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17 Dec 2003 : Column 940W—continued

Non-emergency Telephone Line

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress on setting up a dedicated non-emergency telephone line; and if he will assess 888 as a possibility for the numerical sequence. [142982]

Ms Blears: In our consultation paper, "Policing: Building Safer Communities Together", which was published on 4 November, the Home Office sought views on the introduction of a single, three-digit, non-emergency number for accessing local services. This built upon a previous proposal to introduce a single non-emergency number for the police. The closing date for contributions to the consultation is 27 January 2004. Work has begun to look at the possible scope of such a system. There are a number of models worldwide, including the American 311 system. We shall develop the proposal following the consultation feedback and the scoping work.

Ofcom (Oftel until 29 December 2003), which administers the UK's National Numbering Scheme, has advised us that it may be possible to allocate a three digit number for this service. That will be subject to a public consultation, run by Ofcom, to establish whether the service, which it is intended should be available through all networks and service providers, is objectively justifiable and whether the change required is proportionate to the benefit. That consultation will commence once we are clearer about the scope of the service.

Due to the availability of local dialling within a code area, Ofcom has also advised that the allocation of "888" is not possible without re-numbering all

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subscribers whose telephone number, minus area code, begins with "8" or "88". It is likely that the three digit number allocated for use in non-emergency cases will begin with the digit "1". We have yet to make a decision about the three digit number.

Regulations (Consultation)

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of regulations introduced by the Department have been subject to a consultation period of less than 12 weeks since the introduction of the Code of Practice on Consultations. [142488]

Fiona Mactaggart: There is no direct correlation between Government consultations and individual regulations. For example, there has not been nor would there be written consultation prior to a statutory instrument being made designating territories under Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003.

The Cabinet Office Code of Practice on Written Consultation came into effect on 1 January 2001. In the period 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2002 the Home Office has published 49 consultations covered by the Code, of which 27 were less than 12 weeks.

Stowaways (Ferries)

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Government have to introduce penalties for ferry companies who transport stowaways. [140671]

Beverley Hughes: The Government have no plans to introduce further legislation since ferry companies are already liable to charges in respect of stowaways.

Under section 40 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (as amended), where a person arrives in the United Kingdom and fails to produce a valid immigration document satisfactorily establishing his identity and his nationality or citizenship and where, required, a valid visa, the owner of the ship (or aircraft), in which he arrives is liable to a charge of (currently) £2,000 per person. Existing published guidance on carriers' liability charging procedures says that charges in respect of stowaways will be waived where the carrier had done everything possible to ensure that no unauthorised person used the service.

On 6 October 2003 the Government published a consultation document entitled "Carriers' Liability: Charging Procedures: A Guide for Carriers" setting out proposed amendments to that published guidance. In particular, the document proposes changes to the circumstances in which charges will be waived in respect of stowaways and explains in greater detail what is expected of carriers. Copies of the consultation document can be found in the Library and on the Home Office website

Unregistered Ships

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of the number of people trying to gain illegal entry into the United Kingdom on unregistered ships; and what steps are being taken to tackle this. [140673]

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Beverley Hughes: There is no official estimate of the number of people trying to enter the United Kingdom illegally but the threat from people trying to gain entry illegally on unregistered shipping is currently regarded as low. However the situation is continually monitored and reviewed.

The Immigration Service works in close co-operation with the coastguard, HM Customs and Excise and the police to monitor the movements of small boats. This has included two joint operations this year involving the interception of suspect vessels.


Army Attitude Survey

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average satisfaction levels of respondents to the last assessed Army Continuous Attitude Survey were with regard to (a) question 26b, (b) question 28, (c) question 29e, (d) question 37a, (e) question 37c, (f) question 37f, (g) question 18aa, (h) question 18ab and (i) question 18ac; what this number represents as a percentage of total responses received; and how many respondents were in the (A) top and (B) bottom categories of satisfaction. [143616]

Mr. Caplin: From the latest Army Serving Personnel Continuous Attitude Survey, undertaken in December 2002, only the response options to question 28 were expressed in terms of category of satisfaction. The responses are set out in the following table:

Question 28. How do youfeel your pay comparesto that of your civilianOfficersSoldiers
1. Mine is much better134.0826.0
2. Mine is better4513.525420.0
3. About the same9228.036228.5
4. Mine is worse15145.539231.0
5. Mine is much worse309.018414.5

Army Personnel

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total cost was of Army personnel removals between garrison towns in the UK in each year since 1990; and how many such removals took place in each year since 1990. [143837]

Mr. Caplin: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the percentage of (a) female and (b) male soldiers is in (i) the regular army, (ii) the Territorial Army, (iii) the full-time Royal Irish Regiment and (iv) the part-time Royal Irish Regiment. [144019]

Mr. Caplin: The percentages of female and male soldiers in the Regular Army, TA, Full Time Royal Irish Regiment and Part-time Royal Irish Regiments are as follows.

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Regular Army93.07.0
Territorial Army83.017.0
Full-time Royal Irish Regiment91.09.0
Part-time Royal Irish Regiment91.18.9


Data for the Regular Army and the Territorial Army are as at 1 October 2003 Data for the Royal Irish Regiments are as at 18 October 2003 Data for Royal Irish Regiment are for trained personnel only.

Defence Fire Service

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF Trade Group 8 firefighters (a) are based in Scotland and (b) there are in total; what the annual personnel costs were for (i) firefighters based in Scotland and (ii) all RAF fire-fighters in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [143565]

Mr. Caplin: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Defence Spending

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of how proposed defence spending changes will affect the ability of the United Kingdom to act unilaterally in any future military action. [144691]

Mr. Hoon: The Defence White Paper, Delivering Security in a Changing World, set out our requirement for flexible Armed Forces that are structured and equipped to deliver precise and rapid military effect. The changes the White Paper demands will enhance the UK's ability to conduct limited national operations and to pursue our security objectives when acting alongside allies and coalition partners. As I said in my statement of 11 December (Official Report, 11 December 2003, column 1211), work is currently underway to develop the details of the individual systems and structures appropriate for the policy context set out in the White Paper, and I shall make further announcements on the results of that work next year.

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