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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases were heard during the last 12 months by the Parole Board of inmates convicted of murder and seeking parole; and how many such inmates were granted parole. 
Mr. Boateng: The decision whether to release adult murderers on life licence is a matter for the Home Secretary, subject to a recommendation for release from the Parole Board. In the year ended 31 December 1999, the Board considered 590 mandatory life sentence cases, about half of which were tariff expired and, therefore, eligible for release. The Board recommended release in 75 of these cases. Sixty-three of these recommendations were accepted, three were rejected, and nine are still under consideration.
Those sentenced to detention during Her Majesty's pleasure (having been convicted of a murder committed when under the age of 18) are released on the direction of the Parole Board once their tariffs have expired. The Board considered 41 such cases in 1999 and directed release in 15 of them.
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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) prosecutions and (b) convictions there were in courts in the United Kingdom for dealing in the illegal re-sale of tobacco, spirits and beer imported from other European countries during 1999. 
Mr. Charles Clarke: The Home Office Court Proceedings Database does not hold information about the characteristics of individual cases apart from those that are evident from the description of the offence with which the defendant has been charged.
Defendants prosecuted for the illegal re-sale of items would be prosecuted under section 170 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. However, the database does not separately identify such cases from other offences under the Act.
Mr. Heppell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what guidance is given to the Crown Prosecution Service on action to be taken against persons with multiple sclerosis who use cannabis as a beneficial homeopathic treatment; and what plans he has to review the guidance; 
Mr. Charles Clarke: Possession of cannabis is a criminal offence and it is for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to prosecute in a particular case, taking account of the individual merits. If there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, then both the police and the Crown Prosecution Service will weigh public interest considerations.
The police have a range of guidance, the most recent was issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers in February last year; there are no plans to review this guidance. The Crown Prosecution Service assess all cases in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors; this Code is currently under review.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners have been kept in solitary confinement by reason of their violent nature and representing a threat to others for each year since 1995. 
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons his Department did not publish the Draft Code of Practice, pursuant to Clause 44 of the Freedom of Information Bill, before the afternoon of 4 April. 
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Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions Ministers have withheld information from public disclosure under the exemption clauses of the Code of Practice on Disclosure of Official Information since May 1997. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government publish annual monitoring reports on the operation of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. The reports contain statistics on the number of Code requests received by each Department in that calendar year and include details as to the number of requests which have been refused. However, the reports do not identify which of these cases were referred to Ministers or where decisions were taken by officials.
The 1997 report shows that, for the calendar year, 1,894 requests were refused--of which 1,735 relate to premature applications to the Health and Safety Executive for information relating to civil proceedings. Excluding these cases, the number of refusals of requests over the year was 159.
The 1998 report shows that in that year, 1,745 requests were refused--of which 1,534 related to premature applications to the Health and Safety Executive for information relating to civil proceedings. Excluding these cases, the number of refusals of requests over the year was 211.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will establish a review of the (a) hours worked and (b) pay rates of employees of the Probation Service, to include a comparison over the past decade of relativities with (i) teachers, (ii) police officers and (iii) social workers. 
Mr. Boateng: We are looking carefully at workforce planning for the new Probation Service. As part of this, we are taking part in reviews of structures for pay and grading and of employee care and work priorities. I do not believe a further review of hours and pay would be appropriate at present.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if participation in the Schengen information system by the United Kingdom will require the United Kingdom to opt into an agreement based on (a) Title IV of the Treaty of the European Community or (b) other European treaties. 
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Mrs. Roche: Participation by the United Kingdom in the Schengen Information System (SIS) will require the exercise of the United Kingdom's opt-in under Article 4 of the Protocol integrating the Schengen acquis into the framework of the European Union, annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam. The Government have submitted a request under this provision for participation in aspects of the Schengen acquis, including the SIS, and we are currently awaiting its approval. The SIS has been allocated to a legal base in the Treaty on European Union.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 6 April 2000, Official Report, column 596W, and his answer to the hon. Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Cunningham) of 27 March 2000, Official Report, columns 1-3W, and to the hon. Member for Elmet (Mr. Burgon) of 9 February 2000, Official Report, column 172W, what estimate he has made of the change in police numbers in England and Wales between April 2002 and March 2003 following his announcement that the extra recruits under the Crime Fighting Fund will be recruited over two years rather than three; what number of police officers he plans to recruit in England and Wales in the three years to March 2003; and what are his revised estimates of the total number of police officers in England and Wales over each of the next three years. 
Mr. Straw: The additional funding announced in the Budget will allow us to provide for completing the recruitment of the 5,000 officers allocated under the Crime Fighting Fund by March 2002. It will allow for the recruitment of at least 2,000 in 2000-01 and 3,000 (or the remainder) in 2001-02. This means that the theoretical projections of police numbers, based on forces' estimates for recruitment and wastage, for the next two years are as follows:
On the basis of projections made earlier this year alone, the theoretical figure for March 2003 would be 125,900, as cited in the reply given by the Minister of State, Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke) to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) on 15 March 2000, Official Report, columns 177-79W. Chief Officers projections were made on the basis of the Compensation Spending Review settlement which extends to 2001-02, but in the absence of any information about funding levels for the police service in 2002-03. Funding levels from 2002-03 onwards will be known only when the outcome of the 2000 Spending Review is announced in the summer, when more realistic projections can be made.
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