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Merrywood School, Bristol

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Secretary of State approved the proposal on 10 April 2000.

Notting Hill Carnival: Attack on Mr Alexis Condon

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): I understand from the Commissioner that this incident was not classified as a racist crime.

Kosovo: Return of Refugees

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government recognises that the security situation of ethnic minorities such as Roma, Ashkalia and Serbs in Kosovo remains precarious. All asylum applications are considered on their individual merits and returns would not be enforced or encouraged unless it was considered safe to do so. This approach is consistent with United Nations High Commission for Refugees

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(UNHCR) advice and is followed by most other European governments. Information about the situation for these groups in Kosovo is widely available from a range of sources, but clear advice would be given to any individuals applying for the Home Office voluntary returns programme.

Returns to Kosovo from this country will be on a phased and managed basis and we encourage other host countries to adopt a similar approach. Every assistance has been provided to those people who wish to return to Kosovo permanently, in the form of two voluntary assisted return programmes. If necessary, we enforce the return of those who, following any appeal, are judged to have no humanitarian or protection reasons for needing to remain longer in the United Kingdom. Such returns will take account of all the circumstances at the time, including the weather conditions in Kosovo. Arrangements have been set up to inform the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in advance of Kosovans being forcibly returned to Kosovo.

Roma: Anti-discrimination Measures

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

    What measures they intend to take to give effect to General Recommendation XXVII of August by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination against Roma and to improve the situation of Roma and their protection against discrimination.[HL3846]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I should emphasise that Roma within the United Kingdom already receive the protection that current legislation provides. The Race Relations Act 1976 makes it unlawful for anyone to discriminate against another on racial grounds. A Bill currently before Parliament will amend the 1976 Act by extending it to the functions of public authorities not currently covered by the Act, including the police service, and will put a statutory duty on public authorities to promote racial equality.

It is also an offence to incite racial hatred against the Roma community by virtue of Part III of the Public Order Act 1986. And racist violence and harassment towards members of the Roma community falls under the new racially aggravated offences in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

The Government are investing £14 million each year through the Standards Fund to promote the access, regular attendance and higher levels of achievement of Roma pupils. And legal requirements have been placed on schools with regard to the admission procedures for Roma children. There has also been investment in the production of books and learning materials which portray the Roma as a positive and

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rich culture that has a legitimate place in United Kingdom and European society. Intensive programmes of in-service training for teachers are provided by the Traveller Education Services, which most Local Education Authorities have had in place for a number of years.

The Government also announced that they would be making available over the next three years £17 million to help local authorities to improve and refurbish a limited number of existing Gypsy and Traveller sites. Details of the scheme will be published later this Autumn.

The United Nations and Council of Europe have become increasingly concerned at the problem of discrimination against the Roma community in Central and Eastern Europe. We are committed to ensuring that this issue is properly addressed at the World Conference on Racism in South Africa next year.

There is also a substantial programme of work run by the Council of Europe to address this problem, which the United Kingdom Government has actively supported. We have provided funding for projects in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Department for International Development is involved in a number of programmes aimed at encouraging central and local governments to address the needs of Roma communities, and the Home Office is in the process of arranging a major programme of race awareness training for police in the Czech Republic.

Home Detention Curfew Scheme

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date the early release of prisoners under Home Detention Curfew supervision came into effect; what are the criteria for release; and what has been the effect on the size of the prison population.[HL3841]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme was introduced on January 28 1999. Prisoners serving sentences of more than three months, and less than four years, are eligible to apply for HDC.

In order to be released under the HDC scheme, the prisoner must have a suitable address to return to and in which the electronic monitoring device can be installed. In addition, prisoners are subject to a rigorous risk assessment which looks at their suitability for release on HDC, including the risk of reoffending. Only about 30 per cent of eligible offenders have been placed on HDC to date.

There are some statutory exclusions to the scheme. These include, amongst others:

    violent and sex offenders serving an extended sentence (i.e. one which will involve extended supervision) under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998;

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    prisoners serving a sentence for failing to return to custody following a period of temporary release;

    prisoners who have at any time been returned to prison for comitting an offence before the at risk period of a sentence has expired.

There are normally 2,000 prisoners on HDC at any one time who would otherwise be in prison.

Domestic Burglary

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many incidents of domestic burglary in England and Wales were recorded in each of the most recent ten years for which statistics are available; and how many were cleared up annually over the same period.[HL3840]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The requested details are as follows:

YearOffences RecordedOffences Cleared Up

The change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998 had a minimal effect on the number of burglaries recorded. There was a change in counting rules for clear-ups on 1 April 1999 which introduced more precise and rigorous criteria for detecting crimes, including no longer counting most detections resulting from interviewing convicted prisoners. This resulted in a fall in the number of recorded clear-ups as about a third of the clear-ups in 1998-99, for example, were as a result of interviews of convicted prisoners.

Criminal Justice Functions: Devolution

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any Home Office functions in the field of criminal justice have been devolved to the National Assembly for Wales or to the Scottish Parliament.[HL3843]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Yes. Responsibility for pensions regulations in respect of police officers in Scotland was devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The

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Home Office remains responsible for criminal justice in England and Wales. Before devolution, the Scottish Office had lead responsibility for criminal justice in Scotland and details of the matters for which the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales are now responsible can be found in the Scotland Act 1998, the Government of Wales Act 1998 and Transfer of Functions Orders made under those Acts.

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The effects of the devolution legislation in Scotland and Wales are summarised in Devolution Guidance Note 11: Ministerial Accountability under Devolution, the publication of which was announced by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor in answer to a Question on 27 July 2000, Official Report, col. WA 73. A copy was placed in the Library and the text may also be viewed on the Cabinet Office website,, under The Government Machine.

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