Previous Section Index Home Page

Prisoners (Alcohol Strategy)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Paul Goggins): I am today announcing the launch of the prisons' alcohol strategy for prisoners.

In line with the national alcohol harm reduction strategy for England published in March, this year, The Prison Service has developed a comprehensive alcohol strategy for prisoners based on extensive consultation with key stakeholders and a range of experts including Alcohol Concern.

The strategy complements both the existing prisons drug strategy and the wider programme of resettlement activity. It will provide a framework for addressing prisoners' alcohol problems. The strategy balances treatment and support with supply reduction measures and provides prisons with a benchmark to formulate their own response to alcohol misuse at a local level. The focus is to improve consistency and build on good practice in the delivery of treatment from within existing resources and in establishing a robust framework to test prisoners for alcohol.
16 Dec 2004 : Column 150WS

The strategy will be supported by a treatment good practice guide, which will include a model treatment framework, developed in line with the National Treatment Agency's models of care.

Alcohol is a problem for a significant number of those entering prison. Prisons already have in place a range of initiatives to target those with an alcohol problem. The management of the symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol forms an important element of the revised standard for clinical services for substance misusers. Detoxification is available on reception in all local and remand prisons. Some prisons run alcohol awareness courses and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) run groups in around 50 per cent. of prisons. Additionally, general offending behaviour programmes address the underlying criminogenic factors which occur in alcohol-related crime. For those prisoners whose alcohol misuse is part of poly-drug use, counselling, assessment, referral, advice and throughcare services are available—a low level intervention that creates a care plan based on the specific needs of individual prisoners and offers support through group work and one-to-one counselling. The alcohol strategy will enable prisons to build on their good work.


Youth Justice

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Paul Goggins): I am pleased to announce that I am today laying before Parliament the Government's response to the Audit Commission report, "Youth justice 2004: a review of the reformed youth justice system".

Reform of the youth justice system has been a key priority for the Government. The Audit Commission's report takes stock of the difference our reforms have made. We warmly welcome their conclusion that the new system is a considerable improvement on the old one.

The Audit Commission also identified some key areas for improvement. The Government response outlines what we are doing to:

At the same time as the Audit Commission report, the National Audit Office published its own report into youth justice, "Youth offending: the delivery of community and custodial sentences". This area was subsequently examined by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts and the Government's response to the Committee's report is also being published today by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

House of Lords Judgment on A & Others and The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke): The House of Lords has today handed down the judgment in this difficult and complex
16 Dec 2004 : Column 151WS
case. A committee of nine Law Lords has spent the last 11 weeks considering the issues and, within the short time available since the judgment was handed down, it is not possible to give a detailed response to all the points raised by the judgment. However, given its importance I believe it necessary to make this statement to the House as soon as possible.

This appeal is about the compatibility of our domestic law with the ECHR. The Law Lords have upheld the appeal by those detained under the Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act and we need to study the judgment carefully, not least because the Court of Appeal had unanimously endorsed our view that these provisions were compatible with our obligations under the ECHR. It is ultimately for Parliament to decide whether and how we should amend the law. The Part 4 provisions will remain in force until Parliament agrees the future of the law. Accordingly I will not be revoking the certificates or releasing the detainees, whom I have reason to believe are a significant threat to our security, a judgment upheld by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, chaired by a High Court judge.

My primary role as Home Secretary is to protect national security and to ensure the safety and security of this country. In doing so, I need to consider how we balance the rights of individuals against those of society; how we ensure safety and security within a democracy without undermining the values that are at the very heart of it.

Derogation is not something that any Government enters into lightly and the powers have been used sparingly as promised Parliament during the passage of the Act. To date 16 individuals have been certified and detained under the part 4 powers and another individual has been certified but is currently detained under other powers. Of these 12 remain in detention. Two have chosen to leave the country as those detained under the part 4 powers are free to do at anytime. Those certified have a right of appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAQ) which is a superior court of record, chaired by a High Court Judge.

Those who have been certified and detained under the Part 4 powers are detained because they have been certified as a threat to our security. This considered assessment is supported by the Security Service and has been tested through a superior court of record with full access to all the relevant security and intelligence information.

The need for the Part 4 powers and the derogation are kept under frequent review. In addition to regular threat assessments the Home Secretary regularly meets the Director General of the Security Service, and it is their advice that informs the Home Secretary's decision on the continuing public emergency threatening the life of the nation.

I will be asking Parliament to renew this legislation in the new year but in the meantime we will be studying the judgment carefully to see whether it is possible to modify our legislation to address the concerns raised by the House of Lords.
16 Dec 2004 : Column 152WS

Metropolitan Police Fund Account

The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety (Ms Hazel Blears): I have today laid copies of the Metropolitan Police Fund Account for 2000–01 in the Libraries of both Houses.


Manchester Metrolink

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): In July this year I told Parliament that because of excessive cost increases I would have to withdraw funding for the phase III extensions to Manchester Metrolink.

Looking at the proposals, it has become increasingly clear there are real and persistent problems with the costs of the extensions. The public sector funding requirement has almost tripled since we first approved the project. Nevertheless, I have decided to commit over half a billion pounds, the sum previously agreed to fund phase III, to Manchester's transport network. Manchester will also be able to bid for additional funds from the new transport innovation fund. It is now up to the transport authority to come forward with proposals for how this funding is used.

Looking at the history of the Metrolink proposals shows the problems it has had with huge increases in public funding requirements:

The public sector funding requirement was going up and up—partly because of private sector, pessimism about light rail, and partly because of failings in the original cost estimates. There was no guarantee that costs would not continue to rise. This led to my decision last July to withdraw funding for this project, and to ask GMPTE to work with us to look at alternatives that would benefit Manchester, but at a better price.

Following this decision, a working group was set up with GMPTE and chaired by Tony McNulty. Its purpose was to see whether light rail could be made affordable in Manchester and to consider alternatives. I also appointed my own financial and technical consultants.

The potential cost to taxpayers of the proposed extensions is now clearer:

16 Dec 2004 : Column 153WS

In the light of this, I have considered the options for the way forward. GMPTE want me to agree to their continuing with their current procurement for the three lines. That would mean committing to upfront public sector funding of £900 million, when only four years ago we capped the figure at £282 million. I cannot do that. No Government could ignore these huge increases—a three-fold increase in just four years. And accepting this price would consume too much of the money that will be available for transport including in the north-west in future years. In addition, a scheme for substantially less than three lines would need a new procurement or risk legal challenge. I have therefore told GMPTE that the current procurement should not be revived.

Nor can I agree to GMPTE's alternative of starting a new procurement to enable construction of the three lines to be phased over a longer period. This would not address the fundamental problem of cost escalation.

I am however confirming that the £520 million budget is still available for Manchester, subject to GMPTE developing a satisfactory plan for these areas. This represents a major investment in Manchester, enabling a package of measures to address the transport problems in these parts of the city, which may include light rail improvements.

We have already provided some £170 million of the £520 million. Around £80 million was for GMPTE to buy the concession for the operation of Metrolink. This has continuing value to generate revenue for GMPTE and give them greater control over the tram network. The rest has been for advance works and buying land, some of which may still be required for the package that GMPTE now develop.

GMPTE are able to supplement this budget, both from their own resources and by bidding for funding from government through the transport innovation fund. The TIP is available for authorities which propose innovative and coherent schemes to tackle congestion and encourage modal shift which could act as exemplars for others facing similar challenges. This provides a real opportunity for Manchester to look at its transport policy across the piece and develop a bold integrated package.

The budget I am committing today provides the opportunity for a major transport investment package for these areas of Manchester. It is now up to the Manchester authorities to make the most of this opportunity, and to come forward with proposals that will deliver the transport improvements that these areas need.

Next Section Index Home Page