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Fireworks

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many convictions there were against persons who have injured others with fireworks in each of the last five years in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK; [13163]

Mr. Denham: Information held centrally on the Home Office Court Proceedings Database, relating to England and Wales, does not identify separately the offence of "selling gunpowder to children" under s31 of the Explosives Act 1875, from other summary offences under the Explosives Acts.

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Neither does it enable a distinction to be made between prosecutions and convictions for offences connected with personal injury or damage to property with fireworks, as the circumstances of violent and property offences are not collected.

Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland are matters for the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly respectively.

Elderly Prisoners

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many frail elderly (a) men and (b) women at present are serving prison sentences in England and Wales. [13447]

Beverley Hughes: The numbers of prisoners aged 60 and over currently serving a prison sentence as at 30 September 2001 are listed in the table. Information about the state of their health is not collected centrally.

MaleFemale
60–691,0173
70–741634
75+610
Total1,2417

Disabled Prisoners

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women serving prison sentences in England and Wales are confined to a wheelchair. [13448]

Beverley Hughes: This information is not collected centrally.

Prison Construction

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the prisons being constructed in England and Wales, and the date when these prisons are expected to come into use. [13445]

Beverley Hughes: There are no prisons under construction in England and Wales at present. Two prisons, to be built at Ashford, Middlesex and Peterborough, are under procurement. Construction is planned to start in 2002. The prison at Ashford is due to open in July 2003 and the prison at Peterborough in April 2004.

Al-Muhajiroun

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will investigate (1) the links between (a) Medina Ltd, TransGlobal Security International, Mark Yates and Paul Field and (b) Sakina Security Services Ltd, Al-Muhajiroun, and Omar Bakri Mohammed; and if he will make a statement; [13626]

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Mr. Denham: I have been in close touch with the relevant enforcement units, following their work in monitoring and evaluating any information that might be used in connection with any prosecution. The investigation of any alleged criminal offences is of course entirely a matter for the police. Any information that my hon. Friend is aware of which might assist the police in their investigations should be supplied to my Department immediately.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will investigate the alleged terrorist training camps (a) in the north of Scotland and (b) at Yetgoch in Hebron, Wales; and if he will make a statement. [13628]

Mr. Denham: I am aware of the allegations of terrorist training camps and the particular concerns of my hon. Friend in relation to the alleged terrorist training camps in Scotland and Wales. I understand that the police have made inquiries: they have advised me that there is no evidence to show that any criminal offences have been committed at either location.

It is of course an offence under section 54 (1) and (2) of the Terrorism Act 2000 to provide instruction or training or to receive instruction or training in the making or use of firearms, explosives, or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. In addition, under subsection (3)(b), a person commits an offence if he invites another to receive instruction or training and the receipt would constitute an offence under subsection (2) but for the fact that it is to take place outside the United Kingdom. Any concrete and verifiable evidence of such activities will be dealt with immediately.

Immigration Status

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 24 October 2001, Official Report, column 285W, when he formed his policy of not answering questions on immigration matters. [13521]

Angela Eagle: It has been long-standing Government policy not to disclose details of a person's immigration status to a third party since this is regarded as confidential information.

Vivisection

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will establish a royal commission into vivisection. [13672]

Angela Eagle: The Government have not ruled out a royal commission, but strongly believe that resources can best be used to make immediate improvements to the operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and to promote the fullest application of the 3Rs—the replacement of the use of animals with alternative methods; the reduction of the numbers of animals used; and the refinement of the procedures to minimise pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.

In this context, the Animal Procedures Committee issued a public consultation paper in December 2000 as part of its review of the cost-benefit assessment of applications for authority to conduct scientific research using animals. As part of this work, the Committee plans

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to produce an authoritative statement on the validity of animal experiments. I understand that the Committee hopes to present its report in the first half of 2002.

The House of Lords have established a Select Committee on the validity of the use of animals in scientific procedures and its work is under way.

Metropolitan Police (Funding)

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much additional funding has been made available to the Metropolitan Police Authority to finance the additional security duties of the Metropolitan police in the capital following events of 11 September. [12413]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 5 November 2001]: I greatly appreciate the immediate response made by the Metropolitan Police Authority and Service after the terrorist attack in the United States of America on 11 September.

I recognise that establishing and maintaining measures to counter increased risks to security has given rise to additional costs. I am considering with the Metropolitan police the financial implications.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

"Your Guide"

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the future funding of the "Your Guide" pilot scheme. [13651]

Mr. Alexander: A total of £35 million over three years has been set aside to pilot the concept of Post Offices as Government General Practitioners. Up to £25 million of this has been made available to cover the cost of the "Your Guide" pilot currently running in Leicestershire and Rutland. Future funding decisions will depend on the outcome of the pilot.

Anthrax (Mail Services)

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with the Post Office regulator on the impact of anthrax scares on the performance of the Royal Mail. [13650]

Mr. Alexander: My officials are in regular contact with the Postal Services Commission. The Commission has advised me that it is too early to assess the impact of anthrax scares on the performance of the Royal Mail. The situation is being kept under review by the Commission, Consignia and the Consumer Council for Postal Services.

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact of anthrax scares on Consignia's quality of service targets. [13731]

Mr. Alexander: Quality of services targets are a matter for Consignia and the Postal Services Commission. The Commission has advised me that it is too early to assess the impact of anthrax scares on Consignia's quality of service targets. The situation is being kept under review by Consignia, the Commission and the Consumer Council for Postal Services.

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