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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimates, the following changes will be made:
The cash limit for Class II, Vote 1 (Overseas Representation) will be increased by £9,050,000 from £619,826,000 to £628,876,000. The increase is required to cover the costs of major conferences, specifically the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the EU Presidency and the Asia Europe Meeting, which total £9,000,000. There is also a transfer in of £50,000 from the Home Office for a contribution towards the fight against international drug trafficking.
The cash limit for Class II, Vote 2 (Other External Relations) will be increased by £12,600,000 from £217,215,000 to £229,815,000. The increase is required to cover UK contributions to certain OSCE, United Nations and WEU Missions of £12,000,000 and also for a transfer of £600,000 from the Home Office towards certain Overseas Drugs Assistance Programmes.
In addition, the cash limit for Class II, Vote 3 (BBC World Service) will be reduced by £2,558,000 from £169,906,000 to £167,348,000. This reduction takes account of transfers to the Ministry of Defence of £3,444,000 and to the Cabinet Office of £327,000 to reflect the movement of the BBC World Service Monitoring Service to subscription based funding. This is partially offset by the take up of a capital end year flexibility amount of £1,213,000 as announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 17 July (Official Report, cols. 245 to 250).
We propose that the chief officer of police will have the power to apply for an order in the civil courts if the behaviour of a person who has been convicted or cautioned for a sex offence, whether in this country or abroad, poses a risk of serious harm to the public.
The order will require the defendant to register under the provisions of the Sex Offenders Act 1997, if he is not already required to do so. The court may also impose such other prohibitory conditions as are necessary to protect the public.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: At present when juveniles (aged 10 to 16 years) are charged and not released on bail after a court appearance, they are remanded to local authority accommodation. The local authority may, if it can satisfy certain strict conditions, return to the court and seek a secure accommodation order to place the juvenile in local authority secure accommodation. Separate arrangements exist for 15 and 16 year-old boys, who may be remanded direct to prison, again if strict conditions are met. The courts have no power to require any juvenile in this age group to be remanded directly to local authority secure accommodation.
There are, however, existing provisions on the statute book but not yet brought into force which would allow this to happen. Section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 contains provision for the abolition of prison remands for 15 and 16 year-old boys, and gives courts a power to remand these boys, as well as 15 and 16 year-old girls, directly to local authority secure accommodation. Section 20 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 provides for the extension of court-ordered secure remands to 12 to 14 year-olds but only once the provision in Section 60 of the 1991 Act has been implemented for 15 and 16 year-olds.
Before the Government can implement section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 and the provisions in the 1994 Act, there must be available a sufficient number of places to meet the expected demand. This is not the case at the moment. Whilst a building programme was put in place to provide 170 new secure places in local authority accommodation for this purpose, the number of juveniles remanded in custody has increased significantly since the building programme began, and prison remands now typically stand within the 250 to 300 range. The demand from this group alone would significantly outstrip the capacity of the local authority secure estate even once the building programme has been completed.
The Government are keen to begin implementation of those provisions and have decided to do so in stages. The Government will, therefore, implement the provision in relation to 12 to 14 year-olds as soon as practicable.
(b) that the courts should be able to remand the most vulnerable 15 and 16 year-old boys direct to local authority secure accommodation rather than to prison, subject to certain criteria and if a place has been identified in advance.
Under the existing legislation, court-ordered secure remands for 12 to 14 year-olds cannot be implemented without first doing the same for 15 and 16 year-olds. The Government intend to use this Session's Crime and Disorder Bill to make the necessary legislative changes; Royal Assent is unlikely before summer 1998. The Government remain committed to implementing the provisions in full and will keep the position under review but we believe that our current approach is the most practical and effective way forward.
As part of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review, we are also conducting a study of the whole range of secure accommodation for young people, including the local authority secure units. The Government wish to ensure that the assets and other resources employed in the accommodation and care of accused, convicted and other juveniles who need secure accommodation are used to best effect, including in meeting their educational needs and, where relevant, in tackling their offending behaviour. We will want to see how the proposed court-ordered remands and the associated accommodation fit into our plans for coming to grips with the present range of facilities which make up the juvenile secure estate. Our aim is to press on with this work as quickly as possible.
On 15 October, Directors of Social Services in England and Wales and the representative bodies of the local government associations and the directors of social services were informed of the Government's decision to implement these existing provisions. It was also suggested that there should be a meeting to discuss these proposals and the study of the juvenile secure estate. It is hoped that this meeting will take place shortly.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: We will tomorrow at 10.30 am place in the Library a supplementary note to my right honourable friend's response to the Animal Procedures Committee's interim report on its review of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 21 October (WA205-206), whether they will reconsider their reply in the light of the letter of Assistant Chief Constable D R Winser to Reginald Buckland on 6 June 1996.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: In the judgment in this case there is a reference to the Home Office view that conditions cannot be varied on application and that no right of appeal existed. In fact this was our general interpretation of the existing law that we had held for some time. It was not expressed specifically in this particular case. We are from time to time asked for our views on the law and procedures and we would usually give them whilst making clear that it is for the courts to interpret the law, not the Executive. To this extent there is nothing to add to my previous reply.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The report of the European Union Scientific Committee for Food (31st series) states that intakes of more than 50 mg/day of Vitamin B6 are potentially harmful in adults. This is consistent with the interpretation of the evidence carried out by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment.