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16 Nov 2000 : Column WA41

Written Answers

Thursday, 16th November 2000.

Pakistan: Restoration of Democracy

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have made to the Government of Pakistan about the imprisonment of the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif; and what progress Commonwealth Ministers have made in agreeing with the present authorities in Pakistan a timetable for the restoration of democracy.[HL4590]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): While we believe the trial of Nawaz Sharif to have been transparent and fair, we continue to have serious concerns about the judicial climate in which it was held. We have raised with the Pakistani authorities our concerns about the condition in which some detained politicians are held and the fact that some have still yet to be charged.

Ministers of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), including my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, met the Pakistani Foreign Minister in New York on 15 September. They reiterated their call, first made in the aftermath of the coup, for the restoration of democracy and for a clear and credible timetable for achieving this. Regrettably, the Pakistani Foreign Minister was unable to provide satisfactory assurances on these issues. In the continued absence of such a timetable, CMAG will need to consider at its next meeting all options, including the possibility of further measures to be taken against Pakistan.

GCHQ: Recruitment

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the recruitment statistics for GCHQ in 1999; and how they compare with the figures for 1998.[HL4621]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: GCHQ notified the Civil Service Commissioners that, as a result of recruitment schemes run in 1999, 241 individuals have joined the department or are awaiting completion of the application process. This compares with 187 reported for 1998 recruitment schemes. In addition, nine former members of staff were reappointed in 1999, compared with eight in 1998.

Secure Establishments for Juveniles

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which local authority secure units have been commissioned by the Youth Justice Board since 1 April; and how many beds are available in each.[HL4552]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): Secure establishments for juveniles are provided by the Prison Service, local authorities and the private sector under contract to the Youth Justice Board of England and Wales. The board pays for places according to costs agreed in a contract or service level agreement each year or over a longer period, which also sets out the standards of accommodation and the regime to be provided.

Since 1 April 2000, the board has commissioned 270 places from 24 local authority secure units on a block purchase basis. The units and the number of beds available in each are listed in the table.

UnitNumber of Beds Purchased
Aldine House6
Atkinson Unit11
Barton Moss16
Clare Lodge8
Dales House6
Dyson House9
East Moor32
Kyloe House3
Leverton Hall2
Orchard House4
Orchard Lodge16
St John's Tiffield12
Stoke House8
Sutton Place7
Swanwick Lodge5
Thornbury House7
Vinney Green18

Convicted Sex Offenders under 18

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What treatment programmes are available for convicted sex offenders aged under 18 in:

    (a) local authority secure accommodation; and

    (b) young offender institutions.[HL4554]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: A Youth Justice Board survey conducted in 1999 showed that 17 out of 30 local authority secure units run programmes for convicted sex offenders under 18. There are currently no formal programmes for sex offenders in young offender institutions.

The board recognises the need to improve the provision of these programmes for young offenders and will be discussing the development of more specialist programmes with providers of secure accommodation as part of its negotiations for the next contracting year.

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Young People in Custody: Literacy and Numeracy Classes

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to extend literacy and numeracy classes to children and young people in secure training centre and young offenders institutions.[HL4555]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Following admission to a secure training centre, each child or young person is currently assessed and set an individual training plan which includes a minimum of 25 hours a week of education based on the national curriculum, one hour a day on tackling offending behaviour and avoiding further involvement in crime and regular practical tuition in social skills and domestic training.

Basic and key skills training is already a priority for those in young offender institutions. The Prison Service has a target to reduce by 15 per cent the proportion of prisoners discharged at the end of their sentences with basic skills in literacy and numeracy at or below level 1. All Prison Service establishments, including young offender institutions, have been given individual key performance targets showing how many level 2 accreditations they must achieve. In addition to programmes of class teaching and private study, the Prison Service is developing innovative projects to support basic skills needs through catering, physical education and prison workshops.

We are currently looking at ways of improving the quality of education and providing more focused literacy and numeracy programmes for young people in custody.

Young People in Custody: Special Educational Needs

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What educational provision is available to children and young people in secure training centres and young offender institutions and who have statements of special educational needs.[HL4556]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Following admission to a secure training centre, each child or young person is assessed and set an individual training plan, which includes a minimum of 25 hours a week of education based on the national curriculum. As part of the assessment process, each one is assessed for any special educational needs and, where appropriate, the contractor who is responsible for operating the centre will engage any specialist staff and resources required for that person.

The educational needs of young people aged under 17 in young offender institutions are formally assessed and any learning difficulties or special educational needs taken into account. This assessment then forms the basis of an individual action plan. In addition, education contractors are required to have a named special needs adviser to advise on educational requirements.

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For any prisoner aged 17 or over who has special educational needs, the Young Offender Institution Rules 1998 require educational arrangements appropriate to his or her needs to be made.

Proof of Age Proposals

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress, if any, they are making with the introduction of a nationwide proof of age card designed to help curb under age drinking and the illegal purchase of tobacco and alcohol; and[HL4559]

    Whether any pilot schemes are planned to assess the effectiveness of a proof of age card designed to curb under-age drinking and smoking; and, if so, where.[HL4558]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We have no plans to introduce a national proof of age card and so no plans to pilot one. But we are looking at the possibility of incorporating a proof of age function in the proposed Connexions card; and we support the use of industry-based credible proof of age cards such as the Portman Card and Citizen Card, which are already widely available across the country.

Winter Fuel Payment

Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much revenue would be raised if the winter fuel payment were taxed; and whether they will estimate how much more that payment would be if the money so raised were added to the current £150 winter fuel payment paid to non-taxpaying people aged over 60.[HL4338]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Taxing the winter fuel payment of £200 would raise an estimated £150 million in tax revenue in 2000-01, increasing the tax burden of over 5 million people over the age of 60 and bringing a further 100,000 people into tax. This equates to around £20 for each non-taxpaying individual over 60 years of age.

Capital Gains Tax

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) what amount was raised from capital gains tax; (b) what was the number of payers of capital gains tax; and (c) what was the estimated cost of collection, in the latest year for which figures are available.[HL4458]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The latest available information on capital gains tax receipts and costs of collection, to be released shortly in IR Statistics 2000 and the Annual Report of the Board of Inland Revenue, is given in the table.

Capital Gains Tax

Net Receipts (1)Cost of Collection (2)
Year£ million£ million

1. Excludes tax on gains of companies, which are charged to corporation tax.

2. Relates mainly to the costs arising from gains to individuals and trustees but some other costs (mainly of land valuations for companies) cannot be separately identified and are included in the collection costs of capital gains tax.

It is estimated that 154 thousand taxpayers had a capital gains tax liability for 1998-99, the latest year for which information is available. Capital gains tax liabilities are normally due for payment in the year following the tax year for which the liability arises.

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