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Emergency Planning College Group

Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list (a) the members of the emergency planning college liaison group, (b) the dates of meetings of the group since April 1992 and (c) the dates of future scheduled meetings of the group; and if he will make a statement about the purpose and remit of the group. [20458]

Mr. Sackville: The emergency planning college liaison group exists to provide a forum for discussion between the emergency planning unit of the Home Office, and representatives of the Home departments, and representatives of organisations drawing upon the services and facilities of the Home Office emergency planning college, on the college's approach and programme. Details of the membership of the group, as currently notified to the Home Office, and the dates of meetings of the group since April 1992 are as follows. I understand that no date has yet been fixed for the next meeting of the group.

Members of the emergency planning college liaison group

Mrs. S. StreetDirector, Fire and Emergency Planning Directorate
Miss S. PaulHead, Emergency Planning Division
Mr. A. BlackleyPrincipal, Emergency Planning College
Mr. D. BawtreeCivil Emergencies Advisor
Mr. A. LawrenceEmergency Planning Unit
Dr. M. RookeEmergency Planning College
Commander D. MorrisCabinet Office
Mrs. M. GunnScottish Office
Mr. W. ClementsNorthern Ireland Office
Councillor R. BinnieConvention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
Councillor L. ByronAssociation of Metropolitan Authorities
Mr. M. BrangwinAssociation of London Government
Mr. G. EsserySociety of Industrial Emergency Services Officers (SIESO)
Ms S. GreenAssociation of County Councils
Mr. J. HerrickChief and Assistant Chief Fire Officers' Association (CACFOA)
Chief Inspector N. JohnstoneAssociation of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
Major Gen. R. KeightleyHealth Authorities
Mr. D. LarkinAmbulance Services Association
Miss C. PointerSociety of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)
Councillor E. RobertsonAssociation of District Councils
Mr. S. TurneyAssociation of Metropolitan Authorities (AMA)
Mr. J. WilliamsEmergency Planning Society

Prisons (Operational Emergencies)

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions since 1 April

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1996 operational emergencies have been declared in prisons under bulletin 8, paragraph 7; if he will list the prisons concerned; and what were the reasons. [20462]

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. David Hinchliffe, dated 17 March 1997:

Metropolitan Police Manpower

Mr. Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 28 February, Official Report, columns 429-30, how many Metropolitan police officers were on court duty and excluded from the figure for 1 April 1992. [19483]

Mr. Howard [holding answer 10 March 1997]: The commissioner informs me that on 1 April 1992 there were approximately 530 officers on court duty who were recorded on divisional strength.

Data Collection (Postcodes)

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 14 February, Official Report, column 322, what adjustments are made to account for postcode boundaries cutting across the boundaries of county police forces in police funding formulas in using ACORN--a classification of residential neighbourhoods--and what adjustments have been made in the S12 and S31 post code areas. [19611]

Mr. Howard: I regret that my earlier answer suggested wrongly that the ACORN--a classification of residential neighbourhoods--classifications used in the police funding formula were based on post code areas. The ACORN data provided to my Department by CACI Ltd. for use in the police funding formula is constructed from census information collected at the level of enumeration districts. No adjustments are, therefore, necessary in respect of post code boundaries cutting across the boundaries of county police forces.

Fire Authorities (PFI Projects)

Mr. Sumberg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which schemes submitted by fire authorities have been selected as private finance initiative pathfinder projects. [20743]

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Mr. Sackville: I am delighted to announce that the following eight projects have been selected as pathfinders:

Each of these projects will receive up to £70,000 in financial assistance in 1997-98 towards consultancy costs incurred by the brigades in taking them forward. The experience of these pathfinder projects will also assist the fire service generally to take full advantage of the potential of the private finance initiative to help meet brigades' capital requirements.

A total of 21 projects were submitted by fire authorities for consideration for financial assistance as pathfinders. This was an excellent response and clearly demonstrates the willingness of the fire service to consider positively and imaginatively how private finance can help meet its needs. We shall continue to provide advice and assistance to all brigades in exploiting the initiative.

Unrepresented Defendants (Personal


Mr. Sumberg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to protect victims of rape and other offences from being personally cross-examined by unrepresented defendants; and if he will make a statement. [20741]

Mr. Howard: The Government wish to take steps to prevent the ordeal experienced by some victims of rape and other offences who have been personally cross-examined in court by unrepresented defendants. Therefore, we have undertaken a review into whether the prohibition on the cross-examination of child witnesses by unrepresented defendants in cases of sexual offences, violence and cruelty, which was introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 1991, should be extended to other cases.

In light of that review, I have concluded that it would be right for a discretionary scheme prohibiting unrepresented defendants from cross-examining vulnerable victims to be available to the courts for use in appropriate circumstances. Where a prohibition was imposed, cross-examination could be conducted only by a legal representative of the defendant.

Details of how the scheme would work, including the offences to which it should apply, will be considered further as part of the wide-ranging review of court procedures for vulnerable witnesses which was announced

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by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, on 23 January. This will enable the scheme to be developed in a co-ordinated way, alongside other issues covered by that review.

It is vital to encourage witnesses to come forward to give evidence against offenders and the Government have continually introduced measures to improve the treatment of victims and witnesses by the criminal justice system. A discretionary scheme to prevent cross-examianton by unrepresented defendants in appropriate cases is consistent with the Government's approach and will

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provide a valuable addition to existing witness protection measures.

Radioactive Material

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if the owners of radioactive materials in transit are responsible for the cost of civil police escorts; and if he will make a statement. [19938]

Mr. Page: I have been asked to reply.

The civil police are not involved in the escort of radioactive materials and therefore no costs are incurred.

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