Previous Section Index Home Page


Corpus Juris

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list those proposals, originally set out in Corpus Juris, which are under discussion at EU level (a) separately and (b) conjointly; and what his policy is regarding the exercise of the UK's veto in each case. [137896]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. and noble Friend Lord Bassam of Brighton, in another place on 25 October 2000, Official Report, House of Lords, column 45WA.

15 Nov 2000 : Column: 708W

The Corpus Juris proposals as a whole have not been discussed in any meeting of the Council of the European Union (EU). A proposal by the Commission concerning the creation of a European Public Prosecutor has been discussed briefly in the Inter-governmental Conference (IGC) but the United Kingdom, as well as the majority of other EU member states, opposed its inclusion in the Treaty of Nice.

Sex Offenders

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 31 October 2000, Official Report, column 435W, how many

15 Nov 2000 : Column: 709W

responses he has so far received to the consultation paper 'Setting the Boundaries: reforming the law on sex offenders'. [137996]

Mr. Charles Clarke: To date, the Government have received 170 responses from a wide range of people and organisations. The closing date for comments is March 2001.

Credit Card Fraud

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the level of credit card fraud over the last three years; and what plans he has to reduce its incidence. [137886]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Recorded crime figures for credit card fraud and cheque fraud are not separately identified. The total figures for England and Wales in the years ending March 1999 and March 2000 were 141,948 and 173,857 respectively.

The Association for Payment and Clearing Services (APACS) estimates that the value of credit card fraud relating to cards issued within the United Kingdom for the years ending March 1999 and March 2000 at £135 million and £189.4 million respectively.

The Government take the problem of card fraud very seriously and we liaise closely with the Association for Payment and Clearing Services and others to establish and promote best practice in protecting cards.

The Home Office held a seminar at the end of June to seek views from the banks, retailers and others about how the increasing levels of credit card fraud in the United Kingdom could be addressed. The main issues are the introduction of chip cards which would significantly reduce the use of fraudulent cards, and the introduction of a cardholder verification system, probably using a Personal Identification Number (PIN) number, to confirm that the user of the card is genuine. We want to see these important measures introduced as soon as possible. We are working in partnership with the industry to examine other ways in which the response to credit card fraud can be improved. A further seminar to take stock of the outcome of these discussions will take place later this month.

Carriers (Illegal Immigrants)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his policy toward the European Council Initiative on the adoption of a directive on the harmonisation of financial penalties imposed on carriers for carriage of third country nationals lacking necessary documents. [138087]

Mrs. Roche: The adoption of penalties on those who transport inadequately documented third-country nationals into member states is one of a number of initiatives agreed by the European Council to tackle the problem of illegal immigration across Europe. It forms an important part of the European Union strategy for tackling this serious problem. We are fully committed to co-operating with other member states on the issue. The United Kingdom has opted in to this initiative. Doing so is consistent with our policy of participating in immigration measures which do not conflict with our position on frontiers.

15 Nov 2000 : Column: 710W

The United Kingdom already has legislation in place whereby a financial charge may be imposed on carriers transporting inadequately documented passengers. The United Kingdom Government have some reservations about the terms of the draft directive implementing this initiative. We are currently seeking changes to the draft through negotiation.

Police Procedures

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 2 November 2000, Official Report, column 520W, when the review of the Codes of Practice which govern police procedures under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 will be completed and its findings published. [137990]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The current intention is to publish initial draft revised Codes of Practice for consultation by the end of this year and to lay final drafts before Parliament by the end of March 2001. The revised Codes should be in force by 1 July 2001.

National Confiscation Agency

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is in respect of the creation of a National Confiscation Agency. [137935]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Mr. Cohen) on 28 July 2000, Official Report, column 1158W.

Licensed Sex Shops

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the proposal by the president of the British Board of Film Classification for an increase in the number of licensed sex shops in British cities. [137934]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 provides a means of control of sex shop premises. It is for local authorities to decide whether or not to issue a 'sex shop' licence and there are no plans to relax these controls.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Social Security Commissioners Decision

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he proposes to take following the recent decision (reference number: C.DLA/714/1998) of a tribunal of Social Security Commissioners in relation to the lower rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance; and if he will make a statement. [138882]

Mr. Bayley: The decision, which we generally welcome, should help to achieve more consistency in decision making on entitlement to the lower rate mobility component. However, a part of the decision, which relates to a disabled person's fear or anxiety while out of doors, goes beyond what Parliament intended. That part of the decision proceeds on the assumption that a person may, for the purpose of entitlement to disability benefit, be

15 Nov 2000 : Column: 711W

considered to be incapable of doing something even though he is physically and mentally capable of doing it, but chooses not to do so.

We are, therefore, considering scope for the introduction of amending regulations which would, subject to parliamentary approval, restore and clarify the original policy intention. However, it would not be our intention that any amendment would affect the legitimate conditions of entitlement to the lower rate mobility component, which would allow those people disabled by serious mental conditions, such as agoraphobia, to remain potentially eligible for benefit.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when his Department will publish the study of Minimum Income Guarantee take-up. [136943]

Mr. Rooker: The Minimum Income Guarantee take-up campaign is still in progress.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many applications resulted from his Department's most recent take-up campaign for the Minimum Income Guarantee for pensioners; how many were successful; and what were the principal reasons for failure. [137267]

Mr. Rooker: The current Minimum Income Guarantee take-up campaign is still in progress. So far, we have had over 600,000 responses, and around half of those claims already processed have been successful.

Departmental Employees (New Deal)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many staff are employed by his Department under the New Deal for Young People. [137962]

Angela Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 13 November 2000, Official Report, column 551W.

Housing Benefit

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he expects the review of Housing Benefit claims from people living in supported and sheltered housing to be completed; and if he will list those local authorities that have not yet submitted information on this matter. [137706]

Angela Eagle: Research information from local authorities suggests that the majority will have completed the review of claims from people living in supported accommodation by the end of this calendar year. However, because the information was collected through research we are unable to supply the names of individual authorities which have not, as yet, reviewed their cases. We are collecting management information on other aspects of the scheme and this will be published in the usual way.


Next Section Index Home Page