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20 Mar 2003 : Column 935W—continued

Departmental Travel

Mr. Burns: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many times since 2001 he has taken flights within his departmental duties in the UK; how many of these were (a) charter flights, (b) first or club class and (c) by helicopter; and who accompanied him on each trip. [95382]

Mr. Leslie: Since 2001 my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has taken three scheduled business class UK flights, one accompanied by one person, another accompanied by two people and the third accompanied by three people. During this period he has taken one chartered helicopter flight accompanied by five people.

All travel was undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many overseas trips were undertaken by him

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and other Ministers since May 2001 itinerary, which officials and dignitaries they met; and what the itinerary was of each visit; [83421]

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the overseas trips made by himself and other members of his ministerial team in 2002; and what the (a) purpose and (b) cost was in each case. [101489]

Mr. Leslie: I refer the hon. Members to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Alexander) to the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 22 January 2003, Official Report, column 334W.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on progress in his international work; and what overseas visits he made in the last 12 months. [99888]

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Mr. Leslie: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister chaired the cabinet committee which prepared the UK's position for the world summit on sustainable development in South Africa and held a number of important bilateral meetings in connection with the summit. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister also continues to undertake international work on behalf of the Prime Minister, and has held a number of meetings with visiting Ministers in London.

In addition to his attendance at the summit in South Africa, right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has also visited Canada, Brazil, China, India, Denmark and


Social Housing Grant

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister for what reason his Department did not communicate directly with local authorities likely to be affected by the decision to abolish local authority social housing grant from 1 April, prior to the publication of the ministerial statement on 5 March. [102754]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister consulted local authorities on the principle of abolishing local authority social housing grant last autumn. In the light of work on the communities plan, we decided to make this reform quickly—provided transitional arrangements were in place to ensure that well-advanced, good quality schemes were able to go ahead.

In addition to two letters circulated to all local authorities in England outlining our decision, officials of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister held three face-to-face meetings with local authority representatives in February to discuss transitional funding.

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the number of social housing schemes which will not proceed as a result of the abolition of the local authority social housing grant. [103263]

Mr. McNulty: In my statement of 5 March I announced increased provision for transitional arrangements for local authority social housing grant (LASHG). Transitional funding will now support investment in social housing of up to £550 million—£50 million more than we provided in 2002–03 from LASHG, and higher than in any previous year. The number of affordable homes to be built in 2003–04 using this funding will not be known until after 30 June 2003, which is the deadline for both with-debt and debt-free authorities to submit new schemes for 2003–04 to the Housing Corporation.

Standards Board for England

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the annual budget is of the Standards Board for England. [101221]

Mr. Leslie: The annual budget of the Standards Board for 2002–03 is £7.9 million.

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Immigration Offences

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals have been detained by the Police Service of Northern Ireland on immigration offences at (a) Belfast port and (b) Larne port. [103269]

Beverley Hughes: The Immigration Service does not routinely collect the information requested. A check of information which is held by Immigration Service would be time consuming and disproportionately expensive and would not, in any event, represent the full total of police arrests since a proportion of these may have originated, and have been recorded, as matters not related to immigration offences.

Ashfield Young Offenders Institution

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what estimate he has made of the cost of raising the standards of Ashfield YOI to meet the requirements of PSO4950; and if he will make a statement; [103155]

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Hilary Benn: The authorised operational capacity of Ashfield young offender institution is 400 (303 juveniles (15 to 17 years' of age) and 97 over 18-year-olds). It is currently operating within a reduced capacity of 212 places. On the night of 16–17 March 2003, there were 192 juveniles. There are no prisoners over 18-years-old at the institution. The Youth Justice Board (YJB) has not yet specifically transferred any prisoner out of Ashfield and is seeking alternative accommodation within the Prison Service with the view to fully withdrawing from Ashfield during 2003–04.

An agreed timetabled action plan has been put in place in response to the recommendations of the recent report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons on Ashfield. Some points from this action plan come into effect in April 2003 and monitoring of the plan will then start.

Offending behaviour programmes available to young people at Ashfield include: anger management; prevention of car crime; and Motivating Offenders to Rethink Everything (MORE). A new programme, Strength and Survival (SAS), is due to start in April. This programme focuses on confidence building and assertiveness for offenders.

Staffing levels at Ashfield are now up to complement and are adequate. Stringent monitoring arrangements are in place to ensure the contractor maintains these levels. Additional new staff are being recruited and trained, and experienced staff from other establishments are offering support. Reception staff are trained in suicide prevention measures and this is a core part of the initial training for all new custody officers.

Cells are allocated on the basis of risk assessments. Once allocated, the status of young people in both shared and single cells is reviewed regularly. There is an anti-bullying strategy in place at Ashfield. The strategy was audited by a team from the Area Office for juveniles in February 2003 and was judged to be compliant with national standards.

Purposeful activity levels are carefully monitored and will continue to be monitored. The delivery of purposeful activity has improved significantly in recent months, resulting in an average of 34 hours per week delivery since January 2003. The YJB specifies 30 hours per week. The appropriate contractual action will be taken should levels fall below 30 hours per week.

Ashfield has a written drug strategy in place which is monitored by the establishment's drug strategy group. Ashfield has also received a substantial amount of funding to enable them to increase their delivery of drug/substance misuse intervention programmes through an enhanced Counselling, Assessment, Referral, Advice and Throughcare (CARAT) service. All juvenile establishments have a written drug policy. The juvenile drug strategy is being reviewed by the Prison Service and the YJB and will result in the implementation of a new substance misuse strategy for young people. No cost has been incurred by the Prison Service in raising standards at Ashfield to meet the requirements of PS04950.

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Ashfield has a resettlement strategy in place, and is carrying out a needs analysis of the resettlement needs of the young people in order to better support resettlement. However, securing appropriate accommodation on release is proving difficult. The Detention and Training Order is served both in custody and the community. Multi-agency Youth Offending Teams have been established and work with young people in custody and on release.

The YJB is supporting a number of resettlement pilot programmes in the juvenile estate in order to evaluate the most effective way of ensuring young people's resettlement needs are met.

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