation considerations in placing limits on payments to farmers in environmentally sensitive areas in Scotland and of the system outside Scotland;

(2) what reasons spending limits are in place on support for farmers and crofters in environmentally sensitive areas in Scotland; and what assessment he has made of the system outside Scotland.

Mr. Lang: The limits on annual payments to participants in the Scottish environmentally sensitive areas scheme are intended to ensure value for money and to maximise the conservation benefits of the scheme within the resources available. The limits are set in the light of the conservation requirements in each area and are kept under review. The Scottish environmentally sensitive areas scheme is distinct from the agri- environment schemes in other parts of the European Union and reflects Scottish circumstances.

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) when the first payments of hill livestock compensatory allowance and sheep annual premium were made in 1994; and if he will make a statement; (2) what is the current value of hill livestock compensatory allowance and sheep annual premium for the average recipient; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what factors have led to delay in paying hill livestock compensatory allowance and sheep annual premium in the current year; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what percentage of Scottish claims for hill livestock compensatory allowance had been settled by (a) 20 May 1994 and (b) 2 December 1994; and if he will make a statement;

(5) what has been the average delay in the current year in the receipt of hill livestock compensatory allowance and sheep annual premium by Scottish farmers; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lang: The first payments under the 1994 HLCA scheme were issued on 25 February 1994. The first payments of advances under the 1994 sheep annual premium scheme were issued on 27 October 1994. The average payments per claim under the 1994 HLCA scheme and the 1993 sheep annual premium scheme were £2,510 and £6,665 respectively. The full rate for the 1994 sheep annual premium is not yet known. There was no delay in the payment of 1994 HLCA claims. Eighty-eight per cent. had been paid by 31 March 1994, which compares favourably with previous years.


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Ninety seven per cent. of claims had been paid by 20 May 1994 and 99 per cent. by 2 December 1994.

Concerning the 1994 sheep annual premium, the EC regulations do not specify a date for the payment of advances of the premium, but I refer the hon. Member to the answers which my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibilities for agriculture and the environment gave to the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) on 24 November.

Nursery School Education

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the number of nursery school places which will be available in each of the next three years.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The provision of nursery school places is a matter for local authorities to decide, in the light of their own policies and local circumstances. However, the Government have given a long -term commitment to provide quality pre-school places for all four-year- olds whose parents wish to take them up, with the first new places being provided during the life of this Parliament. Detailed proposals are currently being worked up, following preliminary consultations with interested bodies. Against this background, it would be premature to provide estimates of the number of nursery places which might be available in the future.

Vocational Education

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish the results of the consultation he has initiated on the EU's Leonardo proposals on vocational education in the upper secondary school.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Copies of summaries of the responses to the consultation exercise mounted early this year by the Scottish Office education department on the Socrates and Leonardo proposals were circulated, together with other documents, on 19 May to the bodies consulted. Copies of these papers have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Nursery Education

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to carry forward the Prime Minister's commitment to increasing the availability of nursery places.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Following my right hon. Friend's announcement in October, officials in the Scottish Office education department have made preliminary contacts with parents' groups, education authorities and interested bodies in the private and voluntary sectors to obtain their views. Detailed proposals are now being worked up. We shall make a further announcement in due course.


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Higher Education

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what discussions he has had on the Howie committee's proposal that pupils leaving before the end of S5 should not receive any external certification;

(2) if he will ensure that implementation of the Howie committee proposals will not result in the creation of schools that concentrate effort on either Scotbac or Scotcert;

(3) how many hours per week he expects will be devoted to each subject taken at higher level, assuming that five higher courses are studied in a single year; and how many hours per week would be available for the totality of non-higher education;

(4) what discussions he has had on the content of higher and advanced higher vocational courses and how they might differ from existing higher and CS75 and higher national certificate courses which cover similar ground;

(5) what is his policy concerning a national curriculum in relation to the introduction of Howie committee proposals;

(6) what action he will take to prevent streaming in secondary schools, following the introduction of assessment for some pupils for standard grade at the end of standard 3.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Details of our decisions on upper secondary education following consideration of the report of the Howie committee are set out in the policy document "Higher Still: Opportunity for All" published by The Scottish Office in March. A high level development programme strategy group and three task groups on curriculum and assessment, staff development and information and publicity have been established to take forward work on detailed aspects of the programme. There will be full consultation on these at appropriate stages throughout the planning period.

State Veterinary Service

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration has been given by the Scottish Office to the consequences of local government re-organisation for the work of the state veterinary service.

Sir Hector Monro: The state veterinary service will continue to co- operate closely with the new local authorities on the enforcement of animal health, animal welfare and, where appropriate, food safety legislation.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the number and location of (a) main offices and (b) sub-offices relating to the work of the state veterinary service.

Sir Hector Monro: There are seven main animal health divisional offices located at Ayr, Dumfries, Galashiels, Hamilton, Inverness, Inverurie and Perth. A further eight sub-offices are located at Edinburgh, Elgin, Forfar, Kirkwall, Oban, Stirling, Stranraer and Thurso. In addition, there are two regional veterinary offices located in Edinburgh and Inverurie and one headquarters unit also located in Edinburgh.


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Health Authority Finance

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what (a) surpluses and (b) deficits were recorded by each health authority in each of the last three years.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 12 December 1994]: In Scotland, health boards have broadly similar responsibilities to regional district and family health authorities in England and Wales. The table shows the surplus or deficit for each health board, special health board and the Common Services Agency for each of the last three years.


Surplus (Deficit) for Health Boards and the Common Services Agency                                

£000s                                                                                             

                                                                  |1991-92|1992-93|1993-94        

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

Argyll and Clyde Health Board                                     |(1,112)|3,516  |1,409          

Ayr and Arran Health Board                                        |505    |1,878  |3,077          

Borders Health Board                                              |(604)  |(120)  |(151)          

Dumfries and Galloway Health Board                                |499    |(1,842)|1,044          

Fife Health Board                                                 |(2,014)|537    |2,248          

Forth Valley Health Board                                         |(240)  |256    |(495)          

Grampian Health Board                                             |(1,750)|(3,390)|1,171          

Greater Glasgow Health Board                                      |(6,429)|1,578) |(1,427)        

Highland Health Board                                             |(997)  |1,277  |1,125          

Lanarkshire Health Board                                          |2,170  |(1,849)|2,910          

Lothian Health Board                                              |1,392  |(6,321)|(835)          

Orkney Health Board                                               |(127)  |175    |(155)          

Shetland Health Board                                             |163    |177    |118            

Tayside Health Board                                              |(2,775)|1,865  |2,113          

Western Isles Health Board                                        |(148)  |(437)  |1,106          

State Hospital, Carstairs                                         |(161)  |100    |(131)          

Health Education Board for Scotland                               |88     |71     |2              

Scottish Council for Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education<1> |-      |-      |355            

Common Services Agency                                            |4,115  |5,914  |2,148          

<1> A Special Health Board from 1 April 1993.                                                     

The information has been taken from the annual accounts of health boards and the Common Services Agency in Scotland. Prior to 1993 94 the accounts of these bodies were produced on a cash basis. From 1993 94 these accounts have been produced largely on an accruals basis.

Bellwin Formula

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what alteration to the Bellwin formula for flood compensation will occur following the establishment of unitary local government authorities under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stewart [holding answer 16 December 1994]: There are no plans at present to alter the basis on which grant under the Bellwin scheme is calculated, but it will be necessary to alter the scheme to reflect the fact that the new unitary local authorities, like the islands councils at present, will perform all continuing local authority functions.


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HOME DEPARTMENT

Doncaster Prison

Mr. Gunnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what percentage of the staff at Doncaster prison on 1 November had previous employment in a prison prior to joining Doncaster.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: 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 Mr. John Gunnell, dated 19 December 1994:

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the staff employed at Doncaster prison.

I understand from the Director of Doncaster prison that sixty of the staff employed there on 1 November had previous employment in a prison. This represents 14 per cent. of the workforce of the prison.

Boards of Prison Visitors

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the number of (a) men and (b) women who have been appointed to boards of visitors to prisons in England and Wales during the last 12, six and three months; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: In the last 12 months, up to 14 December 1994, 109 men and 90 women have been appointed to boards of visitors in England and Wales. Of these, 47 men and 36 women were appointed in the last six months and 37 men and 22 women in the past three months.

Members of boards of visitors carry out vital work and I am sure that the forthcoming review of their role, which I am undertaking, will serve to emphasise the importance of their contribution to the efficient running of prison establishments.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of (a) men and (b) women of an ethnic minority background who are members of boards of visitors at prisons in England and Wales.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: There are currently 84 men and 44 women of an ethnic minority background who are members of boards of visitors at prisons in England and Wales.

Prison Security

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what checks are made and how often on alarm systems and security cameras at prisons in England and Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: 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 Mr. Tom Cox, dated 19 December 1994): The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about checks on alarm systems and security cameras at prisons in England and Wales.

Governors of Prison Service establishments are responsible for the maintenance of security at their establishments. Checks on all


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key security systems are regular and frequent. In addition, governors of all establishments are required to carry out security audits of their physical and procedural security at least annually. Procedural security includes the maintenance of an effective alarm system and of any security cameras installed in the establishment. All establishments should have a planned maintenance system and a testing schedule for any security cameras and alarm systems. Prison Service area managers are responsible for verifying that these procedures and systems are in place.

Asylum Seekers

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers in each of the past three years have been granted permission to work in advance of their having waited six months or more for a decision on their applications.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: The information requested is not separately identifiable in the statistics.

Mr. Parry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provisions have been made by his Department to provide translators, and translation facilities to asylum seekers detained under the Immigration Act 1971.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: All asylum seekers, whether detained or not, are interviewed in a language which they understand, using an interpreter if necessary, to assess their claim. A large pool of interpreters is available.

Information for detainees in detention centres is provided in a large number of languages. This includes advice on how to seek free legal assistance. Interpreters are called in to assist when there are difficulties in communicating with detainees.

Mr. Parry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers detained under the Immigration Act 1971 have (a) committed suicide or (b) attempted suicide during the past five years.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: The information available does not distinguish between asylum seekers and others in detention.

One suicide of a person detained under powers in the Immigration Act 1971 has occurred in the past five years. This was in the Harmondsworth detention centre in 1990.

Records of the number of attempted suicides are not held.

Mr. Parry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provisions have been made by his Department for asylum seekers who have been detained to contest the reasons for detention at an independent and automatic review hearing; and what assessment he has made of the application of article 5 of the European convention on human rights to such provisions.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: Anyone refused asylum may appeal under the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993 and may apply for bail to the independent appellate authorities at any time while an appeal is pending. Bail may also be sought from the appellate authorities by any passenger who has been detained for longer than seven days pending further examination. These statutory provisions are supplemented by the general power of the


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courts to grant a writ of habeas corpus and to grant bail in any case before them.

I am satisfied that detention under the Immigration Act 1971 does not breach the United Kingdom's obligations under article 5 of the European convention on human rights.

Whitemoor Prison

Mr. Straw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to receive the report of Sir John Woodcock concerning Whitemoor prison; and when it is likely to be published.

Mr. Michael Howard: The report has been published today and placed in the Library.

Sudanese Citizens

Mr. Bernie Grant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Sudanese citizens were given exceptional leave to remain or refugee status in the United Kingdom in each of the past five years.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: Information on the number of Sudanese nationals recognised as refugees and granted asylum and the number granted exceptional leave to remain in the United Kingdom, for the years 1989 1993, is given in tables 3.1 and 3.2 of the Home Office statistical bulletin, "Asylum Statistics United Kingdom 1993", issue 17/94, a copy of which is available in the Library.

In the period 1 January 1994 to 30 November 1994, 30 Sudanese nationals were recognised as refugees and granted asylum and 20 were granted exceptional leave to remain in the United Kingdom.

Prisons (Floating Structures)

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to convert any floating structures into prisons.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: 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 Mr. George Howarth, dated 19 December 1994:

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about converting floating structures into prisons.

At present there no plans to convert floating structures into prisons.

Prisoners

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners in England and Wales at the most recent date available had previously served a term in (a) an approved school, (b) a community home with in-house education facilities, (c) a detention centre, (d) a borstal or (e) under section 53 of the Children Act 1993.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: The information is not available in the form requested.

Offenders (Warrants)

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offenders who were


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breached for not complying with a probation or community service order and who are the subject of a magistrates court warrant have had that warrant outstanding for (a) more than 12 months, (b) more than six months and (c) more than three months.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: The information is not available centrally.

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offenders the subject of a probation or community service order, breached them by failing to comply with the conditions of that order during 1993 and for the first six months of 1994; in how many cases a warrant was issued by the relevant magistrates courts; and in how many of these cases the warrant is still outstanding.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: The available information published in "Probation Statistics, England and Wales 1993" is as follows:


Persons whose supervision terminated early due to failure to                              

comply with requirements of the order in England and Wales                                

for 1993                                                                                  

                  |Number of persons|Percentage                                           

Probation         |1,500            |3                                                    

Community service |6,700            |16                                                   

Probation Service

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) probation orders, (b) community service orders, (c) combination orders and (d) parole cases were being supervised by the probation service on (i) 30 June 1993 and (ii) 30 June 1994.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: Persons supervised by the probation service in England and Wales were as follows:


                   Thousands of                                      

                   persons                                           

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

                  |30 June 1993    |31 December 1993                 

Probation         |46.7            |48.2                             

Community service |36.3            |38.8                             

Combination       |5.1             |9.0                              

Parole            |9.1             |7.0                              

Figures for 30 June 1994 are not yet available.                      

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the resource implications of extra duties in respect of victims for the probation service.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: I have received a number of representations that changes to national standards for the supervision of offenders in the community which were published for consultation in the autumn would impose additional costs for the probation service in relation to contacts with the victims of crime. I am still considering whether those representations have substance and whether the earlier proposals should in any event be modified.

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the Probation Service's overall budget in England and Wales changed as a result of the Chancellor's statement in November 1993 for the financial years 1994 95 and 1995 96.

Mr. Nicholas Baker: Planned levels of central Government support for probation service expenditure


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both before and after the Chancellor's statement in November 1993 were:


1

£ million                                        

                         |1994-95|1995-96        

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

Pre-Statement                                    

Probation current grant  |307.4  |323.6          

Probation capital grant  |20.1   |20.7           

                                                 

Post-Statement                                   

Probation current grant  |306.3  |309.1          

Probation capital grant  |19.2   |19.3           

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many probation service posts will be abolished or frozen as a result of reductions in the Probation Service budget during 1994 95 and 1995 96.


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