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National Insurance Fund

Mr. John M. Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the balance is of the National Insurance Fund; and what it was 12 months ago. [135115]

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Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the report by the Government Actuary on the drafts of the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2000 and the Social Security (Contributions) (Re-rating and National Insurance Funds Payments) Order 2000 (Cm 4587).


Animal Experiments

Mrs. Gordon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the arrangements for requiring establishments designated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 to have an ethical review process. [136224]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I have asked the Home Office Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate to carry out a review of the operation of the ethical review process, to see what improvements can be made in the way in which local reviews are carried out to enhance animal welfare. The terms of reference of the review are as follows:

The review will take account of the views of all the stakeholders in the process, including certificate holders and licensees under the 1986 and animal welfare organisations. The Inspectorate have been asked to report by the middle of 2001.

Mrs. Gordon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he has given to incorporating an independent element in future investigations by the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate of allegations against establishments and individuals licensed under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. [136225]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I have considered the introduction of an independent element into future investigations under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

I have concluded that the appointment of a small independent scrutiny team, drawn from the Animal Procedures Committee, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State would be the best and most practicable means of providing assurance that any future Inspectorate investigations have been carried out with the necessary objectivity and thoroughness. I am grateful to the Committee for agreeing to undertake this role following an approach to them in June 2000.

Regulation Tribunal

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements have been made for the appointment of members of the tribunal to be set up under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; and if he will make a statement. [136380]

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Mr. Straw: On 2 October, Her Majesty the Queen appointed eight members to the new Investigatory Powers Tribunal by Letters Patent for a period of five years. Lord Justice Mummery has been appointed as President of the Tribunal and Sir Michael Burton as Vice-President. The remaining six members of the Tribunal are Sheriff Principal John Colin McInnes QC, Sir David Calcutt QC, Sir Richard Gaskell, Mr. Robert Seabrook QC, Mr. Peter Scott QC and Mr. William Carmichael.

Drugs (Confiscation of Profits)

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the oral answer of 14 June 2000, Official Report, column 924, if he will make a statement on the measures taken to date to implement recommendations contained in the Performance and Innovation Unit report on recovering the proceeds of crime in respect of confiscation of the profits accruing from drug-related crime. [133749]

Mr. Charles Clarke: When the Prime Minister announced the publication of the PIU's Report "Recovering the Proceeds of Crime" on 14 June, he said that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in collaboration with my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, would take forward implementation of the conclusions of the Report and introduce legislation as soon as possible.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced to the House on 19 July 2000, Official Report, column 379, that £54 million had been allocated over the three-year Spending Review period to fund the new National Confiscation Agency.

Legislation to establish the agency and implement other measures proposed in the Report is being prepared and will be brought forward as soon as parliamentary time allows.

In order to inform this work and ensure that no excessive burden will be placed on business we prepared a draft Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) and sent it to a range of organisations, with a request for comments by 31 October. We will make the completed RIA available to the House in due course.

Senator Pinochet

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 27 July 2000, if he will explain the reasons underlying his decision not to classify the period of residence of Senator Pinochet in Surrey as an unforeseen burden on Surrey Police, committing them to exceptional additional expenditure and as being an event of international dimension, arising as a consequence of a decision by the Government. [133958]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The total additional costs for protecting Senator Pinochet were estimated at £750,000, which was around 0.8 per cent. of the budget of the Surrey police in 1999-2000. Once account is taken of the special payment of £200,000 made in March 1999 the proportion of the additional costs that fell on the Surrey police was reduced to 0.6 per cent. of the force's 1999-2000 budget.

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When the special payment was made in March 1999, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary indicated to the Chief Constable that it was unlikely that he would be able to give Surrey police a further special payment for the additional costs incurred during 1999-2000.

Consideration of the Police Authority's further request for a special grant in March suggested that Surrey police had been able to accommodate the extra costs without a reduction in the level of service provided by the force. During 1999-2000, police numbers in Surrey increased by 123 to 1,785, the highest they have ever been. In view of such favourable indicators it was decided that a further special payment was not justified.

Com (2000) 495

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on his policy towards the establishment of a European registry of sentences passed on criminals and procedures pending, as set out in Com (2000) 495; [134679]

Mrs. Roche: I refer the hon. Member to the Explanatory Memorandum on Com (2000) 495, the Commission's Communication on the mutual recognition of final decisions in criminal matters, which was deposited in the House of Commons Library on 12 October 2000. The Government broadly support the proposals in the Communication.

In the Explanatory Memorandum on Com (2000) 495, the Government indicated that improvements in the arrangements for requesting information on existing criminal records should be given priority over creating a European Criminal Registry. The practical benefits of the proposed European Criminal Registry should be carefully assessed in view of the possibility of high costs and data protection considerations.

As regards the determination of claims of jurisdiction, and the roles that Eurojust and the European Court of Justice might have, the Government consider that it would be appropriate to wait until Eurojust has developed relevant experience before developing criteria for ranking such claims.

The Government consider that the discussions in Com (2000) 495 on ne bis in idem are sensible; the suggestion that prosecutions are co-ordinated needs careful consideration, but no proposal has yet been tabled to address this issue.

For further information on the subject of mutual recognition, I refer the hon. Member to the Explanatory Memorandum on the Programme of Measures to implement the principle of mutual recognition.

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Police (Administration)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he will take to reduce the burden of administration on the police. [134453]

Mr. Charles Clarke: We are committed to looking at ways to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens on the police, consistent with the interests of justice. It is important to recognise that many procedures, which may be time-consuming, are nevertheless necessary to protect both the accused person and the officers who deal with him or her. Some paperwork is a necessary part of the job.

The Home Office has a significant role in setting the administrative framework for policing and we will continue to collaborate with forces to reduce bureaucratic burdens whenever possible. A current review of the Codes of Practice which govern police procedures under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 should provide an opportunity for us to make further progress.

National guidance on the preparation of prosecution files by the police is set out in the "Manual of Guidance for the Preparation, Processing and Submission of Files". Case files completed in line with the guidance in that document will, in many cases, require only five or six forms. The Manual is issued to all forces and has just been updated for re-issue in November. The Cabinet Office Public Sector Team's Regulatory Impact Unit aims to identify ways of reducing bureaucracy, and police paperwork was the first area it studied. A member of the Unit sits on the Editorial Board of the Manual of Guidance.

When the Narey measures for speeding up the progress of cases through the criminal justice system were piloted in 1998-99, 54 per cent. of cases resulted in a guilty plea at first hearing and only required an expedited file. These measures were introduced nationally on 1 November 1999 and have been shown to have reduced paperwork significantly.

Forces themselves also have a role to play. A thematic report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 1997 found that in many forces additional forms were being added to those required by the existing Manual. HMIC recommended that all forces should review their use of non-Manual of Guidance forms to reduce the number that officers have to complete.

Another area in which significant improvements are possible is in the development of new information systems. The National Strategy for Police Information Systems (NSPIS) provides for the development of a range of standard, linked applications covering the main policing functions. The progressive implementation of these applications in forces will eliminate many of the current inefficiencies, such as officers having to key in the same information several times.

Further, under the initiative for integrating business and information systems in the criminal justice system ("IBIS"), detailed plans have been drawn up to ensure that the information systems which are being developed in all the criminal justice organisations have the necessary links installed for the efficient sharing and exchange of information throughout the criminal justice process.

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