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Prison Officers (Ethnic Minorities)

Mr. Neil Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of prison officers are from black and ethnic minorities; and what is the proportion of those employed in prisons operated by private companies. [14196]

Beverley Hughes: The Home Secretary's Race Equality Employment Targets Second Annual Report was published on 13 November. On 13 March 2001, minority ethnic staff made up 3.7 per cent. of the Prison Service's 43,800 staff and 2.6 per cent. of the operational work force. There were 18,720 prison officers of which 1.7 per cent. were black and 1.2 per cent. were from other minority ethnic backgrounds. There were also 1,456 Prison Custody Officers employed in privately operated prisons, of which 2.1 per cent. were black and 1.2 per cent. were from other minority ethnic backgrounds.

By 30 September 2001 the proportion of minority ethnic staff in the service's work force rose to 3.8 per cent.

Justice and Home Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the outcome was of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held in Brussels on 16 November; what the Government's policy was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [16531]

Angela Eagle: I, together with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and Jim Wallace, the Acting First Minister for Scotland, represented the United Kingdom at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels on 16 November.

A Points

The A points were approved as in document 13978/01 (a copy of which is in the Library), except for items 6 and 7, on which one member state maintained its parliamentary scrutiny reserve.

Framework Decision on a European Arrest Warrant

On scope, the Presidency sought agreement to its compromise proposal that the European arrest warrant should apply to a list of offences, with dual criminality abolished for such offences. The Commission proposed that sabotage, arson, hijacking and serious violation of international humanitarian law be added to the list of offences. The majority of member states agreed to this proposal.

There was broad agreement to a 60-day deadline, extendable by 30 days, within which surrender procedures should be completed in the executing state.

The draft Framework Decision will return to the December Justice and Home Affairs Councils for final consideration.

Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism

Provisional agreement was reached on Article 1 (terrorist intent) with some drafting changes. An addition on the right to demonstrate was added at the request of one member state. The Council agreed, after an intervention from the United Kingdom delegation, to

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return to the definition contained in the United Nations conventions on terrorism restricting the exemption for belligerents in armed conflicts to the armed forces.

With regard to penalties for terrorist offences, the Commission made a compromise proposal based on a range of penalties for these offences and one member state proposed alternative wording for Article 4.3. Further consideration will be given to these options.

There was no opposition to a Presidency proposal for optional extraterritorial jurisdiction. The Framework Decision will be resubmitted to the December Justice and Home Affairs Council for final consideration.

Debate on Implementation of the Tampere Conclusions

There was a general debate on the papers which the Presidency and the Commission had produced. The Home Secretary emphasised the United Kingdom's commitment to playing a strong role in operational action to combat illegal immigration at and beyond the external borders of the European Union. One member state advocated the creation of a European Union border forum, while others argued for the creation of a European union border service, and one favoured a feasibility study into the creation of a European Union border service.

The Home Secretary stressed the need for faster progress on the asylum agenda; there was little support for a standstill clause on national legislation and an open method of co-ordinating national policies on asylum.

The Home Secretary argued that European Union law enforcement bodies should be more effective and co-ordinated and, together with one other member state, stressed that the Police Chiefs' Task Force should be more focused on operational activity and more accountable to the Justice and Home Affairs Council. Four member states spoke in favour of clarifying the role of the Task Force and one noted proposals for an operational Europol. The Home Secretary noted that the European Union needed to step up European Union action against drugs.

My right hon. Friend Jim Wallace stressed the importance of mutual recognition in civil matters and the good record of co-operation between the legal systems of England and Wales and Scotland. The Home Secretary agreed that the United Kingdom continued to regard mutual recognition of judicial decisions as fundamental to judicial co-operation in both criminal and civil matters at European Union level.

Harmonisation of penalties

This item was postponed until the December Council.

Other Business

Schengen Information System

The Austrian delegation introduced its initiative on use of the Schengen Information System and the Schengen acquis to combat terrorism. This issue will be considered at the December Council.

European Judicial Atlas

Work had been completed on the European Judicial Atlas. This would assist judicial authorities in each member state to identify the appropriate authority to receive and carry out a request for legal assistance in another member state.

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Parenting Orders

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the cost to public funds in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02 of parenting orders. [17326]

Angela Eagle: The estimated cost of parenting orders in 2000–01 was £1,274,000 and we estimate the cost in 2001–02 will be £1,668,000.

Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which Hindu groups he has consulted on the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill. [17209]

Beverley Hughes: Ministers have spoken informally about the Bill with a number of leaders of faith communities, including a representative of the National Council of Hindu Temples United Kingdom. Officials also discussed the proposals in the Bill with two groups of faith community representatives who requested meetings—Muslims and Christians—and there are arrangements in place for continuing contact with faith groups of all kinds on matters of interest to them.


Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which countries have reciprocal extradition arrangements with the United Kingdom, and to which countries he is unable to (a) deport and (b) extradite on humanitarian grounds. [17767]

Angela Eagle: The United Kingdom has general extradition arrangements with the following countries.

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Whether and to what country a person may be extradited or deported will depend on the facts of the particular case.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) deportation orders and (b) extradition orders are subject to judicial review; how many have been subject to a judicial review in the past two years; how many reviews have been successful; what were the judicial rulings in each case; what was the time taken in each case; on how many occasions were successful reviews appealed by (i) his Department and (ii) those of his colleagues; how many of these appeals were successful; and what was the time taken in each case. [17768]

Angela Eagle: Seven decisions to order the surrender of a fugitive are currently the subject of judicial review applications. No such challenge to a surrender decision has succeeded in the past two years.

The information otherwise requested is not readily available and could be obtained, I regret, only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons (a) have been in the past year and (b) are subject of extradition proceedings; and from which countries. [17766]

Angela Eagle: Over the recent past, the United Kingdom has received an average of 100 requests per year from its many extradition partners. The arrest of a fugitive marks the start of extradition proceedings. 120 cases are currently the subject of such proceedings. There would have been a similar number over the past 12 months. Requesting jurisdictions in the current cases are as follows:

Requesting jurisdictionNumber of requests(23)
Czech Republic7
South Africa3

(23) The figures do not include requests from Ireland which are not collected centrally.

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