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Telecommunications (Records)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines and safeguards govern access to the records of (a) mobile telephone service providers, (b) cell phone relay masts and transmissions and (c) individual subscriber call records; and what body has responsibility for oversight. [134991]

Mr. Boateng: Communications data may be supplied voluntarily for specified purposes (eg investigation of crime) under section 29 of the Data Protection Act 1998 and section 45 of the Telecommunications Act 1984. It may additionally be supplied in obedience to court orders.

A more tightly controlled regulatory regime will be provided for under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Chapter II of part I of the Act regulates access to communications data, explains the duties and responsibilities placed upon each party involved in the process, and creates a system of safeguards.

The overall regime will be subject to oversight by the office of the Interception Commissioner. We aim to consult on a draft code of practice early next year, and to implement the chapter II provisions by April 2001.

Racial Discrimination

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which representatives of the Government attended the August 2000 session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial

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Discriminations hearing the UK Periodic report made under the Convention; what were the recommendations of the Committee; and what response will be made to each recommendation. [134880]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government were represented by Sara Marshall, head of the Race Equality Unit at the Home Office, and Henry Steele, from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Legal Department. They were supported by Warwick Maynard, Julie Clouder, Brian Quaife and Tim Woodhouse from the Home Office, and Nia James and Paul Bentall from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Copies of the committee's recommendations have been placed in the Library.

A 16th update report, which will respond to all the recommendations, is currently being drafted. It is due to be submitted to the United Nations Committee by April 2001; copies will then be placed in the Library.

New City Creation

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the decision on the creation of a new city will be published. [136309]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: No date has yet been set for the announcement of the result of the competition for the millennium grant of city status, but we are aiming for an announcement before the end of the year. City status is a rare mark of distinction granted by the Queen on the advice of Ministers.

Offshore Taxation

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers Her Majesty's Government have in respect of international agreements to require taxes to be levied in the (a) Channel Islands and (b) Isle of Man. [136781]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution (Command Paper 5460) sets out in paragraphs 1497 and 1513 the limited circumstances in which, in its view, the United Kingdom would be justified in using its paramount powers in respect of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. As indicated in paragraph 1503, and also in paragraph 1535, these include the fulfilment of the United Kingdom's international responsibilities and obligations. Taxation in the islands has always been on the basis of laws enacted by the island legislatures.

Illegal Entrants

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many fines have been imposed on transport operators carrying illegal entrants to the UK since the scheme of fines was introduced. [136762]

Mrs. Roche: Since 3 April 2000, when the civil penalty provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 were introduced, and 31 October, 552 penalties have been imposed on persons found to have carried between them a total of 3,127 clandestine entrants to the United Kingdom in their vehicles.

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Police Stations (Counter Closures)

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police station front- counters have closed in England and Wales, excluding the Metropolitan police area, since 1 January; and if he will make a statement. [136576]

Mr. Charles Clarke: This information is not centrally collected.

Electoral Register

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place a copy of his Department's study into the establishment of a central electoral register in the Library; when the study was commissioned; what the cost was; and if he will make a statement. [136208]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Improvement and Development Agency for local government (IdeA) was asked in April of this year to consider how access to the separate electoral registers maintained at a local level could be made easier for the purpose of checking that those making political donations were on the register. I will place in the Library a copy of the paper presented by IdeA to a steering group established by them to consider the issues. This group includes representatives of those who have responsibility for the registers and the Home Office. IdeA has undertaken this work as part of its general remit to improve the electronic delivery of services and there has been no charge to the Department.

Discussions are continuing with IdeA and representatives of electoral registration officers. An arrangement for making access to the registers easier and quicker would involve a considerable IT project and is unlikely to be completed before next October. We are considering with IdeA as a matter of urgency what interim arrangements could be made for when the controls on donations set out in the Political Parties, Election and Referendums Bill come into force.

Emergency Planning

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he has issued to (a) local authorities and (b) other bodies regarding emergency planning procedures to be put in place in the event of a further disruption of fuel supplies; and if he will make a statement. [136313]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Organisations likely to be involved in responding to any future disruption to fuel supply have been briefed on the planned arrangements. This includes, for example, the list of designated petrol stations, and the list of Priority Purposes together with guidance on how to implement it.

Local Authorities have been kept updated through established liaison links and by the involvement of the Local Government Association in work carried out for the Fuel Task Force.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list (a) actual and (b) planned spending on emergency planning in (i) each of the last five financial years, (ii) 2000-01 and (iii) each of the next five financial years; and if he will make a statement. [136312]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information requested is given in the table. The figures are for Home Office expenditure on emergency planning and include grants, which the Home Office allocates to local authorities in England and Wales as a contribution towards their emergency planning activities. However, it is worth noting that other Government departments also have an interest in emergency management, and provide funding that supports recruitment of specialist staff, equipment purchase and academic research.

The Spending Review 2000 exercise, recently completed by Her Majesty's Treasury, has looked forward to the three years 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-4. Budget allocations for these years have not yet been finalised within the overall Home Office settlement.

Figures for 2004-05 and 2005-06 will be established in subsequent spending round reviews.

Home Office gross expenditure on emergency planning
£ million


(25) Estimate

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons his Department's grant for emergency planning in Shropshire was reduced between 1999 and 2001. [136836]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The reorganisation of local government necessitated the introduction of a new distribution mechanism for Civil Defence grant which was announced to local authority chief executives in May 1999. The three-tier system includes a basic allocation, a sum for County Councils in respect of Shire Districts and a final element based on population size.

The allocation to Shropshire County Council has fallen between 1999-2000, and the proposed allocation for 2001-02. However, part of this reduction is offset by an increase in funding to the unitary authority of Telford and Wrekin which was formerly part of the county.

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