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Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) under the post-1978 police pension scheme, what percentage of the contributions is calculated to cover payments to widows of retired officers; and what the actuarial estimate is of the number of widows as a percentage of total claimants of the pension; 
(3) under the pre-1978 police pension scheme, what percentage of the contributions was calculated to cover payments to widows of retired officers; and what the actuarial estimate of the number of widows was as a percentage of total claimants of the pension. 
Mr. Denham: Figures for the average payment to the widow of a retired police officer or for the number of such widows are not available centrally. From a survey undertaken in 1996 the Government Actuary's Department has estimated that 7 per cent. of actual pensions expenditure at the time represented payments to widows and widowers of former officers. It is estimated that the present-day figure would be about 8 to 9 per cent.
As the changes to spouses' benefits over the final quarter of the last century feed through into payment, it is estimated that the proportion of pensions expenditure they represent will rise to over 15 per cent. over the next 30 years. The Government Actuary's Department estimates that the present cost of new-entrant benefits accruing to be 32 per cent. of pay of which about a third (11 per cent. of pay) is contributed by the officer in service. The total cost attributable to spouses' benefits is about 5 per cent. of pay.
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It is not possible to identify all the earlier corresponding figures, but the employee contribution rate in 1978 for male officers was 7 per cent. This rate was set in 1972 for benefits which included accruing thereafter a widow's half-rate pension. Before 1972 male officers were paying contributions either at a rate of 5 per cent. for benefits which included a widow's flat-rate pension, if they had elected to stay on this pre-=1956 benefit, or at a rate of 6.25 per cent. for benefits including a widow's third-rate pension.
|31 January 2002||67,870|
|31 December 2001||66,049|
|30 November 2001||68,452|
|31 October 2001||67,053|
|30 September 2001||67,465|
|31 August 2001||67,056|
|31 July 2001||67,092|
|30 June 2001||66,403|
|31 May 2001||66,012|
|30 April 2001||65,604|
|31 March 2001||65,394|
|28 February 2001||64,631|
|31 January 2001||63,403|
|31 December 2000||61,617|
|30 November 2000||64,075|
|31 October 2000||64,218|
|30 September 2000||64,960|
|31 August 2000||65,666|
Mr. Keith Bradley [holding answer 11 March 2002]: In England and Wales, some 95 per cent. of criminal cases are conducted in magistrates courts without a jury. Criminal trials in the Crown court are conducted with a jury. Pre-trial issues such as bail or preliminary rulings are heard by the judge alone. He or she can also order an acquittal before the jury is empanelled. Once a trial has started, a hearing to consider the admissibility of evidence or a point of law is invariably heard in the absence of a jury. Sentencing is a matter for the judge alone. In the Coroner's court, the majority of inquests are heard without a jury.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total area in square feet of all empty properties owned by (a) his Department, (b) his agencies and (c) other public bodies for which he has had responsibility was in each year since May 1997. 
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Angela Eagle: The total area in square feet of empty properties in the Home Department's estate and the estate of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies for each of the financial years requested is as follows:
|Area (square feet)|
Nearly all the vacant space is accounted for by buildings, which are held for refurbishment or redevelopment. This includes prisons or other secure facilities for which, town planning approval can be difficult to obtain. The 19992000 and 200001 figures also include Lunar house, Croydon, which is now reoccupied following a major refurbishment and 2 Marsham street which is being held for demolition and redevelopment. Figures on the floor area of empty residential homes are not kept and a meaningful estimate could be made only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the official visits to (a) Paris and (b) Brussels made by each Minister in his Department in 2001 and the mode of travel used; and what guidance is provided to Ministers in his Department on the choice of mode of travel for such visits. 
Angela Eagle: Since 1999 this Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Details of travel undertaken since 1 March 2001 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year. Copies of the lists are available in the Library.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been charged with distribution of child pornography on the internet as a result of investigations by the Obscene Publications and Internet Unit in each of the past 10 years; and if he will make a statement. 
The internet investigations team of the Metropolitan police Obscene Publication Unit was established in September 2000. Distribution of child pornography by means of the internet is a relatively recent phenomenon and figures for the full period requested are not available. Figures for 19952001 are as follows:
12 Mar 2002 : Column 980W
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were convicted of distributing child pornography across the internet in each of the past 10 years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Keith Bradley: Convictions for distributing pornography are not directly identifiable on the Home Office Court Proceedings database. This is because all offences under section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 are covered in a single group.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money was spent on the Obscene Publications and Internet Unit of the Metropolitan police for (a) salaries, (b) technology equipment and (c) upkeep of facilities, in each of the past 10 years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Denham: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that the information for the period requested is not available. However, expenditure of the Obscene Publications and Internet Unit between April 2001 to February 2002 was £775,000 on salaries and £25,000 on technology equipment and upkeep of facilities.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Under section 19 of the Firearms Act 1968, it is an offence to carry a loaded airgun in a public place. This is a summary only offence for which the maximum penalty is six months imprisonment or a fine of the statutory maximum (£5,000) or both.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the British Association for Shooting and Conservation's campaign calling for the safe handling of airguns. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government believe that much can be done to tackle the unacceptable misuse of air weapons through rigorous enforcement of the existing law coupled with a programme of education on the safe and responsible handling of these weapons. To this end, the British Association for Shooting Conservation (BASC) campaign is welcome and has received the full support of the police. It will help to ensure that people who use airguns do so safely and with full regard to firearm and wildlife legislation.
12 Mar 2002 : Column 981W
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