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12 Oct 2006 : Column 866W—continued

The following rented offices are not currently occupied by Home Office or other staff:


Vacant for disposal

Police Records

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many requests were made to chief constables for the removal of (a) DNA, (b) fingerprint and (c) police national computer records in each of the last five years; and how many of these requests have been granted. [92197]

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Joan Ryan: There are no central records of the number of requests made to chief officers for the removal of DNA, fingerprints and police national computer records and the number which were granted before 2006.

However, earlier this year the Association of Chief Police Officers issued guidance to chief constables on the consideration of applications for the removal of DNA samples and, as at 9 October 2006, 84 profiles have either been or are being removed, a further 33 cases are pending and 14 samples have been retained. In all but one of these cases, all the records were removed. In one instance the PNC record was retained.

Sex Offenders (Isle of Man)

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many sex offenders under supervision orders issued in the Isle of Man were living in (a) England and (b) Wales in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement.; [89898]

(2) whether supervision orders issued to sex offenders in the Isle of Man apply in England; [89900]

(3) if he will introduce legislation to ensure that supervision orders issued to sex offenders in the Isle of Man are applicable in England; [89972]

(4) what discussions he has had with his Isle of Man counterpart concerning the applicability in England of supervision orders issued to sex offenders in the Isle of Man. [89901]

Mr. Coaker: Supervision orders that are issued in other countries or jurisdictions, including the Isle of Man, do not have effect in the United Kingdom. However, the provisions of part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 provide that, when someone is convicted of a sexual offence outside the United Kingdom, the police can apply to a magistrates court for a ‘notification order’. A notification order has the effect of requiring the offender to register their details to the police as if they had been convicted of an offence in this country. To be made subject to a notification order, the offender must satisfy three conditions:

In 2004-05, the police in England and Wales obtained 22 notification orders from magistrates.

The current guidance issued to the police is that, where they know the conditions are met, they should apply for a notification order; they do not need to demonstrate that the order is necessary to protect the public from the risk of serious sexual harm. Furthermore, if the conditions are met, then the legislation states that the magistrate must issue the order. Becoming a registered sex offender will also ensure that the authorities are required to establish arrangements for assessing and managing the risk posed by that offender.

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In addition, where a sex offender has been convicted overseas for a relevant offence or an equivalent offence and the police believe that they pose a risk of serious sexual harm to the public, the police can apply for a sexual offences prevention order which places restrictions on the individual’s behaviour.

International Development

Departmental Staff

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of (a) staff and (b) new staff employed since April 2005 in (i) his Department and (ii) each of the agencies for which he has responsibility is recorded as disabled. [92183]

Mr. Thomas: DFID records of disabled staff are solely based on voluntary declaration of disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and not connected in any way to a formal register of disability. The following figures represent DFID home civil servants only, not staff-appointed-in-country:

Prime Minister

Bilderberg Group

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister in which years since 1993 (a) he and (b) other Government Ministers have attended meetings of the Bilderberg group. [93240]

The Prime Minister: The information requested is not held centrally.

Political Memoirs

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister when the Government expects to respond to the report of the Public Administration Select Committee entitled “Whitehall Confidential? The publication of political memoirs”, (HC689). [93136]

The Prime Minister: The Government are considering the PAC report “Whitehall Confidential? The publication of political memoirs”, and will respond in due course.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister what amendments to the book “The Blunkett Tapes” were (a) recommended, (b) rejected and (c) accepted during the applicable clearance procedures; and if he will make a statement. [93193]

The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) submitted his draft manuscript to the Cabinet
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Secretary as required by the ministerial code. Any discussions between an author and the Cabinet Office on a draft manuscript are confidential.



21. Mr. Henry Bellingham: To ask the Solicitor-General what plans he has to protect small companies from overseas fraudsters. [92852]

The Solicitor-General: The fraud review proposes a national fraud strategic authority and a national fraud reporting centre to collate information on fraud. This will help alert businesses and individuals to particular fraud risk.

The Fraud Bill creates a new offence of fraud as well as criminalising fraudulent trading by sole traders and partnerships. These provisions along with others on money laundering will assist in protecting companies and individuals from fraudsters.

Crown Prosecution Service

22. John Bercow: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the Crown Prosecution Service. [92853]The Solicitor-General: The CPS is on track to exceed its forecast efficiency savings for 2006-07.

25. Mr. David Kidney: To ask the Solicitor-General what changes to the Crown Prosecution Service will be required to enable bulk processing arrangements for simple non-contested criminal cases. [92856]

The Solicitor-General: It is too early to tell. Before the CPS can identify what changes it may need to make, it needs to know the extent of the bulk processing scheme, the location of the sites; and the procedural arrangements to be adopted in court.

The CPS is committed improving the processing of simple non-criminal cases. It is fully involved in discussions with criminal justice system partners to determine how current procedures may be improved.

Intercept Evidence

23. Mr. David S. Borrow: To ask the Solicitor-General what conclusion the Attorney-General has drawn from his recent discussions in the US on the use of intercepted material as evidence. [92854]

The Solicitor-General: The Americans told the Attorney-General on his recent visit that they regard intercept evidence as an important tool in combating serious organised crime. The Government believe that, if it is possible to use intercept evidence in court in a way that does not put at risk our security services, then we should do so. We are examining ways in which this might be done but the issues around using intercept as evidence are serious.

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Mike McCartney

24. Ben Chapman: To ask the Solicitor-General what recent discussions he has held with Cheshire and Merseyside Crown Prosecution Service on the trial of Mike McCartney. [92855]

The Solicitor-General: None, but I did consider a report provided by the Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Merseyside to the Director of Public Prosecutions prior to discussing this case with my hon. Friend on 11 May 2006.

The CPS decided to prosecute in this case following a review of the available evidence. However at the trial the judge concluded that the evidence did not constitute an offence within the context of section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Trade and Industry

Audit Firms

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps are being taken to require audit firms to disclose their contingency plans in case of failure. [91305]

Mr. McCartney: The Financial Reporting Council, which is leading the debate on competition and choice in the audit market, published a briefing paper in September following a public consultation. This addresses not only the promotion of increased choice, but also the steps that might be taken to reduce the risk of an existing firm leaving the market, and to reduce the uncertainty and disruption in the event of an audit firm leaving the market. Further work is in hand and the FRC is planning to publish a progress report in the first quarter of 2007.

The revised EU audit directive, due to be implemented by June 2008, also contains provisions requiring auditors of public interest entities to make annual public reports on, as well as other matters, their internal governance, and their internal quality systems. The FRC is presently consulting on the details of how that might be implemented.

Bank Charges

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Office of Fair Trading recommendations on bank charges will come into effect. [92719]

Mr. McCartney: The Office of Fair Trading recommendations relate to credit card default charges. The OFT has stated that it believes that credit card default charges had been generally set at a significantly higher level than was fair and set a £12 threshold for OFT intervention unless there were exceptional business factors. In response to this, credit card issuers have agreed to reduce their default charges—the majority by almost half.

As a result of these reductions in charges across the market, the OFT is satisfied that no further intervention is warranted in this area at this time and
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that this change has brought about substantial benefits for consumers. The OFT remains of the view that the broad principles do read across to the retail banking area and has decided to undertake further work on the application of these principles to bank current accounts. This fact-finding exercise is expected to take between three to six months, at which stage the OFT will consider whether a further detailed investigation of the fairness of individual bank default charges is needed.

British Nuclear Fuels Limited

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with (a) the British Nuclear Group, (b) the National Decommissioning Authority and (c) the nuclear installations inspectorate on the proposed sale of British Nuclear Fuels Limited. [93131]

Malcolm Wicks: None in relation to a sale of BNFL but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had discussions this week with BNFL, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the nuclear installations inspectorate to determine whether he should approve a joint proposal from BNFL and the NDA that the opening up of the clean up market to competition should proceed in a different manner from that envisaged in the then Secretary of State's announcement to the House on 30 March, Official Report, columns 97-98WS.

The issue is complex and requires careful consideration. It is important to get the right decision for the company, for the employees, for the UK's long-term nuclear clean up market and for the taxpayer. We will make a further statement as soon as we have fully considered the issues and reached a decision.

Crown Post Office

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many Crown post offices are being considered for franchising in (a) Greater Manchester and (b) England. [93382]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Decisions on individual post office branches are operational matters for which the management of Post Office Ltd have direct responsibility. I have therefore asked Alan Cook, Managing Director of POL, to reply direct to the hon. Gentleman on the issues that he has raised concerning the franchising of services.

Departmental Expenditure

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was spent by his Department on food and alcohol for its staff working out of office in each year since 2001-02. [91898]

Jim Fitzpatrick: All subsistence expenditure is incurred in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in “Government Accounting”.

Further information is not held centrally and is only available at disproportionate cost.

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