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Language and Citizenship Education

31. Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans to offer language and citizenship education to those settling long term in the UK. [57078]

Beverley Hughes: It is the Government's intention to ensure that people applying for nationality, and some others in categories leading to settlement, have ready access to language and citizenship education. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill presently before Parliament makes provision for this. The Bill also provides for applicants to provide evidence of prior achievement, and for waiver of the requirement-to demonstrate competence in certain circumstances.

The purpose of these courses is partly to ensure that people entitled to work here should not be disadvantaged in the employment market by having an inadequate knowledge of English. Also, as part of a wider programme for integration with diversity and social cohesion, we want to encourage a greater sense of common citizenship by helping people gain a knowledge of parliamentary government, economic and social life.

A context-free course in English for Speakers of Other Languages was launched in February and the citizenship curriculum will be developed by a group of experts drawn from the fields of education and social cohesion.

Drug-Related Crime (North-East)

32. Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his Department is doing to break the link between drugs and crime in the north-east. [57079]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The links between drugs and crime are complex and deep rooted, and require a combined effort of police enforcement, treatment, education and diversionary activity.

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In the north-east, the Home Office funds a number of initiatives to tackle drug misuse such as:

Additionally a range of activities are funded under the Communities Against Drugs programme, aimed at stemming the supply of drugs, helping people into treatment and strengthening communities to resist drugs. In the year 2001–02 a total of £2.5 million was made available for the north-east under this initiative to be spent on local projects. This is in addition to mainstream funding for police, health and education and the range of work to help regenerate deprived areas and tackle social exclusion.

Racist Newspaper Articles

34. Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on the publication of racist articles in foreign language newspapers distributed in the United Kingdom. [57081]

Beverley Hughes: Home Office Ministers have received a number of representations from Members of Parliament (three), members of the public (two) and from the Board of Deputies of British Jews on this issue. The investigation of possible breaches of the law, in this case allegations that material incites racial hatred under part III of the Public Order Act 1986, are operational matters for the police. The police are investigating allegations that articles in the al-Akhbar newspaper, an Egyptian newspaper available in the United Kingdom, incited racial hatred. We would encourage anyone to report to the police any material they believe breaches the incitement to racial hatred laws.

Special Constables

35. Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables there are in England and Wales; and how many there were on 1 May 1997. [57082]

Mr. Denham: The number of serving special constables in England and Wales on 30 September 2001 was 12,068. In March 1997 there were 19,874 serving special constables.

The Government are committed to reversing this decline in numbers and achieving a stronger, increasingly professional special constabulary. Measures to achieve this include:

In January we ran a press campaign targeting specials as part of the national recruitment campaign for the regular Police Service. And as the Home Secretary also announced at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) last week, we will also be working with employers to

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encourage them to support employees who are specials—in particular by giving them extra paid leave to carry out their police duties.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to increase the number of special constables. [57050]

Mr. Denham: The Government is committed to increasing the size of the Special Constabulary. We are currently working with stakeholders on a number of measures to achieve this, through improvements to the recruitment, training, management and welfare of specials.

Child Disappearance

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children up to the age of 16 years have disappeared within the UK during each of the last five years and have not been found. [51647]

Mr. Denham: Missing persons are reported to the Police National Missing Persons Bureau (PNMPB) after they have been missing for 14 days or more. The PNMPB currently record missing children figures in the category of under 18 years. However, until the period 1999–2000 the age range of 'up to and including 18 years of age' was used. The following are the figures of those reported missing using the above mentioned categories, for the last five financial years:


Of those cases, the PNMPB database currently shows a total of 468 outstanding unresolved cases.

Terrorist Organisations

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Government have classified (a) Al-Amn al-Ri'asah, (b) the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, (c) the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, (d) the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and (e) Sa'iqa as terrorist organisations; what changes in classification have taken place since 1 August 2000; and if he will make a statement. [55994]

Mr. Blunkett: None of these organisations are on the proscribed list of organisations contained in schedule 2 to the Terrorism Act 2000. No new organisations have been added to schedule 2 since it came into force on 29 March 2001.

The list of organisations in schedule 2 are reviewed on a regular basis.

All information supplied on these organisations will be evaluated very carefully, and decisions to proscribe or deproscribe are taken after careful consideration of all relevant aspects.

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Terrorist Attacks (Emergency Services)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much funding will be given to extra training of emergency services staff to deal with the possible threat from large scale terrorist attacks; and if he will make a statement. [56676]

Mr. Denham: The United Kingdom police forces have a wide range of skills and capabilities which are regularly tested and can be deployed during a terrorist incident. The ability of police forces to respond to a terrorist attack involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials is being strengthened through specialist police training.

Home Office funding is being made available in 2002–03 to meet the full running and equipment costs involved. It is not normal practice to disclose the level of funding allocated by the United Kingdom to specific counter-terrorist measures.

I understand from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Milburn) that the ambulance services have improved their preparedness to respond to chemical and biological incidents. New personal protective equipment and decontamination units are currently being provided. The full training implications and its funding are still being considered by the Department of Health.

I understand from my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Prescott) that fire service personnel already receive training for dealing with terrorist and major incidents. Details of specific training carried out by each fire authority are not held centrally.

His Department announced in February that it was providing £53 million funding for the fire service to give further protection to the public and emergency services in the event of a major chemical, biological or radiological attack. The funding provides for equipment, vehicles, training and revenue support. The Department is continuing to consider the case for additional resources.

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