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Liquor Licensing Reform

20. Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what conclusions he has drawn from the consultation on the Government's liquor licensing reform White Paper. [151722]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is presently considering the responses we have received to the White Paper. He hopes to announce his final decisions on the way forward very soon. We have been pleased by the level of support for the proposed modernisation of the system.

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34. Ms Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received regarding proposals to reform licensing hours in England and Wales. [151736]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The White Paper "Time for Reform: the Modernisation of our Licensing Laws" (Cm 4696), published on 10 April 2000, included a proposal to introduce flexible opening hours to minimise public disorder resulting from fixed closing times, subject to consideration of the impact on local residents. Of the 420 responses which commented specifically on licensing hours, 56 per cent. were in favour of this proposal.


21. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the take-up of funding under the Government's scheme for supporting local CCTV systems since its inception. [151723]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Under the crime reduction programme closed circuit television (CCTV) initiative, more than £64 million has so far been allocated to crime and disorder reduction partnerships to help set up, extend or improve over 350 CCTV schemes in England and Wales.

Further initial funding applications submitted by partnerships under the second round of the CCTV initiative are currently under assessment. We expect to advise partnerships of the outcome of the applications very shortly.

Immigration and Asylum

23. Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers are being held in detention under provisions of immigration law. [151725]

Mrs. Roche: The most recent information relates to the number of people detained under the Immigration Act 1971 as at 31 January 2001. At that date a total of 1,334 people were recorded as detained.

Current information on people detained who have claimed asylum is not available and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

31. Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the detention centre rules 2001 will apply to all asylum seekers subject to detention. [151733]

Mrs. Roche: Detention centre rules 2001 apply to all those detainees accommodated in dedicated immigration detention centres. Persons detained in Prison Service establishments are governed by prison rules.

35. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) illegal immigrants and (b) asylum seekers have been (i) refused asylum and (ii) deported since 1 January. [151737]

Mrs. Roche: In January 2001, 485 people were removed from the United Kingdom following illegal entry action. Of this number, 255 had sought asylum at some point.

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The number of initial decisions to refuse asylum and exceptional leave to remain taken in January 2001 was 10,935. The total number of unsuccessful asylum seekers removed in January 2001 was 635.

Information on the number of illegal immigrants refused asylum is not readily available and could be produced only by examination of individual case files at disproportionate cost.

I regret that data for February are not yet available. Figures given in this reply are provisional and have been rounded to the nearest five.

Persistent Young Offenders

24. Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to deal with persistent young offenders. [151726]

Mr. Charles Clarke: As part of their youth justice reforms, the Government have introduced a range of new and improved community and custodial sentences to improve the options available to the courts. Most recently, we have introduced curfew orders for 10 to 15-year-olds. Work also continues to deliver the youth justice pledge, halving the arrest to sentence time for persistent young offenders. We have already cut nearly 50 days from the 1996 average. This year we will be introducing new intensive supervision and surveillance programmes, targeting the 2,500 most persistent young offenders in the community each year. In the Criminal Justice and Police Bill, we have proposed extending the juvenile secure remand criteria to include those with a recent history of repeatedly committing imprisonable offences while on bail or in local authority accommodation. We have also proposed electronic monitoring to supplement supervised bail.

Electoral Fraud

25. Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the means of preventing electoral fraud relating to false claims of residence for voting purposes. [151727]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Electoral registration officers have a duty to ensure that their registers are accurate. They are entitled to investigate any claims for registration which they consider may be fraudulent and can remove names from the register if they have information which suggests that a person is not resident at the registered address. I am confident that electoral registration officers carry out their duties thoroughly and diligently.

Metropolitan Police (Recruitment)

26. Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to increase the recruitment of black people and ethnic minorities in the Metropolitan police service. [151728]

Mr. Charles Clarke: In 1999, my right hon. Friend published "Dismantling Barriers", which set all forces targets and an action plan for the recruitment, retention and progression of minority ethnic officers. The Metropolitan police's target is for 25 per cent. of its officers to be from minority ethnic communities by 2009. The force has established a positive action team to take

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forward "Dismantling Barriers" through a range of initiatives which include the appointment of trained local recruiters with particular responsibility for minority ethnic recruitment; a programme to provide support to members of minority ethnic people who wish to join the police service; and a project to increase the number of minority ethnic graduate police officers.


27. Mr. Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Government plan to hold a referendum on the voting system for elections to the House. [151729]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government remain committed to holding a referendum on the voting system, but no decisions have been made as to its timing, or the question to be asked.

28. Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the arrangements his Department makes for administering referendums. [151730]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Section 128 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 provides that the chairman of the Electoral Commission (or a person appointed by him) is to be the chief counting officer in any national or regional referendum to which part VII of the Act applies (save in the case of a referendum held in Northern Ireland only where the chief electoral officer is designated chief counting officer). It will be for the chief counting officer and the Electoral Commission to oversee the conduct of a referendum poll in accordance with an order made under section 129 of the Act.

Police Morale

29. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the state of police morale. [151731]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) on 11 December 2000, Official Report, column 65W.

By 2003-04, funding for policing will have risen by almost £1.6 billion against the provision for this year, which is a rise of nearly 21 per cent. in cash terms and 11.8 per cent. in real terms. The crime fighting fund will enable police forces to recruit 9,000 police officers over and above the number previously planned in the three years 2000-01 to 2002-03, with the aim of bringing numbers overall to record levels.

By 30 September 2000, police strength was up 444 compared with strength at 31 March 2000. The number of police recruits starting their initial residential training in the period April 2000 to February 2001 (6,096) was up 72 per cent. on the same period in the previous financial year.

Non-Custodial Sentences

30. Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to strengthen public confidence in non-custodial sentences. [151732]

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Mr. Boateng: It is vital that both the public and sentencers have confidence in non-custodial penalties. The following measures have been taken to achieve this aim:

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