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Speeding Penalties

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to alter the penalties applicable to drivers driving at speeds in excess of 100 mph. [142107]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The penalties for speeding and other road traffic offences are currently under review. The Government hope to publish a consultation document, setting out the proposals of the review, very shortly.

Replica Guns

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the use of replica guns in perpetrating criminal activity; what plans he has to introduce measures requiring replica guns to be obviously different from real guns; and if he will make a statement. [142109]

Mr. Charles Clarke: In the light of police concern about the use of replica firearms in robbery and other crimes, we have recently accepted in principle the recommendations of the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Firearms Consultative Committee that there should be restrictions on the ready availability of imitation weapons and their possession in a public place. We will wish to explore carefully what further steps might be taken to control these items.


Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convictions for tampering with speed limiters on heavy goods vehicles there have been in the last year for which figures are available. [142506]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Information obtained from the Vehicle Inspectorate (an executive agency of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions) shows that there were 46 convictions for interfering with speed limiters on heavy goods vehicles in England and Wales in the financial year 1999-2000.

Drug Treatment

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people have successfully

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completed treatment under a drug treatment and testing order in each of the last 10 years; and what is the estimated cost of each successful participant; [142213]

Mr. Boateng: The drug treatment and testing order was only rolled out to all courts in England and Wales from 1 October. It had previously been piloted between 1 October 1998 and 31 March 2000 in three areas: Croydon, Gloucestershire and Liverpool. By the end of the pilots 31 offenders had successfully completed their orders or were nearing completion.

It is estimated that on average an order costs approximately £6,000.

Statistics on orders made, breach and revocation in each of the pilot areas are given in the table.

DTTO pilot scheme(8)

AreaOrders madeOrders breachedOrders revokedPercentage of orders revoked

(8) Enforcement process: figures until 31 March 2000 (from Final Evaluation Report)


In all cases, the orders revoked have also been the subject of breach and are included in both figures

Electoral Register

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the standard data format for the supply of copies of the electoral register to (a) those entitled to receive them free of charge in electronic form and (b) others is to be; and if he will make a statement. [141475]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Regulations C22 to C24 of the draft Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 (which were published for consultation on 8 November) provide for the supply of copies of the electoral register to specified persons, or the sale of such copies, either in printed or data form. Regulation C25 of the draft Regulations specifies that, subject to any direction of the Secretary of State under section 52(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (directions as to discharge of registration duties), any duty on the registration officer to supply data under regulations C22 to C24 imposes only a duty to supply such data recorded in the form in which he holds it.

The exercise of the powers in section 52(1) is subject to new section 52(1A), as inserted by paragraph 6 of Schedule 21 to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. New section 52(1A) enables the Secretary of State to give directions requiring a registration officer to maintain his registers in a specified electronic form. By virtue of section 8(1) of the 2000 Act the exercise of the powers in section 52 of the 1983 Act, as amended, is exercisable only on, and in accordance with, a recommendation of the Electoral Commission.

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Subject to consultation with the Commission we propose to bring section 8 of and paragraph 6 of Schedule 21 to the 2000 Act into force on 16 February 2001. Thereafter it will be a matter for the Commission to consider whether to recommend to the Secretary of State that registers of electors should be maintained in a common data format and, if so, what format should be prescribed.

Licensing Applications

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps he is taking to assure applicants under the proposed licensing procedures that they will receive a fair judicial hearing if trained magistrates are removed from the licensing awards procedures; and if he will make a statement; [142183]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Under the proposals for reform of the licensing laws in our White Paper, "Time for Reform", my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary would be responsible for making statutory rules to govern the procedures under which local authorities acting as licensing authorities would deal with applications for the issue, renewal, variation or termination of personal and premises licences.

The aim of such rules would be to ensure that these matters, which will be subject to appeal, are dealt with in a fair, timely and impartial way. Local authorities would also be expected to take account of their own legal advice as necessary and to ensure that those dealing with licensing matters received proper training in the new law and their responsibilities under it.

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what role local magistrates will play under his proposals to transfer all licensing matters to local government; and if he will make a statement. [142182]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Under proposals for reform of the licensing laws set out in our White Paper, "Time for Reform", it would be the responsibility of magistrates courts to try cases involving alleged offences against licensing law, including breaches of licence conditions, and punish the offenders. The White Paper also proposed that magistrates sitting with a judge in the Crown court should deal with appeals against licensing decisions made by local authorities. We have been considering comments on these and the other White Paper proposal, and will announce our conclusions shortly.


Primary Legislation

Mr. Levitt: To ask the President of the Council when primary legislation will be printed in the new format agreed by both Houses in 1999. [142856]

Mrs. Beckett: The new format is being introduced this Session, using new computer software which has had to be developed. The change will be staged, to allow

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everyone involved to become accustomed to working in the new format and to minimise the risk of disruption should there turn out to be flaws in the software.

For the time being, Bills will continue to be introduced in the old format apart from any Bill originating from the Tax Law Rewrite. Each Bill will be published in the new format in the second House, once it has completed its passage through the first.

So, Bills introduced in this House will be in the old format during their stages in this House; but Bills brought from the other place will be in the new format throughout our consideration of them. Similarly, the other place will deal with Bills introduced there in the old format, but deal with Bills brought from this House in the new format.

All Acts passed after 1 January 2001 will be in the new format.

When we are fully confident that the new format and software are problem-free, it will be used for all Bills at all stages.


Hospital-acquired Infections

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of beds are occupied by patients suffering from infections acquired in hospital in each NHS health authority and hospital trust. [141321]

Mr. Denham: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 21 November 2000, Official Report, columns 163-64W.

A compulsory national surveillance scheme of hospital- acquired infection is being developed and will be launched in April 2001. Data will be published from April 2002.

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