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12 Dec 2002 : Column 482W—continued

Marsham Street Redevelopment

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library the contract with Annes Gate Property plc to supply timber for the building work at 2 Marsham Street. [83928]

Beverley Hughes: A copy of the relevant sections of the contract between the Home Office and Annes Gate Property plc has been placed in the Library.

Registered Charities

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the proposal in the Cabinet Office report, XPrivate Action, Public Benefit", that charities with an annual income of under #10,000 would no longer be able to call themselves registered charities. [86290]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 9 December 2002]: The Cabinet Office report, XPrivate Action, Public Benefit", was published on 25 September 2002. Its 61 recommendations set out a package of measures which aim to modernise the law and enable a wide range of organisations to be more effective and innovative.

One of the recommendations is that the threshold for compulsory regulation with the Charity Commission should be raised from those organisations with an annual income of #1,000 to those with an annual income of #10,000. Currently, active monitoring by the Commission applies only to those charities with an annual income of #10,000 or more.

The report recommends that the threshold for registration and the threshold where active monitoring kicks in should logically be one and the same. This would result in two-thirds of charities being released from the bureaucratic burden of registration, and is entirely in line with this Government's, emphasis on deregulation.

I can understand the concern that being unable to describe an organisation as a registered charity may have an effect on public confidence. In fact, the report recognises this, and a further recommendation is that all charities below the new registration threshold should have the status of 'Small Charities'. This would also allow tax repayment claims to the Inland Revenue to continue, and for funders to treat 'Small Charities' in the same way as registered charities.

Of course, at the moment these are only proposals. The report is out for consultation until 31 December 2002, and we shall consider the responses to this, and all the other matters addressed in the report, very carefully.

Sex Offenders

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to revise the notification requirements for Schedule One offenders. [85414]

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Hilary Benn: The Government's intention to bring forward a Sexual Offences Bill during this session was announced in the Queen's Speech on 19 November; we published a command paper, 'Protecting the Public', setting out our proposals. In relation to the notification requirements on sex offenders, these include:

'Schedule One offender' is a categorisation generally used in respect of offenders who have committed an offence against a child listed in Schedule One to the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. That list includes sexual offences, offences of violence, of cruelty and neglect and any other offence resulting in the bodily injury of a child under the age of 18. The list of offences under Schedule One is used, sometimes in conjunction with other indicators of risk, to determine whether an individual might be unsuitable to work with, care for or have unsupervised contact with children. It is important to note that not all Schedule One offenders are sex offenders. There are no notification requirements on Schedule One offenders.

Drugs Strategy

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if all drug treatment programmes supported by the updated drug strategy have the aim of ending the use of (a) illegal drugs and (b) prescription methadone and diamorphine where prescribed, by individuals undergoing treatment. [86537]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The clear message from the updated drug strategy is that drug misuse is illegal and will remain so. All controlled drugs are dangerous and nobody should take them. The focus of the updated drug strategy remains to reduce and end the use of illegal drugs.

The primary goal of all treatment should be abstinence while recognising that some drug misusers may require longer term support to achieve this. Prescribing methadone or diamorphine as a substitute for illicit opiates has proven benefits for certain individuals and for society, particularly in terms of stabilising the individual, reducing injecting behaviour and criminal activity.

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the additional number of places on (a) diamorphine and (b) methadone schemes that will be made available as a result of the Updated Drug Strategy. [86538]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Since 1997 the number of treatment services in England has increased by a third. There are now 235 drug specialist community prescribing services and 300 general practitioner prescribing services in England. Under the Updated Drug Strategy, the National Treatment Agency will continue to work on increasing the number and capacity of all treatment services.

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what targets he has set for the reduction of waiting times for admission to drug rehabilitation programmes as a result of the Updated Drug Strategy; [86542]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The National Treatment Agency (NTA) has already made significant progress on reducing waiting times locally. They have published national targets to reduce the time between someone being referred to treatment and receiving that treatment.

With additional funding from the 2002 Spending Review, we will invest in an expansion of quality provision to ensure that treatment is readily available to all those who need it. The NTAs targets are that by 2004, maximum waiting times from referral to receipt of treatment should be no more than two weeks for in-patient detoxification and GP prescribing and three weeks for all other forms of treatment.


Police Recruits

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Police Service of Northern Ireland recruits have dropped out of training since the formation of the PSNI; how many such recruits have dropped out of training owing to intimidation; and if he will make a statement. [86579]

Jane Kennedy: Since the commencement of the PSNI's Foundation Course in autumn 2001, nine recruits have left voluntarily. In the same period, three recruits to the PSNI have also been dismissed.

None of these resignations has been due to intimidation. Extremists from both sides of the community have, at times, sought to intimidate police officers and their families, and it is a remarkable reflection of the commitment shown by police trainees to date that none of them have resigned as a result.

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many PSNI recruits have been asked to leave training in order to balance those from a different perceived communal background who have left training; and if he will make a statement. [86580]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to question reference number 84606.

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Police Service (Chief Inspector)

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether it is the Government's policy to require resignations or redundancies from over-represented sections in the event of a resignation by a trainee police officer in order to maintain the 50/50 recruitment quota for Catholics/non-Catholics in the Police Service of Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [84606]

Jane Kennedy: The Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 requires the Chief Constable to appoint police trainees on a 50 per cent. Catholic, 50 per cent. non-Catholic basis. This requirement applies only to the appointments process; it ceases to apply after police trainees have taken their place on the training course.

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