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Charities (Trustees)

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which charities have applied for and been granted a waiver of disqualification for a trustee in the last 12 months; and on what grounds in each case. [200463]

Fiona Mactaggart: This is a matter for the Charity Commission as the Government department responsible for the regulation of charities in England and Wales. The Director of Legal Services at the Charity Commission will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Library.
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Gypsies and Travellers

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, under what ethnic status gypsies and travellers are classified in relation to anti-discrimination legislation. [201669]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended) protects all individuals from direct and indirect discrimination and victimisation on racial grounds in the fields of employment and training, the provision of goods facilities and services, education, housing and other public authority functions (with certain limited exceptions). "Racial grounds" is defined in the 1976 as meaning on grounds of of colour, race, nationality, or ethnic or national origins, but the Act does not specify which particular groups meet these criteria. That is a matter for the courts. Subsequent case law has established that discrimination in the fields covered by the Race Relations Act against an individual on grounds of being Romany gypsy or Irish traveller constitutes unlawful racial discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin.

Hizb at Tahrir

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will make a statement on the activities of Hizb at Tahrir. [199714]

Mr. Blunkett: Hizb ut Tahrir is a political movement active in a number of countries. Its UK branch is a fringe group with extremist views including advocacy of the establishment of an Islamic state. It has attracted very little support from British Muslims.

Home Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the outcome was of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held on 19 November; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [199872]

Caroline Flint: I represented the United Kingdom at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels on the 19 November 2004.

A list of 'A' points approved at the Council has been placed in the Library (Document PTS A 5414827/04). Included in these was the formal agreement of the Council Decision appointing the President and members of the European Commission.

The main discussion at the Council centred around the role and positioning of the Police Chiefs Task Force (PCTF) with a view to strengthening EU operational police co-operation. The Presidency put forward a compromise proposal with the effect that the Task Force will work alongside the Article 36 Committee. I was able to support this compromise proposal as it will allow the Task Force to draw on Europol's analyses and support when planning operations but also allow the chiefs of police to feed in substantive advice and views at a senior level when the Council agrees on strategic priorities on the fight against organised crime. The Council agreed the proposal.
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Over lunch, the EU's Counter Terrorist Co-ordinator (de Vries) updated the Council on the EU's role in the fight against terrorism.

There was further debate on the Framework Decision on Ship Source Pollution. No conclusion was reached and so this will be discussed again at the December JHA Council.

The Council also discussed the EU Drugs Strategy 2005–2012. A general approach was agreed by the Council on the Strategy. I look forward to supporting this development of work on the fight to reduce the harm caused by drugs once Parliament has had a chance to properly scrutinise the document.

The Council agreed the Directive for admitting third-country nationals for the purposes of scientific research without substantive discussion. The UK has not opted in to this Directive.

The Council discussed common principles for integration policy in the EU. The Presidency introduced the draft council conclusions (14776/04 MIGR 105) setting out common basic principles to assist member states in formulating their integration policies. I noted that work in this area would be carried forward during the Luxembourg and UK Presidencies. The text was adopted.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many recorded offences in which knives were used were committed in each of the last five years. [199908]

Caroline Flint: This information is not collected centrally. The number of offences involving knives are not separated out in the recorded crime statistics. The Homicide Index holds details on the number of homicides where the apparent method of killing was the use of a sharp instrument. The available information from 1998–99 to 2002–03 is given in the table.

We recognise the problem of knife carrying and are working on a strategy to tackle this.
Number of homicides involving the use of a sharp instrument

RAF Fairford

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times stop and search powers were used under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 by each police authority operating in the vicinity of RAF Fairford during the two periods of authorisation covering 6 March to 27 April 2003. [199416]

Mr. Blunkett: Gloucestershire Constabulary has informed me that during the period 6 March to 27 April 2003, 2,254 stop-searches were conducted under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
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The authorisation of Section 44 powers was made by Gloucestershire Constabulary, and the related operation was also under the authority of Gloucestershire Constabulary. Therefore, although a number of forces took part in the policing operation at RAF Fairford at this time, all stop-searches that took place are recorded in the statistics provided by that force.

There is a discrepancy in the figure given above and a figure previously provided to a parliamentary question asked by Adam Price MP that was answered on 15 October 2003. Gloucestershire police then provided the figure of 2,132 section 44 stop-searches conducted between 6 March and 27 April 2003. The force has informed me that the discrepancy between the statistics in the two answers occurred because some stop-searches were omitted from the earlier total in error. The figures have been subject to review and Gloucestershire police has verified the figure given in this answer as accurate.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether swords were seized from protesters at RAF Fairford under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 1994; and whether
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potentially dangerous weapons were seized from the protesters under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. [200602]

Mr. Blunkett: As I made clear in my answers to the Home Affairs Committee, the powers under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 are intended to allow the police to seize offensive weapons where they believe serious violence may take place. I cannot comment further on particular cases, some of which are subject to appeal. I understand that a range of items were seized from protesters using section 60. Contrary to my understanding at the time, I now understand that these did not include swords. During the security operation at RAF Fairford, police took items from 28 people as a result of searches that were conducted under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. These included a kite, white powder, controlled drugs, cameras and camera equipment, and a scanner.


Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners have absconded from each prison in each of the last five years; and how many have not been recovered. [199976]

Paul Goggins: A list of the number of prisoners absconding from open prisons and semi-open prisons in each of the last five years is set out in the table.
Absconds reported from open and semi-open prisons since 1999

1999200020012002200331 October 2004Totals
Open prisons
Askham Grange182019142418113
East Sutton Park1420119
Drake Hall1033837178
Moorland —Hatfield)434442418159310
Morton Hall231033
Hewell Grange282416212523137
Hollesley Bay13238143131120
North Sea Camp302042307235229
Norwich —Britannia House)55
Spring Hill141314135933146
Standford Hill282936709833294
Thorn Cross14410812816013874752
Open Totals84079174281612378045230
Semi-open prisons
Blantyre House0101002
Drake Hall00101
Latchmere House0031004
Morton Hall00000
Semi open totals01331210

Open prisons Morton Hall and Drake Hall were re-rolled as semi-open prisons.
In March 2004 Norwich prison established Britannia House as an open unit

Figures for those prisoners who remain unlawfully at large cannot be obtained other than at disproportionate cost.

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