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Whether, in light of the statement made by Mr Terry McCormick on BBC Northern Ireland on 19 June that he was involved in the interrogation and murder of Captain Robert Nairac, they will now seek to extradite Mr McCormick from the United States to face trial. [HL4464]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): There are seven district councils which hold elections for half (or as nearly as maybe) their membership at a time. These are Adur, Cheltenham, Fareham, Gosport, Hastings, Nuneaton and Bedworth and Oxford. These elections are next due to be held in 2008 and then every second year thereafter.
Baroness Andrews: There are 11 district councils which, since local government reorganisation in 1974, previously held elections for a third (or as nearly as maybe) of their membership at a time and now hold whole-council elections. These are the eight shire district councils of Broadland, Eastbourne, East Devon, Hinckley and Bosworth, Mid Sussex, Oadby and Wigston, Tonbridge and Malling and West Dorset and the three unitary district councils of Leicester, North Somerset (previously Woodspring District Council) and Torbay. All of these councils will next hold a whole-council election in 2011 and every fourth year thereafter.
Baroness Andrews: Of the 35 county councils in England, including the unitary county council of the Isle of Wight, 21 have at least one electoral division which returns more than one member. These are Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Dorset, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Leicestershire, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Warwickshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.
Whether they will publish statistics on the number of evictions of Gypsies and Travellers in each of the years 2000 to 2006 under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 in England, Scotland and Wales respectively. [HL4369]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Statistics on the number of evictions under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 may be held by local police forces. However, these figures are not held centrally.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The private rented sector has a key role to play in housing people not in homeownership or social housing. The sector has expanded modestly since deregulation of the market in 1989. Buy-to-let mortgage lending has facilitated some of this expansion and has also helped to drive up quality and choice within the private rented sector through investment in newer stock.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government have no plans to restrict the amount of lending for buy-to-let housing, which will be a matter of commercial judgment for firms. All taxes are kept under review as part of the Budget cycle.
Whether they have proposals to increase the level of security of tenure of tenants of private housing, and in particular holders of assured tenancies, and the protection provided against excessive rent levels.[HL4476]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): We continue to monitor the operation of the private rented sector and the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants. However, we have no plans at present to amend the assured tenancy legislation established under the Housing Acts of 1988 and 1996.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Between 2001 and 2006 the annual rate of new housing supply has grown from around 130,000 to over 180,000, an increase of around 40 per cent.
What is the estimated cost of escorting immigration detainees to and from bail hearings in 2007-08; what financial penalties were imposed on the contractors for this service for unsatisfactory performance in 2005-06; and whether there has been an independent audit or evaluation of the performance of the contractors.[HL4468]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) does not separately record the cost to escort detainees to bail hearings nor does it monitor performance specifically relating to escorts to bail hearings.
The escort contract contains performance measures by which contractors are measured. Failure to meet the required standards results in the allocation of performance measures resulting in a deduction from the contractors operating fee.
The escort contract is monitored daily by the BIA contract monitoring team. Specific areas of the current contract are being reviewed by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB). The IMB is a voluntary organisation of prison and immigration centre visitors who assist in assuring that prisoners
3 July 2007 : Column WA172
Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is not the practice at Campsfield House IRC or any other centre to routinely handcuff detainees attending external medical appointments. Individual risk assessments are completed and recorded in advance on all detainees subject to medical escort. Such risk assessments take proper account of clinical advice/concerns and the medical condition of the detainee. A balanced judgment is made in deciding whether the use of handcuffs is necessary.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: There is an incentives scheme operating within Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre. The scheme has two levels, standard and enhanced. All new arrivals are placed on the standard level for 24 hours while in induction and then they proceed to the enhanced level when moved into the main centre. Should detainees become non-compliant, they are returned to the standard level for three days, which prevents them having the option of a single room. The situation is then reviewed, and should it not be possible to restore the enhanced level at that time, it is again reviewed at one week.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Home Office does not provide childcare to those attending substantive asylum or immigration interviews. We are currently considering whether childcare might be facilitated at substantive asylum interviews.
What assessment they have made of reports that 100 women at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre are refusing food, 70 per cent of women had reported previous rape, 57 per cent had no legal representation and nearly half had been detained for more than three months; and what action they are taking to improve conditions and procedures and to minimise the use of detention. [HL4568]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: A number of women (92) refused their evening meal on 8 May as a result of unfounded rumours regarding the new contractor, Serco Ltd, which was awarded the contract to operate Yarl's Wood on behalf of BIA. The contract director communicated widely with detainees and the majority resumed eating the following day. There have been no large-scale refusals to take meals at Yarl's Wood since 8 May.
Procedures are in place at all removal centres for case holders to be informed of any allegations of rape and/or torture that are made by detainees. We would not be able to confirm the percentage figure of those women who had reported previous rape as this would involve checking each individual case at disproportionate cost.
Both the Legal Services Commission and Bail for Immigration Detainees hold regular workshops for detainees at Yarl's Wood and the centre library has information on legal representation which can be accessed by detainees.
The contract that exists between the Home Office and Serco outlines the Border and Immigration Agency's requirements in regard to the services provided to detainees. The contract is underpinned by an ethos of improving services to the detainees both in terms of care and safety. A bi-weekly meeting is in place to support direct communication between detainees and the managers of the centre.
Of those leaving detention in May, the average length of stay was between seven and 10 days. People are detained only for as long as is necessary and for the shortest period possible. Those detained immediately prior to removal would usually be held for no more than a few days. However, on occasions people are detained for longer periods, usually while awaiting travel documentation from their respective embassies or where a removal has failed and a subsequent removal is being organised.
How many parishes in England with between 150 and 1,000 electors have (a) a parish meeting, and (b) a parish council; and what is the size, in terms of number of electors, and location of each of those which has a parish meeting. [HL4513]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): This information is not held centrally. There are approximately 10,000 parishes in England of which all must have a parish meeting and around 8,900 have parish councils. We do not have information centrally on the size of parishes, whether in terms of number of electors or their location. In a county area, some of this information may be available from that county's association of local councils, reflecting the very local nature of this information.
Baroness Andrews: There is none. Of the approximately 10,000 parishes in England, all must have a parish meeting and any parish with more than 200 local government electors is required by statute to have a parish council. We do not hold information centrally on the size of parishes, whether in terms of numbers of electors or their location.
In which district council areas in England they are considering recommendations for changes to the pattern of parish councils following parish reviews in those areas; and when they expect to make decisions on these areas. [HL4518]
Baroness Andrews: The table below lists the principal local authorities which have submitted recommendations to the Secretary of State for changes to parishes. The list includes both recommendations resulting from local reviews of parish arrangements and petitions for new parishes in respect of which the Secretary of State has yet to make a decision.
The Government intend to take these decisions as and when practicable; recommendations outstanding on enactment of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill will be subject to transitional arrangements which we will be discussing with the Local Government Association and other stakeholders.
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