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26 Feb 2008 : Column 1402W—continued


Departmental Catering

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent on ordering refreshments for meetings held by her Department in the last year. [185291]

Jacqui Smith: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given on 29 October 2007, Official Report, columns 923-24W. Further detail on the cost of ordering the refreshments could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Rents

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much rent was paid by her Department to private landlords in each of the last five years; and what proportion of this rent in each year was paid for properties previously owned by her Department. [186927]

Jacqui Smith: Aggregated information on how much rent was paid by the Home Office to private landlords, including rent paid on properties previously owned, in each of the past five years is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Travel

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how much her Department spent on travel (a) within and (b) outside the UK for officials in each of the last 10 years; and what percentage of her Department's overall expenditure was spent on such travel in each such year; [181533]

(2) how many overseas visits by officials in her Department took place in each of the last 10 years; which countries were visited; and how much was spent on such visits in each such year. [181607]

Mr. Byrne: The Department's expenditure on travel within and outside the UK in each of the last 10 years is shown in the following table.

£ million
1997-98 1998-99 1999-00 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

Non-UK

1.18

0.89

1.43

1.38

2.07

2.35

4.45

5.47

6.88

10.60

UK

3.84

3.47

3.56

4.93

6.83

8.30

11.14

13.65

15.46

16.75

Total

5.02

4.35

4.99

6.31

8.90

10.65

15.59

19.13

22.34

27.35

Percentage of overall expenses

0.10

0.09

0.06

0.07

0.09

0.08

0.13

0.15

0.17

0.20


The difference in costs over the period reflects the changing nature of the Home Office's business, in particular the growth of international terrorism, migration and international travel. Collaboration and information exchange both domestically and internationally on counter-terrorism activities and border control have become increasingly critical to the effective discharge of the Department's responsibilities for asylum, immigration and national security.

This has involved higher levels of overseas and UK travel.

Details on the number of overseas visits and the countries visited could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The numbers include both official and ministerial travel. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Civil Service Management Code and the Ministerial Code.

Deportation

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many deportations on grounds that a person remaining in the UK would not be conducive
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to the public good have taken place in the last 12 months. [178113]

Mr. Byrne: In his public announcement of 14 January, I provided the most robust and accurate information available on foreign national prisoners. I confirmed that in 2007 over 4,200 foreign national prisoners have been removed or deported from the United Kingdom.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many deportations of persons seeking asylum were not completed because the receiving country refused to accept them (a) before and (b) after the flight returning them had left the UK in the last 12 months. [185626]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 18 February 2008]: The information requested could be obtained only by the detailed examination of individual case records at disproportionate cost.

Employment Agencies

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much her Department paid to recruitment agencies in relation to departmental appointments in each year since 1997. [184918]

Mr. Byrne: The Department does not hold this information centrally and to obtain the information requested would incur disproportionate costs.

Identity Cards

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the Identity Cards Scheme Cost report published in November 2007, if she will provide a break down by main budget heading of the £38 million in set-up costs for providing identity cards to foreign nationals from October 2007 and October 2017. [182356]

Jacqui Smith: The set-up cost estimates for providing identity cards to foreign nationals cannot be broken down further until we conclude commercial processes.

As with all cost estimates covering a 10-year period the estimates contained in the Identity Cards Cost Report November 2007 are subject to change in light of new information or assumptions.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the identity cards scheme cost report published in November 2007, if she will provide a break down by main budget heading of the £144 million in operational costs for providing identity cards to foreign nationals from October 2007 and October 2017. [182357]

Jacqui Smith: The operational cost estimates for providing identity cards to foreign nationals cannot be broken down further until we conclude commercial processes.

As with all cost estimates covering a ten year period the estimates contained in the identity cards cost report November 2007 are subject to change in light of new information or assumptions.


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Immigration: Detainees

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many non-criminal prisoners are detained under the Immigration Act 1971; and for how many weeks they have been detained following the completion of their sentence. [187288]

Jacqui Smith: The chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency wrote to the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee on 20 November 2007. She reported that there are around 1,500 foreign nationals whose sentences have expired and are detained by the Agency or Prison Estate and who are awaiting deportation.

Judicial Review

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which of her Department's decisions were challenged by judicial review in each parliamentary session since 1997; and in how many cases (a) her Department's decision was upheld by the court, (b) the court found for the applicant, (c) her Department accepted the judgment and (d) her Department appealed successfully against the decision. [187286]

Jacqui Smith: Because of the complexity and sensitivity of the issues the Home Office deals with, its decisions are frequently subject to challenge by judicial review; and this has been so for many years. Most of these challenges fall at the first hurdle and permission to bring proceedings is refused by the court; and many challenges are withdrawn by the applicants before there is a judicial determination. The exact figures for the total number of cases brought, and the outcomes in every case, are not held centrally. The information requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Offensive Weapons

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the reasons were for restricting the policy on prosecuting everyone carrying a knife to London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. [179819]

Mr. Coaker [holding answer 17 January 2008]: The Government do not intend to restrict their plans for the presumption to prosecute those found carrying a knife to the areas referred to in the question.

The Metropolitan Police Service in London are already adopting a positive charging policy, and we are working with the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Crown Prosecution Service and police forces to see how the arrangements agreed in London might be extended more widely. These proposals were announced on 18 February as part of the Government’s Tackling Violence Action Plan.

Offensive Weapons: Crime

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what areas she has designated as knife crime hot spots. [183009]


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Mr. Coaker: The Government have not designated any specific knife crime hot spots. However the Government have announced on 18 February a range of measures to tackle knife crime, as part of the tackling violence action plan.

Offensive Weapons: Homicide

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of reported murders were committed with knives in the most recent period for which figures are available. [181759]

Mr. Coaker: Available information relates to offences recorded that are currently classed as homicide where the apparent method of killing is ‘sharp instrument’, and was included within ‘Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2006-07’ (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 03/08, page 12). As of 12 November 2007, 35 per cent. of the homicides recorded by police in England and Wales during 2006-07 involved the use of a sharp instrument.

Prisoners: Foreigners

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases involving foreign prisoners claiming to have been wrongfully detained at the end of their sentence have been brought in the last five years; and what the outcome has been of each of those cases in which legal proceedings are no longer active. [183036]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested can be obtained only through the detailed examination of individual cases in order to identify the specific reason for the commencement of judicial proceedings at disproportionate cost. The chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency has regularly updated the Home Affairs Committee over the past 18 months with the most robust and accurate information available on the deportation of foreign national prisoners and will continue to do so as required.

Serious Organised Crime Agency

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will review the organisation of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency; and if she will make a statement. [188865]

Mr. Coaker: There are no plans to review the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Shoplifting

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department is taking to reduce shoplifting. [187098]

Mr. Coaker: The Government are working in partnership with retail organisations to tackle retail crime including shoplifting. As part of this work we have set up a National Retail Crime Steering group to provide an opportunity for discussion of retailers’ crime concerns and to devise strategies to deal with these.


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We have made a commitment to raise the profile of crimes against businesses, make provision for better information about them and produce guidance to support local partnerships in their efforts to tackle the crimes which affect them.

The Home Office has also provided funding to the Perpetuity Group to develop a crime reduction tool for small and medium sized retailers to design out crime in their stores and significantly reduce the opportunities for shop thieves to operate.

Priority-setting and monitoring the performance of local authorities is a devolved matter in Wales.

Communities and Local Government

Homelessness

11. Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the merits of using privately rented accommodation for housing homeless people. [188694]

Caroline Flint: We have commissioned an independent review of the private rented sector which includes looking at the sector’s role in meeting housing need and what can be done to ensure it is effectively managed. Over 200 local authorities use rent deposit schemes as a successful homelessness prevention measure.

Local Area Agreements

12. Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on the progress of local area agreement negotiations. [188695]

Hazel Blears: Local area agreement negotiations are progressing well. We have a good match between the priorities local areas and Government are proposing—70 per cent., even at this early stage of negotiations. What is emerging is a strong sense that many areas share the same desire as Government to tackle the most difficult challenges in their communities.


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