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15 Oct 2002 : Column 756W—continued

Plastic Baton Round

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the outcome was of the North Wales Police investigation into the effectiveness of the use of a plastic baton round on 27 February; and at what distance from the target the baton round was discharged. [74177]

Mr. Denham: As a result of the discharge of a baton round on 27 February, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) supervised an investigation which was carried out by a senior officer in the North Wales Force. It concluded that the use and level of force on this occasion was proportionate and entirely justified. As a result of this investigation, a number of recommendations were made concerning the use of the baton round, all of which have been welcomed by the Force. North Wales Police inform me that the baton round was fired from approximately six metres (19ft/20ft) during the incident.

Motorway Service Stations

Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many crimes have been recorded as having taken place at motorway service stations in West Berkshire in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by (a) type of crime and (b) crimes occuring at Burghfield, Chieveley and Membury service stations separately; and what the overall figures is as a proportion of total crimes of each category in West Berkshire. [74251]

Mr. Denham: The requested information is not collected centrally.

Public Buildings

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what part designers and contractors play in the Home Office Action Plan for Better Public Buildings. [74354]

Beverley Hughes: The Home Office Action Plan responds to the initiatives of Her Majesty's Treasury's ''Achieving Excellence'' and the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) ''Rethinking Construction'', along with the procurement strategies advocated by the Office of Government Commerce.

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The Plan provides for a more structured approach to promoting good design as early as possible in the procurement process, whether it is through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) or publicly funded. The outcome of this should be that designers are more carefully selected for their technical skills and capabilities, and contractors are engaged earlier to make a greater contribution to design and specification, and enabling greater value for money to be achieved.

Metropolitan Police Housing

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much Government grant has been received by the Metropolitan Police to house officers under the Government's Starter Homes Initative. [74505]

Mr. Denham: A #16 million Starter Home Initiative (SHI) grant has been allocated to Tower Homes, working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police, to help some 550 police and key civilian staff in London to buy homes within reasonable travelling distance of their workplace. The grant is available up to March 2004.

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what his policy is towards sales of section houses and other residential accommodation owned by the Metropolitan Police; [74506]

Mr. Denham: Policy on the sale of police property is a matter for Police Authorities. Individual Authorities take all relevant factors into account when developing policies and making decisions on sales.

The Clerk to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) informs me that the Authority's residential estate is primarily held as an aid to recruitment. Sales of properties are only undertaken when no other viable alternative exists for their continued retention in the residential portfolio.

The Clerk to the Metropolitan Police Authority informs me that one section house and three other properties in the MPA residential estate are currently being offered for sale.

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Metropolitan Police officers have been housed under the Government's Starter Homes Initative. [74504]

Mr. Denham: I am informed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that by 30 September 2002 39 police officers and three civilian support staff have found homes to purchase under the Starter Home Initiative scheme. 16 police officers and one civilian have completed their purchase or exchanged contracts prior to completion.

Ashfield Young Offenders Institution

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of staff at HMP 4 YOI Ashfield in post one year ago remain in post at the latest date for which figures are available. [74449]

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Hilary Benn: On 30 September 2001, Premier Prisons had 242 staff in post at Ashfield prison and young offender institutions. On 30 September 2002, 177 (73 per cent.) of these staff were still in post.


Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to ratify the European Convention on Cybercrime. [74278]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: No timetable for United Kingdom ratification of the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention has yet been set.


Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment he has made of the risk to the UK of a terrorist attack; what counter-measures he has proposed; and what improvements have been made to strategic co-ordination and direction by central government. [74412]

Mr. Blunkett: The terrorist threat to the United Kingdom is monitored very closely and remains under constant review. The Government published on 9 September 2002 a progress report titled ''The United Kingdom and the Campaign against International Terrorism''. The report, which summarises measures taken within the UK to counter the terrorist threat since 11 September 2001 and the areas where the Government are planning to focus its future effort, can be accessed via the Cabinet Office website

In October 2001, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister approved the establishment of a Ministerial Sub-Committee of the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee to oversee the Government's role in the international coalition against terrorism. DOP(IT) Ministerial Committee on Defence and Overseas Policy, Sub-Committee on International Terrorism—was set up with a remit to keep under review the Government's policy on international terrorism, in particular the political, military and humanitarian response to the attacks in the United States on 11 September and preventative security measures in the UK and overseas.

As part of this new Sub-Committee, the Prime Minister established a Ministerial Group, which I chair, to keep under review policy on protective security. DOP(IT)(T)—Ministerial Group on Protective and Preventative Security—was set up with a remit to keep under review the Government's policy on preventative and precautionary security measures to counter the threat of terrorism in the UK and to British interests overseas.

I also maintain oversight of the United Kingdom's capacity to respond to terrorist attack through my chairmanship of the Civil Contingencies Committee.

To further enhance the capacity at the centre of Government to co-ordinate security, intelligence and consequence management matters and deal with risks and major emergencies should they arise, Sir David Omand KCB was appointed as Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator and Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office in June this year.

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EU Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when the EU Co-ordination Group to promote uniformity of application of the general system for the recognition of higher education diplomas (first general system) is next due to meet; whether representatives of the Scottish Executive (a) have been and (b) are members of it; and if she will make a statement. [66456]

Ms Hewitt: I have been asked to reply.

The last meeting of the EU Co-ordination Group on the General System Directives took place on 9 July 2002 and the date of the next meeting is to be confirmed, it is anticipated that it will take place before the end of the year. There are two directives under the General System—89/48 EEC (First Diploma Directive), the responsibility of DTI, and 92/51 (Second Diploma Directive), the responsibility of DfES.

The DTI Co-ordinator for Directive 89/48 EEC represents the UK at meetings of this Group. We liase with the devolved administrations on the application of the Directive. If an issue of particular relevance were to be put down for discussion at a meeting, in relation to Scottish qualifications, the UK Co-ordinator would liase with the Scottish Executive to discuss whether a Scottish official should attend. This has not been necessary to date.

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