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8 Dec 2005 : Column 1525W—continued

Civil Emergency Planning

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what dates since September 2001 local authorities and emergency services in (a) Essex, (b) Greater London and (c) England have carried out emergency drills for terrorist attacks; where such drills took place; and which agencies were involved. [34340]

Mr. Jim Murphy: I have been asked to reply.

The Government do not gather information about the number and nature of exercises carried out by local responders and which agencies were involved.

Part 1 of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004—which came fully into force on 14 November 2005—establishes a statutory framework for civil protection activity at the local level. The Act sets out clear roles and responsibilities for local responders and establishes a basis for effective performance management. Under this legislation category 1 responders (eg local authorities, emergency services, health bodies) are required to
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maintain emergency plans and business continuity plansto ensure that they can respond effectively to the full range of emergencies, including terrorism. The legislation also requires category 1 responders to put in place a programme of exercises to ensure that these plans are effective.

Responders' performance against the requirements set out in the Act will be monitored by their existing performance management bodies (eg Audit Commission, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary).

Criminal Records Bureau

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people working with children have completed Criminal Records Bureau checks. [33116]

Andy Burnham: The Home Office does not collate data concerning the number of people who are working with children. Therefore I am unable to provide information on the number of people working with children who have completed Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. However, during the last 12 months, the CRB processed 1,904,789 disclosure applications where a check against the Protection of Children Act 1999 (PoCA) list has been specifically requested.

Departmental Estate

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the status of the old Home Office building at 50 Queen Anne's Gate. [31797]

Ms Harman: I have been asked to reply.

The building is currently being prepared for refurbishment by the landlord following completion of the move of the Home Office to their new premises at 2Marsham Street, on 18 April 2005. An agreement hasbeen signed between DCA and the landlord, on 5 October 2005, under which the landlord will refurbish the building before DCA take occupation. Work will start on the building on 5 December 2005 and is due for completion in November 2007.


Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what responsibility he has for deportees after the expiry of the three year period in the Memorandum of Understanding with Jordan. [31156]

Mr. McNulty: There is no time limit on the operation of the majority of the understandings contained in the Memorandum. The exception to this relates to the deportee's entitlement to contact, and be visited by, a representative of the independent body in the event he is arrested, detained or imprisoned. A deportee who is arrested, detained or imprisoned within three years of his return is entitled to contact and be visited regularly by a representative of that body. Where applicable, those visits will continue beyond that three year limit. If a returned person is arrested detained or imprisoned after this three year period, there is no entitlement to contact, or be visited by, the independent body.
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European Anti-crime Measures

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the European Commission's proposals to establish a European Public Prosecutor's Office to prosecute serious crime with a cross-border dimension. [35643]

Andy Burnham: Any proposal for the development of a European Public Prosecutor remains subject to ratification of the Constitutional Treaty and the unanimous agreement of the member states. There is no legal base for the creation of a European Public Prosecutor under current treaties. We remain unconvinced that the creation of a European Public Prosecutor is necessary or desirable.

Identity Cards

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether identity card database material will be shared with other EU countries; and if he will make a statement. [34370]

Andy Burnham: There will be no open access to the information held on the National Identity Register. Information may be provided with the consent of the individual under clause 14. Information may also be provided without consent under clause 19 to organisations such as the police and the security services, provided that the conditions set out in clauses 19 and 23 are met.

Clause 20 allows information to be provided to overseas authorities in the context of criminal proceedings and investigations, as provided for in section 17 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. In these cases both the safeguards provided under clause 23 and section 18 of the 2001 Act also apply.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his latest estimate is of the (a) one-off and (b) recurring costs associated with the introduction of stand-alone identity cards. [34728]

Andy Burnham: The current best estimate for the total average running costs for issuing passports and ID cards to UK nationals, for which fees will be charged, is £584 million per annum, 70 per cent. of which is attributable to the cost of the biometric passport. Within our current best estimates of the ID cards scheme as a whole, it will be affordable to set a charge of £30 at current prices for a stand-alone ID card, valid for 10 years.

The Home Office is not breaking this cost down further, nor publishing details of set-up costs becausethis information is commercially sensitive and discussion of estimated costs for individual elements of the scheme, such as the stand-alone identity card, may prejudice the procurement process by limiting the Department's ability to secure value for money from the market.

The Government recognise the need to have independent assurance so the public can place trust in the figures produced. Thus, KPMG a world leading audit and accounting firm, were commissioned to produce an independent review of the costing methodology and key assumptions in the business case.
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They concluded that the methodology used to cost the identity cards proposals is robust and appropriate for this stage of development.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer to the Question on identity cards, 30 November 2005, Official Report, column 594W, when he expects his Department's work with representatives from law enforcement agencies and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs will be completed. [35272]

Andy Burnham: It is planned that work to identity benefits to fight organised crime and money laundering with law enforcement agencies and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs will be ongoing up to and beyond the launch of the identity cards scheme so that, along with planned activities, its potential to assist any emerging threats can be assessed.


Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long it took to process applications for naturalisation in (a) the most recent period for which figures are available, (b) 1997 and (c) 2001; and if he will make a statement. [34653]

Mr. McNulty: The most recent period for which figures are available is January/April to October 2005, at which time the overall average waiting time for naturalisation applications was 4.16 months. This figure is provisional and subject to change. For periods prior to 1 April 2004, we cannot provide the waiting time figure purely for naturalisation applications. Waiting time data covers all nationality applications received by Nationality Group, including naturalisation, registration (adult and minor) and renunciations. Overall average waiting time in 1997 was 14.26 months and in 2001 was 10.51 months. These figures are for the calendar years.

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