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Written Answers

Thursday, 30th April 1998.

Dunblane: Role of Central Scotland Police

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the findings of the external investigation of Grampian Police, they will consider an investigation into the Central Police at the time of the Dunblane disaster, when the Central Police investigated their own affairs.[HL1581]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The role and actions of Central Scotland Police were fully examined by Lord Cullen's public inquiry and covered in detail in his subsequent report.

Grampian Police: Report

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the report by Graham Powers, Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, on the Grampian Constabulary.[HL1582]

Lord Sewel: Yes. Copies of this report which was commissioned by Grampian Police have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Terrorist Weapons

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish in the Official Report a catalogue of the terrorist weapons surrendered to the authorities in Northern Ireland up to the latest convenient date.[HL1576]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): No terrorist weapons have yet been decommissioned. In signing up to the Political Agreement, the Government, along with the Government of the Republic of Ireland and all the parties in talks, reaffirmed their commitment to the total disarmament of all paramilitary organisations and confirmed their intention to use any influence they may have to achieve the decommissioning of all paramilitary arms within two years of an endorsement of the agreement in the referendums.

Guardsmen Fisher and Wright

Lord Westbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they plan to reappraise the case for release of Guardsmen Fisher and Wright.[HL1536]

Lord Dubs: In October 1997 the Secretary of State decided that the cases of the two Guardsmen should be

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considered by the Life Sentence Review Board in October this year. The timing of this review is currently the subject of a judicial review. The judgment is awaited.

Lord Westbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the continued imprisonment of Guardsmen Fisher and Wright is in accordance with the principles of natural justice.[HL1535]

Lord Dubs: The two soldiers were convicted of murder by due process of law and received the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The Secretary of State has personally decided the cases. They have been considered at all times in accordance with the established procedures for the review of such cases. I can assure the House that they have been considered strictly on their own merits and based on the facts as found by the independent courts.

Medway Secure Training Centre

Lord Allen of Abbeydale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether children detained in the Medway Secure Training Centre will have access to the Prisons Ombudsman.[HL1562]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Complaints from those detained in a secure training centre are outside the remit of the Prisons Ombudsman. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 makes provision for the appointment of independent persons to whom representation may be made by those young offenders detained in secure training centres. Voice for the Child in Care, an organisation with experience in representing young people in secure accommodation, has been appointed to provide the independent person service at Medway. An independent person will visit within 24 hours of a request and will assist in making formal representation or complaint. Young offenders also have access, through their Member of Parliament, to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.

Lord Allen of Abbeydale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assistance, financial, or otherwise, will be available to parents for visits to children detained in the Medway Secure Training Centre.[HL1563]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Home Office will pay for the cost of weekly visits to the centre by two visitors. This includes the return fare by public transport to the secure training centre or a contribution towards fuel costs if the family travels by private motor vehicle, including road/bridge tolls, as long as these are not more than the cost of public transport--once a week. There is also limited provision at the centre for overnight accommodation should this prove necessary, and a contribution to other reasonable expenses would also be considered.

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Property Confiscated in Wartime: Internet Information

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements have been made for publishing on the Internet the details of those whose property was confiscated under wartime legislation.[HL1727]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): My right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade has today made available on the Internet the details of those residents of Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Japan and Romania whose property was confiscated during the Second World War by the British Government under Trading with the Enemy legislation.

The information on the website is the same as that already available on summary record cards at the Public Record Office. Each record consists of a name and, where we have it, the address, summary details and value of the property seized. There are over 25,000 records, covering individuals and commercial organisations.

The DTI also holds less detailed records of about 5,000 cases from other countries, which my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade intends to post on the Internet in due course.

The website can be found at It will be possible to search the records using a name and/or an address.

We are also establishing a helpline, available between 9.30 and 5.30 on working days, for those who do not have access to the Internet on 0171-215-6374 or 0171-215-6160.

As I announced on 3 April, the Government have decided to establish a claims procedure. This will be based on the principle that confiscated assets placed in the UK by victims of Nazi persecution should be returned to them by the UK where practicable and where claims can be validated. The Government have also accepted the suggestion that an independent third party should consult interested parties, and advise on the form of the scheme the Government should adopt. My right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade will announce the appointment of the independent third party as soon as possible.

Peers and MPs: Salaries and Expenses

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) both the total salary bill of peers in receipt of official salaries (exclusive of ministerial salaries) and the total expenditure on peers' expenses claims in relation to parliamentary attendance, over the last parliamentary Session; and

    (b) both the total salary bill (exclusive of ministerial salaries), and the total expense allowances (personal and secretarial) for Members of Parliament over the same period.[HL1547]

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The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): The information requested is not available by parliamentary session. However, the table below sets out the figures for the financial year 1997-98:

Total salary bill (£)156,026*42,011,687
Total expenditure allowances bill (£)6,436,601*51,800,402*Provisional figures. Also include general election expenses.

New Deal Employment Conditions

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether an employer who engages an employee under the New Deal for the young unemployed is legally obliged to pay the going rate for the job; whether he is legally obliged not to dismiss another worker in consequence of engaging the New Deal employee; and what other constraints are imposed, and by whom they are enforceable, in respect of the £60 subsidy paid to him.[HL1604]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Except in rare circumstances, the law of the United Kingdom does not recognise a "going rate for the job". Wages are either set individually or through collective bargaining. It is not clear how the Government could give enough certainty to a condition requiring payment at such a level to render it enforceable and this has not been done. An employer who engages an employee under the employment option of the New Deal for 18-24 year olds is required to pay the New Deal employee at least the full amount of subsidy paid by the Secretary of State, and expected to pay more. Where the employer fails to pay the full subsidy, the Secretary of State will seek to recover it and may terminate the agreement.

It is a condition of payment under the employer agreement that no existing employee has been dismissed or made redundant in order to recruit or retain a New Deal employee.

The quality criteria used for evaluating New Deal employment opportunities include the expectation that employers will pay the employee a wage which is higher than the amount that they are receiving in subsidy, and one which corresponds to the level of payment that would normally be given to other employees doing similar jobs in that organisation. Other constraints which are imposed are:

    each New Deal employee must receive at least one day per week, or the equivalent, of good quality training leading to an approved qualification

    they must all agree an Individual Training Plan which sets out what this training will involve

    the progress of the participant against their training objectives must be regularly monitored

    New Deal employees must be offered access to a personal supporter in the workplace.

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