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Policy Seminars

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Prime Minister (1) whether the No. 10 policy seminar on criminal justice addressed by the Director General of the Prison Service was an official function; and if he will make a statement; [57544]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) on 15 May 2002, Official Report, columns 712–14W.

SCOTLAND

Concessionary Fares

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to her answer of 13 December 2001, Official Report, column 990W, what the outcome of the

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discussions between the Government and the devolved Administrations was regarding the provision of half-price fares to older and disabled passengers on scheduled long-distance coach journeys across Britain. [56123]

Mr. Foulkes: Discussions are continuing between the Government and the devolved Administrations, as are discussions with the industry.

Press Releases

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many press releases were issued by her Department (a) between 1 May and 31 December 1997 and (b) in each year from 1998 to 2001 inclusive. [40038]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office was established in its present form on 1 July 1999. Since then, the following number of press releases have been issued:

Press releases
1999(14)98
2000317
2001265

(14) 1 July to 31 December


Press and Public Relations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the annual budget for communications activities, including press, public relations, marketing and internal communications, was for her Department for each financial year from 1997–98 to 2001–02. [39912]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office was established in its present form on 1 July 1999. Since that date expenditure on communications activities has been as follows.

Year £
1999–2000(15)70,939
2000–01422,134
2001–02336,579

(15) Part year


This includes expenditure on electoral registration and voter publicity of £26,861 in 1999–2000, £270,494 in 2000–01; and £186,564 in 2001–02.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Criminal Offences

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many criminal offences have been (a) created and (b) abolished by his Department since 1997. [55423]

Jane Kennedy: A comprehensive and exhaustive list of new and abolished offences could be provided only at disproportionate cost. We can, however, provide the

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following information about the following Northern Ireland Office measures which have been enacted since 1 May 1997.


Police Ombudsman

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many complaints have been made against the Police Ombudsman's Office by (a) members and (b) ex-members of the RUC/PSNI: how many legal actions are outstanding against her or her investigators; in how many cases she has carried out a successful prosecution; how many times she has had to pay out compensation and the amount paid out; and how many cases she has undertaken relating to matters for which the Director of Public Prosecutions or Attorney General has directed that there be no prosecution. [48854]

Jane Kennedy: The Police Ombudsman advises that since the opening of the Police Ombudsman's Office on 6 November 2000 until 3 May 2002:









Prisons

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the (a) condition and (b) use of the premises of the former HMP Maze is. [56125]

Jane Kennedy: The information is as follows:

(a) Since its closure in 2000, parts of Maze prison, comprising three accommodation blocks and a number of ancillary premises, have been maintained in warm storage and are in very good condition.

A small number of other buildings are still in use on the site, but these are mainly portable type accommodation and, while in good repair, are nearing the end of their lifespan. The condition of the remaining buildings on the site, including those on the adjacent Maze compound site, range from fair to derelict.

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The mechanical and electrical services are in fair condition but have reached the stage where a substantial capital investment would be required to upgrade these to meet current regulations.

(b) The section of the Maze which is being maintained in warm storage will serve as emergency accommodation should the need arise. Other premises on the site are being used for control and restraint training and to accommodate the Prison Escort Group and its vehicle fleet. The firing range is also used occasionally for training.

However, the Government have recently given a commitment to hand the site to the Northern Ireland Executive. The timescale has yet to be agreed but the Northern Ireland prison service is actively looking for alternative ways to accommodate the functions listed above.

Sick Leave

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many days of sick leave were taken in his Department last year; how many related to employees suffering (a) stress and (b) other mental health problems; and what the cost was to his Department. [56476]

Jane Kennedy: The Cabinet Office publishes an annual report entitled "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service". The most recently published figures are for the calendar year 2000. For home civil servants (HCS) in the Northern Ireland Office the working days absence per staff year were as follows:


Figures are not held in a comparable format for the Northern Ireland civil servants (NICS).

The number of days relating to stress and other mental health problems and the cost could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Northern Ireland Office is committed to the effective management of sick absence and our current service delivery agreement (SDA) sets out our proposal to reduce sickness absence rates over the planning period for HCS staff. It will seek similar reductions for the NICS group in the Department in conjunction with other Northern Ireland Departments.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Gibraltar

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which the Government would enter into agreements regarding Gibraltar, without the agreement of the Government of Gibraltar. [53952]

Peter Hain: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave in response to a question from the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Bob Walter) on 16 April 2002, Official Report, column 451.

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Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment his Department has made of the growth potential for Gibraltar's airport; [57467]

Peter Hain: The Government agrees that development of the airport would be of great economic and commercial benefit to the people of Gibraltar and the neighbouring regions of Spain, and agrees with the noble Lord Howe's comments in another place on 12 December 2001, Official Report, column 1393, that it is unfortunate that the implementation of the 1987 Airport agreement was blocked by the reluctance of the Gibraltar legislature to see it through.

Apart from aviation safety and security, the operation of the civil airport terminal is a defined domestic matter for the Government of Gibraltar, but the airport has excess capacity, and could handle an increase in flights if the commercial demand arises. The agreement we are seeking with Spain under the Brussels Process would, if implemented, remove all the obstacles which currently prevent the full development of the airport.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will deposit in the Library the current draft proposals under discussion with Spain on the future of Gibraltar. [57886]

Peter Hain: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave in response to a question from the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Mark Francois) on 12 March 2002, Official Report, column 865W.


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