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Criminally Active Population

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The estimate is supported by theoretical modelling of the offender population carried out by the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate (RDS). It represents an early estimate and is subject to modification in the light of research currently in hand in connection with monitoring the rate of growth of the DNA database.

Thus, while the present target is to populate the database with the profiles of three million offenders by 2004, the target may change during the course of the project to reflect best estimates of the criminally active population.

Criminal Justice Act, s.95: Publications

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government regularly produce statistics and research reports on the criminal justice system which include information on race, gender and costs as required under Section 95.

A recent example of such a publication is Ethnic Differences in Decisions on Young Defendants dealt with by the Crown Prosecution Service by Gordon Barclay and Bonny Mhlang and published as Section 95 Findings No. 1 on 3 March 2000.

Other examples of relevant publications include:

    Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System 1999 published under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 in August 1999. An updated version of this report is due to be published in November.

Women Entering Prison: Childcare Planning

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will examine the experience in the Netherlands of allowing women with the care of children who are sentenced to imprisonment a period of grace before starting their sentence in order to make the best possible care arrangements for their children.[HL3888]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: There is an opportunity whilst pre-sentence reports are being prepared to consider what childcare arrangements should be put into place, should a custodial sentence be an option. We do not have any plans to bring forward such legislation in the immediate future.

Irish Citizens: British Passports

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Under what circumstances persons born in the Republic of Ireland and now resident in the United Kingdom can obtain a full British passport.[HL3943]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Under the British Nationality Act 1981 adults, including Irish citizens, may be naturalised as British citizens if they have lived in the United Kingdom for the preceding five years (three years if married to a British citizen) at the date of application and they meet certain other requirements. A person who holds British citizenship can apply for a British citizen passport.

Irish citizens born before 1949 who have also remained British subjects are eligible for British subject passports. British subjects are entitled to registration as British citizens if they have lived in the United Kingdom for the preceding five years and meet certain other residence requirements.

Irish minors can be registered as British citizens in a variety of circumstances, some of which entail residence in the United Kingdom.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 which guaranteed parity of esteem for both cultures and traditions on the island of Ireland, they will announce arrangements to make British passports available to residents of the Republic of Ireland.[HL3944]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Belfast Agreement does not contain or imply any undertaking by the British Government to confer British citizenship on the basis of residence in the Republic of Ireland and there are no plans to amend the British Nationality Act 1981 to provide for this.

Probation Service: Equal Opportunities

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the recruitment process of Chief Probation Officers for the probation areas that are to be amalgamated and other vacancies between now and 1 April 2001 will meet the Home Office's equal opportunities policies.[HL3867]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government are fully committed to equality of opportunity. Current plans for the new National Probation Service, subject to the

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enactment of the Criminal Justice and Court Service Bill, envisage a vesting date of 1 April 2001. A recruitment process, which meets the Home Office's equal opportunities policies, is currently under way to fill Chief Officer posts in the eight amalgamating areas and other Chief Officer vacancies between now and 1 April 2001.

Data Protection: International Collaboration

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the context of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, what progress is being made, both at United Kingdom Government level and European Union-wide, in negotiations to harmonise European and United States data protection procedures.[HL3910]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government are seeking to encourage greater co-operation, on an international level, on matters relating to the criminal exploitation of methods for protecting data and communications, such as strong encryption. This forms part of a package of measures the Government are putting in place to help deal with the threat posed by rising criminal use of new technologies. Encouraging the development of such a new international framework was a specific recommendation contained in the May 1999 report Encryption and Law Enforcement, published by the Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit.

Government officials have engaged in bilateral exchanges with, for example, the European Commission and the United States and through the informal G5 Information Security Group comprising France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In addition, United States Government and industry representatives attended the second United Kingdom Government-Industry Forum on Encryption and Law Enforcement on 9 May 2000, and United Kingdom officials will attend a similar event in the United States during October. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary and my honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Office (Mr Clarke) have been in contact with the Attorney General of the United States of America and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation respectively about the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 following Royal Assent.

Port of Belfast

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the present commercial value of the Port of Belfast; when they expect that a decision will be made about its privatisation; and what are the probable consequences of delaying the decision, for the economy and infrastructure of Northern Ireland.[HL3812]

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The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Responsibility for this subject has been devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly and is therefore no longer a matter for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Millennium Dome: Sale

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they rejected the bid of £120 million made by Bourne/Legacy in July for the purchase of the Millennium Dome.[HL3870]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government selected Dome Europe as preferred bidder because it offered the best proposals evaluated against the competition criteria, including the benefits of continuity of use and greater funding certainty. However, the proposal from Legacy plc was a strong one and following Dome Europe's decision to withdraw the Government has entered into discussions with Legacy plc as the sole remaining shortlisted bidder in the competition to sell the Millennium Dome. Legacy plc could be granted "preferred bidder" status as long as they make satisfactory progress with their proposals.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they informed English Partnerhips that they must consider all offers to buy the Millennium Dome site; that the offers should include those from former bidders or property developers; and that it is no longer essential to retain the Dome structure as part of the contract of sale. [HL3873]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Following the decision by Dome Europe to withdraw from the competition for the future use of the Dome, the Deputy Prime Minister requested that English Partnerships produce a paper on the options for the future use of the Millennium Experience site. This exercise is being run in parallel to the current competition for the Dome and the discussions that are taking place with Legacy plc. The Government remain committed to a long-term future for the Dome.

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