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Mr. Charles Clarke: I have no present plans to review overtime payments, but will be ready to consider any suggestions made by the Police Service, through the normal negotiating machinery, in the light of their views on changes necessary to enable the service most effectively to meet future demands.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Chairman of the Police Federation; what issues were discussed; if he will place a copy of the minutes in the Library; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: I last met the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers on 24 October and the Chairman of the Police Federation, with other representatives of the police services, on 9 October. A range of issues relating to policing were discussed. It has been the longstanding practice of successive administrations not to publish minutes of private meetings.
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Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police following the attack on M16 Headquarters; what actions have been taken to raise the level of security in London since the incident; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: I met with Sir John Stevens the following day (21 September). Considerable police resources have been dedicated to dealing with this very serious incident. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on particular security measures in place at any particular time. Security measures are kept under constant review by the authorities.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Walters) on 28 February 2000, Official Report, column 112W, if he will place in the Library copies of his correspondence since that date with the Committee on Standards in Public Life relating to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: I am unaware of any further correspondence with the Neill Committee relating to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill since the exchange of letters referred to in my answer to the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Walter) on 28 February.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans to make an order allowing the foreign funding of political parties and referendums in Northern Ireland under clause 65 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill, once the Bill is enacted; and what estimate he has made of the amount of foreign funding that will be given in any one year to each party that currently fields candidates in elections in Northern Ireland. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: It is the Government's current intention to exercise the order-making power to clause 65 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill so as to disapply the provisions of Part IV of the Bill in respect of Northern Ireland parties for an initial period of four years. However, before coming to a final view on this matter the Government will undertake a further round of consultations with the main Northern Ireland parties.
The Government have made no estimate of the amount of foreign funding that will be given in any one year to parties contesting elections in Northern Ireland. In their evidence to the Neill Committee a number of Northern Ireland parties indicated that they had received donations from abroad.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost to public funds of the production of the leaflet "The Human Rights Act: An Introduction"; how many leaflets have been produced; how are they to be distributed; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Mike O'Brien: Two million copies of the leaflet have been produced, at a cost of £88,120. Copies have been provided free of charge to a range of advice centres, libraries and similar organisations across the United Kingdom. Members of the public can also obtain a free copy by calling a telephone response line. Already, since 1 October there have been over 18,000 such additional requests. People want to know what fundamental rights and freedoms are safeguarded by the Human Rights Act and it is clearly right that the Government should ensure that they can be informed.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost to public funds of the poetry competition for educational and other organisations conducted to mark the coming into force of the Human Rights Act 1998; how many institutions and organisations were asked to submit poems; how many persons in total are enrolled at the institutions and organisations contacted; how many poems were submitted; what the cost the public funds was of the advertisements containing the winning poems; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The competition invited young people to explore the underlying principles of the Human Rights Act 1998 through the creative medium of their choice. It was managed on our behalf by the Citizenship Foundation, at a cost of £23,113. A total of 7,234 schools and youth groups were invited to participate, all of whom received an information pack about the competition and the Human Rights Act. 280 formal entries, involving over 1,000 young people, were received. These included poetry, drama, posters, collages, songs, board games and websites. The advertisements that used the winning poem cost £307,103 which also resulted in additional coverage by the media of the Human Rights Act launch. The standard of competition entries was high, and showed an impressive understanding by young people of the rights and responsibilities culture the Human Rights Act will help to develop. The competition as a whole played a valuable and successful part in our work to raise awareness of the Human Rights Act.
Mr. Charles Clarke: The Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) (No. 2) Bill was defeated on Second Reading in the House of Lords on 28 September. The Government remain convinced that the courts, rather than defendants, are best qualified to reach a view on what is the right venue for trial, and intend to bring forward further legislation when parliamentary time allows.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review (a) the structure of the police service and (b) the Police Pension Scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Charles Clarke: There are no present plans to alter the structure of the police service, but we will be ready to consider any suggestions made by the police service in the light of their views on changes necessary to enable the service most effectively to meet future demands. Discussions will be held with representative policing bodies over coming months on a wide range of issues on the future of policing.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many letters he has received alleging that there was a threat to religious freedom posed by the EU directive on employment agreed between the Governments of the EU on 17 October. 
Mrs. Roche: The European Commission put forward a package of proposals under Article 13 of the Treaty of the European Community (EC) in November 1999. The package included two directives, one on racial discrimination in particular and one on discrimination in employment and training on a wider range of grounds: sexual orientation; religion; age; and disability. These have now been agreed between the Governments of the European Union.
The Home Office has received a total of 128 letters on the subject of the proposals as a whole. Officials have estimated that of these, 60 letters alleged that the EC Directive on employment posed a threat to religious freedom.
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the number of (a) police officers and (b) police constables in Sussex police on (i) 1 May 1997 and (ii) the most recent date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Charles Clarke: Information on police numbers is collected twice a year, in March and September. The September 2000 figures will be published as soon as they have been received from all forces and validated.
|31 March 1997||31 March 2000|
|Total number of police officers||3,085||2,822|
|Total number of constables||2,374||2,140|
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effectively undertaken by civilian staff. Civilian staff numbers in March 2000 were 1,326--an increase of 179 since March 1997.
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