Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for Education what is the weight and the number of packages involved in delivering the key stage 3 material to the average secondary school in England ; and what assessment he has made of the capacity of such schools to store this material.
Mr. Robin Squire : The weight and number of packages of the tests delivered will depend on the size of the school. A typical school would need approximately 1,900 test papers and associated mark schemes in English, maths, science, and technology for all their pupils undergoing key stage 3 testing. This would weigh approximately 99 kgs.
As they were delivered shortly before the start of the tests, storage of the papers should not pose a long-term problem.
(2) what percentage of 14-year-olds sat key stage 3 tests on 7 June ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Patten : Precise information is not yet available. Parents and the public more widely will rightly question why all schools did not administer the test which was a sound and straightforward basis on which to measure pupils' reading and writing skills. It provides vital information for teachers to help children who are failing in these areas. Schools which carried out the test will gain a clear idea of how their pupils perform in reading and writing against national standards.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent communications he has received from the chairman of British Nuclear Fuels plc in regard to the future of radioactive waste arising from THORP.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information his Department has concerning the amounts of money raised by local electoral authorities through the sale of electoral registers.
Mr. Yeo : The seaside awards scheme was introduced by the Tidy Britain group (TGB) in 1992. It recognises beaches which have attained high standards of facilities, management, beach cleanliness and the water quality requirements of the Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC). At present only those beaches which are entered for the scheme are considered for awards.
My Department supports TBG in its operation of this awards scheme which encourages high standards at both resort and rural beaches. The criteria by which entrants are judged are exacting and in some cases more stringent than for the Blue Flag scheme for resorts. This year's awards, announced on 3 June, were presented by my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment on 7 June. One hundred and thirty-three beaches received awards compared with 94 last year.
Mr. Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the standard spending assessments of each district council in England and Wales as a sum per head of population numbered in descending order.
Mr. Nigel Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has of the amount of unpaid poll tax ; what measures he is taking to encourage local authorities to collect the outstanding payments ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 7 June 1993] : I estimate that the level of community charge arrears for local authorities in England at 31 March 1993 was £2.4 billion. Authorities have, however, made provision for non-collection of £1.6 billion.
We have provided authorities with a range of enforcement options. Once it has obtained a liability order from a court an authority may collect unpaid community charges by any of the following methods : an attachment of earnings order ; distress ; deductions from income support ; charging orders (for collective community charges only) ; and bankruptcy and winding up. If, having attempted to levy distress, an authority is unable to find any or sufficient goods to distrain, it may seek to have the chargepayer committed to prison.
Mr. Yeo [holding answer 8 June 1993] : It remains our policy to safeguard the status of common land and to strengthen the ways in which we protect and use it. We recognise that this policy requires legislation but I cannot say when such legislation will be introduced.
Mr. Ainger : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what direct involvement Her Majesty's Customs has had in the three discoveries of cannabis on a location off the west Wales coast over the last three weeks ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) what action he proposes to take to increase surveillance to prevent importation of drugs and arms on the west Wales coast.
Sir John Cope : The bales of cannabis were trawled from the seabed by a fishing vessel and the master promptly and correctly notified Customs on each occasion. Customs subsequently took possession of the cannabis when the trawler returned to port at Milford Haven. Customs are constantly vigilant to prevent the importation of both drugs and arms on the west Wales coast as elsewhere and they deploy anti-smuggling teams, based at Swansea and Pembroke dock, to meet the assessed risk of such smuggling.
The Customs strategy in relation to anti-smuggling controls is based on flexible targeting of resources towards areas of the highest risk at any given time.
Mr. Nelson : The Government very much welcome the announcement by the United States Administration that it is seeking congressional approval for measures to enable the United States to join the Paris Club consensus for the implementation of debt reduction on Trinidad terms for the poorest and most indebted countries.
Debt reduction on Trinidad terms was originally proposed by the Prime Minister in 1990.
A modified version of the Prime Minister's Trinidad terms proposals, implemented by the Paris Club from December 1991, provide for 50 per cent. reduction in the debt payments due over a period of between one and three years. They also provide for consideration of the question of the country's whole stock of debt after three to four years, subject to satisfactory performance under IMF programmes. Approval of the legislation and necessary appropriation measures by Congress should allow the United States to give the 50 per cent. debt or debt service reduction under the Trinidad terms as presently implemented. The United States proposal should also allow the United States to participate in a Paris Club stock of debt reduction.
Column 292If the United States is able to implement Trinidad terms this is good news. It implies full international consensus at the Paris Club in favour of debt reduction. Moreover this should also facilitate in due course progress on other key objectives of the United Kingdom's strategy for official debt.
The Government would like the present Trinidad terms improved so that they conform more closely to the proposals that my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) actually put forward in Trinidad in 1990. In particular, we would like to see :
an increase in the rate of relief in excess of 50 per cent. on a case-by- case basis. For some countries, relief of up to 80 per cent. might be justified ;
where a debtor has a good track record of performance under IMF programmes, immediate stock of debt relief should be given. There should be no need to have to wait three to four years.
Mr. Hurd : There have now been four rounds of talks between Britain and China about electoral arrangements in Hong Kong. We have the responsibility to ensure that the elections to be held in 1994 and 1995 are fair, open and acceptable to the people of Hong Kong. There should also be objective criteria for confirmation of members of the 1995 Legislative Council as members of the first legislature of the Hong Kong special administrative region in 1997. We are working hard for a successful outcome from the talks. But we also need to ensure that the elections are held on time. The talks will therefore need to be brought to a conclusion in good time to allow the practical arrangements for the elections to be made ; they cannot go on indefinitely. We must make more progress.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to discuss recent political events in Serbia with the Federal Yugoslav representative in London ; and if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's view of recent developments in the Yugoslav Federation.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : None. Recent developments in Belgrade were discussed at the EC General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 8 and 9 June. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and his European colleagues condemned the repression evident in Serbia, in particular the physical abuse of the opposition leader, Mr. Draskovic and his wife, and the moves to ban opposition parties.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Latvian Foreign Minister about the development of democracy in that country and the position of the ethnic Russian minority ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : At the EC Troika ministerial meeting with Baltic Foreign Ministers on 19 April, we and our partners acknowledged the progress on political reform which Latvia had made. We also reiterated the importance we attach to the upholding of human rights. We do not accept Russian allegations of human rights abuses in Latvia, which have been shown to be unfounded by CSCE and UN fact-finding missions. However, Latvia needs to find fair formulae on citizenship and non-citizens' rights. We have urged Latvia to implement soon the recommendations of the report on Latvia by the CSCE high commissioner on national minorities.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received on the conduct of the recent elections in Latvia ; what were the nature of such reports ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The elections were the first to have been held since Latvia regained independence. We are pleased that they were conducted successfully. Her Majesty's embassy in Riga has reported that the Council of Europe mission observing the elections concluded that they were free, democratic and independent.
Among the topics discussed were the former Yugoslavia, EC enlargement, structural funds and the GATT Uruguay round.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the United Kingdom post in Zagreb received from Mrs. Sadeta Draganovic and her children an application to be granted asylum in the United Kingdom ; when that application was forwarded to the immigration and nationality department of the Home Office ; if the post in Zagreb received information as to whether a decision on the application has been taken ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Goodlad : Her Majesty's embassy in Zagreb received an application for entry clearance by Mrs. Draganovic on 28 April 1993. This was referred to the Home Office the same day. To date the embassy has received no response.
Column 294ceasefire and full implementation of the Bicesse Peace Accords. On 1 June the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations operation in Angola for 45 days to allow these efforts to continue.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) representatives of non-Governmental organisations and (b) with commonwealth high commissioners about recent developments in Somalia ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We maintain regular and close contacts with NGO's about the situation in Somalia, including the recent developments. Officials have been in contact with individual Commonwealth High Commissions.
We have also expressed our condolences over the recent tragic death of Pakistani United Nations troops in Somalia.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We sent three observers to Malawi as part of a coordinated EC mission to monitor the referendum voter registration process beween 12 and 21 April. A further five United Kingdom observers arrived in Malawi on 3 June where they will remain until 18 June to monitor the latter stages of the referendum process, including the vote and declaration of the result. In addition, we have agreed to provide financial support through the United Nations development programme to supply equipment necessary for the holding of the referendum.
We are supporting the referendum process despite a number of concerns over reports of harassment, intimidation of individual multi-party advocates and lack of coverage of their views on the government controlled media. However we are encouraged that all the parties remain committed to continued participation in the referendum process. We have urged the Government of Malawi to ensure that the remainder of the campaign takes place under conditions which allow all Malawians to express their views freely.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Doug Hoyle, dated June 1993 :
Column 295The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about publication of the report of our investigation into CCA. Following various allegations about CCA in the media, the Prisons Board decided that one of its non-executive members, Mr. Bill Bentley, should visit the United States and investigate the background to these allegations. The results of Mr. Bentley's inquiries have been presented to the Board ; in brief, he concludes that he was unable to find any evidence which would have affected the decision to award the contract from Blakenhurst Prison to UKDS, the consortium which includes CCA.
This conclusion has been accepted by Mr. Peter Lloyd, the Prisons Minister, who has written to Sir Ivan Lawrence reporting the outcome of the inquiry. A copy of that letter has been placed in the Library of the House. Beyond that, we have no plans to publish a report on Mr. Bentley's investigation.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Doug Hoyle, dated June 1993 : The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the opening of Blakenhurst Prison.
Our initial review concluded that no information about CCA had come to light which would have affected our decision to award the contract to the UKDS, the consortium which includes CCA.
The opening of Blakenhurst Prison therefore went ahead as scheduled, with the first inmates arriving on 26 May.
Mr. Howard : The Home Office has no major relocation or amalgamation plans at present, but a number of minor moves are being planned. In particular, the central research and support establishment will move from Aldermaston to forensic science service headquarters in Birmingham and the prison service tactical management and planning unit (TMPU) will move from Birmingham to London, both in September 1993. TMPU will also be amalgamated with the prison service headquarters section responsible for the managements of category A prisoners.
Mr. David Maclean : The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has recently completed consultations on its proposed changes in the controls over Temazepam and I expect shortly to receive its conclusions.
Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any member of the initial Manchester gaol tender evaluation panel has been recruited by any of the firms involved in submitting tenders for running that prison.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated June 1993. The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question whether any member of the panel evaluating the bids for the management of Manchester prison has been recruited by any of the firms involved in submitting tenders.
No actual or proposed member of the evaluation panel has been recruited by any of the tendering companies.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take legislative action to prevent the staff of security companies from being uniformed so as to resemble police officers ; and if he will make a statement.
Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what savings would be made by using prisoners at HMP North Sea camp to drive lorries to deliver vegetables to other prisoners : (2) what plans there are to use convicted inmates as lorry drivers at HMP North Sea camp ; what assessment has been made of the security implications ; and if he will make a statement ;
(3) what discussions have taken place with the Prison Officers Association and the Prison Governors Association about the use of prisoners in jobs previously held by paid staff.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 10 June 1993. The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Questions about North Sea Camp.
The Governor of North Sea Camp open prison is examining a proposal to use a suitably qualified prisoner to make vegetable deliveries to neighbouring prisons. This will release a prison auxiliary driver to take more prisoners to work placements in local communities, thus meeting an increased demand for such opportunities.
There would be no financial savings since the auxiliary driver will be employed on other duties.
North Sea Camp holds Category D prisoners who are judged to be able to be trusted not to abscond or commit further offences, and to present little risk to the public.
The governor has consulted widely on the question of the use of prisoners as drivers. Members of the local Branch of the Prison Officers Association have not objected to the scheme. Likewise members of the Prison Governors Association at North Sea Camp have no objection. The governor is continuing to consult governors of neighbouring prisons to which deliveries would be made before he reaches a final decision.
I am not aware of any other schemes which will use prisoners to undertake work previously done by paid staff.
Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if a decision has yet been made on the date for sending out tenders for Doncaster prison ; who will be sent the tender documents ; and what is the closing date for bids.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 10 June 1993 :
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply directly to your question about the tendering arrangements for the management of Doncaster Prison.
The intention is to send out invitations to tender on 16 July 1993 with a closing date for the return of bids in mid September. The composition of the bidders' list will depend upon the response to the notice advertising the tendering exercise in the Official Journal of the European Community and a subsequent qualification assessment of the applicants.
Ms Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what clauses exist in the present contract with Group 4 escort services to allow renegotiation of the contract ; and what would be the additional cost of renegotiating the contract in line with the increased number of prisoner movements ;
(2) what talks Group 4 has had with his escort duties ; what projections were made about the number of prisoner movements by his Department as the basis for the contract with Group 4 escort services ; what are the actual numbers of prisoner movements at the latest available date ; and if he plans to amend the contract accordingly.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 10 June 1993. The Home Secretary has asked me to reply directly to your two Parliamentary Questions about the contract for court escort services with Group 4 Services Ltd.
The resources needed for the court escort service depend both on the numbers of prisoners to be escorted and on the distribution of their points of origin and their destination. These were measured in surveys carried out prior to the issue of invitations to tender and immediately prior to contract signature. The contract price was based on the findings of the latter survey.
The contract recognises, however, that costs will vary with the requirement, and mechanisms exist to adjust the contract price in line with changes in requirement. Analysis of the present workload is underway in order to determine whether either the resource levels or the contract price, or both, need adjustment, and, if so by how much.