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Prime Minister's Staff

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): No. It is Civil Service recruitment policy that all eligible people must have equality of opportunity for employment and advancement on the basis of suitability for the work. The fundamental principle is that the selection for appointment is made on merit on the basis of fair and open competition.

Applicants for appointment to the Home Civil Service or the Diplomatic Service are not asked for details of their religion.

Prisoner Incentives Scheme

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The evaluation of incentives and earned privileges was conducted by the Cambridge Institute of Criminology on behalf of the Prison Service. The research was carried out at an early stage of the implementation of the policy when the five establishments involved had made varying degrees of progress towards operating fully developed schemes. The specific problems identified in the research findings are being addressed through modifications to the advice and instructions for governors on the operation of the policy.

There are no plans to discontinue operation of incentives and earned privileges policy, which is now well established and which underpins a number of other initiatives, such as drug-free wings, anti-bullying strategies, offending behaviour programmes and televisions in cells. Other than initial start-up costs, the local incentives and earned privileges schemes are designed to be resource neutral. They are an integral part of establishment regimes, and are managed by staff as part of their everyday duties, which already involve providing assessments of behaviour and performance at

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work and education as prisoners work towards targets in their sentence plans. The schemes do not divert resources from education or other initiatives and no significant resources would be freed up were the schemes to be halted.

Race Relations Legislation Reform

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Statement by the Home Secretary, repeated by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 24 February (H.L. Deb., col. 1159) whether they intend to introduce amendments to the Race Relations Act 1976 and Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Northern Ireland Act 1998, and the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 to make it unlawful for public authorities, in discharging their public functions, to discriminate directly or indirectly on any of the grounds of discrimination covered by that body of legislation.[HL1303]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: In his statement on 24 February on the report of the inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence, the Home Secretary announced, and I later repeated, his intention to publish a detailed response and action plan to the 70 recommendations in Sir William Macpherson's report. One recommendation was that the police service should be brought within the Race Relations Act 1976. The Home Secretary said he intended doing this and going further to extend the Act to cover all the public services. We are developing proposals to that end.

As part of that work, we shall need to consider whether any changes should be made to other pieces or legislation. No decision has yet been made. Any decision would need to bear in mind the prospect of separate legislative arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Mr. Richard Pruszynski

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations have been made to the War Pensions Agency about Richard Pruszynski's claim for a war pension in relation to his service with 32 Field Hospital, Wadi Al Batin, during the Gulf War; and when they expect the case to be resolved.[HL1241]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): One of the key aims is that delivery of service should be simpler and more efficient. Queries on operational matters concerning the War Pensions Agency are for its Chief Executive, Mr. Gordon Hextall. I have asked him to write to the noble Lord.

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Letter to Lord Morris of Manchester from the Chief Executive of the War Pensions Agency, Mr. Gordon Hextall, dated 6 March 1999.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent parliamentary Question about the progress of Mr. Richard Pruszynski's application for a War Disablement Pension (WDP).

Since Mr. Pruszynski first claimed a WDP, the Agency has received six letters from Mr. Pruszynski,

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one from the Royal College of Nursing, one from The Royal British Legion and one from the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association.

To resolve this claim, we have sought, and have now received, records and supporting evidence from the Ministry of Defence, the Gulf Veterans Medical Assessment programme, the Gulf Veterans Illness Unit and his General Practitioner. I can confirm that the claim has now been resolved and Mr. Pruszynski was notified of his entitlement to a WDP on 1 March 1999.

I hope you find my reply helpful.

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