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Common Land (Vehicle Access)

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he

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has to amend the law relating to common land, with respect to vehicle access; and if he will make a statement. [100708]

Mr. Mullin: In addition to our proposals to give a statutory right of access on foot to registered common land, the Government are considering whether there should be any further changes to the legislation that affects common land. If so, there will be public consultation on what changes would be desirable.

London Underground

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress has been made on the proposals for integrating London Underground's sub-surface lines with the national railway network; and if he will make a statement. [101288]

Mr. Prescott: I announced in June that Railtrack and London Transport would be investigating the scope for taking forward two specific integration schemes, running East-West and North-South, and, on that basis, Railtrack would bid for the PPP contract to maintain and upgrade the Underground lines in question.

Railtrack and London Transport have not found it possible to identify a practicable scheme to integrate the Tube and the national railway network on an East-West axis on the basis and timetable envisaged in June. All the options would have involved a connection through Paddington. This has highlighted a number of issues relating to constraints on capacity in the Paddington approaches, not least in the light of the Ladbroke Grove tragedy.

Accordingly, the Government, Railtrack and London Transport have together agreed that there is no longer sufficient basis for an exclusive PPP negotiation between London Transport and Railtrack on the sub-surface lines and links with the national railway.

Competitions for the two deep-tube PPPs are well underway and London Transport will now commence a competition for the sub-surface PPP structure so as to leave open the option of integration from the west of London at some point in the future.

The work so far has confirmed the validity of an integration scheme on a North-South axis, based on extending the London Underground East London Line to North London from Whitechapel, and to south and south-west London from Canada Water and New Cross. I have asked Sir Alastair Morton and the shadow Strategic Rail Authority to advise me as soon as possible on the best way of implementing North-South integration taking into account the parallels with Thameslink, and the need to obtain the necessary approvals.

I have also asked Sir Alastair Morton and the shadow Strategic Rail Authority to undertake a wide-ranging study of the capacity issues and potential for integration to the west of London. The shadow Strategic Rail Authority will be working closely with Railtrack and LT in undertaking these studies.

Railtrack and Government will of course continue to work together on a range of initiatives based on our plans for a growing railway, which will mean Railtrack

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delivering a large programme of infrastructure projects to improve the capacity and quality of the network, not least in major works such as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.


Minority Ethnic Groups

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will arrange for regular surveys of the police and other public services to monitor progress towards equal satisfaction with those services among black and other minority ethnic groups. [100027]

Mr. Charles Clarke: So far as the police service is concerned, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary set a Ministerial Priority in June to increase trust and confidence in policing among minority ethnic communities in line with Recommendation 1 of the Macpherson report. Recommendation 2 of that report proposed a range of performance indicators for assessing achievement of the Priority, which included achieving equal satisfaction levels across all ethnic groups in public satisfaction surveys. The Steering Group which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary chairs to oversee the implementation of the Action Plan published in March as the Government's response to the Macpherson report, approved at its October meeting proposals for the development of indicators in line with Recommendation 2 including satisfaction surveys. Further work is currently being undertaken on the development of this indicator.

For other public services, the Home Office is committed to the establishment of government-wide and departmental performance indicators to measure improvements in race equality. Work is currently being undertaken on the development of these indicators which are likely to include measures of confidence in public services. The performance indicators will be announced in Spring 2000.


Sir Brian Mawhinney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many bodies have been cremated in the United Kingdom in each of the past five years; and, in each year, what percentage cremations constituted of the number of deaths. [99915]

Mr. Boateng: The table sets out statistics from the Office for National Statistics and the Federation of British Cremation Authorities.

YearNumber of cremationsNumber of deathsPercentage of cremations

Defendant Statistics

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) for each year since 1990, in what percentage of either-way cases that went to trial

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before a jury the defendant was found guilty; and what the percentage conviction rate was in such cases for (a) white defendants and (b) black and ethnic minority defendants; [100249]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Home Office collected data on disposals at magistrates' courts by ethnicity of defendant in 1998 in 11 police force areas. These are pilot studies and work is required to address data quality problems. However, information from four of the areas (Lancashire, Leicestershire, Northumbria and West Yorkshire (Bradford and Keighley)) will be published in "Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System" on 9 December 1999. The information will cover prosecutions and sentencing for indictable offences. It shows that for cases disposed of (other than by committal) at magistrates' courts, the conviction rate is 67 per cent. for white defendants and 57 per cent. for black defendants.

Copies of the publication will be sent to the Library.

No national information from the Crown Court is available by ethnic group although pilots are under way. Crown Court information from the Home Office Court proceedings Database is given in the table.

Defendants pleading not guilty (6)to triable either way offences at the Crown Court, England and Wales, 1995-98

YearPercentage found guiltyPercentage of those found guilty given a custodial sentenceAverage custodial sentence length (months)

(6) Pleaded not guilty to principal offence; some of those found not guilty may not have been tried by a jury (eg the judge may have ordered or directed an acquittal).

(7) Plea data only available from July 1995

Life Sentences

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the number of (a) men and (b) women serving a life prison sentence in prisons in England and Wales on 1 November. [100444]

Mr. Boateng: The latest available provisional information is for 31 October 1999. On that date, there were 4,175 male and 149 female life sentence prisoners in Prison Service establishments in England and Wales.

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Operation Care

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in relation to Operation Care how many complaints have been received from how many complainants. [100232]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The information on the number of claimants is not readily available. The number of complaints received reflects each separate complaint rather than the number of individuals who claim to have been abused. As of 8 July 1999, the number of separate complaints received was 759.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what meetings his Department has held with members of the legal profession involved in Operation Care. [100235]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I understand that there have been no meetings between Home Office officials and members of the legal profession involved in Operation Care.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many defence witnesses have been arrested as part of Operation Care. [100233]

Mr. Charles Clarke: There is no requirement in law for the defence to provide either the Crown Prosecution Service or the police with lists of defence witnesses at any stage of an investigation. I cannot say therefore whether any individual arrested as part of Operation Care might also be a defence witness.

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