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Kray Brothers

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what files the Metropolitan police hold of material assembled by the Kray brothers; what their policy is on public access to those files; and if he will make a statement. [135715]

Mr. Charles Clarke: This is a matter for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police but I understand that nine files concerning the Kray brothers have been deposited in the Public Record Office. At the time of the last review the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Council agreed that all but one of these should be withheld from public inspection for a period of at least 50 years from the date of the last action on the papers. The one other file is subject to the 30 year rule.

Criminal Record Checks

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what consultation there has been with voluntary organisations on the cost of criminal record checks by the Criminal Records Bureau; and if he will make a statement; [134677]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 31 October 2000]: We have had frequent contacts over many months with voluntary sector organisations on a wide variety of issues concerning the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). There have been ad hoc meetings at both ministerial and official levels with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), with individual bodies such as the Scout Association and with groups of organisations such as national sports bodies. The NCVO represents the sector on the board which oversees and advises Ministers on the programme as a whole, and several voluntary organisations are represented on the Customer Forum, which provides a bridge between the CRB and its future clients. Before making regulations prescribing such matters as the fees to be charged by the CRB, we shall carry out a regulatory impact assessment in consultation with affected bodies, including representatives of voluntary organisations. This will provide a thorough and up-to-date assessment of the implications.

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The cost of certificates will be charged to the individual on whom the check is sought, although there is nothing to stop an employer such as a local authority or any organisation reimbursing the individual if they so wish.

Organ Donation Forms

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to require local authorities to send out organ donation forms with their electoral registration forms; [136037]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: It is the responsibility of each electoral registration officer (ERO) to decide whether to include additional literature with the electoral registration form. I have no plans to change that arrangement. The Secretary of State for Health and the Home Secretary wrote jointly to the professional associations of electoral administrators to seek their help in encouraging EROs to include organ donation literature with the electoral registration forms which were sent out this year. I have no substantive information about those EROs who have done so in the past.

Lord Lieutenants

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer of 26 October 2000, Official Report, column 216W, regarding lord lieutenants, if he will provide a full breakdown of expenses incurred during the financial year 1999-2000 for the lord lieutenant of (a) Greater Manchester and (b) the West Midlands; and what mechanisms are in place to ensure that expenses claimed by lord lieutenants are appropriate and provide value for money. [136712]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Costs for the Lord Lieutenancies of Greater Manchester and the West Midlands are higher than those for other Metropolitan Lieutenancies because they include more significant staffing and accommodation costs.

All claims for expenses and other costs incurred by the Lieutenancies in England are carefully considered by the Home Office before payments are made.

Pursuant to this, it may be helpful if I give some further information to put the figures previously provided on 26 October 2000, Official Report, column 216W, into their proper context.

Lord Lieutenants are appointed under current legislation by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, following consultations locally and, where appropriate, with the First Minister or Secretary. Lord Lieutenants are much appreciated in their counties and areas, particularly as a link with the Royal Family and for their support of a wide range of local voluntary and community work.

Lord Lieutenants are unpaid. They may however claim expenses from central Government for certain items such as travel and other reasonable non-entertainment expenses incurred in carrying out their official duties. Amounts claimed will clearly vary according to, for example, levels of activity in each county and area, size and dispersal of populations, and the personal circumstances of each Lord Lieutenant. Some choose not to claim any expenses.

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In addition, counties and areas provide varying levels of administrative support, as do some Government Departments in respect of functions carried out by Lord Lieutenants on their behalf. The Home Office meets the cost of administrative support for Metropolitan counties in England.

Marsham Street

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire (Sir W. Spicer) of 24 July 2000, Official Report, column 452W, on the future of the three tower blocks in Marsham Street SW1, if the evaluation of the two private sector consortia involved in the public private partnership project to provide offices for his department and Prison Service staff has been completed; and if he will make a statement on his Department's latest position with regard to the future of the tower blocks. [136714]

Mr. Straw: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave my hon. Friend, the Member for Regent's Park and Kensington North (Ms Buck), on 28 July 2000, Official Report, column 1167W.

Home Detention

Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prisoners have been released in Cumbria under the home detention curfew scheme to date; and if he will make a statement; [136436]

Mr. Boateng: This information is not available centrally. Data on releases under the Home Detention Curfew scheme are broken down by contract region, and not by county.

However, I will make further inquiries of the electronic monitoring contractor for the Northern Region and write to the hon. Member with this information as soon as it is available. A copy will be placed in the Library.

Sai Baba

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many representations requesting that Her Majesty's Government take action against Sai Baba he has received in the last 12 months; [136849]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: During the last 12 months the Home Office has received eight representations from members of the public about Sai Baba, of which seven were from overseas. In addition four representations have also been made by my hon. Friend.

The Government's position is that the members of this, and any other religious organisation, are free to follow their own doctrines and practices provided that they remain within the law.

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Fingerprint Evidence

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance is available for chief police officers in standardising procedures for assessing fingerprint evidence; how frequently have standards been changed since a standardised system was first introduced; and what standards are used by police forces of (a) other European Union member states and (b) the United States. [134881]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The current requirement for presenting fingerprint evidence in court is based on at least 16 points of comparison. This dates from 1935. In 1988 the Home Office commissioned a review of this requirement. A report was published in Fingerprint World and the Journal of Fingerprint Identification and was placed in the Library. In 1994 the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) initiated a review which concluded that fingerprint evidence should in future be based upon the expert testimony of fingerprint officers rather than any particular fixed number of points of comparison. ACPO are planning to introduce a non-numerical standard in the new year, once they are satisfied that the appropriate quality assurance standards, inspection, training and competency testing regimes that will underpin the new standard are in place within force fingerprint bureaux.

There is no single common standard in Europe. Norway has a non-numerical standard while others have numerical standards varying between eight and 16 characteristics. Europol are considering moving to a non-numerical standard.

The United States uses a non-numerical fingerprint standard.


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