Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Training for Work: Allowances to Ex-Offenders

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): All participants on Training for Work, including ex-offenders, receive an allowance based on the benefit they were receiving immediately before they joined the programme plus a training premium of £10 a week. Allowance payments were increased in line with the increase in underlying benefits in April 1995.

1 Apr 1996 : Column WA10

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in the EU

The Earl of Bradford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide figures for the number of annual recorded cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in other member countries of the EC, with a breakdown by age group of those affected.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): Since 1993, the European Community has funded a project to co-ordinate the surveillance of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in those European countries with existing or proposed national CJD surveillance programmes--i.e. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. This project is co-ordinated by the National CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh. The data collected for 1993 and 1994 were published in the National CJD Surveillance Unit's Fourth Annual Report (August 1995), copies of which are available in the Library. The 1995 figures are not yet available. The incidence of CJD in the UK is similar to that in the other European countries taking part in the project.

Prison Service: Appointment of Director General

Lord Holmpatrick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will announce the appointment of the Director General of the Prison Service.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): With the approval of the Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today appointed Richard Tilt as Director General of the Prison Service.

My right honourable friend also proposes to establish a Prison Service Advisory Board to advise him on the performance and plans of the Prison Service, including the key performance indicators, and on policy matters relating to the Prison Service. The advisory board will have a part-time non-executive chairman and the other members will include the director general, other senior Home Office and Prison Service officials and other non-executives.

My right honourable friend has concluded that the terms of the framework document which established the Prison Service as an executive agency of the Home Office in 1993 would benefit from some clarification. My right honourable friend proposes to ask the advisory board further to consider the need for such clarification and to make recommendations.

Eurostar: Passport Inspections

Lord Northfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On how many occasions in the past month practical difficulties have caused the cancellation of passport inspection on Eurostar trains from Paris.

1 Apr 1996 : Column WA11

Baroness Blatch: In the period 21st February 1996 to 20th March 1996 practical difficulties led to the scheduled passport control on board Eurostar services from Paris being replaced on 10 occasions (about 3 per cent. of the total) by a control on arrival at Waterloo International.

Lord Northfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the terms of contractual arrangements between the Home Office and European Passenger Services (EPS) concerning the regularity of on-train inspection of passports by immigration officers on Eurostar trains from Paris; and how much EPS pays for this service.

Baroness Blatch: The regularity of on-board passport control by immigration officers on Eurostar services is agreed in discussions between the Immigration Service and European Passenger Services. The details of the terms and costs of the contract which sets out the basis for these discussions are matters of commercial confidentiality which it would not be proper to disclose.

Lord Northfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many immigration officers are employed to inspect passports on Eurostar trains from Paris; and how many more inspectors would be required to ensure that all passengers' passports are checked on such trains.

Baroness Blatch: Currently there are 116 immigration officers based at Waterloo International, all of whom are engaged in carrying out passport controls on Eurostar services. This level of staff is sufficient to carry out passport control on board all services from Paris except those which we have agreed with European Passenger Services will not have on-board clearance. In addition, there are occasions when practical difficulties, such as staff sickness, lead to the cancellation of a scheduled on-board control. We do not have spare staff at Waterloo International to cater for such circumstances; it would clearly be very wasteful of resources to do so. In the absence of on-board controls, we seek to delay passengers as little as possible at our control at Waterloo International and to meet our published service standard for maximum queuing times.

Foreign Nationals Settled in the UK

Lord Northfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many aliens currently have the right of permanent residence in the United Kingdom for business or employment purposes.

Baroness Blatch: European Economic Area nationals and their family members may reside freely in the United Kingdom in employment or business, in accordance with European Community law. All foreign nationals, including EEA nationals, and Commonwealth citizens who have been granted settlement in the United Kingdom under the Immigration Rules may seek employment or to establish a business here. Information

1 Apr 1996 : Column WA12

on the number of such persons currently resident in the United Kingdom is not available.

The numbers of persons who have been granted settlement each year, in total and identifying separately those accepted on the basis of employment or an existing business, are published in Table 6.3 of the annual publication Control of Immigration: Statistics, United Kingdom, copies of which are in the Library.

Prison Population Growth and Prison Officer Numbers

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the growth in population of Britain's prisons can be reconciled with the proposed reduction in the number of serving prison officers; and whether they will list the prison facilities such as gymnasia, libraries, education blocks and workshops which are now unused or only partially used as the result of a lack of supervisors.

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 Lord Hylton from the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 1st April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the growth of the prison population and the proposed reduction in the number of serving officers.

The Government have made additional funding available to the Prison Service for security improvements, combating drug abuse and to cater for expected increases in the prison population. But it is also the Government's policy to exercise firm control over public expenditure and to secure greater efficiency in the running of public services. The savings in current expenditure being required of the Prison Service, which will include greater efficiency and economy in the use of its staff, are broadly consistent with those expected of the public services generally.

Information on the detail of changes that may from time to time be made in the use of facilities at individual establishments is not held centrally. The Prison Service is committed to providing positive and constructive regimes for prisoners, and governors are encouraged to make the most cost effective use of all the resources available to them.

Child Support Agency: Ombudsman's Report

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the hope expressed by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in paragraph 10 of his third report (Investigation of Complaints against the Child Support Agency) that "savings will not be required from an organisation

1 Apr 1996 : Column WA13

    which has shown by its past performance how inefficient it can be, if the result is greater inefficiency".

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): Neither the Child Support Agency nor any other business unit will be required to make savings which lower efficiency.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the third report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, "Investigation of Complaints against the Child Support Agency", whether it is their view that the cases investigated, especially in section two of the report, might have been more effectively handled by a contested hearing before a court than they could have been by casual exchanges of correspondence.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: No. The inability of the courts to provide adequate or consistent levels of child maintenance is well documented. There is nothing in the Parliamentary Commissioner's recent report to suggest that the courts would have been able to cope with the flows of work and the disruptions--often deliberate--faced by the Child Support Agency.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page