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27 Nov 1995 : Column WA19

Written Answers

Monday, 27th November 1995.

Prisons: Annual Cost per Prisoner Place

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current average annual cost of keeping a prisoner in a penal establishment.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Baroness David from the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated

27 November 1995:

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the current average annual cost of keeping a prisoner in a penal establishment.

The average annual net operating cost per prisoner place in 1993-94, the latest year for which figures have been published, was £22,712.

Charity Commission: Regulations

Lord Denning asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answer of Baroness Blatch on

    7th November, whether the regulations and directives referred to in paragraph 3, sub-paragraph (3) of the first schedule have been made by the Commissioners and the Chief Charity Commissioner; and, if so, whether they are available to the public and, if so, how copies of them may be obtained.

Baroness Blatch: The business of the Charity Commission is regulated under the first schedule to the Charities Act 1993 by instructions given to staff with the authority of the Board of Commissioners. These instructions are not formal regulations and, as internal instructions, they are not published.

Iraq: Southern Marsh Population

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can confirm reports that the population of the marsh areas of southern Iraq has fallen from 650,000 five years ago to approximately 75,000 today, as a result of military and other action taken by Saddam Hussein's regime.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We are unable to confirm these figures. However, there is no doubt that the Iraqi regime's deliberate policy of draining the marshes and military

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operations have led to serious hardship and disrupted the life of the inhabitants.

EU/US Summit, 3rd December

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the purpose of the European Union/United States of America Summit meeting on 3rd December; what subjects will be discussed; who will be the EU delegates, and who will lead the delegation.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The 1990 Declaration on EC-US relations provides for twice-yearly summits between the Presidents of the US, of the European Council and of the European Commission. It is expected that an EU/US declaration and action plan outlining future areas of transatlantic co-operation will be agreed at the forthcoming summit on 3rd December in Madrid. These include working together in key foreign policy areas, further liberalisation of transatlantic trade, joint efforts in international issues such as drugs and crime and the broad strengthening of links across the Atlantic.

Nuclear Weapons: Reduction

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they would consider proposing talks between all nuclear weapon states to achieve and verify reductions in their nuclear arsenals comparable with the START reductions now being implemented by Russia and America, if they were assured that such a proposal would receive the support of the Opposition.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have substantially reduced the size of our national nuclear deterrent in recent years. By 1998, it will consist of a single system, Trident, and will be 21 per cent. smaller in terms of warhead numbers and 59 per cent. smaller in terms of explosive power than in the mid-1970s.

We remain committed to maintaining a minimum deterrent consistent with our national security needs. The priority now must be the further reduction of the strategic arsenals of the two largest nuclear powers by the ratification and full implementation of START II. As my right honourable friend the Member for Witney, the then Foreign Secretary, made clear at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference in April this year, the United Kingdom would participate in multilateral talks on the global reduction of nuclear weapons in a world in which US and Russian nuclear forces could be counted in hundreds rather than in thousands.

Anti-personnel Landmines

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    Whether, in the light of the massive toll of death and mutilation resulting from the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel landmines, especially in developing countries, they will seek to promote an international ban on the manufacture and sale of such devices, unless they are fitted with a time-limited detonator.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We agree that the progressive elimination of "dumb" anti-personnel landmines without a self-destruct mechanism would make an important contribution towards reducing the dangers to civilians from the irresponsible use of anti-personnel landmines. Together with the US and other countries, we are seeking to achieve this through a Landmine Control Programme (LCP), complementary to our efforts to strengthen the UN weaponry convention, which will promote an international ban on the production, further stockpiling and transfer of non-self-destructing and non-detectable anti-personnel landmines.

Chinese One Child Policy

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in obtaining information from voluntary organisations about the Chinese One Child Policy.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We continue to receive information about China's population policy through a variety of channels, although no significant new information has been received from voluntary organisations in recent weeks.

BBC Charter and Agreement

Lord Orr-Ewing asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the draft of the BBC's new Charter and Agreement will be published.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): I have today placed in the Library of the House drafts of the BBC's new Charter and the Agreement between my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and the corporation. The House will have an opportunity to consider these documents in the near future. The BBC's transmission services will be privatised. The BBC will retain the proceeds of sale related to licence-fee funded transmission facilities.

The future costs of transmission will be regulated to ensure that the BBC does not pay more for the services it currently needs and benefits from any productivity savings. This is good news for licence-fee payers.

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The BBC has welcomed these arrangements and said that it will invest the proceeds of sale within the BBC in digital production technology so that it is well placed to reap the benefits of digital broadcasting.

We look forward to a secure long-term future for the BBC's public services within the framework of the proposed new Charter and Agreement.

Long-term Unemployed: Statistics

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answer to Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish on 6th November (WA 182), how they intend to reduce the figure of 862,000 long-term unemployed, of whom 82 per cent. are men.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): The figures quoted by Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish were for July 1995. October figures are now available and show that long-term unemployment stands at 825,700. That is a fall of over 36,000 in the quarter and is now 130,000 lower than a year ago. It has fallen for seven quarters in a row and is half a million lower than its peak in 1986. We propose to maintain our economic policies that have put us on course for sustained growth and to continue to offer unemployed men and women a wide range of help to ensure that they get back to work as quickly as possible.

Higher Education Review

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made with the review of higher education announced last year, and when they hope to be able to make an announcement with particular reference to revised funding mechanisms.

Lord Henley: The Government's review of higher education is looking at wider issues than funding mechanisms. We have completed preliminary consultations on the purposes of higher education with a view to determining its appropriate size and shape at the turn of the century and beyond. We are now considering the hundred or so responses received and other evidence. We recognise the importance of higher education to the country's future economy and society, and do not intend to rush the review by setting arbitrary deadlines.

Male Teachers: Decline in Numbers

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the principle factors that have led to a decline in the number of male teachers in nursery,

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    primary and secondary schools to only 34 per cent. of the total number of teachers; and what action they intend to take to attract men to the teaching profession.

Lord Henley: Women have traditionally outnumbered men in nursery and primary teaching. Increases in the participation of women in non-education degree courses have increased the scope for them to take PGCE courses leading on to secondary teaching. The diversification of routes into teaching may also have favoured women unable to benefit from traditional entry routes.

Responsibility for promoting teaching as a career rests with the Teacher Training Agency (TTA). In acknowledgement of the fall in the proportion of male teachers, the TTA has identified men as a key target for its information and advice campaigns.

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