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Prison and Probation Service Review

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many meetings (a) Prison Service and (b) Probation personnel have had which involved consultation on the options for the Prison-Probation review; and if he will make a statement. [32485]

Ms Quin [holding answer 3 March 1998]: The Review is being led by myself, in light of my ministerial responsibility for both services, and I am in regular touch with service representatives on this and other issues. I have appointed a Project Board to steer the work of the Review. The Board includes members of both services, and the two chief inspectors. The Board has so far met seven times. Since my right hon. Friend announced the Review on 16 July 1997, a variety of meetings have been held at which management and staff from both services have been briefed on progress and given opportunities to make their views known.

Twenty-five meetings have been held with Prison Service staff, at ten of which probation staff were also present; and five with probation committee chairs and chief probation officers. In addition, consultants who are assisting the Review on costing identified options have had a number of discussions with staff from both services.

As my right hon. Friend announced in July 1997, the main public consultation with all concerned will follow my consideration of the Review's examination of options for improving on present arrangements. There is no predetermined outcome; and my right hon. Friend and I shall take the views of all concerned into full account before we decide on the best way forward.

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Road Blocks

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money was spent by the Metropolitan Police on undertaking road blocks, in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will list the occasions when road blocks were undertaken in conjunction with other agencies, other than for national security reasons. [32584]

Mr. Michael: The Metropolitan Police Commissioner tells me that there is no current requirement within the Metropolitan Police Service to keep account of the costs for road checks. The checks are a core function of the Metropolitan Police Service's work and do not incur any additional expense to the budget.

During 1 January 1997 to 31 December 1997, nine road checks were carried out. Two checks were for the purpose of ascertaining whether a vehicle was carrying a person reasonably suspected of having committed a serious arrestable offence and seven checks were where it was suspected that the vehicles carried a witness to a serious arrestable offence.

Operation Mermaid, a nationally co-ordinated road check involving most United Kingdom police forces targets the safe operation of commercial vehicles. The checks are undertaken on the same day and for the same duration by each participating police force.

The checks for 1997 were conducted on:



    10 June: 1600 to 2400


    10 September: 1200 to 2000


    18 November: 0700 to 1500.

Other agencies involved were:



    Vehicle Inspectorate: for vehicle condition


    Benefit Fraud Investigation Unit: detection of fraudulent claims to the Department of Social Security.

Additionally, an officer assists Westminster City Council for 12 hours a week with a pilot enforcement scheme under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emission) (Fixed Penalty) Regulations 1997. The power to stop the vehicles is exercised under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Jason Marcus Sebastian

Mr. Tony Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he proposes to take following the inquest into the death of Jason Marcus Sebastian; and if he will make a statement. [32699]

Ms Quin: The Prison Service has now received the coroner's comments following the inquest into the death of Jason Marcus Sebastian at Belmarsh prison on 19 September 1997. The evidence which was presented at the inquest and the comments made by the coroner are being carefully considered.

In the light of an internal Prison Service investigation, the governor of Belmarsh has already implemented a number of changes in the prison's procedures and personnel, and carried out a full review of the prison's suicide awareness policies.

4 Mar 1998 : Column: 634

These changes include: the appointment of a full-time suicide awareness co-ordinator and a new Head of Health Care, who is a senior nurse; regular care reviews of "at risk" prisoners; and more thorough assessments of all prisoners by a medical officer before they leave the health care centre. All staff working directly with prisoners are receiving refresher training in suicide awareness as a matter of urgency. The procedure for medical assessment prior to adjudications at the prison has also been improved.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Official Entertainment

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many receptions have been held in his Department since he took office; how many people have attended; and what was the total cost of these events. [25178]

Mr. Robin Cook [holding answer 23 January 1998]: Since 1 May 1997, FCO Ministers have hosted 17 receptions attended by approximately 3,400 people at a cost of £42,786.51 (two bills are outstanding).

High Commissions (Sports Facilities)

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what categories of persons, other than his Department's staff, are permitted to use the sports and recreation facilities provided at the British High Commissions in (a) Nairobi, (b) Dar es Salaam, (c) Kampala and (d) Harare. [32631]

Mr. Fatchett: Sport and recreational facilities at the four British High Commissions mentioned can be used by the UK-based staff of the mission (and their dependants), other Crown Servants (and their dependants) and their invited guests.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the total weekly usage by officials and their families of the sport and recreation facilities provided at the British high commissions in (a) Nairobi, (b) Dar es Salaam, (c) Kampala and (d) Harare for the first week in (i) March, (ii) June and (iii) November 1997. [32629]

Mr. Fatchett: No records are kept of weekly usage of the sport and recreation facilities provided at the four British High Commissions mentioned. The facilities are used on a regular basis.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what were the costs for the financial year 1996-97 attributable to the operation of the sports and recreation facilities provided for officials and their families at the British high commissions in (a) Nairobi, (b) Dar es Salaam, (c) Kampala and (d) Harare. [32627]

Mr. Fatchett: The information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

4 Mar 1998 : Column: 635

European Council (Tapes)

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Presidency has access on request to tapes held by the General Secretariat of the European Council. [32295]

Mr. Doug Henderson: The Secretariat's tapes are for the use of the Secretariat, who assist the Presidency of the day.

EU Information Projects (Funding)

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 3 February 1998, Official Report, column 597, on funding for EU information projects, if he will estimate the amount spent in the United Kingdom in the current financial year. [32196]

Mr. Doug Henderson [holding answer 2 March 1998]: The Commission Representation in the UK does not compile accounts showing all EU spending on information projects in the UK. It is therefore difficult to estimate the amount spent in the current financial year, but it is probably less than 10% of the total EU budget for such projects.

EU Business

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for March and the major European Union events for the next six months. [32950]

Mr. Doug Henderson: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will support the appeal made by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for funds in support of the Prosecutor's 1998 programme of exhumations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. [32951]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We fully support the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Progress with the exhumations work is of great importance not only for the investigation and prosecution of suspected war criminals, but for the people of the region who have lost friends and relatives during the war. I am pleased to announce that the Government are making an immediate contribution of £1.22 million ($2 million) to the Tribunal's Trust Fund so that the 1998 exhumations programme can begin on schedule on 1 April.

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will offer financial support to the United Nations' programme to develop democratic, professional police forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a key element in implementing the Dayton Agreement. [32952]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: We fully support the work of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in particular its programme to develop a professional, effective, and democratic police force. I am pleased to

4 Mar 1998 : Column: 636

announce that the Government are making an immediate contribution of up to £3 million to the UN Trust Fund for Police Restructuring, to provide equipment and training for the local police forces in both Entities, under the programme managed by the UN's International Police Task Force.


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