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3 Dec 2003 : Column 69W—continued


Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) police officers and (b) police civilian staff were employed by Nottinghamshire Police on 31 March of each year since 31 March 1997. [140768]

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Ms Blears: The information requested is set out in the table and includes the latest published police officer strength for 31 August 2003. At the end of August Nottinghamshire Constabulary had record strength.

Nottinghamshire Constabulary

Police officers(9)Police staff(9)
31 March 19972,3231,003
31 March 19982,323987
31 March 19992,2251,039
31 March 20002,2041,024
31 March 20012,2751,039
31 March 20022,3301,087
31 March 20032,4261,180
31 August 20032,468n/a

(9) Data is for full-time equivalent strength

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers served (a) St Helens, (b) Merseyside and (c) the North West region in each year since 1992. [141291]

Ms Blears: Information for police strength in the Merseyside Police and the police forces that make up the Government Office area for the North-west are set out in the table for each year since 1992.

Information on police strength at Basic Command Unit level has only been collected on a regular basis since 2002. The St Helen's Basic Command Unit's strength has increased from 316 police officers on 31 March 2002 to 322 on 31 March 2003.

I am told that Merseyside Police aim to have 4,208 police officers by 31 March 2004. On 31 March 2003 Merseyside Police had 1,752 police (support) staff which is 409 more than in March 1997. The force also plans to have 100 Community Support Officers by 31 March 2004.

Police strength for Merseyside Police and North West region for March 1992 to August 2003

Year(10)Merseyside policeNorth West Region
2003(11) 4,12318,508

(10) As at 31 March

(11) As at 31 August

Road Safety

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of speed cameras are in compliance with European standards of accuracy. [141545]

Ms Blears [holding answer 2 December 2003]: From July 2003, in line with European standards, all new speed cameras will be required to be accurate to ±2 mph up to 66 mph and ±3 per cent. above 66 mph.

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This has not yet been implemented for existing cameras, but we consider that all cameras are in fact already accurate to this level.

Speed camera accuracy is enforced by the type approval system. In order for evidence from them to be used in Court proceedings, all speed cameras have to be of a type approved by the Secretary of State after rigorous testing against set specifications. Testing ensures that devices are robust, reliable and can produce accurate readings or images under a variety of extreme conditions. In addition all cameras are subjected to annual checks to ensure their continuing accuracy.

Vehicle Crime

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action his Department has taken to implement the recommendations in "Tackling Vehicle Crime: a First Year Strategy", on promoting the use of vehicle perimeter security and laminate glazing; and if he will make a statement. [141546]

Ms Blears [holding answer 2 December 2003]: The Home Office New Car Security Guidance published in 1998 encouraged manufacturers to make further improvements in car security. This included more widespread fitting of laminated glazing on side and rear windows which could resist attack by methods commonly used by criminals for a minimum of 30 seconds; and locks that could resist criminal attack for a minimum of two minutes.

We aim to raise motorists awareness of the value of better perimeter security through Home Office publicity material, particularly the booklet "Steer Clear of Car Crime" and our website We have also worked with the AA Motoring Trust, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the insurance industry to translate the insurers' security assessments used for insurance group ratings into a five star rating system (available on This allows car buyers to compare the ability of different makes and models of cars to resist theft, both of the car and of its contents. The insurance industry now also provides similar information in relation to vans and trucks. We help raise motorists' awareness of all this information through links from Home Office and Department for Transport websites.


Ascension Island

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many acres of land are occupied by the United States on (a) Wide Awake airfield and (b) Ascension Island; and how many acres of land the United States lease in addition to Wide Awake airfield from (i) the UK Government and (ii) the Ascension Island Government for their exclusive use and at no rent. [141551]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The United States occupy 1,196 acres for Wide Awake Airfield and 2,404 additional acres of land on Ascension Island, making a total of 3,600 acres. This land is provided, rent-free, under the terms of the 1956 Bahamas Long Range Proving

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Ground Agreement (and subsequent Exchanges of Notes) between the United Kingdom and the United States. There are no Agreements between the United States and the Ascension Island Government.

Commonwealth Summit

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with his counterpart from Nigeria concerning the attendance of Zimbabwean officials at the Commonwealth Summit to be held in Abuja in December; and if he will make a statement. [140821]

Mr. Straw: I hope to meet the Nigerian Foreign Minister during Her Majesty's pre-CHOGM State Visit to Nigeria. The Deputy Prime Minister spoke to President Obasanjo about Zimbabwe in the margins of the latter's inauguration in May. I met President Obasanjo in New York in September during which we discussed Zimbabwe. Our High Commissioner in Abuja has made our position on Zimbabwe clear to the President and other leading Nigerian politicians and officials on many occasions. We have also made the Nigerian High Commission in London aware of our position. President Obasanjo has announced that Zimbabwe will not be invited to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.


Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans his Department has for celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of British rule in Gibraltar; what plans his Department has to promote the anniversary; and if he will make a statement. [140837]

Mr. Straw: I refer the right hon. Member to the statement of the Government's intentions on this matter given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence during his intervention in the debate on the Gracious Speech on 27 November 2003, Official Report, columns 224–25.

United States

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with its US counterparts about the US Blue Lantern end-use monitoring programme; and if he will make a statement. [140725]

Mr. MacShane: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) on 11 November 2003, Official Report, column 202W.

War on Terrorism

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of the conflict in Iraq on the war on terrorism. [140585]

Mr. MacShane: International co-operation has had and is continuing to have a substantial negative effect on al-Qaeda and associated groups. This co-operation has not been affected by coalition action in Iraq and is continuing at a high level. The establishment of a stable,

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democratic Iraq enjoying the proper rule of law will be Iraq's best defence against terrorism and will more effectively defeat the cause of al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups.



David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether all ambulances are required to carry at least one paramedic on every call. [140814]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Current departmental guidance requires that front line ambulances should have a paramedic if responding to an emergency call. Ambulances answering urgent or non-emergency calls are not required to have a paramedic crew member.

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