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Young Offenders (Community Orders)

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many community orders relating to young offenders have been (a) breached and (b) revoked since 1 April 2000; and if he will make a statement. [2360]

Beverley Hughes: 40,853 community orders were imposed between April 2000 and March 2001. Of these, 11,760 were breached, the order revoked and the offender resentenced.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to require Youth Offending Teams to collect data for breaches and revocations of the different types of community order made against young offenders. [2359]

Beverley Hughes: The Youth Justice Board is currently in the process of revising its data collection methods. It will shortly be requiring Youth Offending Teams to record breaches for certain types of community orders made against young offenders.

Prisons

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on private companies providing remunerated work-based prison regimes within the prison estate; and if he will make a statement [2120]

Beverley Hughes: The Prison Service is keen to work with outside contractors to provide increased and better quality employment opportunities for prisoners, where local circumstances permit. However, the primary aim of regimes for prisoners is to address their offending behaviour and improve their employability so as to reduce the risk that they will re-offend on release. It is important that regimes provide a mix of offending behaviour, drugs treatment and educational programmes and resettlement activities as well as work and vocational training.

The private sector was originally introduced into prison management because of the possible benefits of cost and speed of delivery but also the prospect of improvements in the quality of prison conditions. Where a prison is under private sector management, the contract requires employment and other purposeful activity to be provided and specifies the level of provision.

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Coroners Courts

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans for the reform of coroners courts. [1729]

Beverley Hughes: We are keen to ensure that coroners can provide a modern, effective, service. A fundamental review of the coroner arrangements was accordingly announced in January, with terms of reference published in March. An announcement about the names of the chair and review members is expected to be made shortly.

The review will address the coroner system both in England and Wales and in Northern Ireland, and will consider recommendations for changes to death certification procedures and the arrangements needed for the investigation of suspicious and unnatural deaths. I expect the review to report towards the end of next year.

Correspondence

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the hon. Member for Walsall, North will receive a reply to his letter of 19 April regarding a constituent, ref. G2793286, PO4790/01. [1096]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 28 June 2001]: My noble Friend Lord Rooker replied to my hon. Friend on 26 June. I am very sorry for the delay in replying.

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter addressed to his predecessor on 2 April by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Shazia Azhar Alvi. [802]

Mr. Blunkett: My officials wrote to my right hon. Friend on 20 June about this case and I will reply to him shortly.

Immigration and Asylum

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the quality of statistics available to him on immigration and asylum. [2093]

Angela Eagle: Statistics on immigration and asylum are based on administrative sources and their quality is benefiting from the improvements and developments that have been made to the administrative systems over the past year. Further improvements in quality and scope are expected. The data produced monthly shortly after the end of the reference period are subject to quality improvement and revision prior to publication in biennial and annual statistical publications to take account of the delayed reporting of data and data cleansing work.

Immigration and asylum statistics are published in a Command Paper and a number of regular statistical bulletins covering general immigration, asylum, and citizenship. All these publications form part of the National Statistics and as such are produced to professional standards set out in a Code of Practice. The formal assessment of data quality is incorporated in the cycle of reviews under the National Statistics Work Programme.

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SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Coram Foundation

39. Mr. Steen: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on her policy relating to the Coram family, with special reference to plans to display its works of art and other memorabilia. [912]

The Solicitor-General: I must emphasise at the outset that I am required to act in this matter as protector of charity. Indeed, it would be improper for me to take into account any consideration other than what is in the best interests of charity.

The Thomas Coram Foundation is a child care charity—its objects are broadly the support and maintenance of poor children. My predecessor intervened, as he was required to do, to ensure that any plans for the Hogarth paintings and other heritage assets which belong to the foundation are consistent with charity law. Essentially, the assets must be applied for the purpose of benefiting the charitable objects of the foundation, that is to say for child care purposes.

I sympathise with the position of the Governors and Coram and am anxious to assist them to find a solution which is in the best interests of the charity.

So the Attorney-General will be discussing this, among other issues, with the Charity Commissioners and will meet the Governors of Coram to discuss it with them.

Criminal Justice (Terrorism and

Conspiracy) Act

40. Mr. Heath: To ask the Solicitor-General on how many occasions the Attorney-General has been asked to consider prosecutions under section 5 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998; and on how many occasions he has not consented to such prosecutions. [913]

The Solicitor-General: As the hon. Gentleman knows, section 5 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998 relates to legislation governing the possible indictment in the UK of individuals who are conspiring to commit offences abroad.

So far the Attorney-General has given his consent to the prosecution of two individuals involved in a conspiracy to facilitate the entry of illegal immigrants into the United States of America and the United Kingdom. There were eight defendants involved in the conspiracy and all were successfully prosecuted.

There have been no other applications for the Attorney-General's consent under this provision.

Human Rights Act

41. Mr. Paterson: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the Crown Prosecution Service. [914]

The Solicitor-General: The Human Rights Act 1998 has undoubtedly affected all aspects of the work undertaken by the Crown Prosecution Service. This was anticipated from a very early stage and a high priority was given to ensuring that the CPS was well prepared for the implementation of the Act on 2 October 2000.

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An intensive training programme for prosecutors and selected caseworkers was undertaken before 2 October 2000. Follow-up training is still being undertaken. The quality and intensity of the training has meant that cases giving rise to human rights issues have been dealt with in a professional and effective manner. CPS areas have reported that prosecutors are using convention arguments with greater confidence than ever before.

The Human Rights Act has meant that the courts are considering many new arguments. A number of cases raising human rights points have already been decided by the appeal courts. Fast tracking of cases has enabled cases that have an impact on the criminal justice system as a whole to be heard quickly by the appeal courts. This has assisted in ensuring that blockages in the criminal justice system have not developed.

Crown Prosecution Service

42. Mr. Dhanda: To ask the Solicitor-General what policies she has for tackling racism and promoting equality in the Crown Prosecution Service. [916]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service is committed to ensuring that it does not discriminate as an employer or as a prosecutor.

The CPS has undertaken a series of initiatives to address discrimination and change the culture of the organisation. An Equality and Diversity Unit has been established to ensure that the CPS equality statement is implemented. A training programme in equality and diversity, with emphasis on racial equality, is under way and by March 2002 all staff will be trained.

A new range of initiatives undertaken by the CPS internally include a "dignity at work" campaign, aimed at ensuring that cultural diversity is valued. The CPS has developed positive action training for minority ethnic staff in areas where they are under-represented. The CPS is also seeking to engage with local minority ethnic communities and leaflets in 12 languages explaining the work of the CPS have been distributed. New guidance has also been provided to prosecutors on their responsibilities under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

The CPS is also examining the findings of the Denman report into race discrimination in the CPS. The CPS hopes to co-ordinate a response to the Denman report together with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) report into the CPS Croydon branch.

43. Mr. Dismore: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on progress of the inquiry by Ms Denman into racism in the Crown Prosecution Service. [917]

The Solicitor-General: Sylvia Denman has recently completed her inquiry and her report has been delivered to the Crown Prosecution Service. It is hoped to co-ordinate publication of the report together with the findings of the Commission for Racial Equality in relation to their investigation of the CPS Croydon branch. This would enable the Crown Prosecution Service to take a coherent and comprehensive approach to its race equality work.

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