Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

5 Dec 2002 : Column WA121

Written Answers

Thursday, 5th December 2002.

Capita: Criminal Record Checks

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who authorised the Criminal Records Bureau to draw up a specification for, and procure, a contract with Capita for processing criminal record checks. [HL212]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My noble and learned friend Lord Williams of Mostyn announced on 14 December 1998, in response to a Question from my noble friend Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (WA 356), that appropriate use would be made of public private partnerships in the implementation of the Criminal Records Bureau.

Following a rigorous competitive tender process, Capita was selected as the private sector partner and the contract was awarded on 4 August 2000. The chief executive of the CRB, as the senior accountable officer, issued the specification and signed the contract with Capita. He was authorised by the then Minister of State to do so following the Minister's approval of the user requirement and the CRB business case based on the PPP procurement approach.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who set the parameters with regard to both financial and service levels for the Criminal Records Bureau to agree a specification for, and produce, a contract with Capita for processing criminal record checks; and what were these parameters. [HL214]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The user requirement, which was approved by the then Minister of State, set the public service standards for the Criminal Records Bureau which provide the turnaround times for each type of disclosure.

The service standards are to deal with 90 per cent of enhanced disclosure applications within three weeks, 95 per cent of standard disclosures within one week and 95 per cent of basic disclosures within one week. The financial parameters for the service provision by Capita are contained within the Capita contract which was awarded following a competitive tender process and signed under authorisation by the then Minister of State.

Crime (International Co-operation) Bill: Schengen Convention

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which articles of the Schengen acquis will be implemented by the provisions of the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill. [HL282]

5 Dec 2002 : Column WA122

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): The articles of the Schengen Implementing Convention in which the United Kingdom will participate are set out in the Council decision of 29 May 2000 (2000/365/EC). The Crime (International Co-operation) Bill implements those articles which require legislation, with the exception of Article 27, which was implemented by the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, and Articles 40, 42 and 43 were in part implemented by the Police Reform Act 2002. Other provisions of Schengen relating to extradition are included in the Extradition Bill. All other articles and elements of the acquis, including the Schengen information system, in which the United Kingdom will participate, will be implemented through administrative measures. This Bill will implement the relevant parts of the Schengen convention for the United Kingdom; Gibraltar will take forward its own implementation.

The articles of Schengen to be implemented in the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill are as follows. Article 40(2) allows for police officers from one member state to continue surveillance into another member state in emergency situations for up to five hours. Clause 83 of the Bill inserts a new Section 76A into the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) to allow automatic authorisation of overseas officers to carry out surveillance in the United Kingdom in strictly limited circumstances. Legislation to implement Article 40(1) arrangements for officers acting in pre-planned joint surveillance teams is only required in respect of civil liabilities; this was implemented by Section 103 of the Police Reform Act 2002.

Article 42 requies member states to ensure that officers operating under the terms of Article 40 are treated in the same way as officers of the member state in which they are operating in respect of offences committed by or against them. Clause 84 of the Bill extends provisions on assaults on police officers (Section 89 of the Police Act 1996 in England and Wales, Section 41 of the Police (Scotland) Act 1967 in Scotland and Section 66 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 in Northern Ireland) to cover overseas officers involved in Article 40(2) surveillance operations, authorised under Section 76A of RIPA.

Article 43 requires member states requesting cross-border surveillance to be liable for any damage caused by its officers while on surveillance. Clause 85 of the Bill amends the provisions on liability of wrongful acts on constables (Section 42 of the Police Act 1997) to make the director general of the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) liable for overseas officers carrying out surveillance in the United Kingdom under Section 76A of RIPA.

Articles 49, 52 and 53 cover mutual legal assistance arrangements between member states. Those parts of these articles which will not be repealed by the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters 2000 (MLAC) are implemented by Part 1 of the Bill. Part 1 also implements MLAC.

5 Dec 2002 : Column WA123

Articles 62 to 66 cover extradition arrangements between member states. These have subsequently been superseded by the 1995 and 1996 European Union (EU) Extradition Conventions which were implemented in the United Kingdom by the EU Extradition Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002/419). However, Clauses 86 and 87 of the Bill are necessary to ensure that the United Kingdom can apply Schengen extradition arrangements to countries which are either non-EU participants in Schengen (currently Norway and Iceland) or are EU member states which have not yet implemented the 1995 and 1996 conventions in order to fulfil the United Kingdom's Schengen obligations). Other provisions of Schengen relating to extradition, including those on the transfer of the enforcement of criminal judgments, are included in the Extradition Bill.

Article 114 requires member states to designate a supervisory authority to carry out independent supervision of the national data file of the Schengen Information System (SIS). Clause 82 of the Bill creates a power of independent inspection for the Information Commissioner of the SIS and other specified EU information systems by inserting new Section 54A into the Data Protection Act 1998.

A transposition note has been prepared by the Home Office which provides more detail on the precise implementation for each article of Schengen covered by the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Hepatitis B: Transfusion Transmitted Infection

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What further measures they plan in order to reduce the level of hepatitis B transfusion-transmitted infection, stated in the SHOT annual report 2000-01 to be eight cases over six years.[HL25]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The rate of detection of hepatitis B virus in donated blood has improved significantly in recent years. There have been no cases of transfusion transmitted hepatitis B since the case reported in the 2000–01 Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT) Report. There are currently no plans to introduce further measures, but this is kept under review.

West Nile Fever Virus: Blood Transfusion Risk

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In light of the recent discovery of West Nile virus in the United Kingdom and recent transmission issues relating to the virus in the United States (a) what plans they are making to prevent spread of the virus through blood and plasma transfusions in

5 Dec 2002 : Column WA124

    the United Kingdom; and (b) what validation studies were conducted to ensure that methylene blue inactivation of United States plasma will remove the risk of transmission of pathogenic viruses, including WNV, from United States-sourced blood and plasma products available in the United Kingdom.[HL26]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There have been no human cases of West Nile fever virus infection in the United Kingdom and the risk of transmitting the virus by blood transfusion is minimal. There are currently no plans to defer donors from donating blood in the UK solely on the grounds that they have recently visited the United States. However this situation is being kept under review. Plasma is currently imported from the United States for the production of plasma products, including fresh frozen plasma for babies and young children born after 1 January 1996, as a precaution against the theoretical risk of vCJD transmission. Viral inactivation of these products is carried out as a safety measure to remove the risk to patients of transfusion transmittable viruses, including West Nile fever virus, should it be present.

Methylene blue is a commercial product produced by Macopharma. Data received by the National Blood Service show that methylene blue is highly effective in destroying the West Nile fever virus.

Agency Workers Directive

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What would be the estimated cost to the National Health Service of the additional employment rights being granted to temporary workers by the proposed new European directive. [HL271]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: An initial regulatory impact assessment of the proposed directive on agency workers prepared by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has been placed in the Library. This will be revised to take account of findings from the public consultation on the proposed directive, which ended recently.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page