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NORTHERN IRELAND

RUC

Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans she has to establish a commission to examine the future structure of and operational matters pertaining to the RUC; and if she will make a statement. [37381]

Marjorie Mowlam: The Government have appointed a Chairman and seven Members to the independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, which is one of the elements in the Belfast Agreement (Command 3883).

3 Jun 1998 : Column: 217

The Chairman is the right hon. Chris Patten, the former Governor of Hong Kong and Minister in the Northern Ireland Office. In addition, the seven Members each contributes different expertise, effectively under four headings. There are two representatives with policing expertise. One representative of either side of the community in Northern Ireland, but bringing with them a great deal more than this. Two leading academics and a senior, and significant business figure.

The names are Sir John Smith, former Deputy Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police, who also has previous experience as one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary. Kathleen O'Toole, having begun her career in the Boston police, is now Secretary for Public Safety in Massachusetts and has vast experience in the law enforcement field. There is no questioning her knowledge of policing, and she has already worked with the RUC, for example on training.

Peter Smith, a QC who has over 20 years' experience at the Bar, is widely regarded as one of the most acute legal practitioners here, and Dr. Maurice Hayes has his wide experience as a former senior civil servant and subsequently Ombudsman. He produced a well received review of the police complaints system in 1997 and has made contributions to policing issues over many years.

Professor Clifford Shearing, who is the Director of the Centre of Criminology at the University of Toronto, has agreed to bring his academic expertise to bear. He has extensive knowledge of policing, having examined the subject in his native South Africa, Australia and Canada. Another expert in this area is Dr. Gerald Lynch, President of John Jay College, New York which has been judged to be the best criminal justice institute in the USA. He has done a great deal of work on policing worldwide, including developing a course on police and community relations for the United States Department of Justice.

The seventh member is Lucy Woods, the very able Chief Executive of British Telecom in Northern Ireland, whose experience of management in a large organisation, delivering a service to a demanding public, will be very valuable.

The entire membership is of the highest standing. Individually and collectively they have a considerable amount of expertise and ability to offer the Commission.

The functions of the Commission are set out clearly in the terms of reference contained in the Good Friday Agreement. It will convene shortly to take this work forward. It will be expected to consult widely and to report by Summer 1999. The Government will publish the report, and consult on the recommendations, as set out in the Agreement.

School Transport

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list (a) the average number of school children in Northern Ireland travelling by school transport each day and (b) the number of (i) fatalities and

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(ii) injuries of school children involved in road accidents associated with school transport in each of the last five years. [42420]

Mr. Worthington [holding answer 21 May 1998]: The average number of children in schools in Northern Ireland in receipt of assistance with home to school transport over the period 1992-93 to 1996-97 was 103,414.

The number of road accident casualties in Northern Ireland who were school pupils going to or from school by bus or coach for each of the last five years is shown.

School child casualties (aged 4-16) travelling to or from school by bus or coach in Northern Ireland

School year (September--June)FatalitiesInjured
1992-93132
1993-94010
1994-95062
1995-96067
1996-970158

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Sportsmatch

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what funding his Department has provided to Sportsmatch in each year of its operation. [43575]

Mr. Banks [holding answer 1 June 1998]: The Sportsmatch scheme in England, which has been successful in attracting over £16.6 million in commercial sponsorship to grass roots sport since its inception, has received the following funding from my Department:

£ million(1)
1992-930.9
1993-943.0
1994-953.3
1995-963.7
1996-973.2
1997-983.2
1998-993.2

(1) Sportsmatch was launched in November 1992


Millennium Bank Holiday

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans there are for an additional bank holiday to mark the Millennium. [44557]

Mr. Chris Smith: I am pleased to announce that the year 2000 will be heralded by a one-off additional Bank Holiday throughout the United Kingdom on Friday, 31 December 1999. A recent consultation exercise conducted by the Government has confirmed that this decision commands overwhelming support among the many organisations which responded, and I know that large numbers of people will welcome this opportunity to prepare for the festivities on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day 2000.

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HOME DEPARTMENT

Youth Justice

Mr. Rapson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Government have identified areas to pilot the new youth justice measures and the procedural changes to reduce delays in youth and adult cases contained in the Crime and Disorder Bill [Lords]. [44417]

Mr. Michael: We have identified nine areas in which, in principle, we would like to pilot the new youth justice measures contained in the Crime and Disorder Bill. These measures are the final warning scheme; the reparation order; action plan order; child safety order and parenting order; and youth offending teams.

Four areas have been identified to pilot all of these measures. This will demonstrate how the new powers operate together and how the youth offending team structure can best deliver the associated intervention work. The four areas are the London Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster (jointly); Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight (jointly); Wolverhampton; and Sheffield.

Five areas have been identified to pilot the child safety order and parenting order, together with youth offending teams. This will ensure that we have sufficient information to evaluate the operation of these two orders. The five areas are the London Borough of Lewisham; Luton and Bedfordshire (jointly); Devon; St. Helens; and Sunderland.

We will be undertaking further detailed work in these nine areas with a view to establishing the pilot projects from October 1998. The pilots will operate for a period of 18 months. They will help develop good practice and allow us to assess the costs and savings which nation-wide implementation will involve. The pilots will inform decisions over the timing of full implementation of these measures.

We are also considering how we might best support other areas, including those others which expressed interest in taking part in the pilots, in planning and developing their arrangements for youth offending teams and the other youth justice measures.

In addition, six areas have been identified to pilot procedural changes recommended by the Review of Delay in the Criminal Justice System, some of which are contained in the Crime and Disorder Bill. These are expected to reduce delays in youth and adult cases. The pilots are being organised under the auspices of the Trials Issues Group and they will also be used to inform the setting of statutory time limits in due course for both youth and adult cases. The six areas are Tyneside; Croydon; Blackburn and Burnley; Northamptonshire; North Staffordshire; and North Wales. Two of these areas--Blackburn and Northamptonshire--will also operate the final warning scheme and youth offending teams, since these arrangements will have an effect on speed through the system and procedures in young offender cases.

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Sir Iain Glidewell's Review of the Crown Prosecution Service supports the changes which are to be piloted, and proposes some further changes which he recommends should be incorporated in the pilots. The Government will be considering how best to take this forward.

These pilots reflect the Government's determination to test innovative and effective ways of delivering services and programmes across Government Departments and agencies. Experience from these pilots and other area-based initiatives will help to ensure new measures are implemented effectively at local level.

Firearms

Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date his Department held consultative meetings on the Review of the Firearms Forms and Rules with (i) the British Medical Association and other professional medical representative bodies, (ii) the National Farmers Union (England and Wales), (iii) the National Farmers Union (Scotland), (iv) the Country Landowners Association (England and Wales), (v) the Country Landowners Association (Scotland), (vi) firearms clubs and associations, (vii) the British Deer Society, and the Deer Commission for Scotland, and (viii) the British Sports Association for the Disabled; when he plans to conclude the review of Firearms Forms and Rules; when he plans to implement the proposed new Forms and Rules; for what reasons the Home Office Note of the main issues raised at the meeting on 19 February to discuss the forms, was not sent to all consultees when requesting further written submissions; and when he intends to meet consultees to discuss these matters. [44101]

Mr. Michael: The arrangements made for meeting representatives of shooting organisations to discuss the proposed new Firearms Rules and forms are as set out in my answer to the hon. Member of 18 May 1998, Official Report, column 241. The new Rules and forms are planned to come into effect on 1 September 1998. The minutes of the working group meeting held on 19 February 1998 were intended solely as a record for those attending but were reflected in the draft forms subsequently sent out for comment. No further meetings are planned.


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