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Police IT

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedures are in place to ensure that information technology systems and software provided to police forces offer value for money; and if he will make a statement. [159695]

Mr. Charles Clarke: All information technology systems and software are acquired through procedures to ensure that they offer value for money.

Government and European procurement procedures ensure fair and open competition. Tenders are analysed to ensure that the bids represents value for money, and contracts are negotiated to ensure there is adequate protection provided to the Authority. Attention is paid to the selection of the right supplier and to working closely with the supplier through effective post contract

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management. Great care is taken through consultation with stakeholders to ensure that the requirement reflects their needs. Major projects are managed through a recognised project management procedure. This ensures user requirements and the original project brief are monitored and adhered to, so that the result delivers police needs and is value for money.

Special Advisers

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special advisers worked in his Department from 1997 to date. [160028]

Mr. Straw: I have two special advisers. Ed Owen has been in post since May 1997. Norman Warner, now Lord Warner of Brockley, held the second special adviser post from May 1997 until October 1998. His successor is Justin Russell.

Race Relations Act

Mr. Hope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what additional authorisations he has made under section 19D of the Race Relations Act 1976. [160122]

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Mrs. Roche: In the light of evidence about the particular risks posed to the effective operation of our immigration controls by some members of certain ethnic groups, I have made an authorisation permitting members of the Immigration Service to discriminate, where necessary, in the examination of passengers belonging to the following ethnic or national groups: Tamils, Kurds, Pontic Greeks, Roma, Somalis, Albanians, Afghans and ethnic Chinese presenting a Malaysian or Japanese passport or any other travel document issued by Malaysia or Japan.

The decision on a passenger's entitlement to enter the United Kingdom will continue to be taken on the merits of the case in accordance with the Immigration Rules. The authorisation simply allows the Immigration Service to prioritise and manage its resources effectively in undertaking examinations necessary in order to reach that decision.

The Race Monitor to be appointed under section 19E of the Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended) will report to Parliament via the Secretary of State on the likely effect of authorisations made by Ministers and on how they are operated in practice by officials.

A copy of the additional authorisation has been placed in the Library. Any future additional or amended authorisations will also be placed in the Library.