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Duty Roster

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the daily ministerial Duty Roster for his Department during the summer adjournment. [133060]

Dawn Primarolo: It is not normal practice of Government to publish daily ministerial Duty Roster. This Department will ensure that it has sufficient cover through the summer recess in line with the requirements of the Ministerial Code.

Fuel Taxation

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will reduce fuel taxation on biodiesel and bioethanol to a rate broadly comparable with that charged on LPG. [132910]

Mr. Timms: The levels of duty on all fuels will be decided on a Budget-by-Budget basis taking into account economic, social and environmental considerations. The potential contribution of biofuels to meeting the Government's environmental objectives is being kept under review.

PFI Contracts

Mr. Alan Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in how many of his Department's PFI contracts KPMG has been an adviser. [132862]

Mr. Andrew Smith: None.

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Children's Poverty Fund (Northern Ireland)

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what additional funding will be made available for the creation of a children's poverty fund in Northern Ireland; and what (a) conditions and (b) ring-fencing of expenditure will apply. [132977]

Dawn Primarolo: This is a devolved matter. It is for the Northern Ireland Assembly to decide whether and how to establish a Children's Fund for Northern Ireland within their overall provision.

Public Sector Pension Schemes

Mr. Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many public sector pension schemes are in force; and how many members each scheme has; [132948]

Mr. Andrew Smith: There is a large number of such schemes many of which have only a small membership. Information is not held centrally on all of these schemes and could be collected only at disproportionate cost.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Paddy Ashdown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if an elderly person living with relatives will have their entitlement to the minimum income guarantee means-tested in relation to the total household income; and if he will make a statement. [131502]

Mr. Bayley [holding answer 20 July 2000]: I have been asked to reply.

Claims to income related benefits are assessed on the basis of a benefit unit not a household as a whole. A benefit unit consists of a claimant, his or her partner and any child dependents. Therefore an elderly person living with relatives would have their minimum income guarantee assessed on their individual circumstances rather than that of the household.


Prisons and Probation Services

Mrs. Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for future inspection arrangements for the prisons and probation services. [133619]

Mr. Straw: I want to open the debate on what the future inspection arrangements should be. I intend to publish a consultation paper setting out a choice of options for drawing the work of the two inspectorates closer together. I would expect to reach a decision before the end of the year taking full account of the consultation exercise.

Prison Service

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he proposes to take to help prisons' Boards of Visitors to be more effective in the way they monitor Prison Service establishments and report on their findings. [133622]

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Mr. Boateng: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and I value very highly the important role Boards undertake as the watchdog of the Secretary of State and the independent and impartial advice they are able to provide, on the standards of fairness and humanity with which those placed in custody by the courts are treated. The majority of Boards work very effectively and provide a good service to Ministers and the public. However, in the light of changes within the Prison Service since the last major review of the role of the Boards of Visitors five years ago, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and I have decided that the time is right for a further review of the Board's role and I am pleased to announce that the right hon. Member for Fareham (Sir Peter Lloyd) has agreed to chair a Working Group to take the review forward. Sir Peter is currently the Chairman of New Bridge, a charity which recruits and trains volunteers to visit prisoners and provides an employment service for ex-offenders.

A Board of Visitors is a body created by statute, and there is one attached to every Prison Service establishment in England and Wales. Board members are lay people appointed by the Secretary of State, who are empowered under the Prison Act 1952:

The Prison Rules, made under the Prison Act, set out general and specific duties. We are looking currently at ways in which to improve performance management in the Prison Service and how to ensure a greater involvement of the voluntary sector in prison issues. Against this background, it is right that we should look again at the context in which Boards operate and see what can be done to improve the overall effectiveness of the system.

I have agreed with Sir Peter the following terms of reference for the Working Group.

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The membership of the Working Group will include the following:

The full membership has still to be finalised.

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of funds allocated the spending review 2000 available to the prison service in each year will be allocated to (a) prison places and (b) constructive activity and offender behaviour programmes; and if he will make a statement. [133180]

Mr. Boateng: The 2000 Spending Review settlement provided an additional £140 million/£246 million/ £303 million for the Prison Service over the three financial years 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04. Final decisions on the allocation of these funds will not be taken until later this year. But provisional plans include £103 million/ £105 million/£69 million to be used to provide an increase in prison capacity of 2,660 places, £25 million/ £34 million/£29 million on enhanced drug treatment and prevention, £8 million/£40 million/£75 million on other prisoner programmes and enhanced healthcare.

Target Performance Improvement

Mr. Paul Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recommendations were made by Lord Laming's working group on Target Performance Improvement; and if he will make a statement. [133621]

Mr. Boateng: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced the establishment of Lord Laming's working group in a reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Ms Kelly) on 31 January 2000, Official Report, column 426W. Lord Laming has completed his report, and I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library and in the Vote Office.

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, and his colleagues on the working group, for their analysis and recommendations. They provide a welcome guide and underscoring of the important programme of modernisation upon which the Director General and Ministers have embarked. I accept all the recommendations made in the report, save where Lord Laming, or the Director General, have advised me that further work is required in order to assess how best to take the recommendation forward.

I have therefore, today, announced that the right hon. Member for Fareham and Chairman of New Bridge (Sir P. Lloyd) has agreed to chair a review of the role of prisons' Boards of Visitors (Recommendation 16). Mr. Patrick Carter, a non-executive Director of the Prison and Probation Services, has agreed to lead a review of the Prison Service's programme of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) prisons and market-testing (Recommendation 8).

I have asked the Director General to report back to me, at the latest, by October 2000, with a more detailed action plan in response to Recommendations 4, 5, 9,

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13 and 14. I have also asked the Director General and Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons to take forward Recommendation 12.

I welcome the report's focus on up-dating personnel policies, and the importance placed on succession planning, and the effective management of sickness absence and poor performers. These underscore the importance of major programmes of work already under way within the Prison Service. Lord Laming has noted the leadership being given by the Director General and the Deputy Director General, and the report's recommendations regarding managerial accountability and the pivotal role of the area manager in improving performance built on recent reforms relating to regionalisation. I expect the pace and extent of those reforms to be accelerated.

The Service is in the process of modernising its Information Technology systems, and will be introducing service level agreements into all public sector prisons by April 2001. Work is also in hand to develop a more sophisticated means of linking performance with the allocation of resources. The Quinquennial Review of the Prison Service, conducted in 1999, reaffirmed its status as an Executive Agency.

His recommendations are:

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