Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

In 42 of these cases the apparent circumstance of the offence was classed as being an “irrational act carried out by an apparently insane or disturbed subject”. The victim and principal suspect were acquainted in 29 of these cases (69 per cent). It is important to note that data on the homicide index include only one

18 Dec 2006 : Column WA237

circumstance per case and so these figures do not include all those homicides where a suspect has mental health problems. Other circumstances were recorded in the remaining 911 cases, including 399 where the victim and principal suspect were acquainted (44 per cent).

The Home Office also publishes annual data about persons managed under Mental Health Act powers, including those convicted of homicide. Latest published figures are in Statistics of Mentally Disordered Offenders 2004 (HOSB 22/05). In 2004 there were 99 homicide convictions resulting in suspects being detained under Part III of the Mental Health Act 1983.

Crime: Rape

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The British Crime Survey (BCS) systematically collects information on rape, although due to the sensitivity of such questions in a face-to-face crime survey it is recognised that the subsequent results may be an unreliable indicator. For this reason, they are not routinely published.

However, a number of BCS questionnaires have included a self-completion part on sexual victimisation designed to improve reliability and confidentiality. The BCS questionnaires on sexual victimisation also collect information about the relationship between offenders and victims. The latest published results are reported in Home Office Online Report 12/06 (Finney, 2006). According to the 2004-05 BCS most women and men who had been victims of serious sexual assaults had been assaulted by people who they know rather than strangers. Altogether 11 per cent of females and 17 per cent of male victims of serious sexual assaults had been assaulted by a stranger.

A research study, commissioned by the Home Office (Home Office Research Study 293, Kelly, et al (2005)), also provides information on the victim's relationship to the offender. Analysis of incidents of rape which had been reported to a sexual assault referral centre (SARC) from 1987 to 2002 revealed that over half of the assaults were committed by a perpetrator who was known to the victim compared with about a quarter of assaults which were committed by strangers.

Crime: Statistics

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:



18 Dec 2006 : Column WA238

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Information on court remands is contained in chapter four of Criminal Statistics 2005 which can be found at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/crimstats05.html.

Table 4.4, on page 78, gives estimated figures for the numbers of defendants remanded in custody by magistrates’ courts in England and Wales by broad category of offence. The remand data are not sufficiently robust to permit a more detailed breakdown of the offences involved. Information for Scotland is the responsibility of the Scottish Executive and information for Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Office.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Budget

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The accounting changes have not resulted in a loss to the department. Rather, these changes arose from clarification and application of Treasury consolidated budgeting guidance rules. This guidance set out constraints over movements between sub-control totals within departmental resource budgets. This heightened existing pressures on those programmes requiring cash expenditure.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Staff Bonuses

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): For the basis of bonuses awarded to staff in Defra, I refer the noble Baroness to the reply given by the

18 Dec 2006 : Column WA239

Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Barry Gardiner, to my honourable friend Keith Vaz on 27 November, (Official Report, Commons, col. 286W).

The average award is lower within the statistics provided for the period November 2004 to March 2005 for two reasons. For staff at grade 6 and below, the data for this period only include in-year performance bonuses. Annual performance bonuses—which have a higher individual value—would have been paid prior to this date within the financial year. For the period April 2006 to November 2006, for staff at grade 6 and below, the number of staff receiving the annual performance bonus reduced from 25 per cent of staff to the top 10 per cent of performers. The amount of funds allocated for the annual bonus remained constant and individual bonus amounts therefore increased.

There were no bonuses above £9,999 paid to staff at grade 6 or below.

There were a total of 45 bonuses over and above £9,999 paid to SCS staff in 2005 and 2006. One bonus of £34,040 was paid to a specialist employed on a fixed-term contract to manage a specific project. The bonus amount was a condition of the contract and was dependent on successful delivery of targets. For permanent SCS staff, the highest bonus paid was £15,000 which was paid to three staff. The remaining 41 received £10,500.

Disabled People: Parking

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: While local authorities are able to introduce discretionary disabled parking bays, it is not possible to regulate or enforce the use of discretionary bays.

Local authorities have the power under the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984 to make traffic regulation orders to introduce designated disabled parking bays that can be enforced by the police service or local authority parking attendants, depending on who is responsible for parking enforcement in the area.

Elections: Signatures

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Government have recently become aware of growing concern among electoral administrators about whether polling station officials would have the right to withhold a ballot paper from an elector who refused to provide a signature.



18 Dec 2006 : Column WA240

After careful consideration of the relevant provision in the Electoral Administration Act 2006, the Government agree that the lack of a clear sanction for a polling station official to withhold a ballot paper in these circumstances may give rise to confusion, inconsistency of practice, and potential legal challenge. Accordingly, the Government have decided not to commence signing at a polling station until such a sanction can be brought forward. As such a sanction will require primary legislation, it will not be practicable to commence signing at a polling station for elections scheduled for May 2007.

The Electoral Commission, which has a key role in providing returning officers and electoral administrators with advice and guidance has been formally advised that legislation for signing at a polling station will not be commenced for 3 May 2007 and, therefore, no request of signatures from electors in polling stations should be made until further notice.

EU: Export Certification

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): TRACES is operating effectively with regard to notifying member states of trade activity, providing certification for trade where health certification is required and allowing traders to apply electronically for the documentation that must physically accompany consignments being traded. The Commission's expectations for the system are much farther reaching than this and TRACES is continually being developed and enhanced. We expect this to be the case for some time.

Extracting reliable statistics from TRACES remains problematic and especially so for cattle exports. However, two fairly recent developments should improve the situation in the future. First, TRACES now distinguishes between breeding cattle and production cattle. This was not possible with the previous versions of the system. Secondly, the Commission has this year delivered

18 Dec 2006 : Column WA241

an enhancement to TRACES called the Data Warehouse. This allows us to extract more detailed trade activity data from TRACES.

The system of codes for recording the import of wild birds is now fully operational. The information provided in the Written Answer on 7 November 2005 highlighted there were discrepancies between the TRACES and CITES data and that officials were investigating the discrepancies. A ministerial colleague in the other place is writing to the Member in that place who asked the original Question, to provide him with recently published data on the bird trade. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the other place. The recently published European Food Safety Authority report has the most reliable figures for 2005: 521,906 captive birds were imported to the EU, of which 61,450 were to the UK.

The EFSA report does not have figures for 2004, but CITES figures are available and indicate that around 695,000 birds were imported into all member states with 18,897 birds imported into the UK.

Firearms: Licensing

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Further to the update sent to the noble Lord on 23 October, good progress with the roll-out programme is being maintained. A total of 24 forces have been migrated to the system which now contains records relating to 500,000 people.

It is still the aim to complete the roll-out process by March 2007. We will send a further update on the position at the end of January.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The offence under Section 1(2) of the Firearms Act 1968 relates to a failure to comply with any condition on the certificate; prosecution statistics do not differentiate between prescribed conditions and those imposed by the chief officer of police. No information is kept centrally regarding the amount of time spent by police licensing staff in processing applications to vary or add conditions to firearms certificates.



18 Dec 2006 : Column WA242

Freedom of Information: Environmental Information Regulations

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Details relating to internal reviews under the Environmental Information Regulations are held separately by each individual government department. The Government do not hold information centrally on the nature and subject matter of the information requested and to collate such information would result in disproportionate costs. I refer the noble Baroness to the Answer I gave on 5 December, which sets out how data relating to internal reviews under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations are made available to the public.

Gambling: Online Age Verification

Baroness Howe of Idlicote asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government have not conducted an assessment of this nature. The Government are, however, aware that since the study, many operators have sought to improve their age verification procedures.

We have included robust provisions within the Gambling Act 2005 to protect children and young persons from gambling. These include a specific requirement on remote gambling operators to implement effective age verification procedures, which, if breached, could mean the loss of that operator's gambling licence and/or a financial penalty, as well as the return of stakes by the operator to any player found to be under age, among other protections.

Gulf War Illnesses

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): As I indicated on 8 November (Official Report, cols. WA 184-5), environmental and other exposures which may have been experienced by some individuals during the 1990-91 Gulf conflict were not part of the Vaccines Interactions Research Programme. The latter was designed to address specific concerns at the time of commissioning—not least among veterans and their representatives—that the vaccines and pyridostigmine bromide which were received by the overwhelming majority of those prepared for deployment to the Gulf might be the cause of the ill health. The possible adverse health effects of the wider exposures mentioned in the question are already well understood or have been the subject of other research programmes. The wider evidence currently available makes clear that the ill health reported among Gulf veterans also affects individuals who had not experienced these exposures.

Health: Alfred Morris House, Taunton

Lord Tyler asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The department is aware of 13 letters received since June 2006 about Alfred Morris House.

On 5 July, the honourable Member for Taunton (Jeremy Browne) asked a question of the Prime Minister.

On 18 October 2006, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State had a meeting with Lord Morris of Manchester and the honourable Member for Taunton (Jeremy Browne) to discuss their concerns about the future of Alfred Morris House.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page