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Drug Use

32. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will propose amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to make lawful the medicinal use of cannabis. [151734]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Government believe that it would be premature to amend the misuse of drugs legislation to allow the prescribing of cannabis before the quality, safety and efficacy of a medicinal form of the drug has been scientifically established and a marketing authorisation issued by the Medicines Control Agency. This is the procedure that all prospective new medicines have to go through in order to protect public health.

The Government welcome and have encouraged research into the possible medicinal uses of cannabis. The Home Office has licensed a number of laboratory and medical research in this area, including a large-scale research project aimed at producing a cannabis-based

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medicine with applications for multiple sclerosis and intractable pain conditions. Early clinical trial studies are now being conducted.

If the clinical trials into cannabis are successful and lead to a medical preparation which is approved by the Medicines Control Agency, the Government have made it clear that they would be willing to amend the misuse of drugs regulations to allow the prescribing of such a medicine.

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will prepare an assessment of the impact of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on illegal drug use. [151713]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: No. Such an exercise would serve little useful purpose and would not inform the development of anti-drugs policies. However, the Government do have a broad research programme designed to track the progress of the national drugs strategy. This will assist our understanding of what the drug problems are and what works best against them.

"Make Your Voice Heard"

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost was of producing the documents "Make Your Voice Heard". [152662]

Mr. Straw: The "Make Your Voice Heard" documents are two leaflets created to inform the general public about changes to the electoral system under the Representation of the People Act 2000. The changes make it easier both to get on the electoral register and to vote by post.

Each publication was produced in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and Welsh. Each was approved by the Plain English Campaign. Special formats including Braille and a British sign language video were also produced.

Leaflet costs were as follows 1 :

Private Prisons

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the privately run prisons in England and Wales. [152816]

Mr. Boateng: There are currently nine privately managed prisons in England and Wales: Altcourse, Ashfield, Blakenhurst, Doncaster, Forest Bank, Lowdham Grange, Parc, Rye Hill and Wolds. A further privately run prison, Dovegate, is due to open on 9 July 2001. Blakenhurst will transfer to Prison Service management on 19 August 2001.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 23 January from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mrs. R. Kavsar. [152454]

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Mr. Straw: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 12 March.

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letters to him dated 17 January from the Right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Maqsood Ahmed Mirza. [152453]

Mr. Straw [holding answer 6 March 2001]: I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 9 March.

Logos and Branding

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent by his Department on departmental and agency logos and associated branding since 1 May 1997. [152655]

Mr. Straw: A new Home Office corporate identity was introduced in 2000. The costs involved in developing this identity including design, research, project management and drawing up style guidelines for printed and electronic media were £155,000. This is offset by anticipated savings of £160,000 a year generated by the new identity.

The four Home Office agencies, the Prison Service, the Forensic Science Service, the United Kingdom Passport Agency and the Fire Service College each have separate logos developed before May 1997.

The police recruitment and crime reduction logos were developed by the advertising agencies which competed for the campaign work, at no direct cost to the Home Office.

The "Fire Kills" logo was developed separately for use with all fire safety campaigns and materials. The costs, which include research with the general public, were £42,000.

Other logos developed since 1 May 1997 cost as follows:

Crime and Disorder Act 19984,000
Crime Prevention Agency6,000
Crime Prevention--Plant Security1,500
Human Rights4,500
Metropolitan Police Authority5,000
National Probation Service--costs to date10,000

Animal Experiments

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) under which categories his Department's annual statistics are recorded for (a) palatability trials, (b) digestibility trials, (c) faeces screening studies and (d) other tests carried out by commercial pet food companies; [153274]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Dogs are primarily used in pharmaceutical research and development, or in pharmaceutical safety and efficacy evaluations. They are also used, when no other species is suitable, in the evaluation of cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory

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problems in humans. Such work contributes to advances in human health care. Dogs are also used in the development of veterinary medicines and techniques.

The work undertaken by commercial pet food companies is for the purpose of ensuring that food products for pets are safe, effective and nutritionally complete. Most of the procedures conducted are so mild as to not require licensed authority. The procedures which come under licence are very mild. There are pet rehoming schemes in place for animals once tests have been completed. If these procedures were not carried out we would be less aware of the risk to household pets.

The number of procedures using dogs obtained from non-designated sources in 1998 and 1999 is given in table 2 in the annual publication "Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain", copies of which are in the Library. It is not possible to give the actual number of dogs so obtained but it is likely to be close to the number of procedures referred to above. Figures for the year 2000 are not yet available.

Not all of the studies referred to in this question would necessarily be regulated procedures, depending on the design of the study. Where they are regulated they would normally be returned as nutrition studies, which are shown in table 5 of the annual publication "Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain", copies of which are in the Library. It is not possible to isolate work done by commercial pet food companies from other licencees carrying out research into nutrition.

Schengen Agreement

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the acceptability of the certificate of identity to countries within the Schengen agreement; [151714]

Mrs. Roche: The Home Office certificate of identity (CID) is a travel document issued to foreign nationals, other than refugees, who are resident in the United Kingdom and cannot obtain a passport from their national authorities. This type of document is not issued under an international convention, but on a discretionary basis. Holders of CIDs who travel abroad are entitled to return to any United Kingdom port on a date within the CID's validity, and a visa is not required. Under the Immigration Rules, readmission after examination by an immigration officer is not an automatic entitlement but would normally be granted on the basis that residency here is to be resumed.

A number of European Union member states have declined to recognise the CID, so holders may find their ability to travel abroad restricted because visas are not always issued.

When I discussed this problem with my hon. Friend on 14 February, he expressed interest in altering the wording of the CID to state that holders of the document had an

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automatic right of return to the United Kingdom. This suggestion was not acceptable because it would place CID holders in a special position under the Immigration Rules compared to other categories of people who acquire residence status in the United Kingdom and wish to spend time abroad. The only residents of the United Kingdom who have an unconditional right to be readmitted at the ports after a stay abroad, no matter how long they have been away, are British citizens, and other Commonwealth citizens who have the right of abode here.

Since the meeting, United Kingdom officials have discussed the issues with colleagues from the countries that have concerns. Assurances have been requested about the return of CID holders to the United Kingdom, and other matters. I am hopeful that the information provided in response to this request will prove a significant step towards securing full acceptance of the CID by all our European partners.

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