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Racial Equality

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to promote racial equality. [103246]

Mr. Boateng: We have introduced a Bill to extend further the Race Relations Act 1976 in relation to public authorities and to make chief officers of police vicariously liable for acts of racial discrimination by their police officers; we have responded positively to proposals made by the Commission for Racial Equality and the Better Regulation Task Force to amend the Race Relations Act 1976 and other anti-discrimination legislation; we are implementing an Action Plan published in response to the 70 recommendations made in the report on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry; targets have been set for the recruitment, retention and career progression of ethnic minority staff in the Home Office and the fire, prison, police, probation and immigration services; and we are currently developing a basket of performance indicators which will be designed to measure improvements in race equality across a range of key public services.

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We have also published an equality statement that sets race equality within a wider strategy to ensure that the public sector promotes equality and leads by example.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce measures to enable group complaints to be made to courts in racial discrimination cases. [103247]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD), which has responsibility for the courts, is currently reviewing the position of group and representative actions to the courts in England and Wales. The Commission for Racial Equality proposed, in its Third Review of the Race Relations Act 1976, published in April 1998, that the Act be amended to enable a court (or tribunal) to consider a complaint where racial discrimination affects a number of people who wish to bring a group complaint, without the need for each person separately to bring proceedings. The Commission's recommendation is being taken into account as part of the LCD's review. The LCD will be undertaking a public consultation on the Government's proposals early in 2000.

External Consultants

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number and value of contracts let by his Department since May 1997 to external consultants and advisers for the management of competitive tendering processes. [103609]

Mr. Straw: Details available of the number and value of contracts let by my Department since May 1997 to external consultants and advisers for the management of competitive tendering processes is given in the table.

YearNumber of contractsValue
May 1997 to March 19981549,376
April 1999 to March 19991910,261
April 1999 to date2125,000

Driving Offences

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Salisbury of 7 December 1999, Official Report, column 500W, on driving offences, if he will list, using common names, the drugs found in the blood samples analysed by the Forensic Science Service. [103404]

Mr. Charles Clarke: According to the Forensic Science Service, the drugs found in the blood samples analysed by them in England and Wales in 1998-99 were Amphetamines (including Methyl Amphetamines and Ecstasy), Cannabis, Cocaine, Opiates, Methadone, Benzodiazepines (mainly Diazepam and Temazepam) and "other" drugs.

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Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Torbay of 1 October 1999 regarding Dr. Charl Malherbe and his application for residency on 9 September. [103656]

Mrs. Roche: I am very sorry that the hon. Member has not received a reply. I will write to him early in the New Year.


Stephen and Julia Bowles

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will appeal against the sentence passed on 10 December by Judge Hyam in relation to the conviction of Stephen and Julia Bowles for corporate manslaughter; and if he will make a statement. [103544]

The Solicitor-General: I have asked the Crown Prosecution Service to gather the necessary case papers so that either I or the Attorney-General can consider whether this is a case which should be referred to the Court of Appeal on the basis that the sentence passed was unduly lenient.


Computers (Millennium)

Mr. Ian Taylor: To ask the President of the Council what actions she is taking to deal with the possibility of attacks of (a) viruses, (b) trojans and (c) worms on networked computer systems over the new year 2000 period. [100405]

Mrs. Beckett: Government Departments and private sector organisations owning computer systems of critical importance to the national infrastructure receive, as a matter of course, advice and guidance on preventing and handling computer security incidents, including virus attacks. To guard against any extra risk that might arise over the Millennium period, they have also been issued with specific guidance on precautionary measures and how to deal with a suspected attack during this time. The Government's Unified Incident Reporting and Alert Scheme, UNIRAS, will be on call throughout the Millennium period to give owners of critical systems emergency advice.

For other organisations and the general public, advice on computer security and viruses is available from various sources including recognised computer security organisations, computer hardware and software manufacturers and, in particular, anti-virus software vendors.

Private Members' Bills

Mr. Cox: To ask the President of the Council if she will put forward proposals for reform of the procedures for dealing with Private Members' Bills. [103173]

Mrs. Beckett: I have no immediate plans to do so, though these matters are kept under review.

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Adjournment of the House

Mr. Lidington: To ask the President of the Council what plans she has for the House to adjourn during February 2000. [101205]

Mrs. Beckett: I shall announce the dates of any future recesses as soon as I am in a position to do so, which, as always, are dependant on the progress of business.



Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has undertaken of the amount of humanitarian relief provided to shelter those Kosovars whose homes have been destroyed or damaged; and if all the shelter requirements for Kosovars this winter have been met. [103595]

Clare Short: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is responsible for co-ordinating the international humanitarian effort to support the people of Kosovo through the winter. Their view is that the effort to provide winter accommodation for those who need it is well on target. About 90 per cent. of the planned distribution of emergency repair kits has been completed by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and the Office for Disaster Assistance/USAID. The agencies are also distributing firewood, stoves and additional roofing repair and insulating material. UNHCR have identified 19,800 places in community shelter to supplement the accommodation available with 40,000 host families. These measures, together with the provision of winterised tents and prefabricated shelters in some areas, should cover needs.

Street Children

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development in which countries her Department is working on projects for the benefit of street children. [103730]

Clare Short: The Department for International Development (DFID) supports work in many countries which benefits the lives of street children, either strategically or through targeted interventions. This includes work in Brazil, Ecuador, Kenya, India, South Africa, Bangladesh, and Mozambique.

The reality is that children cannot be separated from the wider communities in which they live. Projects that seek to supply services to children which are not part of a wider effort to improve economic development or the provision of basic services will not generate sustainable development and real improvements in the life of children. Street children in many countries benefit from

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our programmes for primary education and the elimination of child labour, either channelled bilaterally or through support for, for example, the united Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the ILO's International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations she has received on women's human rights in Iran; and if she will make a statement. [103746]

Clare Short: I have received no recent representations on women's rights in Iran.

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