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Sex Offender Treatment Programme

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The sex offender treatment programme is open to all adult male prisoners who have been convicted of a sexual offence, or whose index offence appears to have a sexual motive, and to those who have been convicted of a sexual offence in the past and are assessed as needing to participate in the programme. Candidates must be assessed as suitable for participation in the programme and must be willing to participate in it.

No records are kept centrally of the number of prisoners who have been assessed for a place on a sex offender treatment programme, and this information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

In England and Wales, between 1992 and March 1996, 1,716 sex offender treatment programmes were delivered. Between April 1996 and March 2003, 5,012 accredited sex offender treatment programmes were completed. This is a net figure following a quality audit. The target for 2003–04 and 2004–05 is 1,240 post-audit completions each year. We estimate that this figure is in line with the numbers eligible for these programmes.

There are about 130 men convicted of sexual offences currently held in prison in Northern Ireland and an increase in staffing levels would be required to increase treatment provision for these offenders.

Criminal Justice Act 1988: Section 134

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I have been informed by the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis that there are currently no Metropolitan Police officers engaged in the investigation of offences under Section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

There have been no alleged offences investigated since the relevant provisions of the Act came into force on 29 September 1988 and therefore no files have been sent to the Attorney-General, either to request him to exercise his powers under Section 135 of the Act or as a preparatory act with a view to a possible subsequent request.

Prisoners: Family Links

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What weight is given to maintaining family links, especially those between parents and children, when prisoners are allocated to prisons.[HL5183]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: In Northern Ireland Maghaberry is the only committal prison for adult prisoners. Those who meet the selection criteria will transfer to Magilligan Prison. At all establishments in Northern Ireland developing and maintaining family links is considered an important element of the work being done to help reduce reoffending. Establishments offer a variety of temporary release schemes, family visits and a number of family days to help to maintain family links. Prisoners can also retain regular contact with their relatives by phone and letter.

The Prison Service of England and Wales places great importance on prisoners maintaining close ties with family and friends and does everything reasonably possible, within the current population pressures, to ensure that prisoners are allocated to a prison near to their homes. However, high population levels throughout the Prison Service estate can lead to prisoners being transferred from their home area to establishments with a greater number of vacancies. Otherwise, local prisons and remand centres would be unable to provide accommodation to meet the needs of the courts.

For some prisoners, such as life sentence prisoners and vulnerable prisoners, it is more important to hold them in establishments that can cater for their specific needs, though such establishments may often be a longer distance from home.

Governors are required to consider regime and family contact issues before moving prisoners. Where this is not possible, family contact is facilitated through financial assistance for travel costs, for those who qualify, under the Assisted Prisons Visits Scheme, extended family visits and the temporary transfer of prisoners closer to home to have a series of accumulated visits.

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Nigeria: Recovery of State Funds

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what grounds they object to providing the Government of Nigeria with the material they have requested to enable them to recover state funds taken out of the country by relatives of the late dictator, General Sani Abacha; and[HL5246]

    Why they consider that a Nigerian court ruling barring further investigations into the money taken out of Nigerian state funds by the Abacha family requires clarification, when courts in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Jersey and Great Britain have already ruled that the judge concerned lacks competence in the case.[HL5247]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Officials have been in close contact with representatives of the other jurisdictions involved in this case. I refer the noble Baroness to my previous responses to her dated 19 June and 30 July 2003. The Federal Government of Nigeria, through their English solicitors, conceded that although they contested the validity of the judgments, they would comply with them so long as they remained in force. It would serve no purpose to transmit evidence to the Federal Government of Nigeria that they may not be able to use their criminal investigation.

The Federal Government of Nigeria have now provided answers to the outstanding matters that were requested of them in October 2002 and this material is subject to review by Home Office officials.

Planning Policy

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they will take to encourage planning authorities to target investment in smaller towns and district neighbourhoods.[HL5463]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): Planning Policy Guidance Note 6 (PPG6)—Town Centres and Retail Development—sets out the Government's planning policy on investment in town and other centres, and must be taken into account by planning authorities in the exercise of their planning functions. It directs development for all key town centre uses (including retail, leisure and offices) to central locations, specifically identifying district and local centres as suitable, accessible locations for development of an appropriate scale.

PPG6 is currently being reviewed, and will be replaced with Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6): Town Centres. A consultation draft of PPS6 is due to be published by the end of this year. PPS6 will carry forward and develop this focus on smaller towns and centres, and be accompanied by some good practice guidance to further assist planning authorities in

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equipping smaller centres to compete. This good practice guidance (Strategies for Smaller Centres) will be published with the final version of PPS6 in 2004.

Ministry of Defence: Water Services

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a preferred bidder has been selected for the provision of water and waste water services to MoD sites within the north and east of England.[HL5490]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): We are pleased to inform the House that the C2C consortium has today been announced as the preferred bidder for the second of three contracts for the provision of water and waste water services to Ministry of Defence sites in the north and east of England.

Project Aquatrine is one of the Government's leading and most significant public/private partnership (PPP) projects and will transfer the responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the department's water and waste water assets and infrastructure throughout Great Britain to private sector providers. This project will enable the transfer of environment risk to those in the private sector who are best placed to manage it.

This contract is expected to go live in September 2004 following a pre-commencement period.

Defence Industrial Policy

Lord Gavron asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made since the launch of their defence industrial policy in October 2002.[HL5518]

Lord Bach: The Government launched their defence industrial policy in October 2002. We sought to maximise the economic benefit to the United Kingdom from our investment in defence and to enhance the competitiveness and global sustainability of our defence industry. Since we launched the policy we have worked closely with industry to develop and pursue a joint implementation plan. We have completed a review of progress over the first year. During this time our close and productive relationship with industry has developed further and we have agreed how we will take forward our common aims over the next few years.

The policy has been a significant driver in bringing together government and industry, resulting in better communication and access to information. We both recognise that the policy is for the long term and that it will take some time to measure the full effects on defence programmes and the industry that supports them. We remain committed to the policy and will continue to monitor its effectiveness and to develop best practice in this area among the MoD acquisition community. We will also continue to work to improve

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access to overseas defence markets and to maximise the benefits from our investment in research and technology. We will conduct a further review of progress in a year's time. Copies of the review have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and on the Ministry of Defence and DTI websites. todd

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