23 May 2000 : Column: 395W
Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to reform the law relating to involuntary manslaughter, and in particular corporate manslaughter; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: I have today issued a consultation document containing the Government's proposals on how the law on involuntary manslaughter might be reformed. The paper accepts and builds on the Law Commission's proposals contained in their report number 237, "Legislating the Criminal Code: Involuntary Manslaughter".
This is an important document dealing with a complex area of the law, but one which most commentators accept is in need of reform. The Government are deeply indebted to the Law Commission, not only for the detailed consideration they gave to this subject in their report number 237, but for their continuing help by participating in the inter-departmental working group we set up to consider their proposals.
The consultation document concentrates on those areas of the Law Commission's proposals which are more contentious or where, for the reasons set out in the document, we have taken a different view from the Law Commission. In a number of areas we have not come to any conclusion but are seeking comments on possible options.
We wish to clarify and rationalise the existing law relating to individual involuntary homicide and we agree with the Law Commission that the law relating to corporate liability for involuntary manslaughter is in need of radical reform. Our proposals in this respect raise important and difficult issues of policy, principle and practice.
Mr. Straw: My right hon. and noble Friends the Attorney-General, Lord Williams of Mostyn QC, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, and I will today be publishing jointly a Business Plan for the criminal justice system in England and Wales 2000-01.
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Mr. Pond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will announce the results of the consultation process on the design of a pilot study for financial bonds for visitors under sections 16 and 17 of the Immigration and Asylum Act. 
Mrs. Roche: I have today placed in the Library a detailed analysis of responses to our recent consultation paper on bonds for visitors, together with an analysis of responses to this proposal in the 1998 White Paper on Immigration and Asylum. I am grateful to all those who responded to our consultation document. We have taken full account of their views, and of the many other representations made to us, in considering how the pilot study should run.
The pilot study on financial bonds will begin in October at two posts overseas, Manila and Casablanca. It will run for six months, followed by a further six months to monitor departure from the United Kingdom, and a further brief period for analysis of the results.
The scheme is intended to enable more people to visit the United Kingdom by providing an additional facility to prospective visitors in borderline cases where their intention to return is in doubt. It will enable a British Citizen or overseas national settled in the United Kingdom who is a family member to provide a financial bond, in the form of a cash payment in advance, as an additional guarantee that the visitor will leave the United Kingdom at the end of their stay. The scheme will be open only to those seeking to visit close family members in the United Kingdom. The amount of the bond will be set at £3,000. The bond will be returned when the visitor leaves the United Kingdom.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The cloning of a pet animal would not be a permissible purpose under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 which the Home Office operates. There are, therefore, no guidelines for the use of DNA from companion animals for cloning purposes.
23 May 2000 : Column: 397W
Mr. Boateng: Prison education is contracted out. The Prison Service purchases and measures education in terms of teaching hours rather than numbers of teaching staff. The number of teaching hours purchased in each of the last five years is given in the table.
|Financial year||Teaching hours bought|
Mr. Boateng: Educational publications for prisoners, such as books or periodicals, can either be left at reception, brought in on visits or sent in by post. These would be checked by prison staff before being passed on to the prisoner.
The governor of each establishment has the discretion to restrict the handing or sending in of any item of property. If the governor of an establishment restricts the handing or sending in of property which prisoners may normally have in their possession, facilities will be made available for prisoners to purchase these items either through the prison shop or through approved mail order arrangements by using their private cash and/or earnings.
Mr. Boateng: The education department at Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution is run by Amersham and Wycombe College, which is expected to deliver 16,000 hours of education classes in the current financial year. Prisoners who are employed on a full-time basis have access to two hours education per week, and those in part-time employment for approximately 12 and a half hours per week. A wide range of courses is available and prisoners' individual needs are identified as part of their sentence plan.
Mr. Boateng: As at 3 April 2000, a total of 383 prisoners in England and Wales were registered on Open University distance-learning courses. Of these, 139 have not previously studied with the Open University.
The majority of prisoners undertaking distance-learning courses pay for their courses through mixed funding arrangements, including self funding and charitable funding. Information on the number of prisoners who undertake distance-learning courses entirely at their own cost is not held centrally.
23 May 2000 : Column: 398W
Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent on educational facilities in prisons and other custodial institutions in each of the last five years. 
However, funds from the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) have been made available to prison establishments to spend mainly on enhancing basic and key skills through, for example, extending education contracts, improvements to prisoners' basic pay to encourage them to participate in basic education, training Prison Service staff as basic skill support tutors and developing imaginative integrated basic skills tuition. Some of this money will also be invested in enhancing educational facilities. The table gives a breakdown of these funds provided to each prison establishment over the three year period covered by the CSR.
|East Sutton Park||5,352||8,736||8,964|
|Mersey and Manchester|
|High Security Prisons|
|Wales and West|
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Mr. Boateng: It is not possible to identify separately the education provision for sex offenders. The Prison Service aims to provide them with similar education facilities to other prisoners. However, where sex offenders have to be segregated for their own protection pending allocation to a prison which offers suitable training facilities for them, safety considerations may limit their access to education.
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