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Written Answers

Thursday, 6th December 2001.

House of Lords Reform

Lord Milner of Leeds asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the series of background papers on reform of the House of Lords, promised in the Government's White Paper The House of Lords—Completing the Reform (Cm 5291), will be published.[HL1864]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): My department is today issuing a single report, entitled The House of Lords—Completing the Reform—Supporting Documents, that contains all of the background papers. Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and have been placed in the Printed Paper Office.

Further copies of the report may be obtained from:

    The House of Lords Reform Team

    Lord Chancellor's Department

    Room 815

    Millbank Tower

    21-24 Millbank

    London SW1P 4QP

The report is also available on my department's website at

Baroness Morgan of Huyton

Lord Northbrook asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the duties of Baroness Morgan of Huyton as Deputy Minister for Women, equality co-ordinator across Whitehall and Minister of State in the Cabinet Office constituted a full-time job; and, if so, whether it is proposed to appoint a successor.[HL1533]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, Mrs Barbara Roche, has taken on Baroness Morgan's former responsibilities within the Cabinet Office. My right honourable friend Baroness Scotland of Asthal will answer in this House for women and equality issues. Lord Williams of Mostyn will continue to take the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Bill through the Lords.

Toys Supplied with Foodstuffs: Safety

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence there is that small toys in breakfast cereal packs and chocolate eggs have caused death

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    and injury to children within the European Union single market; and whether they support tougher safety controls on companies producing such toys.[HL1650]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We are aware of three fatalities in the UK in 1985, 1989 and 1991 and one death in Portugal involving toys supplied with foodstuffs. The European Commission has examined all aspects of the combination of inedible products with foodstuffs and concluded that while these could constitute risk, these risks were no different from those associated with any other small toys or toys incorporating small parts. This view is supported by research carried out for my department which concluded that there is no evidence to suggest that toys marketed with food pose a greater risk to children than other small toys.

All toys supplied in the UK must meet the essential safety requirements of the Toy (Safety) Regulations 1995 which implement the EC directive on the safety of toys.

HM Prison Blantyre House

Lord Mayhew of Twysden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current categorisation of HM Prison Blantyre House; and[HL1542]

    Whether they have any plans to alter the current categorisation of HM Prison Blantyre House; and, if so, whether they will specify this plan and the reasons for any such change.[HL1543]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): With effect from 4 September 2001, Blantyre House and all other resettlement prisons in England and Wales have been redesignated as semi-open prisons. Both category C and D prisoners who meet the allocation criteria may be allocated to a semi-open prison meaning prisoners can be selected on the basis of their resettlement needs. There are no plans to change the role of Blantyre House.

Football (Disorder) Act 2000: Detentions

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

    How many individuals have been detained under the provision of the Football (Disorder) Act 2000; and how many convictions have resulted.[HL1544]

Lord Rooker: A police detention under powers introduced by the Football (Disorder) Act 2000 may result in a court imposing a football banning order. These are civil proceedings and do not lead to convictions. Information on the number of detentions and their outcome is provided in the table.

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Impact of Sections 21A and 21B of the Football Spectators Act 1989 (as amended by the Football (Disorder) Act 2000) as of 26 November 2001

Police detentions under Section 21A of the Act
Number detained under Section 21A and released to travel16
Number detained and issued with Section 21B notices (preventing travel and commencing banning order on complaint proceedings)99
Outcome of court proceedings prompted by issue of section 21B notices
Number of banning orders imposed*63
Number of orders refused24
Number of court proceedings currently adjourned12

Source: Football Banning Orders Authority.

* Two of the orders were subsequently over-turned on appeal.

Sentencing Policy and Prison Occupancy

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, given that 23 local prisons are over-crowded to the extent of some 5,000 prisoners, they will:

    (a) ask the courts to minimise the use of short prison sentences and to increase the use of fines and community penalties; and

    (b) set legal limits on the occupancy of each prison.[HL1593]

Lord Rooker: The Government believe that prison is right for dangerous, serious and some persistent offenders and that sentences should be as long as necessary for punishment and public protection, but no longer.

Home detention curfew plays an important role by enabling prisoners to be released from prison early, while still subject to restrictions placed on their liberty. This facilitates a smoother and more effective integration back into the community and helps offenders to secure or resume employment or training as soon as possible.

The Government believe that community punishments can make a major impact and support their increased use, particularly for some non-violent offenders such as those convicted of theft and handling or fraud. The Government's reform of the probation service, with its focus on reducing reoffending, means that rigorously enforced community sentences are a real and tough alternative to imprisonment.

In the longer term the proposed sentencing reforms, including sentencing guidelines and new flexible sentences incorporating both custody and supervision, should have a significant impact. In this context the Government are also exploring the scope for innovative new sentences, such as intermittent custody, and for restorative justice interventions.

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There is no power to set a legal limit and we have no plans to introduce such powers. However, Prison Service orders require establishments to ensure operational capacity is not exceeded except in exceptional circumstances.

RAF Gliders: Location

Lord Marsh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in principle decisions on the possible resiting of gliders from RAF Bicester to RAF Upper Rissington have yet been taken; if so, when they were taken; and, if not, what is the estimated date that they will be taken.[HL1719]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): A decision on where to relocate the gliding activity from RAF Bicester has not yet been taken. The study to inform the recommendation on a permanent location is still continuing; RAF Little Rissington is one of a number of sites under consideration. No recommendations can be made until the study is concluded. The evaluation of all the proposals is taking longer than expected but should be complete early in the new year.

Lord Marsh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the key factors under consideration in relation to the possible resiting of gliders to RAF Upper Rissington from RAF Bicester.[HL1720]

Lord Bach: The study to inform the recommendations on a permanent location for the Joint Service Adventurous Training (Gliding) is still continuing; RAF Little Rissington is one of a number of sites being assessed.

There are a range of factors under consideration in relation to the possible resiting of gliding from RAF Bicester. Key issues include compatibility of gliding with other airfield uses, airfield capacity, air space considerations, the impact on the local environment and cost.

Port Services: Proposed EU Directive

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their stance on the proposed European Union Port Services Directive, introducing competitive tendering for cargo handling and related services.[HL1648]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Government would not be able to agree to the Commission proposals as they stand. However, we will participate fully in any discussions in Transport Council, scheduled for early in the new year, with the aim of securing an outcome which will help ensure that the UK ports remain successful, sustainable and safe.

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