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Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many sites of special scientific interest there were in Scotland on 31 March; and what was their total area in hectares. [42443]

Mr. Macdonald: At 31 March 1998, there were 1,441 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Scotland, covering 917,071 hectares in total.

Women Offenders

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to receive the Fairweather/Skinner report on "Women in Jail"; and if he will make a statement. [42124]

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Mr. McLeish: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. Browne) on 13 May 1998, Official Report, column 131. The high level steering group which will be set up to direct the work of the inter-agency project on women's offending in the Glasgow area will be chaired by Professor Sheila McLean of Glasgow University.

Child Care Qualifications

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if Lord Cullen's recommendation for the development of a Scottish vocational qualification in respect of work with children has now been fully implemented; and if he will make a statement. [42419]

Mr. Dewar: A considerable amount of ground work has been undertaken by The Scottish Office in considering Lord Cullen's recommendation on a suitable qualification. Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are work- based qualifications derived from national occupational standards. The then SCOTVEC (now part of the Scottish Qualifications Authority) was therefore unable to develop an SVQ prior to the development of standards by appropriate lead bodies (the relevant National Training Organisations for the various sectors involved in work with children and young people). An SVQ, however, might not in any case be the most suitable approach to training for a sector with a high incidence of volunteers. To date, priority has been given to consideration of Recommendation 27 in Lord Cullen's report for the accreditation and vetting of adults working with children and young people, the outcome of which could have a significant bearing on the training and qualifications requirements. A consultation paper on various options for training will be issued shortly.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Guardsmen Fisher and Wright

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent representations she has received from the Scots Guards Association and Mr. Charles Turnock on behalf of the Commandos Old Comrades Association on the conduct of the trial of Guardsmen Fisher and Wright. [37144]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 8 April 1998]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has received a number of representations from members of the Scots Guards Association, and Mr. Charles Turnock, about the conduct of the trial of Guardsmen Fisher and Wright. However, questions as to what evidence to call were issues for the prosecution and defence to consider, and for the trial judge to decide.

Firearms

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if a resident of Great Britain may join a rifle or pistol club in Northern Ireland; if such a person

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may apply to have a firearms certificate in Northern Ireland on the basis of his firearm being kept in a rifle club premises with approved security facilities; and if she will make a statement. [40757]

Mr. Ingram: A resident of Great Britain may apply to join any firearms club in Northern Ireland. Membership is a matter for individual clubs to decide.

The firearms legislation provides that residents of Great Britain can apply to the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary for a Northern Ireland firearm certificate. When considering such applications the Chief Constable must satisfy himself that the normal legislative criteria for the grant of a certificate are met. These criteria comprise matters of suitability, good reason and public safety, including arrangements for the secure storage of firearms.

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps a member of a licensed gun club in Northern Ireland wishing to carry his licensed firearm through other parts of the United Kingdom to compete abroad in competitions would be required to take; and if she will make a statement about the movement of licensed firearms for sporting competitions. [41142]

Mr. Ingram: Under the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (Amendment) Regulations 1992, which implemented the requirements of EU Directive No. 91/447/EEC (on the control of the acquisition and possession of weapons) a resident of Northern Ireland wishing to take his legally held firearm to a EU country must first obtain a European Firearms Pass from the Chief Constable of the RUC. Persons travelling to a non-EU country should write in advance to the country of destination to ensure they satisfy the licensing requirements of that country.

In Great Britain target pistols are prohibited weapons and as such their possession requires specific authority from either the Home Secretary or the Secretary of State for Scotland as appropriate under section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968. I understand that such authority would not normally be granted to private individuals, including those who wished simply to travel through Great Britain. In the absence of an authority, target pistols would be expected to be transported by carriers holding the appropriate authority under section 5 of the 1968 Act.

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Prisoner Releases

Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when she expects the first release of prisoners under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. [41126]

Mr. Ingram: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland referred to those parts of the Belfast Agreement relating to prisoners in her statement to the House of 20 April 1998, Official Report, columns 479-482, and placed a document containing further details in the Library. If the Agreement is endorsed by the referendums to be held on 22 May, the Government said that they would seek to enact the appropriate legislation by the end of June. The timing of the first releases under the scheme will therefore depend on when the legislation is enacted, the procedures adopted by the review body once appointed and whether the necessary conditions for accelerated release are fulfilled.

Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to her answer of 6 May 1998, Official Report, columns 412-13, on prisoners, if she will list or estimate for the 781 prisoners in custody who had been convicted of scheduled offences, how many had no connection with terrorism; of those how many will be eligible for release in (a) 1998, (b) 1999, (c) 2000, (d) 2001, (e) 2002 and (f) in the following five year period; and how many of those in each year are serving life or other indeterminate sentences. [41715]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 6 May 1998, Official Report, columns 412-13, which indicated that details provided on prisoners convicted of scheduled offences may include offences unconnected with terrorism. Data on the number of prisoners convicted of scheduled offences who had no connection with terrorism are not centrally recorded and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to her answer of 6 May 1998, Official Report, columns 412-13, on prisoners, if she will list for each of the years from 1998 to 2002 and for the following five years by the categories shown the average number of years served at the expected date of release. [41716]

Mr. Ingram: The average number of years served at the expected date of release would be as follows:

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YearUDA/UFFUVFLVFPIRAINLA
19983 years 1 month3 years 8 months--7 years 4 months4 years 6 months
19994 years 9 months4 years 6 months2 years7 years 8 months4 years 6 months
20006 years 8 months6 years 2 months3 years 6 months7 years 8 months8 years
20017 years 6 months7 years 5 months6 years 9 months9 years 6 months4 years 6 months
20026 years 10 months8 years 5 months7 years 8 months9 years 9 months--
2003--7 years--10 years 6 months--
2004------12 years 3 months12 years 6 months
200512 years 6 months----11 years 8 months13 months
2006------12 years--
2007------15 years--

Note:

The data in the table relate to those persons convicted of scheduled offences and sentenced to three years or more who were in custody in Maze on 26 January 1998. The complete record was not available for a small number of prisoners when the research on which this table is based was carried out and so the table does not include data on average years served for that small group.


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Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list the prisoners convicted of terrorist offences who have been transferred to prisons in Northern Ireland from Great Britain in the last three years, indicating (a) the date of transfer, (b) the date of sentence, (c) the length of sentence, (d) the crimes for which convicted, (e) the organisation to which they claimed allegiance and (f) the date of release under the rules governing such release in (i) Great Britain prior to the recent agreement, (ii) Northern Ireland prior to the recent agreement and (iii) under the terms of the recent agreement. [41717]

Mr. Ingram: Sixteen prisoners convicted of offences in Great Britain related to terrorism have transferred to Northern Ireland in the last three years. It is not normal practice to disclose the personal details of individual

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prisoners and details of claimed allegiance are not maintained. However, due to the segregation of prisoners in HMP Maze in paramilitary affiliated groups it is possible to construe that of the sixteen prisoners transferred 10 aligned themselves to the Provisional IRA, 4 to INLA and 2 to the LVF.

The table indicates the offence, date of sentence, length of sentence, date of transfer to Northern Ireland, the prisoner's current transfer status, date of release applicable in Great Britain and the date of release under remission arrangements in Northern Ireland at the current time.

The impact of the proposed accelerated release scheme on the individual's release dates has required a re-calculation exercise to be undertaken. The exercise is almost complete and the information will be issued shortly to the hon. Gentleman in a written response.

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OffenceDate of sentenceSentenceDate of transfer to N.I.Transfer statusRelease under rules applicable in G.B.Release under rules applicable in N.I. prior to Belfast Agreement
Conspiracy to cause and possession of explosives20.1.199525 years27.4.95Permanent11.4.201012.1.2006
Conspiracy to commit arson5.10.199315 years20.7.95Permanent6.11.199923.12.1997
Conspiracy to commit arson5.10.199316 years20.7.95Permanent20.2.200321.6.2000
Conspiracy to cause explosions21.10.199425 years21.7.95Permanent12.7.201014.4.2006
Causing explosions16.12.199325 years27.7.95Permanent10.10.200910.8.2005
Conspiracy to cause explosions16.12.199332 years27.7.95Permanent27.6.200827.8.2004
Explosive offences8.11.199425 years27.7.95Permanent25.10.201025.8.2006
Murder, attempted murder, explosive offences, firearms offences11.5.1976life18.9.95PermanentDiscretionaryReleased on life licence on 14.3.1997
Attempted murder, conspiracy to cause explosions19.10.199325 years14.5.96TemporaryPrisoner subsequently repatriated to the Republic of Ireland
Contravention of the Firearms Act20.12.19955 years12.6.96Temporary6.4.1998(8)29.1.1998
Conspiracy to cause explosions20.12.199520 years4.7.96Temporary19.11.2006(8)21.7.2003
Acquiring firearms etc.20.12.199510 years9.4.97Temporary8.4.2002(8)7.8.2000
Conspiracy to cause explosions27.10.198725 years10.6.97Temporary1.6.2003(8)15.2.1999
Conspiracy to cause explosions20.6.198817 years10.6.97Temporary30.6.1998(8)21.8.1995
Conspiracy to cause explosions22.8.199425 years14.8.97Temporary7.5.2010(8)26.12.2005
Conspiracy to cause explosions2.7.199735 years18.12.97Restricted19.11.2019(8)18.1.2014

Note:

Prisoners on temporary or restricted transfer to NI retain their GB date of release.

(8) Indicates the date on which the prisoners would have been released had they been transferred permanently to NI.


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