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Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost has been of (a) testing, (b) acquiring and (c) training police personnel in Northern Ireland in the use of alternatives to plastic bullets in each of the last three years. 
Paul Goggins: In response to Patten Recommendations 69 and 70 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland set up a NIO-led UK Steering Group to lead the research programme into alternative policing approaches towards the management of conflict. The development of the Attenuating Energy Projectile (AEP), as an operational replacement for the L21A1 baton round from 21 June 2005, formed only part of the Groups ongoing activities.
I am advised that the cost breakdown in terms of testing, acquiring and training police personnel in the use of AEP cannot be provided without disproportionate cost. However, the total cost of replacing the L21Al with the AEP for operational use was estimated to be £291,000. This figure is the only top-line cost available for the project and PSNI cannot readily extrapolate testing, acquiring and training figures for the following reasons: testing was conducted externally as well as internally; acquisition costs would involve various aspects of the procurement process; and training costs were incurred across many PSNI departments.
Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what (a) discussions and (b) written communications there have been with the European Commission in respect of Council Directive 2000/78/EC concerning provision for 50:50 recruitment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland; 
Paul Goggins: EU Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishes a general framework for combating discrimination in employment and occupation, on the grounds of disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief. Article 15.1 of this directive provides a specific derogation that allows for the policy of 50:50 recruitment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, as legislated for in the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.
I am advised that the European Commission is duty-bound to review and provide a report on the directive routinely every five years. This procedure involves input from member state Governments on the implementation of the directive in their own country.
The first five-yearly report on the directive for the United Kingdom was completed in December 2005. As part of the United Kingdoms submission to the European Commissions report, the Northern Ireland Office provided specific input in relation to the working of article 15.1. This process involved discussion and written communication with the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the European Union and the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels.
The 50:50 recruitment provisions are reviewed every three years, and can only be renewed by a majority vote in both Houses. This is next due in March 2007. The Government remain committed to the use of these temporary provisions as means of achieving 30 per cent. Catholic composition among Regular PSNI Officers by 2010-11. The provisions shall only be renewed, however, following extensive review and consultation with interested parties. It is our intention to commence the review and consultation process shortly.
Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many recruits are in training for the Police Service of Northern Ireland; and how many undertook training in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what meetings officials in his Department have had with representatives of the public relations company Portland PR; what contracts Portland PR has with his Department and agencies for which he has responsibility; and what the nature of the contract is in each case. 
Mr. Hain: The Department does not maintain a central list of such meetings. Civil servants meet many people as part of the process of policy development and business delivery. All such meetings are conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Code and Guidance for civil servants on contacts with lobbyists and people outside Government.
We contacted the various branches and Agencies of the NIO who all confirm that they have had no meetings with representatives of the Public Relations company Portland PR. Portland PR also have no contracts with the Department or its agencies.
Paul Goggins: The amount of assets recovered in Northern Ireland under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in each year since 2003 by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Her Majestys Revenue and Customs and the Assets Recovery Agency is detailed in the following tables.
|Assets Recovery Agency|
|Year( 1)||Assets frozen( 2)||Final orders( 3)||Receipts( 4)|
|(1) Figures in relation to the Assets Recovery Agency cover a 12-month period from April to March unless otherwise stated. (2) Assets that have been frozen through a Mareva or Interim Receiving Order. (3) Recovery orders and settlements in civil recovery cases. (4) Payments received against orders, settlements and payments made on account.|
|Police Service of Northern Ireland|
|Cash seizures||Confiscation orders|
|Her Majestys Revenue and Customs|
|Cash seizures||Confiscation orders|
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the former party affiliation is of the serving chair of each public body in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. 
Those appointed to public bodies in Northern Ireland, including chairpersons, are not
required to declare if they are affiliated to a political party. However, they are asked to declare if they have undertaken any significant political activity in the five years prior to the date of their application.
A list of chairpersons currently serving on public bodies in Northern Ireland, who, at the time of their application, declared that they had undertaken political activity .in the preceding five years, is set out in Table 1.
An overview of the political activity of both applicants and appointees to bodies sponsored by Northern Ireland's eleven government departments can be found in the Public Appointments Annual Report, and similar details in respect of NIO sponsored bodies is included in the NIO Departmental Report. Copies of the latest versions of both these reports are available from the Library of the House and can be found on the internet at: www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/public-appointments and www.nio.gov.uk/niodepartmentalreport2006.pdf, respectively.
|Table 1:Current chairs of public bodies who declared political activity at the time of their application|
|Name||Public body||Party for which political activity was declared|
|(1)Chair of the Boundary Commission must be the Speaker of the House of Commons|
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what rules governed the ability of legal representatives appointed to the Saville Inquiry to take on other legally-aided work following their appointment. 
Mr. Hanson: No restrictions were placed on the legal representatives acting for Interested Parties to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry to take on other separately funded work. The time devoted to the Inquiry varied among individuals and legal representatives were free to accept other instructions that their workload allowed.
Sir Patrick Cormack: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 19 April 2006, Official Report, column 728W, on sentencing (averages), what the average sentence passed for those convicted of offences under (a) section 170 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 and (b) section 5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in Northern Ireland was over the last five years. 
Paul Goggins: Table 1 provides the average sentence lengths for those convicted and given immediate custody under section 170 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 and section 5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
|Table 1: Average sentence lengths in months 1999-2003|
|Section 170 Customs and Excise Management Act 1979||Section 5(3) Misuse of Drugs Act 1971|
|Average sentence length (months)||Average sentence length (months)|
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to review current guidelines for sentencing handed down to young adults who carry out rapes in the Province. 
Mr. Hanson: The Government do not issue guidelines on sentencing for any offence in Northern Ireland. Sentencing is entirely a matter for the independent Courts based on case law and precedent. The role of the Government is to provide the legislative framework within which the Courts operate.
To that end the Government are planning a public consultation which will review the criminal law in relation to sexual offences. This consultation will, among other things, propose several new sexual offences and a new definition of the offence of rape. It will also include proposals on the definition of consent and the capacity to consent.
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