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Angel Heights Hostel

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of whether the Angel Heights hostel in Leeds meets the standards set down by the National Asylum Support Service. [133452]

Mr. Boateng: None. The National Asylum Support Service has no asylum seekers housed in hostels operated by Angel Group in Leeds and has no contract for hostels operated there by that company.

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An on-going programme of inspection is in place for all property contracted by the National Asylum Support Service. National Asylum Support Service inspection teams and property surveyors provided by the Property Advisers to the Civil Estate undertake this programme.


Mr. Hope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will publish the Government's response to the second report of the Home Affairs Committee for Session 1998-99, on Freemasonry in Public Life (HC 467); and if he will make a statement. [133788]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Government's response is being published today as Command Paper, 4813, copies are being placed in the Library. The response will announce that the Home Office is consulting the Police Service about proposals for further measures aimed at ensuring that members of the public may, where appropriate, be able to discover whether individual police officers are members of the Freemasons.

Departmental Accommodation

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made on his plans for new office accommodation for the Home Office and HM Prison Service staff working in Central London. [133794]

Mr. Straw: Subject to final contract negotiations, I have decided to proceed with the relocation of the Home Office, including the Prison Service, to a new development on the site of the former Department of Environment offices at Marsham Street, where outline planning consent exists for a mixed office, residential and commercial development. Annes Gate Property PLC has been selected as the Preferred Bidder for the project which is going forward as a public private partnership competition. The demolition of the existing building on the Marsham Street site will commence after contracts are exchanged. This depends on progress with further negotiations but is unlikely to be before Spring 2001. Completion of the new development is expected to be in 2004.

Personality Disorders

Mr. Heppell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will publish the outcome of the Government's consultation on its proposals for managing dangerous people with severe personality disorders; and if he will make a statement. [133795]

Mr. Boateng: The Government's proposals for those who are dangerous and severely personality disordered--published in a consultation document in July 1999--deal with a longstanding challenge to public safety. The proposals will ensure that individuals who fall into this group whether in prison, high security hospitals or, as in the case of a very small number, at large in the community, are in future detained in circumstances where they will be subject to a range of high quality interventions designed to manage the consequences of their disorder and released only when they are assessed as being safe to be re-integrated into the wider community. The consultation period for these proposals ended on 31 December 1999.

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Following the conclusion of Spending Review 2000, information about the resources allocated by both the Home Office and the Department of Health for those aspects of the proposals concerned with the piloting and development of new services, will be published during the Summer.

The Government intend to publish their formal response to the consultation exercise to Parliament in the Autumn and will set out the detail of its proposals in a White Paper to be published before Christmas.

Young Offenders

Mr. Paul Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend to adults the changes to the release on temporary licence scheme introduced for young offenders in September 1998. [133796]

Mr. Straw: In September 1998, following a review initiated by the then Director General of the Prison Service, a number of changes were made to the release on temporary licence scheme. The changes were designed to given prison governors greater flexibility to extend the range of constructive and challenging activities for which prisoners can be released, and to improve their chances of getting a job and somewhere to live when they are released. The majority of the changes were introduced only in the young offender estate.

Implementation of the changes in respect of young offenders suggests that this more constructive use of the scheme is valuable in helping prisoners reintegrate into the community. The scheme's success rate has remained high. After careful evaluation of performance in the young offender estate, I have decided to extend the majority of the changes introduced there to open prisons and women's prisons as of 1 September 2000. The changes will mean that prisoners in the open and women's estate will be eligible for release on facility licence for interviews to arrange employment or accommodation (if they are serving under one year). Overnight stays will be permitted for community reparational activities for prisoners who have successfully completed a period of day-release facility licence. Governors will also be able to grant overnight release on facility licence for hostel assessment purposes to inform parole consideration. Facility licence will also be available to help prisoners resolve urgent housing issues, for example possible loss of accommodation.

Two further changes will be made to resettlement licence arrangements. The purpose of release on resettlement licence is to enable prisoners to maintain family ties and links with the community and to make suitable arrangements for accommodation, work and training on release. Prisoners in the open and women's estate serving a determinate sentence of four years or over and who are refused parole at the first opportunity, at the half way point of their sentence, will be eligible to be considered for resettlement leave after three months rather than six months as at present, subject to passing a further rigorous risk assessment. In the open estate only, the maximum frequency of resettlement licence will be increased from every eight weeks to every four weeks.

No changes will be made to their stringent risk assessment process which all prisoners must pass before being granted temporary release. The Prison Service is

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committed to keeping the number of temporary release failures at the current low level, in order to ensure protection of the public. In April the Prison Service introduced a Key Performance Target which measures the success rate of the release on temporary licence scheme. The performance in the open, women's and young offender estate will be monitored carefully against that target. Consideration will be given to extending the changes to other adult prisoners only if the further evaluation suggests it is safe to do so.

A copy of the relevant Prison Service Instruction, giving full details of the changes, will be placed in the Library.

Equal Treatment Directive

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to consult about the way in which the EC Directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin will be implemented. [133797]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government intend to publish a consultation document on the implementation of the European Community Directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin during the summer.

Metropolitan Police Report

Mr. Darvill: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will publish the final report of the Metropolitan Police Committee; and if he will make a statement. [133798]

Mr. Straw: I am today placing copies of the Final Report of the Metropolitan Police Committee in the Library. The report is also being published on the Metropolitan Police Committee (MPC) website, My officials will write to representatives of the wide range of interested people and organisations who have previously received MPC publications, drawing their attention to the report's availability on the internet, and offering to provide hard copies where necessary.

The report covers the last period of the life of the Committee, from April 1999 to 2 July 2000, when I ceased to be the Police Authority for the Metropolitan police, with that role being taken by the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) from 3 July. The main part of the report is a record of advice on priorities, opportunities, challenges and context which the Committee offered as briefing to the incoming members of the MPA.

The Committee has played a major part in transforming the accountability of the Metropolitan Police Service. I believe it secured the respect and trust of successive Commissioners and their colleagues, who benefited from the variety of perspectives which the Committee brought to bear on their work, and from the objective and constructive way in which members explored, assessed and offered advice on the Metropolitan police's performance and plans.

The Committee's work and advice were, therefore, a great help to me, as Police Authority. Members engaged with the detail of the Metropolitan police in a systematic fashion which no Home Secretary could achieve alone.

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The Committee has also been an invaluable bridge into the reformed arrangements for the governance of the Metropolitan Police Service. I am especially grateful for their work in preparing for the transition to the MPA, including in the formulation of the Policing and Performance Plan for this financial year. The Commissioner and his colleagues are keen to meet the challenges and the opportunities offered by the greater accountability which the MPA has brought with it. Working with the MPC helped very much in preparing for this.

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