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Mr. Hope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the report will be published of the joint Home Office-Lord Chancellor's Department research into stipendiary and lay magistrates, which was announced in November 1999. [143120]

Mr. Straw: The research which was jointly commissioned by the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Home Department last year to assess the relative costs, effectiveness and other benefits and disadvantages of the lay and professional judiciary in the magistrates courts has been published today under the title "The judiciary in the magistrates courts". A copy of the report has been placed in the Library; it is also available on the Home Department website

The report has been passed to Lord Justice Auld to inform his review of the work of the criminal courts, the conclusions of which are expected in the new year.

Terrorism Act

Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will lay before Parliament the draft United Kingdom-wide codes of practice under the Terrorism Act 2000. [143119]

Mr. Straw: I have today laid before Parliament the draft code of practice for the audio recording of interviews. It is my intention to lay the remaining two United Kingdom-wide draft codes of practice, relating to the functions of Examining Officers and Authorised Officers, early in the new year.

National Asylum Support Service

Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what notice period will be required for separated children in local authority care homes or temporary accommodation seeking asylum when they are dispersed by the National Asylum Support Service at the age of 18; [142043]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children reaching 18 may apply to the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) for support. Those requesting accommodation as part of their application will normally be offered accommodation outside London or the south-east in line with our dispersal policy. It is open to an applicant to put forward reasons why they do not wish to leave the area where they are living. This could include the presence of younger siblings still in the care of a local social services department. Full consideration will be given to any compassionate factors. Applicants for support who have been offered accommodation in a dispersal area are expected to travel to their new address within a few days of receiving the details of the support package which is being made available to them.

Released Prisoners

Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to assist released prisoners find accommodation; and what follow-up assistance is available. [142040]

Mr. Boateng: The Government are funding a number of initiatives to help released prisoners find accommodation. Ministers have approved six pilot projects focusing on the resettlement of short-term prisoners. The Rough Sleepers Unit (RSU) is also funding four prison-based housing advice centres run in partnership with the voluntary sector. The Prison Service has also funded the National Association of Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders (NACRO) Prison Link Unit since 1988 to deliver pre-release information including housing.

Leaflets issued by the RSU about housing and benefits are being piloted in Her Majesty's Prison Pentonville and other London prisons with a view to providing them in all prisons early in 2001. I launched the leaflets at Her Majesty's Prison Pentonville on 11 December.

Around £10.5 million a year is spent on probation accommodation grants. This supports some 6,000 places and represents 40 per cent. of the probation services' partnership purchases nationally and 3 per cent. of its total revenue spending.

In addition around £400,000 a year is spent by the probation service on services which can be regarded as accommodation related, such as grants to private or voluntary sector organisations to provide housing advice, help people under supervision by the probation service find accommodation, or to assist people to maintain tenancies through support workers.

CJD-related Deaths

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue guidelines to all coroners instructing them to identify, report and publish information arising from early death which may be attributed to CJD; and if he will make a statement. [141372]

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Mr. Boateng: Coroners are required solely to investigate relevant deaths reported to them. There are no powers to require them to exceed their statutory responsibilities in the way proposed. Details of the numbers of deaths arising from all types of CJD are already published monthly by the Department of Health.

Departmental Electricity Bill

Mr. Denzil Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total electricity bill of his Department was for each of the last four years. [141385]

Mr. Straw: The table shows the expenditure on electricity for the years of 1995-96 to 1998-99 inclusive. Figures for 1999-2000 are not available yet.


Main Home Office

(7) Figures for 1995-96 include United Kingdom Passport Agency (UKPA) and Forensic Science Service buildings. Figures for other years exclude agencies save for a building shared by the main department and UKPA.


The costs relate to key buildings only.

Metropolitan Police Officers

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the qualification requirements to join the Metropolitan police based on (a) UK residence and (b) UK Commonwealth and Irish citizenship; and if he will make a statement. [141329]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Home Office Circulars 99/1982 and 33/1987, issued to police forces on 3 November 1982 and 15 June 1997 respectively, provide guidance on the nationality qualifications for applicants to the police service in England and Wales, including the Metropolitan police. To be eligible for appointment as a constable a candidate must be:

There is no statutory requirement for an applicant for appointment as a police officer to have resided in the UK prior to application which is a matter to be determined on a local basis by chief police officers. No record is held centrally of which forces have a residency requirement as part of their recruitment process.

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Cabinet Office guidance, on which police forces base their policy for carrying out security clearances of applicants, recommends that the normal residency requirement for security clearance is that the applicant has been resident in the United Kingdom for the previous three years. However, if the applicant has spent the previous three years in another country, discretion may be given to undertake overseas security checks where this is possible.

Consultation with the police service in 1998 identified no consensus for change to the present nationality requirements. We are giving further consideration to whether it would be appropriate to propose any changes.

Porton Down

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what specific criminal allegations are being pursued by Wiltshire police in the investigation of the Porton Down volunteers scheme; and if he will make a statement. [142377]

Mr. Charles Clarke: There are currently 10 cases under investigation by the Wiltshire police. These consist of nine individuals who took part in separate experiments and a company of 20 servicemen who took part in an experiment as a group. The offences being investigated in respect of these cases are the administering of a noxious substance and assault offences.

In addition, the Wiltshire police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of an individual during an experiment in May 1953 and the subsequent evidence given to the Coroner's Inquest regarding that death.

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