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3 Apr 2003 : Column 869W—continued

Communities Against Drugs Initiative

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list (a) those schemes which have received funding under the Communities Against Drugs Initiative in the Buckingham constituency, (b) the amount received and (c) targets set to reduce crime under the scheme. [106367]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The schemes that have been funded under the Communities Against Drugs (CAD)

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funding stream in the Buckingham Constituency comprise of Sound Studio workshops for young people, youth diversionary activities equipment, a surveillance vehicle, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and a 'Handy Man' scheme. It has also paid for a Proactive Unit police sergeant and Drugs Outreach Workers which link young people into an arrest referral weekend project.

The CAD funding allocation to Aylesbury Vale totalled £127,200 in each of the years 2001–02 and 2002–03. For 2003–04, the total partnership allocation of proposed combined CAD and Safer Community Initiative funding will be £176,346, of which the CAD element remains £127, 200. The total allocation over the three year period is therefore £430,746.

To reduce crime under CAD, the broad aims are to disrupt local drugs markets, to tackle drug related crime and to strengthen communities. The Home Office does not set any specific target for partnerships for this funding in terms of reduction in crime they should achieve, but their work using CAD funds should contribute to the various targets for reducing crime and drugs set out in the Home Office business plan. In relation to supply of drugs their work under CAD funding should contribute to a police target of a 10 per cent. increase per annum of persons charged, summonsed or cautioned for supply of Class A drugs.

Departmental Website

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total cost of his Department's website was in the last 12 months; and how many hits it received in the same period. [104206]

Mr. Blunkett: The available information for the main Home Office website is shown in the table.

2002–03
Cost (£)180,290.83
Number of page impressions74,814,304

The Home Office website moved to a new server on 1 July 2002. Due to technical limitations on the server used between April and June 2002, no full record is available of the page impressions made of some parts of the site during that period. The figure shown in the table therefore under-represents the real number of page impressions.

With over half of the homes in the United Kingdom now online 1 and public access on the rise, our website is an invaluable tool for disseminating important information to the public and in opening up new areas of knowledge about Home Office activity in general. It is a cost-effective vehicle that allows us to speak to many people at once and offers the option for anyone to give us their feedback. We are developing the website, most recently providing information on protection against the terrorist threat.


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Domestic Violence

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money has been received by Surrey councils to combat domestic violence in each of the last five years. [104096]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 21 March 2003]: We do not hold comprehensive figures centrally.

As far as the Home Office is concerned, in the year 2002–03 the following councils received funding totalling approximately 50,000 from the Home Office via Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships: Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley.

Minicabs

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times (a) this year and (b) last year the police have investigated mini-cab companies for (i) employment of illegal immigrants and (ii) failure to keep accurate work documents. [106554]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Information is not held centrally on the number of police investigations of mini-cab companies or private hire vehicle operating centres. When the police have reason to investigate such businesses, there may, apart from failure to keep accurate work documents, be a number of offences detected. These include driving without insurance, no MOT, no vehicle excise duty, touting and vehicle defects.

The police do not routinely investigate such businesses in relation to the employment of illegal immigrants, but if they do encounter such activities they would normally involve the Immigration Service.

Personal Protection

Mr. Nick Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to distribute to all UK citizens public information packs on personal protection in the event of chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear attack; and if he will make an assessment of information packs recently produced by private sector firms. [105296]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 27 March 2003]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Brian Cotter) on 10 March 2003, Official Report, olumn 69W. I would like the House tobe assured that we are considering every option for how the Government would provide appropriate information at an appropriate time for the public.

The Government will not comment on information packs produced by private sector firms as it does not comment on matters that may have commercial implications.

At the end of December 2002, 3,865 asylum seeker households (comprising 1,295 individuals and 2,570 families) were being supported by the Department for Work andPensions (DWP).


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Special Constables

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables there were in the Buckingham constituency in 2002. [106385]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I understand from the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police that it is not possible to provide information about the number of special constables specifically for the Buckingham constituency. At 31 March 2002 the number of special constables in the Aylesbury Vale police area, which incorporates the Buckingham constituency, was 27.

Timber

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much timber has been bought for use on the Home Office construction site at 2 Marsham Street; which timber companies have provided it; and what efforts have been made to ensure that it comes from legal and sustainable sources. [105386]

Beverley Hughes: So far, no timber has been purchased for use in the new Home Office building. Information on the quantities of such purchases will be provided to the Department when they have been made, together with evidence that they have come from legal and sustainable sources.

There have been no significant timber purchases by Anne Gates Property Pic (AGP) for use in the construction of the new building. In accordance with central guidance, our policy does not require AGP to provide details of timber used during construction. AGP has, nevertheless, agreed to supply copies of certificates showing that purchased construction timber has been sourced legally and sustainably.

It is not always practical for the source of hired timber, or hired products containing timber such as site office furniture, to be verified in the same way.

Work Permits

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which (a) organisations and (b) companies in the UK entertainment industry he consulted on the proposal to introduce charges for work permit applications; and how many of each (i) opposed and (ii) supported the introduction of a flat rate fee for work permits. [106112]

Beverley Hughes: In order to ensure that the consultation was fair, transparent and equitable the organisations and companies consulted were randomly selected from the Work Permits (UK) database and the consultation was also placed on the Work Permits (UK) website as well as the UK Online website. As such, no record of the type of employer consulted was collected. The consultation was conducted according to the Code of Practice on written consultation issued by the Cabinet Office.

However, out of the 135 replies in response to the consultation exercise in England, Scotland and Wales, 12 respondents identified themselves as being from the Entertainment and Leisure industry. While only four of

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those 12 stated the flat rate fee was more appropriate, overall 59 per cent. of the total respondents stated the flat rate fee was appropriate.

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many new jobs will be created in the appropriate government department and in the fee handling agency to deal with the new charges for work permits. [106113]

Beverley Hughes: As a direct result of the introduction of charging for work permit applications, I have created 10 full time administrative posts within Work Permits (UK). The duties of these staff include financial reconciliation, accounting, exception reporting and debt recovery, the authorisation of ex-gratia payments, checking deferred and exempt payment types, and preparing inter-departmental transfers of funds.

The fee handling agency have created five posts to receive and process the fees, issue payment notices and business letters, and provide reporting information to WP(UK).

The number of staff employed by WP(UK) is consonant with their duty to effectively manage and control the fee collection process. The payment handling company have also employed an appropriate level of staff to manage the duties required of them.


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