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Special Constabulary

Mr. Etherington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what is the average of recruitment for regular police force officers recruited from the special constabulary; [18486]

Mr. Maclean: Recruitment of regular police officers and officers to the special constabulary in England and Wales is a matter for the chief officer of each police force. The information requested is not collated centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by contacting each force.

Bridgewater Three

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what Government assistance is being offered to Michael Hickey, Vincent Hickey and James Robinson to help them overcome the psychological traumas typically associated with the experience they have undergone. [18564]

Mr. Kirkhope: If the convictions in this case are quashed, it will be open to the men concerned to apply to my right hon. and learned Friend for compensation from public funds. In the meantime, we are in touch with the Department of Health and the men's solicitor to ensure that any health care needs can be assessed without delay.

Prison Ship, Portland Harbour

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the costs incurred to date by Dorset police authority as a consequence of proposals to moor a prison ship in Portland harbour. [18745]

Mr. Maclean: I understand from the chief constable that the Dorset police have incurred expenditure totalling £2,646 on police contingency planning on this matter.

6 Mar 1997 : Column: 699

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide a breakdown by project of PFI schemes for which his Department is responsible as identified in table 5.5 of the Red Book. [18932]

Mr. Howard: Table 5.5 of the Red Book shows capital investment by the private sector. The breakdown of Home Office private finance initiative schemes as identified in that table is:

£ million£ million£ million
Bridgend Prison37.000
Fazakerley Prison37.000
Immigration and Nationality Directorate caseworking information technology system21.000
Lowdham Grange Prison24.000
Home Office Large Major Enquiry system II (information technology system)0.500
Cookham Wood (secure training centre)6.000
Gringley (secure training centre)10.000
Medomsley (secure training centre)5.050
Onley (secure training centre)5.050
Secure training centre 55.050
Design, Construct, Manage and Finance 3 (Prison)6.03737
Design, Construct, Manage and Finance 4 (Prison)0.0637
Immigration and Nationality Directorate Detention accommodation (South East District)1.000
Immigration and Nationality Directorate Detention accommodation (Heathrow) 0.0140
Home Office SW1 Estate10.03010
Prisons/health centres3.000
Prisons major refurbishments12.0120
Prisons/health information technology0.060
Public Safety Radio Communications Project0.01040
These totals rounded in the Financial Statement and Budget Report200.0130120

Police Officers

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in 1979; and how many there are at the present time. [18940]

6 Mar 1997 : Column: 700

Mr. Maclean: I refer my right hon. Friend to the reply given to our hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) on 23 January, Official Report, column 731.

Charities (Criminal Record Checks)

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 3 March, Official Report, column 463, in respect of charges for criminal records checks on those volunteering to assist charities, when he intends to make money available to cover the costs. [18919]

Mr. Maclean: We will consider granting free checks to specific groups, such as volunteers, when resources permit.

Payment of Bills

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of bills to his Department were paid (a) in accordance with agreed contractual conditions and (b) within 30 days of receiving goods and services or the presentation of a valid invoice where no contractual conditions applied in the last year for which figures are available. [18805]

Mr. Howard: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary on 17 December 1996, Official Report, columns 506-7.

Belmarsh Prison

Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list his reasons for refusing to release a prisoner form Her Majesty's prison Belmarsh, ref. KF 3842, on compassionate grounds. [18922]

Miss Widdecombe: I will write to the hon. Member.

Fire Service College

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he proposes to take to assist the Fire Service College in improving its financial performance. [19480]

Mr. Howard: The Fire Service College, as the central training establishment for the fire service, makes a very important contribution to promoting effective and efficient firefighting and fire safety arrangements in the United Kingdom, and thus maintaining public safety. Its financial regime and targets need to assist it to continue to discharge this role effectively and to secure value for money, but the present arrangements are not achieving this. Despite the considerable efforts of the present management team, the college has not yet been able to realise the benefits which its position as a trading fund ought to offer.

The college's corporate aim is to remain the pre-eminent higher education college for fire-related training and for promoting fire safety awareness. To help secure the future of the college and to assist it in achieving its corporate and business objectives, I have therefore decided to make changes to its present financial structure. I propose to seek parliamentary approval for the payment of a grant of £13.5 million to the college. This will enable it immediately to pay off the deemed loan part of the originating capital debt when it was established as a

6 Mar 1997 : Column: 701

trading fund in 1992. It will save the college £1.3 million in annual interest payments. I also propose in 1997-98 to pay to the college a separate grant of £1.3 million so that it can continue to provide essential training courses for the fire service.

These measures will make a step change in the college's finances. They demonstrate the Government's firm commitment to securing an effective and well trained fire service, but the future success of the college should not--and cannot--be dependent on the Government alone. It is crucially dependent on the support of its fire service customers and the college's own efforts. Fire authorities must continue to be willing to make a proper investment in the training of their brigades and to take advantage of the facilities, skills and high-quality training opportunities the college is able to offer. The college has to give priority to ensuring the training needs of the fire service are clearly identified and effectively met. It should exploit innovative training developments. It must also continue its programme of improvements in business efficiency, to ensure high quality management and financial control and so that any on-going requirement for assistance through Home Office grant can progressively be reduced.


UN Security Council Resolutions

Mr. Temple-Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs upon how many occasions since Britain joined the European Community (a) Britain and France and (b) Britain and the United States have voted differently on proposed UN Security Council resolutions; and on which of those occasions the resolution referred to a country in which British forces were on active service or were about to undertake such service. [18433]

Sir Nicholas Bonsor: According to records kept by this Department, the United Kingdom and France have voted differently on UN Security Council resolutions on 35 occasions since 1973. The United Kingdom and the United States have voted differently on 74 occasions within the same period. The only occasions on which the resolution referred to, or where British forces were involved in or were about to be involved in, active military operations were:

The resolution on the Falkland Islands was subsequently vetoed and therefore never adopted.

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