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Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

Mr. Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to receive a copy of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report. [64269]

Mr. Straw: I expect to receive the report of the Inquiry in late January or early February 1999.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers (Sussex)

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will estimate the number of (a) refugees and (b) asylum seekers currently residing in the areas administered by (i) East Sussex County Council, (ii) Eastbourne Borough Council and (iii) Wealden District Council; [63231]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: This information is not available to the Home Office and the hon. Member should approach the local authority.

Asylum seekers and refugees who are able to support themselves are currently free to live within the United Kingdom in a place of their own choosing. Asylum seekers who register their application for asylum at their port of entry may be eligible for Income Support and Housing Benefit and can then find their own accommodation. Refugees may also qualify for such benefits and are in a similar position. Asylum seekers who do not qualify for benefits, but who may be supported under the terms of the National Assistance Act 1948, or the Children Act 1989 are supported by local authorities under the terms of that legislation. The Home Office currently has no role in providing support and is consequently not aware of the information sought. The Government plan a fundamental reform of the asylum and immigration laws to remove cash benefits and more strictly control where asylum seekers live.

15 Dec 1998 : Column: 466

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people currently residing in Eastbourne have applied for asylum in the United Kingdom. [63233]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I regret that reliable information on the number of people residing in Eastbourne who have applied for asylum in the United Kingdom could be obtained only by examination of individual case records and is, therefore, available only at disproportionate cost.

Charity Commissioners

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will list the Charity Commissioners, indicating the term of office of each; [63552]

Mr. Boateng: In accordance with Schedule 1 of the Charities Act 1993, the Home Secretary is responsible for the appointment of the Charity Commissioners. There are a maximum of five Charity Commissioners: the Chief Charity Commissioner is Head of the Department and Accounting Officer; there is a full-time Legal Commissioner; and three part-time Commissioners, one of whom must be legally qualified.

The Chief Charity Commissioner is Richard Fries, who was appointed on 1 June 1992 for a period of five years. This appointment was extended until 1 June 1999 with effect from 1 June 1997. The full-time Legal Commissioner is Michael Carpenter, appointed on 1 January 1998 until 7 October 2002. The part-time Commissioners are John Bonds, appointed on 1 January 1995 until 31 December 1997, extended to 31 December 1999; Jean Warburton (the other Legal Commissioner), appointed on 1 October 1996 until 30 September 2001; and Julia Unwin appointed from 1 May 1998 until 30 April 2001.

Whilst the Home Secretary is accountable to Parliament for the efficiency of the Charity Commission, his powers do not extend to investigating the Commission's decisions in particular cases. The Commission is a non-ministerial Government Department, accountable to the courts for its legal decisions. In exercising its powers under charity law, it functions in a quasi-judicial way and is not subject to Ministerial direction. In these matters it acts as an extension of the High Court and its decisions are subject to appeal to the courts. There are no plans to reform their lines of accountability.

South East London Probation Service

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much will be spent by the South East London Probation Service pilot for treatment and testing orders with regards to (a) Probation Service administration, (b) Probation Service officer posts, (c) research and (d) providers of treatment and rehabilitation. [63704]

15 Dec 1998 : Column: 467

Mr. George Howarth: South East London Probation Service spending over the entire drug treatment and testing order pilot period (1 October 1998--31 March 2000) will be as follows:

Probation Service£
(a) probation service administration:(5)95,238
(b) probation officer and administrative staff posts:96,299
(c) research:24,000
(d) treatment and rehabilitation:368,127

(5) Includes start-up costs, travel and subsistence, training rent and services, and contingency costs.


Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Prison Service establishments he or his Ministers plan to visit between 17 December 1998 and 11 January 1999. [63396]

Mr. George Howarth: I expect to visit Hindley Prison on 7 January. No other visits are scheduled during this period.

Car Crime

Mrs. Heal: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what initiatives his Department are developing to reduce car crime. [63403]

Mr. Boateng: On 29 September my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced a national target of a 30 per cent. reduction in vehicle crime over the next five years. To achieve this, we have recently established a ministerial task force--the Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team--which will use as a starting point, a 14 point action plan developed jointly by the former Vehicle Crime Prevention Group and the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Identification Procedures

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce video ID evidence as an alternative to the current identification procedure. [63610]

Mr. Boateng: In response to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology about Digital Images as Evidence, published in February of this year, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary established a Working Group to take forward the recommendations in the report to consider other issues relating to the impact of technology on the laws of evidence, including the issue of video identification evidence.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total cost of identity parades in each year since 1993-94; and if he will make a statement. [63611]

Mr. Boateng: Decisions to hold identification parades are operational matters for the police. Details of the numbers held and the cost of each, which will vary, are not collected centrally.

15 Dec 1998 : Column: 468


Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the regulations governing the use of (a) black gunpowder and (b) other explosives by historic re-enactment societies; and if he will make a statement. [63609]

Mr. Boateng: The Health and Safety Executive keeps the regulations under review. The Executive has recently published guidance on the safe use of gunpowder and other explosives by historical re-enactment societies. The intention of the guidance is to ensure that members of these societies are aware of the relevant legislation, and good safety practice for the protection of themselves and members of the public. A copy of the guidance has been placed in the Library. The publication of such guidance is a regular part of Health and Safety Executive work to promote health and safety. I welcome and support the Executive's initiative publishing this guidance.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Robert Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list (a) the (i) task forces, (ii) review panels and (iii) advisory groups his Department has, (b) the remit of each and (c) the members of each together with their principal employment and their level of remuneration. [62801]

Mr. Straw: The information is available in the Library.

Police Funding

Ms Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress in introducing a sparsity factor into the budgets for rural police authorities. [63687]

Mr. Boateng: The formula which distributes resources between police authorities in England and Wales already contains an element for rural sparsity. This year, 0.5 per cent. of available resources have been allocated on the basis of population sparsity. This element has been retained in our proposals for 1999-2000 which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced on 2 December 1998, Official Report, columns 194-97.

We have commissioned external consultants to find out whether there are additional costs involved in policing sparsely populated rural areas. We are expecting their report shortly. The results of this study will be available to inform funding settlements from 2000-2001.

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