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Drug Referral Schemes

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend drug referral schemes to include referral for alcohol abuse; and if he will make a statement. [142609]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The drug arrest referral schemes, promoted and supported by the Home Department, with £20 million from the Crime Reduction Programme, encourage the referral worker to assess the needs of those who have been arrested. While the focus is on drugs, the assessment will identify alcohol and other issues with which the individual has problems. The arrestee is referred to appropriate services, including those which can respond to alcohol abuse where they exist.

The Home Department is committing some £140 million over the next three years to help meet the treatment needs of drug misusers. This will include those referred through arrest referral schemes.

Public Disorder

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many public disorder incidents and how many such incidents per 1,000 of population have been recorded since 31 March. [143009]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 15 December 2000]: Information for this year is not yet available but will be published in due course.

Powers of Arrest

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers a constable in England and Wales has to arrest, without warrant, a person on the grounds that he is about to commit a criminal offence; and in respect of which criminal offences such powers exist. [143016]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Under section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) a constable in England and Wales has the power to arrest, without warrant, a person whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be about to commit an arrestable offence. Arrestable offences are defined in sub-sections 24 (1) and (2) of PACE. I am aware that there may be other offences outside the PACE definition which attract the relevant power and I will write to the hon. Member once that aspect has been researched.

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Pensioners Gatherings

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the policing of the recent Pensioners' Rally at Central Hall, Westminster, with particular reference to the (a) clothing worn by the police and (b) use of surveillance cameras. [143159]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I am advised by the Metropolitan police that the 'National Pensioners Convention' held on 7 November at Westminster Central Hall was policed by 14 officers wearing normal uniform. No surveillance cameras were used.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Chief Constable of Sussex on the policing of the pensioners' meeting held at Hove on 24 September and subsequent march to the Labour Party Conference, with particular reference to (a) the clothing worn by the police and (b) the use of surveillance cameras. [143158]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Sussex Police are not aware of a pensioners' meeting and rally on 24 September. On that date, a meeting and march were held in Hove under the banner of the "Alternative Conference". As some people within this march were found to have items that could be used to cause injury, some officers were available fully equipped with public order equipment and protective clothing.

On 25 September, some pensioners joined in the marches organised by the Countryside Alliance and the East and West Farmers and these demonstrations were policed by officers in protective order jackets and trousers but wearing ordinary headgear.

Surveillance cameras were used during the party conference and facilitated the gathering of intelligence which may have later supported the investigation of offences.

Political Parties (Regulation)

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are for the European Union to regulate (a) pan-European political parties and (b) national political parties; how the regulations will be justiciable; if it is the Government's policy that such regulation should be subject to qualified majority voting; and if he will make a statement. [141476]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 11 December 2000]: The InterGovernmental Conference (IGC) at Nice agreed that Article 191 of the Treaty establishing the European Community shall be amended so as to require the Council to lay down regulations governing political parties at European level, and in particular the rules regarding their funding. Such regulations will be subject to qualified majority voting under Article 251 of the Treaty. The IGC in addition, issued a declaration reaffirming that the provisions of Article 191 do not imply any transfer of competence to the European Community and do not affect the application of the relevant national constitutional rules. The declaration further stated that the funding for political parties at European level provided out of the Community budget may not be used to fund, either directly or indirectly, political parties at national level.

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This Treaty amendment will ensure transparency in the status of, and funding arrangements for, federations of political parties operating at European level. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the regulation of national political parties, including controls on their funding and expenditure, properly remains a matter for member states.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Prince of Brunei

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communications were made to (a) Magdalen College and (b) Oxford University by Government officials in relation to the application of the Prince of Brunei to Oxford University. [142518]

Mr. Battle [holding answer 15 December 2000]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office received from the British Council an application from Brunei and forwarded it to Oxford University. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials were in touch by telephone with the University, and were informed that the application would be considered by Oxford as any other application.

Universities

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's policy is on facilitating applications to British universities by foreign nationals. [142520]

Mr. Battle [holding answer 15 December 2000]: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear in his speech at the London School of Economics on 18 June last year, we wish to encourage more students from overseas to study in the UK. The FCO, other Government Departments, devolved Administrations and the British Council have introduced a package of measures to this end. We are increasing the number of Chevening Scholarships available.

We are working with the Home Office to ensure that bona fide students obtain visas with minimum delay and on first arrival are normally granted permission to stay in the UK for the whole duration of their course. With the help of the Home Office and DfEE, restrictions on international students taking work during their time in the UK have been eased. A new UK Education Brand has been created, and underpins a marketing campaign overseas. All decisions on applications and admissions to British universities are taken by the universities themselves.

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many applications from overseas citizens to British universities his Department has forwarded in the last 12 months. [142988]

Mr. Battle [holding answer 15 December 2000]: On behalf of the FCO, the British Council and the Association of Commonwealth Universities forward or place approximately 1,850 applications per year to British Universities under the Chevening and Marshall Scholarship Programmes.

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The FCO does not keep a central record of other applications it forwards direct to British Universities.

British Council

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the offices closed by the British Council in the past year. [143291]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 18 December 2000]: The British Council has closed the following offices since December 1999: Cali and Medellin in Colombia, Minsk in Belarus and Las Palmas in Spain.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff will be relocated as a result of the new strategy of the British Council. [143294]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 18 December 2000]: Figures are not yet available. The British Council expects the new strategy to have some effect on the timings of the regular moves of the UK-appointed staff; locally appointed staff do not in general relocate.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the contribution to his Department's objectives made by the regional offices of the British Council in Germany. [143299]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 18 December 2000]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office considers that the regional offices of the British Council in Germany have made a useful contribution to its objectives over the years. However, we agree with the Council's assessment that infrastructure costs, running at some 80 per cent., are unacceptably high and that, given the potential of IT services, our mutual objectives would be furthered more effectively by redirecting funding into programmes for the Laender.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many in-country staff the British Council plans to make redundant as a result of its new strategy; [143292]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 18 December 2000]:Plans for staff changes as a result of the new strategy are not yet finalised. The British Council's decisions on redundancies will be taken year by year and country by country after discussion with locally appointed staff. Current planning assumptions are that 800 posts for locally appointed staff will be cut (equivalent to about 20 per cent. of locally appointed posts) though some of the staff involved may be transferred to new posts.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what sums in grant in aid will be allocated to each British Council operation in spoke countries for each of the next five years under its new strategy. [143290]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 18 December 2000]: The figures requested, supplied by the British Council, are given in the table.

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Grant in aid (real terms)

£000
NamibiaMalawiZambia
2001-02117366374
2002-0396310343
2003-0496246290
2004-0596213260
2005-0673200250

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much the British Council plans to spend on redundancy payments for staff made redundant as a result of the new strategy. [143295]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 18 December 2000]: Over the next five years, the British Council plans to spend a total of £18.6 million, equivalent to 1 per cent. of its expected turnover over the period, on staff restructuring in the United Kingdom and overseas. This amount incorporates all payments to staff whose posts may be affected by the new strategy, including redundancy, contributions to pension arrangements, career counselling and retraining.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what studies have been undertaken by (a) his Department and (b) the British Council to evaluate the effectiveness of information technology for cultural diplomacy; and what the findings of such studies were. [143300]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 18 December 2000]: The British Council commissioned MORI to research attitudes towards the United Kingdom among young people overseas in 1999 and 2000. In 2000, the percentage of respondents saying they had been influenced by the internet was 21 per cent. as against 4 per cent. in 1999. These figures reflect the increased use made of the Council's own internet services, which now supply two million pages of information each month.

Ad hoc research undertaken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in a range of countries also confirms the popularity of the internet as a source of information. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, like the British Council, monitors the usage and feedback on its sites on an on-going basis.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the planned annual grant in aid allocation is under the new strategy for British Council country directorates in France, Germany and Italy for each of the next five years in real terms. [143298]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 18 December 2000]: The figures requested, supplied by the British Council, are given in the table:

Grant in aid (real terms)

£000
FranceGermanyItaly
2001-021,7113,1092,392
2002-031,5152,6461,871
2003-041,3792,0541,584
2004-051,3792,0541,451
2005-061,3791,9521,389


19 Dec 2000 : Column: 131W


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