Previous Section Index Home Page

4 Apr 2005 : Column 1282W—continued

Police Recruitment

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to increase diversity in the recruitment of police officers. [222964]

Ms Blears: We have established national recruitment standards with a view to minimising adverse impact on any group. In the Police Reform Act 2002 we removed the requirement for recruits to be citizens of the United Kingdom. We have amended fitness standards to reduce adverse impact on women applicants.

We have produced materials for forces to use in recruitment campaigns which promote diversity within the police service and we have supported projects in six forces to improve recruitment from ethnic minority communities.

In the White Paper Building communities, beating crime" we announced additional measures including recruitment of people with operationally valuable language skills and recruitment at senior levels.

Serious Organised Crime Agency

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimates he has made of the total running costs of the Serious Organised Crime Agency over (a) the first year and (b) the first 10 years of operation. [218362]

Caroline Flint: The costs for the first year of the Serious Organised Crime Agency's (SOCA) operation will be met by transferring the provision which would have otherwise have been made for the National Criminal Intelligence Service and National Crime Squad under SR 2004. These organisations become part
4 Apr 2005 : Column 1283W
of SOCA on 1 April 2006. In addition negotiations are currently taking place with Her Majesty's Customs and Excise as to the funds to accompany the posts to be transferred to SOCA from that Department. A total of approximately £1.6 million resource will be transferred from the United Kingdom Immigration Service to cover the posts currently based in the Immigration Service which will transfer to SOCA.

Additional transition costs to be met from the Home Office SR 2004 settlement have yet to be determined.

Subsequent funding will be decided under the SR 2006 bidding round.

Student Visas

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions officials in his Department had with (a) universities, (b) Ministers and officials in the Department for Education and Skills and (c) Ministers and officials in the Foreign Office prior to his announcement on 8 February of his plans to abolish the appeals service for international students who are refused visas. [224146]

Mr. Browne: 'Controlling our borders: Making migration work for Britain' the Government's five-year strategy for asylum and immigration, is the product of a review of the whole immigration and asylum system, including appeal rights and the appeals system. The strategy sets out proposals on appeals including the removal of appeal rights for those refused an entry clearance overseas for the purpose of study in the United Kingdom. This was agreed across Government, including the Department for Education and Skills and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, prior to its publication on 7 February.

There were no discussions with universities prior to the publication of the strategy about the decision to abolish appeals rights for students refused visas.

War Criminals

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the UK policy is on granting (a) residence permits, (b) asylum and (c) citizenship to alleged war criminals; and if he will make a statement. [224630]

Mr. Browne: The Government's policy that the UK should not provide a safe haven for alleged war criminals was set out in the 2002 White Paper, Secure Borders, Safe Haven. The Government are committed to making wider use of existing immigration and nationality powers to prevent suspected war criminals and those who may have committed crimes against humanity from entering the UK or from establishing themselves here. These powers include the ability to refuse leave to enter or remain on the grounds that the person's presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good, to refuse or deprive an individual of British citizenship and to exclude individuals from refugee protection if there are serious reasons for considering that they have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity.
4 Apr 2005 : Column 1284W


Area Planning and Development Partnerships

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the Area Planning and Development Partnerships of the Department of Education as defined by the Costello Working Party recommendations were established; who the members are of each partnership; and whether the Department of Education is meeting the implementation process timetable. [223740]

Mr. Gardiner: No such groups have been established. Collaboration among schools and between schools and further education colleges will secure access to the Entitlement Framework for all pupils and will be developed at local level. The arrangements to take this forward are expected to be included in forthcoming guidance to schools and managing authorities. The Government remain on course to implement new post-primary arrangements after the last transfer tests in 2008.

Assets Recovery Agency

Mr. Trimble: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the budget for the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) was for (a) 2003–04 and (b) 2004–05; how many personnel are employed by the ARA; and what plans the Government have to change the ARA's budget for the 2005–06 financial year. [223190]

Mr. Pearson: The ARA budget for 2003–04 was £13 million (NI allocation: £2.071 million) and £15.5 million in 2004–05 (NI allocation: £2.326 million). The ARA has 163 staff in total and currently employs 30 personnel in its Belfast office who progress NI specific investigations.

The 2005–06 budget for ARA has been maintained at the 2004–05 level. Additional funds will arise out of 2004–05 end year flexibility, but this will not be confirmed until later in the year. The ARA is planning to increase the number of investigators and lawyers working on NI investigations.

Belfast (Renewal)

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications have been received under the Neighbourhood Renewal Phase Two in (a) North Belfast, (b) Inner West Belfast and (c) Outer West Belfast; how many of these are being assessed; and how many have been granted. [224153]

Mr. Spellar: This information is set out in the table:
NorthInner WestOuter West
Total number of
applications received
Number being assessed21326
Number granted210

4 Apr 2005 : Column 1285W

Braille Books

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Braille books are available in schools and libraries managed by each Education and Library Board in Northern Ireland; and how much has been spent in each board in each of the last five years to provide books for readers suffering from sight loss. [223491]

Mr. Gardiner: Education and Library Boards assess and make provision for pupils with special educational needs on an individual basis.

The Western Education and Library Board has advised that one pupil has required books to be provided in Braille and the cost of Braille books for this pupil is £300. In addition a classroom assistant has prepared Braille materials for the pupil. Materials required for Braille preparation during the past five years have been as follows:
Braille paper730
Zytex paper (used for making raised diagrams)700

Due to the diverse nature of the provision for pupils with sight loss the remaining Education and Library Boards cannot quantify funding levels, since provision is made from a range of funding streams.

The Education and Library Boards are also responsible for provision of both the Public Library Service and the School Library Service but do not purchase any Braille books, and none is held in stock. However Braille books can be obtained on request from the Royal National Institute for the Blind for users of the service.

Expenditure by each Education and Library Board on the provision of books and services for readers suffering from sight loss is detailed in the following table.
Total spend on books(73) for blind and visually impaired users in public libraries and in school libraries by ELB by year

Public librariesSchool libraries

(73)Stock includes:
Books in large print
Books on tape/CD
RNIB talking books.
National Library for the Blind (Braille Subscriptions)
(74)Belfast Education and Library Board cannot exclusively identify expenditure on services for the blind and visually impaired in schools.
(75)Figure includes estimates.

4 Apr 2005 : Column 1286W

Next Section Index Home Page