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9 Mar 2001 : Column WA49

Written Answers

Friday, 9th March 2001.

S.P. Hinduja: Application for Naturalisation

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish Sir Anthony Hammond's review into the circumstances surrounding the application for naturalisation by Mr S. P. Hinduja.[HL1145]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Prime Minister has published Sir Anthony Hammond's report today. The Prime Minister is most grateful to Sir Anthony Hammond for all his work.

Sir Anthony Hammond is satisfied that nothing improper has occurred in relation to the application for naturalisation by Mr S. P. Hinduja. Sir Anthony Hammond has found that Mr O'Brien, Mr Vaz and Mr Mandelson behaved entirely properly throughout.

Sir Anthony Hammond also recommends improvements to administrative practice, which the Government will implement in full.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are available from the Printed Paper Office.

Afghanistan: Export Licences

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any goods subject to strategic export controls have recently been approved for export to Afghanistan.[HL1123]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Department of Trade and Industry recently issued two export licences for mine-clearance equipment for use by the HALO Trust to assist its demining activities in Afghanistan. These goods appear on the Military List. However, UNSCR 1333 (2000) which imposes inter alia an arms embargo on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan provides scope for the UN Sanctions Committee to approve non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use to Taliban-controlled territory. The Sanctions Committee has given its approval in these cases.

The granting of these export licences is fully consistent with UN Security Council resolutions and does not affect the Government's continued support for the EU Common Position on arms exports to Afghanistan.

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South Georgia

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any progress has been made towards establishing a fully civilian presence on South Georgia.[HL1124]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: In 1998 the Government announced their intention to establish a fully civilian presence on South Georgia. From the end of March, the small military detachment will be withdrawn. The Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the Commander British Forces, based in the Falkland Islands, will continue to have responsibility for ensuring the security of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

At the same time, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) will be opening a new scientific base on South Georgia. The scientific and support team will augment the existing civilian presence on the island. New accommodation and science facilities have been built. BAS will undertake a programme of scientific research under contract to the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The aim will be to support the Government in environmental management and sustainable development of the territory.

The opening of this new facility, with funding from the British Government, the Government of the Falkland Islands and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, demonstrates our commitment to the Overseas Territories in accordance with the Overseas Territories White Paper 1999, in particular to sound environmental management of a territory with a unique and sensitive ecosystem.

Our commitment to the maintenance of British sovereignty over South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and to ensuring their security remains as firm as ever.

Greater Manchester Police Force

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give the numbers of police officers for the Greater Manchester Police for each of the last five years broken down as:

    (a) numbers deployed in each division;

    (b) numbers deployed at the Greater Manchester Police Headquarters; and

    (c) numbers deployed in task groups working on specific types of crime, for example, drugs working across the county.[HL702]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): Information on the number of officers in each of the territorial divisions

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of the Greater Manchester Police from 31 March 1997 to 1 February 2001 is set out in the table. The figures have been provided by the Chief Constable.

The Chief Constable has also provided information on the number of police officers in headquarters departments and headquarters based operational units. The headquarters based units (which may not be located at force headquarters) deal with specific types of crimes and other specialist areas such as the drugs squad and the robbery squad.

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The number of officers in the headquarters based operational units can be varied to meet changing operational pressures. The force does not retain detailed information, over time, of the numbers of officers in headquarters departments or operational units.

In addition to the operational activities of the specialist headquarters units, divisional commanders have authority to set up short-term specialist units to deal with specific problems such as drugs or street robberies from within their available resources.

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Greater Manchester Police

31 March 199731 March 199831 March 199931 March 20001 February 2001
Manchester North (A)778.5711.3690.2686.1692.7
Manchester South (B)841.7879.4899.9894.5910.3
Salford (F)528.5535.9519.1521.4532.3
Tameside (G)353382.7387.5371.7379.4
Stockport (J)455.9451.4428.7431.6442.7
Bolton (K)508.9508.3483477.3491.8
Wigan (L)441.4432.9420.1414.5426.6
Trafford (M)471.4498.1494.5500.7505.9
Bury (N)266.8275.5276.9259.9266.8
Rochdale (P)413.8406.1383380.2388
Oldham (Q)419.3408.5395.7393396.5
HQ Departments703.4719.7660.3709.6727.2
Headquarters based specialist units739739771754750

Figures are full-time equivalents.

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Asylum Seekers: Reasons for Non-compliance

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the cases of asylum seekers who are refused asylum on the grounds of non-compliance where the fault appears to lie with a failure on the part of their Home Office contracted solicitors, what action is taken (a) to give fair and just consideration to the applications, and (b) to ensure there is no repeat of the problem.[HL787]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: An application will normally be refused on the ground of non-compliance if without reasonable explanation the applicant fails to attend either a screening or substantive interview or fails to return a form giving further information about the basis of the claim.

This procedure applies whether or not the applicant is legally represented. It is open to the applicant to put forward any reasons for non-compliance in the grounds of appeal or at any other stage of the process until the appeal hearing.

Contracts to provide help and assistance to asylum seekers are awarded under the Community Legal

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Service scheme administered by the Legal Services Commission (which replaced the Legal Aid Board). Legal Services Commission contracts are subject to stringent quality standards. Claims for costs are subject to contract compliance audits. Responses to failures to comply with the contract standards could range from disallowing all or part of the costs in a particular case to removal of the contract in extreme cases.

Mounted Police Units

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many police forces in England and Wales have horse sections; and what is their establishment.[HL877]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The information is not held centrally. However I am informed by the Secretary to the Association of Chief Police Officers committee which collates such information that the police forces in England and Wales with mounted police units are as below:

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Police ForceNumber of HorsesChief InspectorInspectorPolice SergeantPolice ConstableCivil Support
Avon & Somerset101103
City of London6171
Greater Manchester411163930
South Wales8183
South Yorkshire181156
Thames Valley9192
West Yorkshire2213225

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Authorised Encampments: Police Advice

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether operational advice from the Association of Chief Police Officers on "unauthorised encampments of gypsies/travellers" referred to in Lord Bassam of Brighton's letter of 19 February to Lord Tebbit, in response to the debate of 31 January on police numbers, police morale and violent crime, also applies to encampments that have been given legal status by the Home Office.[HL1039]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidance refers to police powers to direct trespassers to leave land under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. These apply to unauthorised encampments where the trespassers have been asked to leave by the occupier of the land, where they have six or more vehicles present, or where they have caused damage or used threatening, abusive or insulting language to the occupier, his agent or members of his family.

The powers do not apply on authorised sites where the persons present are not trespassers. The provision of authorised sites is a matter for local authorities.

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