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Mr. Boateng: Provisional information for 30 September 2000 shows that there were 578 persons (568 male and 10 females) aged 65 years or over in prisons in England and Wales. This includes both remand and sentenced prisoners. Of these, 12 (all of which were male) were aged over 80 years.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: None. The Parliamentary Boundary Commission for England is required to report on its review of parliamentary boundaries between April 2003 and April 2007. The Parliamentary Boundary Commission for Wales is required to report on its review of parliamentary boundaries between December 2002 and December 2006. Any changes recommended as a result of those reviews would not take effect until the following general election. There will be no changes before then.
15 Nov 2000 : Column: 702W
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will establish an inter- departmental committee to consider the workings of section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government have a clear commitment to Freedom of Information. I am well aware of the need for increased openness and am equally aware of the concerns within the scientific community about security and commercial sensitivity.
I have recently held a seminar comprising representatives of animal protection groups and the scientific community to discuss Freedom of Information issues and officials are currently in the process of holding a series of separate meetings with those organisations. In due course, I will be reconvening the group to discuss progress made.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list for each prison which is managed by the private sector, the number of (a) prisoners and (b) full-time and part-time equivalent staff at the most recent date for which figures are available, indicating the total annual saving to public funds resulting from the use of private sector operated prisons. 
|Prison||Prisoners at 13 November 2000||Staff|
The comparative costs of the non-Public Finance Initiative (PFI) private sector prisons (Wolds, Blakenhurst and Doncaster) and their closest public sector counterparts have been reviewed annually. In the most recent report for 1998-99, private sector prisons offered on average a saving of 13 per cent. in terms of cost per prisoner but little or no saving when cost per baseline and in-use places were compared.The contractual Net Present Value (NPV) of the PFI prisons assessed against their public sector comparator (PSC) is shown in the table.
|Prison||NPV (£ million)||PSC (£ million)||Saving (per cent.)|
|Altcourse||247||248||less than 1|
Work is under way with a view to establishing a methodology for comparing the costs of PFI prisons with comparable public sector counterparts.
15 Nov 2000 : Column: 703W
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 25 October 2000, Official Report, column 430W, how many of those convicted in England and Wales in (a) 1997 and (b) 1998 for possession of cannabis have been convicted again since then. 
Mr. Charles Clarke: Data are available on a sample of 1,324 offenders convicted of possession of cannabis in 1998. The following table shows whether these offenders have been reconvicted of any recordable offence at any time. For those offenders originally convicted in the first half of 1998, the table also presents whether they have been reconvicted of any recordable offence within two years of the original offence. A distinction is made between offences where possession of cannabis was the principal original offence, and where it was a secondary offence.
|Measure--whether cannabis possession was original principal offence||Percentage reconvicted(10)|
|Principal offence||49.3 (819)|
|Non-principal offence||56.6 (505)|
|All offences||53.0 (1,324)|
|Reconvicted within two years|
|Principal offence||47.5 (402)|
|Non-principal offence||51.2 (244)|
|All offences||48.9 (646)|
(10) Total number in sample
Mrs. Roche: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), on 31 October 2000, Official Report, column 428W. The United Kingdom does not yet have access to data entered on to the Schengen Information System by Schengen partner countries.
Mrs. Roche: The Government are considering, in consultation with law enforcement agencies and other interested parties in the United Kingdom and Schengen partner countries, the arrangements for putting data onto the Schengen Information System (SIS) and having access to SIS data. I am not yet in a position to say when the arrangements will be in place.
15 Nov 2000 : Column: 704W
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons the United Kingdom will not make any inquiries of the Schengen Information System during its first year of membership. 
Mrs. Roche: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), on 31 October 2000, Official Report, column 427W. The United Kingdom is not in a position to make inquiries of the Schengen Information System because the necessary arrangements for sharing data with Schengen partner countries through the system are not yet in place.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what was the average custodial sentence imposed in each of the last three years on persons convicted of repeat offences of domestic violence; 
Mr. Boateng: The information requested is not available. Offence classifications used by the Home Office are based upon legal definitions. From the data held centrally it is not possible to identify the relationship between the victim and the offender convicted of committing a crime.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of sentencing policy towards persons convicted of offences of domestic violence. 
Mr. Boateng: Statistics held centrally do not distinguish the relationship between an offender and the victim of the crime. It is therefore not possible to tell from those data what sentences offenders who commit domestic violence offences receive or what effect those sentences have. Projects under the Crime Reduction Programme's violence against women initiative, and earlier research, looks at different aspects of domestic violence, including criminal remedies. This work focuses on effective interventions rather than individual sentences. Relevant information is on the Home Office's domestic violence website: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/domesticviolence/index.htm. The probation service Pathfinder initiative is currently looking at perpetrator programmes run by the service for those put under its supervision, to see what works for wider adoption.
Powers in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 empower the Home Secretary to direct the Sentencing Advisory Panel to propose to the Court of Appeal that it issue guidelines for specific offences or categories of offence. However, the term "domestic violence" can include a range of behaviour, which could amount to one of a number of criminal offences: it is not confined to one
15 Nov 2000 : Column: 705W
particular offence. It is difficult to see how the Court of Appeal could issue guidelines relating specifically to domestic violence.
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