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Flags and Emblems

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what guidance is available for non-departmental public bodies concerning displays of flags and emblems; how many NDPBs displayed the Union Flag at least once in the last 12 months; and if he will list those NDPBs that displayed a union flag on 12 July. [56291]

Mr. Paul Murphy: NDPBs in Northern Ireland are aware of the guidance contained in the Fair Employment

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Commission's Code of Practice relating to the display of flags and emblems. The Union Flag is flown on Government Buildings on a number of scheduled days during the year and, while NDPBs are made aware of these dates, it is a matter for each body to exercise its own discretion as to whether or not the flag should be flown.

Information on how many NDPBs displayed the Union Flag at least once in the last twelve months and those which displayed it on 12 July could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on how many days and on what occasions in the last year the Union Flag was flown outside the (a) Northern Ireland Electricity regional offices on the Campsie industrial estate and (b) other offices of the NIE. [56290]

Mr. Ingram: Information on the flying of the Union Flag by private companies is not held by Government. I understand that Northern Ireland Electricity issued a statement on 11 August 1998 setting out the company's policy on the display of flags and emblems.

Royal Ulster Constabulary

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to her answer of 27 November 1997, Official Report, column 630, what were the staffing levels of the RUC in September 1998 (i) in total, and (ii) broken down (a) by gender, (b) by perceived religious/community origin and (c) by numbers and percentages of full-time, reserve full-time, and reserve part-time staff. [56387]

Mr. Ingram: The table sets out the information requested as at 1 September 1998.

Rank
RUCFTRPTRTotal
CB1
Male6,6442,3437829,769
Female8462174071,470
Total7,4902,5601,18911,239
CB2
Male62517730832
Female822733142
Total70720463974
CB3
Male26815611435
Female89522
Total27616516457
Sub total
Male 7,5372,67682311,036
Female9362534451,634
Total8,4732,9291,26812,670
Percentage CB188.4087.4093.7788.71
Percentage CB28.346.964.977.69
Percentage female11.058.6435.0912.90

Note:

CB1--Perceived to be from Protestant community

CB2--Perceived to be from the Roman Catholic community

CB3--Other


Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) serving and (b) former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary held personal protection firearms on 10 April; how many new weapons have been issued since then; and how many weapons have been handed in. [56293]

Mr. Ingram: Figures detailing how many serving and former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary held firearms for personal protection are not available for 10 April 1998, and could be obtained only at

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disproportionate cost. However, on 26 October 1998, 12,699 handguns (which are available for personal protection) were on official issue to serving members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and 619 were on loan to former members.

Since 10 April a total of 189 handguns have been issued to serving Royal Ulster Constabulary members and 306 have been returned.

Prisoners (Accelerated Release)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many prisoners have applied to the Prison Sentence Review Commission for an accelerated release date; on how many cases the commission has made a determination; and for unsuccessful applications, what reasons were given. [56393]

Mr. Ingram: Statutory responsibility for these matters lies with the Sentence Review Commissioners. I have asked the joint Chairmen, Mr. Brian Currin and Sir John Blelloch, to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Sir John Blelloch to Mr. Kevin McNamara, dated 3 November 1998:



    I can advise that, up until 29 October 1998, 512 prisoners have applied to the Sentence Review Commissioners for a declaration that they are eligible for release in accordance with the provisions of the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998. Of these, 221 prisoners have received substantive determinations advising that their applications had been successful. There have been no substantive determinations advising that the applicant had been unsuccessful.


    A copy of this letter will be placed in the library of the House of Commons.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list the qualifying prisoners whose release has been accelerated as a result of a determination made by the sentence review commission, in each case indicating the (a) nature of the offence, (b) date of conviction, (c) original sentence, (d) sentencing jurisdiction, (e) original release date after remission or estimated on the basis of average figures in the case of life sentences and (f) accelerated release date. [56390]

Mr. Ingram: Statistical information in the format requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Details of individual prisoners are not given for sensitivity and safety considerations; however, I will arrange for a written reply to be made to my hon. Friend which will detail available statistical information on prisoner releases which have been accelerated as a result of determinations made by the Sentence Review Commissioners.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will estimate, on the basis of those prisoners who have been given accelerated release dates and those who would expect to be released in the next two years, how many prisoners will be released in each month up to August 2000. [56391]

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Mr. Ingram: The information requested is not readily available in the detail specified in the question and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, similar information was provided on the basis of quarterly projections in my response to the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Ross) on 2 November 1998, Official Report, columns 363-64.

Military Strategy

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list the meetings and describe the other steps taken to prepare the publication of an overall review of military strategy in Northern Ireland. [56380]

Mr. Ingram: I have regular and frequent meetings with the Chief Constable, and with officials, to discuss security related issues. Before the end of the month I intend to publish a strategy paper setting out our approach to normalisation.

Proscribed Organisations

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what advice has been given, and what administrative guidelines issued, to ensure that an arrested person is aware of the implications of failing to mention a material fact concerning the offence of belonging to a proscribed and specified organisation; and if she will place in the Library a copy of such documents. [56289]

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Mr. Ingram: A letter was sent on 11 September 1998 to the Chief Constable of the RUC outlining the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998 and suggesting a form of words for an additional special warning be given to anyone being questioned about membership of a specified organisation, in order that they are aware of the implications of failing to mention a fact material to the offence. The letter also emphasises that inferences can be drawn only where the accused has had access to a solicitor before questioning. A copy of the letter is being placed in the Library today. Further advice on the administration of the 1998 Act will be issued in due course.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the current prison population of members or associates of each specified proscribed organisation. [56392]

Mr. Ingram: Information is held for management purposes in relation to the perceived paramilitary association of prisoners where applicable. It should be noted, however, that with the exception of HMP Maze where such links are more clearly defined, this information is based on a combination of factors including the offence, sympathies and associates. These figures do not include prisoners who are regarded as having only either Loyalist or Republican sympathies.

The most recent statistics for the week commencing 26 October 1998 are as follows:

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UDAUVFLVFUFFRHCPIRAINLA
HMP Maze736519----11226
HMP Maghaberry372411641614
HMP Magilligan1211--1--62
HM YOC14--2--21
Totals123104309413643

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