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Prisons (Open Visits)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what circumstances a prison governor may exercise his discretion in granting an open visit to a prisoner normally on a closed visit regime. [20059]

Miss Widdecombe: 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.

17 Mar 1997 : Column: 409

Letter from A. J. Pearson to Mr. Kevin McNamara, dated 17 March 1997:




Court Welfare Service

Mr. Chris Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what rules exist concerning the use of probation service staff to act as the family court welfare service; what alternative sources of court welfare officers exist; and what guidance exists concerning the way in which such officers operate. [20076]

Mr. Sackville: Rule 20 of the Probation Rules 1984--Statutory Instrument 1984 No. 647--as amended, requires probation committees to assign probation officers to act as court welfare officers; and rule 35 sets out the duties which officers so assigned should undertake at the request of a court. Under section 7 of the Children Act 1989, a court may ask either a probation officer or a local authority for a welfare report. Parties to proceedings under the Act may also obtain their own reports. The principal guidance on the probation service's family court welfare work which the Home Office has issued is contained in "National Standards"--a copy of which is in the Library--which was published in 1994 and to which were annexed a number of High court family division practice directions.

Prison Medical Examinations (Video-recording)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 28 February, Official Report, column 428, if he will take steps to ensure that video-recording equipment is positioned in such a way as to demonstrate that it is not being used. [19939]

Miss Widdecombe: 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 A. J. Pearson to Mr. Kevin McNamara, dated 17 March 1997:



17 Mar 1997 : Column: 410

Category A Prisoners

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on which occasions a category A prisoner has been patriated to (a) Ireland and (b) other countries to complete sentences in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [20366]

Miss Widdecombe: Since the Republic of Ireland brought into effect the Council of Europe convention on the transfer of sentenced persons on 1 November 1995, six category A prisoners have been repatriated there. The repatriations took place on the following dates:


Within the last five years, two category A prisoners have been repatriated to Italy. These repatriations took place on 11 November 1992 and 13 June 1996.

Colchester Young Offenders' Institute

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many inmates are currently resident at Her Majesty's young offenders' institute Colchester; [19917]

Miss Widdecombe: Responsibility for these matters 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 A. J. Pearson to Mr. George Howarth, dated 17 March 1997:




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Scientific Procedures (Dogs)

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the suppliers of the dogs from non-designated sources in the United Kingdom supplied to establishments licensed to carry out scientific procedures during 1995. [20661]

Mr. Sackville: Disclosure is prohibited under section 24(1) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

Mr. Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are taken to ensure that dogs supplied from non-designated sources in the United Kingdom during 1995 to establishments licensed to carry out scientific procedures were purpose bred. [20660]

Mr. Sackville: Non-designated sources in the United Kingdom do not supply dogs purpose bred for research use.

Mr. Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many establishments licensed to carry out procedures under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1968 were granted exemptions under article 10(3) to allow the use of non-purpose bred dogs in 1995. [20662]

Mr. Sackville: One establishment was granted permission to use non-purpose bred dogs.

Civil Protection Exercises

Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current schedule of European civil protection exercises; how many members of his Department are or will be involved in each such exercise; what is the cost to his Department of each such exercise; what are the scenarios of such exercises; and if he will make a statement about the purpose of such exercises. [20457]

Mr. Sackville: There are no European civil protection exercises currently planned.

Immigration Status Inquiry Unit

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the immigration status inquiry unit was set up; how many staff it has; how many (i) local authorities and (ii) other bodies have now registered with it; how many people suspected of immigration offences have been notified to it in each month since it was set up; in how many such cases (a) enforcement action has been taken and (b) the suspicion proved to be unfounded; and what was the average length of time taken to provide the information requested. [20628]

Mr. Kirkhope: The immigration status inquiry unit dates from the late 1970s, although it was known as the overstayer tracing and information section until 1994.

The unit currently has a complement of 42 administrative staff. A total of 251 local authorities, principally housing authorities, have registered with it. Other bodies do not register as such but may receive information from immigration and nationality directorate records only where they have an entitlement within established disclosure policy. The remainder of the information requested is not available.

17 Mar 1997 : Column: 412


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