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Foot and Mouth Disease

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to provide during the period of a foot and mouth emergency for (a) one free postal delivery of municipal election addresses, (b) moneys to be spent promoting voting by post, (c) Northern Ireland local government elections to be brought forward to 3 May and (d) moneys to promote awareness among those using postal votes in Northern Ireland of the different method for voting between Westminster elections and that used for electing members of local authorities; and if he will make a statement. [151880]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government have no current plans to extend the provision of free posting of electoral addresses to candidates in local elections. A Home Office-funded campaign to publicise the changes in postal voting procedures began on 19 February, shortly after they came into force.

The conduct of local government elections in Northern Ireland is a matter for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. We have no plans to introduce either of the suggested measures.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessments he has made of the implications of the current foot and mouth outbreak for the feasibility of holding national or local elections in (a) April and (b) May. [152168]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The date of a parliamentary general election is not a matter for me. The law requires the local elections schedule for 3 May to take place on that date. At the moment we have no intention to change that.

Race Relations (Amendment) Act

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to prepare for commencement of the Race Relations (Amendment)

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Act 2000; and what public bodies he has consulted concerning future application of a general duty to promote race equality. [150613]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: A commencement order has been made for the provisions of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act to come into force on 2 April 2001. There is one exception to this. To enable the immigration provisions to work effectively from 2 April 2001, the order provides for section 1 of the Act to come into force on 26 March 2001 (for the purposes of the imposition of requirements or giving of express authorisations (as defined) by a Minister of the Crown).

A public consultation paper was issued on 22 February 2001 setting out the Government's proposals for extending the list of public bodies in the Act that are subject to the general duty to promote and the specific duties to promote race equality that might apply. The paper has been circulated widely among the public bodies that are likely to be affected by the new duty and to other interested parties for comments by 15 May 2001. A copy has been placed in the Library. The paper is also available on the Home Office website at: raceact/welcome.htm.

Religious Affiliation (Prisoners)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will break down by religious belief (a) the prison population and (b) the population as a whole. [150614]

Mr. Boateng: On 30 June 1999, there were 64,529 prisoners in England and Wales. Information on inmates' religious affiliation is recorded as a standard part of the reception process on entry into prison.

Of the inmates, 42 per cent. were Anglican, 17.5 per cent. were Roman Catholic and 3 per cent. belonged to other Christian denominations. Further, 7 per cent. were Muslim, 1.5 per cent. were Buddhist, Hindu or Sikh and 1 per cent. belonged to other religions. The remaining 28 per cent. of the population did not profess to belong to any religion.

This information is also published in "Prison Statistics England and Wales" (Table 6.6 of the 1999 edition, Cm 4805) copies of which are in the Library.

Information on the religious composition of the general population is currently available only through the British social attitudes survey, which is conducted annually. This is a sample survey of 3,500 randomly chosen households in Great Britain, of whom 3,143 responded to the following question: "Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?"

In 1999, the responses were as follows: 27 per cent. were Anglican, 9 per cent. were Roman Catholic and 16 per cent. belonged to other Christian denominations. Further, 1.5 per cent. were Muslim, 1 per cent. were Buddhist, Hindu or Sikh and 0.6 per cent. belonged to other religions.

Forty-four per cent. of the sample claimed no religion. One per cent. refused to divulge their religion or did not answer.

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The information for 1999 is published in Appendix III of "British Social Attitudes--The 17th Report" (2000), a copy of which is available in the Library.

Departmental Policies (Hull, North)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Hull, North constituency, the effects on Hull, North of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [150618]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Home Office is working to build a safe, just and tolerant society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced, and the protection and security of the public are maintained. Detailed information on the impact of Home Office policies across the full range of responsibilities is set out in Home Office Annual Reports. A copy of the most recent report, "Home Office Annual Report 1999-2000", is available in the Library. Information on recorded crime and policing is also published. "Recorded Crime England and Wales, 12 months to September 2000" and "Police Service Strength England and Wales, 30 September 2000" can be found in the Library. The recorded crime statistics include information on recorded crime by basic command unit and crime and disorder partnerships.

The impact of Home Office policies and actions is not normally examined by constituency and the statistics which the Department collects, such as recorded crime, cannot be matched in the way requested, although set out are examples relating to the Hull, North constituency or the immediate locality:

Targeted Policing:

Humberside police, in partnership with Kingston-upon- Hull city council, was awarded £377,000 for a project aimed at reducing the level of anti-social and low-level criminal behaviour in Bransholme.

Reducing Burglary Initiative:

Three projects were awarded a total of £275,000--one scheme covering the Stoneferry and Bransholme area of Hull, was awarded £135,000 under the first round of the reducing burglary initiative. Two schemes, both covering Hull, West, were awarded a total of £139,000 under round two of the reducing burglary initiative.

Youth offending Teams (YOTs):

The Kingston-upon-Hull YOT covers the constituency of Hull, North. The YOT is working with other youth justice agencies to deliver the Government's pledge to halve the average time taken from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders, from 142 to 71 days. Locally the average time for the youth court is below the Government target of 71 days. The YOT is also preparing 100 per cent. of all pre-sentence reports on young people within the adjournment period specified by the courts for the preparation of such reports.

The YOT is utilising the ASSET assessment system in order to ensure intervention work is effectively targeted at the personal, family, social, educational and health

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problems that contribute to the causes of a young person's offending behaviour. The YOT is achieving a 96.6 per cent. completion rate for assessment work at the pre-sentence report stage and a 100 per cent. completion rate for assessment of young people referred to it through the police final warning scheme.

The YOT is also delivering intervention programmes for young people referred to it through the operation of the police final warning scheme. 96.4 per cent. of all programmes delivered as the result of a police final warning contain an element of either direct or indirect reparation to victims. The team is also working with victims as a result of the operation of the police final warning scheme and the community-based reparation order.

Kingston-upon-Hull (including the Hull, North constituency) is benefiting from the Youth Justice Board's development fund, which has awarded grants of approximately £483,000 over three years for one bail support scheme and two intervention programmes.

The Youth Justice Board also provided funding for the operation of Splash schemes during the summer holidays in 2000. These schemes provided constructive and positive leisure activities for young people most at risk of offending. A Splash scheme was run in Orchard Park.

The YOT is also working in partnership locally in order to address youth crime. For the first time it has created a single and coherent database about youth crime so it can establish a baseline for local youth crime reduction targets.

More generally, all of the policies of the Home Office will impact on the residents of Hull, North to a greater or lesser extent. For example:

Information on the Home Office and its policies is also published on its website (

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