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27 Jun 2007 : Column 774W—continued


Police: Manpower

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police are employed by Essex police in the Chelmsford area. [145928]

Mr. McNulty: The available data are for the number of full-time equivalent police officers in the Chelmsford basic command unit (BCU) within the Essex police force. These data are published in the supplementary
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tables of the Home Office Statistical Bulletin 13/06 “Police Service Strength, England and Wales, 31 March 2006” and are downloadable from:

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) police officers in the Chelmsford BCU was 232 as at 31 March 2006 (FTE figures rounded to the nearest whole number, includes those officers on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave).

Salman Rushdie

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent from the public purse on the protection of Salman Rushdie in each year (a) since the fatwa was announced and (b) since its removal. [145825]

Mr. McNulty: It is our long established policy not to comment on protective security arrangements (and their associated costs) for any individual. This is because to do so could compromise the integrity of those arrangements and affect the security of the individuals concerned.

Work Permits: Fraud

Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many investigations the Home Office Work Permits Section carried out into complaints of work permits abuse in the IT, communications and electronics sector in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006; and how many resulted in a penalty or sanction against (i) the employing organisation and (ii) the work permit holder in each year. [145079]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 25 June 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 327W.

The figures quoted are not provided under National Statistics protocols and have been derived from local management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change.

Written Questions

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to answer question 134975, tabled by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South on 25 April 2007, on Miss Ketchanou; and what the reasons are for the delay. [144578]

Mr. McNulty: My hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality (Mr. Byrne) replied to the hon. Member on 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 311W.

Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints about (a) the food served and (b) those serving it were made at Yarl's Wood Detention Centre in each of the last three years; and what action has been taken as a result. [144843]


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Mr. Byrne: Records of complaints by detainees about food are only readily available from January 2006. Since this date there have been 15 complaints about food and seven about servery staff. All complaints about the food have been addressed and detainees have received written responses. Staff concerned have been provided with advice and guidance regarding their conduct in the workplace but disciplinary action has not been necessary. Currently, two investigations into staff conduct are ongoing.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many employees at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre were disciplined in each of the last three years; for what offences; what action resulted in each case; and if he will make a statement. [144847]

Mr. Byrne: Information prior to July 2006 is not available under the Data Protection Act, which does not permit the storage of records relating to disciplinary action for more than 12 months.

From July 2006 to April 2007, the last 10 months that Global Solutions Limited (GSL) operated the centre under contract to the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), fifteen employees at Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre were subject to disciplinary procedures. The disciplinary offences were poor attendance, failure to report absence, unauthorised absence, lateness, failure to follow procedures, unprofessional conduct and harassment, displaying threatening behaviour to a colleague, discourteous to staff, sickness, inappropriate use of language and behaviour and leaving the site without authorisation. None of the disciplinary offences concerned actions towards detainees. The cases resulted in the issue of warnings to the staff concerned. These were in the form of verbal and written warnings.

Serco were awarded the contract for the operation of Yarl’s Wood in April 2007. There have since been two disciplinary investigations of staff, both for bringing mobile phones into the establishment. The members of staff were given verbal warnings.

Contractors are responsible for their own disciplinary procedures which are overseen in operation by Border and Immigration Agency staff.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints of (a) sexual and (b) racial intimidation have been registered by inmates of Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in the last 12 months; and what the result has been of investigations into such complaints. [144849]

Mr. Byrne: From January 2006 there are no records of complaints of sexual intimidation. There have been six complaints referred to the Race Relations Liaison Officer, five of which were assessed as not being of a racist nature. The sixth was withdrawn by the detainee and the Race Relations Liaison Officer satisfied himself that this complaint was not of a racist nature and decided not to pursue the matter further.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Departments: Languages

Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the views of
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(a) language teaching staff in her Department and (b) staff in other departments were on the decision to outsource her Department's language teaching operation. [142085]

Mr. Hoon: Language teaching staff are very committed to achieving high standards in their work. They expressed disappointment when told of the decision to outsource the teaching operation. We will be offering them every possible support in managing the transition from the present arrangements. There will be no bar to existing teaching staff providing language training services to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in future, either as an employee or owner of an organisation that successfully tenders for this business.

Language training will continue to be provided for staff from other Government Departments posted into FCO jobs. Those Departments will be offered the opportunity to use the proposed FCO framework agreement to source language training for their own staff who need language skills in the future. Other Departments were not consulted on the FCO's business decision to outsource language training.

Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what account was taken of the job requirements of staff (a) in her Department and (b) in other departments when making the decision to outsource her Department's language teaching operation. [142086]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) language policy review made a number of recommendations to improve the skills of FCO staff who require language skills to do their job. The decision to outsource training will not impact on the operational efficiency of FCO staff or staff from other Government Departments working in the FCO.

Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the quality of the language teaching available from outside providers compared with that available from the in-house staff in her Department. [142087]

Mr. Hoon: We do not believe that quality of training will be affected. Language teaching suppliers will have performance targets built into their contracts. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Services Review of Language training, which looked at the examination performance of trainees taught by agency-supplied teachers, concluded that examination performance is not automatically enhanced by having full time teachers. 40 per cent. of FCO priority language training is already outsourced.

Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what factors are taken into account by her Department when calculating the cost of an average hour of language teaching to (a) a single individual and (b) a group in a lesson provided by her Department's language teaching operation. [142088]


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Mr. Hoon: When benchmarking the cost of an average hour of language tuition, detailed analysis considered tuition costs, including value added tax and, for group training, classes of four.

Other costs such as accommodation, registration and set up fee and learning resources subscription were not taken into account when comparing the hourly tuition rates.

Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the average cost is of an hour of language teaching to (a) a single individual and (b) a group in a lesson provided by (i) her Department's language teaching operation and (ii) external language providers contracted to her Department. [142089]

Mr. Hoon: The current cost of tuition under the current in-house teaching operation and for external providers contracted by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Services is:

£
Individual Group

FCO Services

55-65

60-80

FCO Services contracted external providers

41 to 70

47 to 70


Departments: Sick Leave

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of sick leave taken by staff in her Department was stress-related in each of the last three years. [145975]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not keep statistics on reported cases of work-related stress, nor on sickness absences related to stress.

We attach importance to identifying and tackling causes of stress in the workplace. We published detailed guidance earlier this year for all staff and managers on recognising and dealing with occupational stress. Staff are able to discuss work-related or personal concerns with a trained welfare officer. In addition we provide access for staff both in the UK and overseas to a confidential telephone counselling and advice service.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what new initiatives she has recently discussed with (a) the Government of Israel and (b) EU member states in relation to (i) Israeli activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and (ii) Israeli settlement building on the E1 plan and elsewhere in the West Bank. [145990]

Dr. Howells: The UK continues to discuss these issues regularly with the Government of Israel and international partners, including the EU.

The UK consistently makes clear its view that settlements are illegal under international law and that settlement activity is an obstacle to peace. The Roadmap is clear that Israel should freeze all settlement construction including the “natural growth”
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of existing settlements and dismantle all outposts built since 2001. Our ambassador in Tel Aviv last raised our concerns about settlement activity with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni on 28 May. We continue to make clear our objection to any settlement activity.

We are concerned by reports of Israeli construction work at El. The continuing process of establishing settlements is encircling East Jerusalem and breaking up Palestinian territorial contiguity throughout the West Bank. These practices fuel Palestinian anger, threaten to cut East Jerusalem off from the West Bank and undermine the prospect for a viable Palestinian state. We continue to call for Israel to meet its Roadmap commitments on settlements.

Work and Pensions

Domestic Service: Legal Protection

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what legal protection for the rights of domestic workers have been introduced since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [125427]

Mr. Byrne: I have been asked to reply.

In 1998, arrangements for overseas domestic workers in private households were revised to enable them to change employers in the UK if they had suffered abuse or exploitation, as long as they remained in employment as a domestic worker in a private household. This arrangement was subsequently amended to allow domestic workers to change employer regardless of the reason.

A regularisation scheme was also established for those who had left their original employer due to abuse or exploitation. Their stay would be regularised for 12 months in the first instance for those that brought themselves to the attention of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate between 23 July 1998 and 23 October 1999.

Northern Ireland

Community-based Sentencing

8. Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress he has made on the development of community-based sentencing as an alternative to prison in Northern Ireland. [144671]

9. Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what alternatives to prison are being developed in Northern Ireland; and what assessment has been made of the effectiveness of those measures. [144672]

14. Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in developing community-based sentencing as an effective alternative to prison in Northern Ireland. [144678]

Maria Eagle: Good progress is being made in developing community-based alternatives to prison—particularly in relation to youth offending where our new system of youth conferencing recently extended across the whole of Northern Ireland. It has enormous potential to divert young people from custody, satisfy
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the victims of crime that they have a say in the way in which crime is dealt with, and cut re-offending rates significantly.

Social Housing

10. Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will seek discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on increasing the block grant to increase resources available for social housing in Northern Ireland. [144674]

Mr. Hain: Social housing in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, and it is for the Northern Ireland Executive to decide on the allocation of public expenditure between services in Northern Ireland. But the Chancellor has stated housing will be a priority in his new Cabinet.

Terrorist Groups

11. Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the security threat posed by each of the Irish terrorist groups proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000. [144675]

Paul Goggins: The Provisional IRA no longer poses a terrorist threat, and has not done so for some time. However, Dissident Republicans, though few in number and isolated, continue to pose a serious threat to the security situation.

Given the recent statement by the UVF, I have commissioned a review of the status of specified organisations in line with my obligation under the legislation. We have always maintained that we will encourage those who want to work to a positive agenda, and it is vital that the welcome statement is followed through with actions.


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