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Public Service Agreements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress

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toward the public service agreement target for promoting an inclusive society with equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for all. [16928]

Mr. Blunkett: The Government are committed to promoting and improving race equality in a number of ways and the promotion of race equality within the provision of services to the public is a key priority. In support of this priority, the Government are driving forward a programme of initiatives to provide a new legislative and administrative framework to deliver improvements to race equality in the public sector.

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 provided new laws for race equality and strengthened the Race Relations Act 1976, outlawing race discrimination in all public functions, with only limited exceptions. Orders laid before Parliament on 24 October extend the list of bodies to which the general duty applies and impose specific duties on key public bodies to ensure their better compliance with the general duty.

The Government will publish their third edition of Race Equality indicators on public services early next year. Race Equality in Public Services is an annual publication which brings together key performance management data from across the range of government departments. The basket of indicators included in the document will be used to measure progress in achieving race equality.

The first edition was published in March 2000, the second in February 2001. The third edition is due to be published in February/March 2002.

The Government believe that these measures provide a framework for increasing the representation of minority ethnic communities in public life.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress towards the public service agreement target for reducing staff sickness rates in his Department. [16917]

Mr. Blunkett: The Civil Service Sickness Absence Report 1998 recorded the Department's baseline figure as 10.4 working days. The Prison Service baseline figure is 13.9 days.

The Home Office and its agencies have introduced new guidelines, policies and procedures with a view to reducing sickness absence. The Department's Service Delivery Targets for April 2001 to March 2004, which include a target for sickness absence, were published on Friday, 3 November 2000 and are available on the Home Office website. The targets are to reduce sickness absence, and sustain this improvement thereafter in the:

The current sickness absence rate in the Home Office and its agencies (excluding the Prison Service) is 8.5 working days. In the Prison Service it is 13.7 working days.


Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many letters his Department received from right hon. and hon. Members between 20 June and 20 July. [18563]

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Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 3 December 2001]: Information on the volume of correspondence from Members of Parliament received by ministerial agency chief executives, and departments and agencies and performance in handling them is published annually by the Cabinet Office. The most recent report, covering 2000, was announced by the then Minister for the Cabinet Office on 6 April 2001, Official Report, column 325W. Between 20 June and 20 July, the volume of correspondence received in the Home Office from right hon. and hon. Members was 1,537.

Criminal Assets Recovery Agency

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost of the Criminal Assets Recovery Agency. [16909]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Our current estimate is that it will cost approximately £3 million to establish the Agency and that its annual running costs will be around £13 million, assuming around 100 staff. This estimate covers both the Agency's operational activities and the training and accreditation services which its centre of excellence will provide to other agencies. Based on current assumptions about caseloads and amounts available for recovery, the Government expect that the Agency's receipts will exceed its running costs.

The figures given above are subject to revision as our planning for the Agency develops. They do not take into account the possibility, currently under discussion, that the Agency should assume a major role in the enforcement of confiscation orders other than those that it has itself obtained.

European Arrest Warrant

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is his intention to use the powers proposed in the draft Council Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant; and if he will make a statement. [20146]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 3 December 2001]: Yes.

Magistrates Court

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many defendants who had pleaded guilty were sent by magistrates court for sentencing in a Crown court in each year since 1995. [20285]

Mr. Keith Bradley [holding answer 3 December 2001]: Information collected centrally by the Home Department does not include details on defendants' plea at magistrates courts.

D. I. John Redgrave

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cause of the Metropolitan Police's delay in making a substantive reply to the letter sent to them on 25 April by lawyers acting for D. I. John Redgrave, and which was addressed to Inspector E. Owsley of DPS; and what was the date of the despatch of the substantive reply. [19371]

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Mr. Denham [holding answer 3 December 2001]: I am informed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that a substantive reply was provided to lawyers acting for Detective Inspector John Redgrave on 5 November 2001.

The delay in providing this reply was caused by the need to seek legal advice on the complex issue involved. A change of solicitor dealing with the matter extended the time taken to receive the advice.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what rules apply to whether serving officers of M15 may belong to private security firms or associations made up of them. [19086]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 29 November 2001]: Serving officers of the Security Service may not join private security firms or associations of them, or engage in any other form of employment, without prior approval. The rules governing approval reflect those that apply to Civil Servants and take account of any potential conflict with the Service's interests and other matters such as the Working Time Regulations.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the Government's policy is on policing unsuitable material on the Internet; and what legislation is in place to enable it to do so. [19718]

Beverley Hughes: The Government's policy is that legislation should apply to illegal material online in the same way as it applies offline, and that legislation should be technology neutral. Legislation is kept under constant review to ensure it remains effective both offline and online.

The wider issue of unsuitable material on the Internet—material that is not illegal but is open to subjective interpretation, such as adult material—is one that the Government is addressing together with industry and industry bodies to ensure that consumers are able to manage their own Internet experience. Informed users can install Internet rating and filtering software on their computers and make choices between full Internet access and selective or 'walled garden' access. To help inform parents about these choices the Government have published a booklet "Keeping your child safe on the Internet". The advice is also available online at

Supporting Families

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which of the policy proposals set out in the document Supporting Families (a) have been implemented, (b) are timetabled to be implemented, (c) have no date for implementation and (d) have been abandoned. [19535]

Angela Eagle: I will write to my hon. Friend with a report on progress to date, copies of which will be placed in the Library.

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Anti-war March

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on how the Metropolitan Police calculated the number of demonstrators who took part in the anti-war march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square on 18 November. [19433]

Mr. Denham: The Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis informs me that it is established practice to use hand tally counters to determine numbers of people participating in marches in London. If the march enters Trafalgar Square crowd density measurements are used to reckon the numbers present.

On 18 November 2001 these methods identified 12,000 people leaving Hyde Park en route to Trafalgar Square and 15,000 people within Trafalgar Square.

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