Previous Section Index Home Page


Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the national average occupancy rate in hostels in England and Wales on the latest date available; and what are his Department's relevant key performance indicators for 1998-99. [75242]

Mr. George Howarth: The average occupancy rate in approved probation and bail hostels for the year 1998-99 currently stands at 84 per cent. This is above the 83 per cent. target for the key performance indicator for hostel occupancy, which will increase to 87 per cent. in 1999-2000.

Gaming Act 1968

Ms Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what responses he received to the consultation paper on modernising the Gaming Act 1968 in respect of (a) postal and group applications, (b) limited print advertising and (c) introduction of casino gaming machines; and if he will make a statement. [75219]

Mr. George Howarth: We consulted on 5 August 1998 about proposals to relax certain Gaming Act controls on casino membership, advertising and jackpot machines. The consultation period ended on 21 October.

We received 39 responses, most supporting the proposals. We have been discussing specific issues with the Gaming Board and the industry, and hope to make an announcement shortly.

9 Mar 1999 : Column: 130

Immigration Officers

Mr. McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if training for immigration officers includes guidance on facilitating legitimate travellers who wish to visit family and friends in the United Kingdom. [75650]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The greater majority of passengers are, of course, entitled or qualified to enter the United Kingdom. This includes those wishing to visit family and friends here. Immigration Officers are given training which reflects this priority, with particular emphasis on professionalism, inter-personal skills and awareness of the needs and concerns of those with whom they come into contact, including the family and friends of passengers.

Mr. McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what common training is given to all immigration officers. [75649]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Immigration Officers undergo a variety of common training during their careers in the Immigration Service. In particular, they are given ten weeks' induction training to enable them to apply the requirements of immigration-related legislation and instructions. Areas covered include their powers and obligations, operating the controls in accordance with Government policies, interview skills, professional standards and skills such as forgery detection.

Thereafter, Immigration Officers are given consolidation training in order to reinforce their knowledge and experience, as well as more specialised training for those working in areas such as computerisation, resource management and training.

9 Mar 1999 : Column: 131

Mr. McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training is given to immigration officers working in the Indian sub-continent. [75648]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: All Immigration Officers working abroad, including those in the sub-continent, receive a comprehensive Entry Clearance Officer course which addresses a number of issues in the operation of a faster, fairer and firmer immigration control overseas. Officers are required to demonstrate a sound knowledge and understanding of the principles of Best Practice in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its importance in the successful management of an entry clearance operation. The course reflects the importance of treating each applicant with courtesy and respect as an individual, with particular emphasis on a professional approach to the interview process.

The four-day course is delivered by Immigration Service trainers all of whom have had recent experience in entry clearance work overseas. Areas covered include types of interviews that Entry Clearance Officers carry out and the range of different applications, including visitors and students. A substantial part of the course is devoted to the area of family settlement.

On arrival in post, they receive additional training, with particular guidance on the cultural background and life specific to the country in which they will be working. This includes those going to the sub-continent.

Metropolitan Police

Mr. Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the additional special payment allocated to the Metropolitan Police was for each of the years 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000; [75755]

Mr. Boateng: The special payment was £130 million for 1997-98, £151 million for 1998-99 and will be £176 million for 1999-2000.

The payment was set at £151 million for 1998-99 following a review by Home Office officials which was the first comprehensive attempt to cost the Metropolitan Police's national and capital city functions. The report provided a degree of transparency about the additional payment which was not previously available.

In setting the special payment for 1999-2000, factors taken into account included inflation, policing related to millennium celebrations, and the overall importance of maintaining public confidence in the policing of the capital city.


Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to the letters of

9 Mar 1999 : Column: 132

3 December and 26 January, from the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed concerning a computer database for tracing stolen property. [75744]

Mr. Boateng: I am sorry for the delay and shall reply to the right hon. Gentleman as quickly as possible.

Number Plates

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the auto number-plate recognition system in reducing crime. [75659]

Mr. Boateng: No systematic assessment has been made, but the technical performance of automatic number plate recognition systems is kept under review.

Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the investigation into the leak of the Macpherson report will extend to those members of Ministers' staff who are not civil servants and are not based within the Department. [75791]

Mr. Straw: The conduct of the inquiry, including the question of who should be interviewed, is a matter for the investigator to determine.

Ministerial Staff

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what guidelines are in place regarding the disciplinary action which can be taken against those members of Ministers' staff who are not civil servants and are not based within the Department, where they are found guilty of misconduct or gross misconduct; [75797]

Mr. Straw: Ministers' staff are either civil servants or paid or unpaid special advisers. Paid special advisers are civil servants, employed under individual contracts (the model of which was promulgated by the Prime Minister on 19 May 1997), and are subject to the same conditions of service and the same rules of conduct as other civil servants. Unpaid advisers are subject to the normal rules of confidentiality, as the Ministerial Code, published in July 1997, makes clear. The employment by Ministers, in their capacity as Members of Parliament, of staff to assist with constituency business, is not a matter for me.


Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to his answer of 14 January 1999, Official Report, column 232, if he will list the expenditure not included in his answer incurred by (a) his agencies and non-departmental public bodies and (b) the Central Office of Information for relevant work carried out for his Department. [71022]

9 Mar 1999 : Column: 133

Mr. Dewar [holding answer 15 February 1999]: The information requested is not held centrally for non- departmental public bodies and could be collected only at disproportionate cost. The Central Office of Information has carried out no work for my Department in the period.

Care and Repair Grants

Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish (a) a list of care and repair grants made for each local authority in Scotland and (b) how much each local authority in Scotland received for such grants per 1,000 of population, for each of the last three years. [74014]

Mr. Macdonald [holding answer 8 March 1999]: Details of individual Care and Repair grants provided by local authorities are not held centrally. The cost of grants given to owners benefiting from the Care and Repair scheme is met from the gross capital resources available to local authorities. The Scottish Office and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities have agreed that expenditure on Care and Repair should be a shared priority for central and local government. The value of works completed in 1997-98 was around £6 million, covering some 1,400 homes. Revenue funding in 1997-98 amounted to £1.2 million.

From 1 July, this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

9 Mar 1999 : Column: 134

Next Section Index Home Page