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The Minister for Europe (Mr. Douglas Alexander): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will shortly be publishing a revised Guide to the European Union (EU). At the same time the FCO will launch an updated Britain in the EU section of its website. The EU Guide and website are intended to provide more factual information in the public domain on the EU and the future of Europe debate. The EU Guide will be available in public libraries and can be requested directly from the FCO by phone, by letter or online. The website will be available at www.europe.gov.uk.
The Secretary of State for Health (Ms Patricia Hewitt): I am responding on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the Twenty-first Report of the Review Body for Nursing and Other Health Professions (NOHPRB) and the Thirty-fifth Report of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) which have been laid before Parliament today. Copies of the reports have been placed in the Library. I am grateful to the chairs and members of the Review Bodies for their hard work.
The NOHPRB has recommended an increase in the "Agenda for Change" pay rates of 2.5 per cent. from 1 April 2006. The NOHPRB has also recommended that the high cost area supplements should be increased by 2.5 per cent. The DDRB has recommended with effect from April 2006 general increases in remuneration of 2.2 per cent. for consultants and doctors and dentists in training, 2.4 per cent. for non-consultant career grade doctors and salaried dentists and an increase of 3.0 per cent. in gross remuneration for general dental practitioners. The DDRB has also recommended that the salary range for salaried general medical practitioners should be increased by 2.2 per cent.
The DDRB's pay recommendations are being accepted. However, the award for consultants will be staged. Consultants have particularly benefited from pay reform with an average increase in earnings of 11.5 per cent. in the last two years. In considering the DDRB recommendations, it is necessary to consider a range of factors and with the National Health Service currently running a small deficit affordability must also be taken into account. Consultants will therefore receive a 1 per cent. increase from 1 April 2006 increasing to 2.2 per cent. from 1 November 2006.
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An ASBO is a civil order that protects the community from behaviour that has caused or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the perpetrator.
ASBOs can be issued to anyone aged 10 years or over. They impose restrictions on the behaviour of individuals who have behaved in an antisocial way and protect communities from often longstanding and highly intimidating activity.
The Home Office is notified by all courts of ASBOs issued. As I indicated in my statement on 3 November 2005, Official Report, col. 5253 WS, a joint exercise between the Court Service and the Home Office is under-way to refine and improve further the collection of this data.
Data on the number of ASBOs issued are updated quarterly. New figures for the period up to September 2005 are now available. They show that for the period between April 1999 and September 2005 the total number of ASBOs issued (as reported to the Home Office) was 7,356. The number of ASBOs issued in the quarter July to September 2005 is 11 per cent. of the total number of ASBOs issued over all quarters and represents an increase of 7 per cent. on the same quarter last year. However, this represents a decrease of 14 per cent. on last quarter's figures.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart): Today the Government have published statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System. The statistics, published under section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, are one of the main sources of information available on Black and other Minority (BME) Ethnic groups' experiences across the CJS.
The Government are committed to delivering a CJS which promotes equality, does not discriminate against anyone because of their race, that has a workforce which fairly represents the communities it services and is effective in rooting out and tackling racism and racist crime.
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The statistics published today show that significant progress has been made but that there is still much to do. For example on race hate crime the statistics show racist incidents recorded by the police rose in 200405 but that the British Crime Survey (which is a large scale survey based on reports of people's individual experience) estimated the number of racist incidents fell. That might be an indication that the progress we have made in investigating and prosecuting hate crime has given people greater confidence to report incidents and been effective in preventing them from happening.
The representation of BME groups working for CJS agencies has improved, in 200405 the Police, Prison, Crown Prosecution, Probation Services and Crown and Magistrates courts all recorded an increase in the number of BME staff.
There are signs that the confidence of BME groups that the CJS will treat them fairly is improving. The Government have set a target to reduce the percentage of people from BME communities who believe they would be treated worse than people from white communities by one or more CJS agency. The most recent Home Office Citizenship Survey (which is the basis for the measure) shows that, while there has not been a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of people from BME communities who believe one or more agency might discriminate against them, there has been a significant reduction in the proportion who believe it of the Courts, the Police, the CPS and the Prison Service.
But the Government are not complacent and acknowledge that there is still much to do. The statistics reveal that BME people continue to be disproportionately represented in the CJS. While that data does not necessarily mean there is discrimination it is an issue the Government are committed to addressing. In key areas such as the use of stop and search the statistics do not reveal an increase in the disproportion between different groups but neither has there been a reduction.
The Government have a programme of work to understand and address this and other issues. While the ultimate outcome of this work will be to secure a reduction in the levels of inappropriate disproportion as well as increased BME community confidence in the CIS it will take time for the initiatives to have an impact.
We will continue to use these statistics to drive forward further change by ensuring all agencies continue to scrutinise their policies and standards, and work towards ensuring services are delivered fairly to all communities.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart): Today we are publishing the Government's response to the consultation paper, "Restructuring Probation to Reduce Reoffending", published on 20 October 2005.
On 9 February 2006 we set out our five-year strategy for protecting the public and reducing reoffending. At the heart of our strategy is improved public safety and
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the reduction of reoffending through the development of more effective end to end management of offenders, throughout the sentence. Every offender will have a named offender manager who will be responsible for making sure that they are both punished and properly rehabilitated, and that the public are protected. They will manage the offender, often from before they are sentenced, throughout any prison sentence, and then during time on a community sentence or on licence in the community.
Regional offender managers need to be able to fund the delivery of specified contracts based on evidence of what reduces reoffending rather than leaving the prison and probation services to decide what to deliver. The current legal framework allows the Home Office to commission prison servicesbut not for probation. This asymmetry is one of the biggest barriers to realising our vision of joining up offender management from custody into the community. We will therefore be bringing forward legislation to improve the position.
During the consultation period we received 748 written replies and met a range of key stakeholders. The document we are publishing today summarises those replies and explains how they will be taken into account as we develop our proposals to reduce re-offending and increase public safety. We will introduce legislation to give effect to these changes as soon as parliamentary time allows.
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