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Seat Belts

Lord Janner of Braunstone asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: It is not possible to distinguish between driver and passenger seat-belt offences from the information held centrally in England and Wales or Scotland.

In 2000, under Section 14(3), 15(2) and 15(4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 there were 5,700 proceedings in magistrates' courts in England and Wales, of which 78.1 per cent resulted in a conviction; and in Scotland there were 2,943 offences proceeded against, of which 92.8 per cent had a charge proved.

In Northern Ireland, a separate offence of "failing to wear rear seat belt" exists under Road Traffic (NI) Order 1981, Article 129A. The latest information available shows that in 1998 there were two prosecutions where both resulted in a fine, and in 1999 there were none.

HM Prison Wandsworth: Education

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: Wandsworth prison expects to deliver some 8,000 teaching hours through its education contractor in 2001–02. The number of hours to be delivered in 2002–03 is still under consideration. The prison has received funds outside the education contract to run a Pathfinder project to introduce new basic skills qualifications. In addition, a new vocational training workshop is under construction, and due to open in mid 2002. lynne

Hand Gun Fatalities

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Rooker: The latest available details are given below.

Number of homicides using a handgun in England and Wales:


(1)Calendar year

(1)Years ending March

Number of homicides using a handgun in Scotland:






There were three homicides in Scotland in 1998 in which the firearm used was unidentified.

European Arrest Warrant

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 7 February (WA 107) concerning European arrest warrants and a framework decision on combating terrorism, whether in order to take effect the European arrest warrant will depend on a regulation whose effect has been already agreed; and, in respect of the framework decision on combating terrorism, which member states gave notification of parliamentary scrutiny reserves at the Justice and Home Affairs Council held on 6–7 December 2001. [HL3193]

Lord Rooker: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer that I gave to a question from the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, on 14 January 2002 (WA 128). This indicates that the Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has not yet been formally adopted. When it has been formally adopted, it will be implemented by means of primary legislation in the extradition Bill, which the Government intends to publish in draft later this Session. As a measure to be adopted under Title VI of the Treaty on European Union, the EAW will not be given effect by means of a Community regulation.

The three countries that placed parliamentary scrutiny reserves on their agreement to the framework decision on combating terrorism were Sweden, Denmark and Ireland. Hannington


Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answers by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 6 March (HL Deb. cols. 250 and 252),

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    whether they will now explain why would-be illegal immigrants are so keen to enter the United Kingdom, rather than to stay in France or other countries of the European Union. [HL3253]

Lord Rooker: As my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton said, the answer to this question is largely a matter for speculation. We know that Britain is perceived as a stable and attractive place in which to live. This view arises partly because of our buoyant and successful economy, and the employment opportunities it has brought, but also because of the universality of the English language and global communication that mean that millions of people hear about the United Kingdom and aspire to come here.

However the perception that we receive a disproportionate number of illegal immigrants is not entirely accurate. The United Kingdom ranks 10th out of 16 European countries in 2001 for applications as a percentage of population. None the less we are also doing all we can at a European level to create a level playing field. In many ways the laws governing the treatment of asylum seekers in France and other European Union countries are not dissimilar to those currently in force in the United Kingdom. However, some real and perceived differences do exist, which may in some cases influence where an asylum seeker chooses to lodge a claim. This is one of the reasons why France and the United Kingdom, along with other European Union countries, are in the process of agreeing a range of measures governing the treatment of asylum seekers in order to achieve a higher degree of harmonisation across the European Union. These measures will include procedures setting out how an asylum seeker is treated on arrival in a European country, a uniform criteria on who exactly qualifies for refugee status and what rights and benefits they are entitled to during and after consideration of their asylum application. Such harmonisation is expected to greatly reduce unwarranted movements of asylum seekers between European countries.

As well as working with our European partners we are also determined to clamp down on the abuse of the current system while continuing to meet our international obligations. The White Paper Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration with Diversity in Modern Britain sets out the key challenges in nationality, immigration and asylum policy and the measures we have taken and are taking to produce a coherent strategy. We are determined to reform the asylum system based on the principle that we should have a humanitarian process which honours our obligations to those fleeing persecution while deterring those who have no right to asylum from travelling here. claire

Housing Benefit: Travellers

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have yet reached a decision regarding the different calculation of housing benefit on gypsy sites and by county councils on the one hand, and district and unitary authorities on the other; and whether they will reimburse county

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    councls for the losses of revenue they have sustained by reason of their inability to collect the differences between the economic charges made to residents, and the amounts they are entitled to claim in housing benefit. [HL3073]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): We are looking at the housing benefit rules for people living on travellers' sites. Any proposals for change will be referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee and the local authority associations in the normal way.

Transport Services

Baroness Barker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What organisations they have met to discuss non-emergency patient transport for older people and others; and what was the outcome of those discussions. [HL2721]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ms Blears) has discussed patient transport services in London with Age Concern. This was following the publication of Age Concern's report A helicopter would be nice: transport to health services for older Londoners (a copy of which is in the Library). The outcome of the discussions is that the national guidance, on patient transport services, produced in 1991 is being reviewed. The Department of Health is involved in cross-government work which is examining the nature of transport barriers to accessing work, learning, healthcare and other key activities and services and, where appropriate, policies will be developed to remove those barriers. Hannington/st qnspnmBaroness Barker/nm/spasked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to work with other government departments to promote the integration of transport for health and social care services with public and accessible transport services. [HL2722]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Government departments are currently working together on a project led by the Social Exclusion Unit to examine the links between transport and social exclusion. As part of this project the Department of Health, along with other government departments, is considering how best to maximise the provision of mainstream transport and that provided through other agencies such as health, social services and education. A report will be published later on this year.

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