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Lynx Helicopters

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to convert further Lynx helicopters from Mark 3 to Mark 8 standard; and if he will make a statement. [23624]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 5 December 2001, Official Report, column 351W, to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws).

Aircrew Retention

Mr. Kevin Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the outcome of the comprehensive review of aircrew retention. [23809]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has conducted a Comprehensive Review of Aircrew Retention this summer. We sought to identify why we have a shortfall in this highly trained group of personnel and how that shortfall might best be addressed. A study team including representatives from the three Services, HM Treasury and external consultancy have reviewed aircrew requirements and have looked at employment patterns, career structures, training systems and remuneration as well as the recruitment and financial policies of the commercial sector.

The Working Group collated the views of over 1,000 aircrew (probably the largest such survey the armed forces has undertaken) as well as those of managers. They examined and identified why people leave service life, as well as the attraction of the commercial sector.

The main cause of the shortage of aircrew was a failure of the training system to deliver against challenging targets. That has already been addressed, but it will take time to deliver. We intend, therefore, further to improve the retention of our current aircrew.

17 Dec 2001 : Column: 75W

The Working Group identified a series of issues impacting on retention. Many of the quality of life issues emerging from the Review of Aircrew Retention were already being tackled. For example, the very significant programmes introduced to spend an additional £1 billion over the next 10 years on modernising single living accommodation and to spend £650 million by November 2005 on upgrading married quarters. We recognise that accommodation problems spread beyond housing and action is needed to address sub-standard working and technical accommodation as well. Senior service officers have also set in hand work to address a number of key concerns raised by aircrew—for example on operational tempo, career management, frequency of moves, and more. The impact of resolving these concerns will also be of benefit to personnel beyond the aircrew community. Some of the issues raised by aircrew are misperceptions, and to address this better communication is being developed across the services.

There are some remuneration aspects arising from the review and, as is usual, we have made proposals to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB). The outcome will be reported to the House in due course—probably early February.

We are monitoring closely developments in the commercial sector. But, even if the pull to the private sector decreases as a result of a contraction in the civil sector, we still have a responsibility to deal with the natural factors which cause personnel to leave, and which are preventing us reaching aircrew manning balance.


Antisocial Behaviour

13. Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to (a) assess and (b) publish the variation in applying for antisocial behaviour orders between different police forces. [21156]

Mr. Denham: Figures to 30 September this year show that 466 Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) have been issued. I am placing a copy of the force by force breakdown in the Library. I am pleased to say that 16 Antisocial Behaviour Orders have been issued to Lancashire Constabulary.

There are areas of good practice throughout England and Wales, but we are not complacent about the position. The White Paper on police reform, published on 5 December, makes it clear that the Government are seeking still more effective use of Antisocial Behaviour Orders.

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment he has made of the measures he has taken to encourage parents to take greater responsibility for the anti-social behaviour of their children. [21164]

Mr. Denham: We introduced the parenting order on 1 June 2000, and its progress is promising. We are also launching youth offender panels, linked to referral orders which have a key role for parents. We are taking a number of wider steps to support families and assist parenting.

17 Dec 2001 : Column: 76W

The White Paper on policing set out steps to encourage the use of Antisocial Behaviour Orders and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts.

23. Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the number of antisocial behaviour orders made in the last year in (a) Dyfed Powys and (b) Wales. [21127]

Mr. Denham: For the period 1 June 2000 to 30 September 2001, there were no Antisocial Behaviour Orders made in Dfyed-Powys. There were four made in total in Wales. Much more use has been made of Antisocial Behaviour Orders in other areas, a total of 466 in England and Wales.

25. Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many magistrates courts have used antisocial behaviour orders. [21129]

Mr. Denham: We now have information relating to the use of Antisocial Behaviour Orders in all magistrate court committee areas. I have placed the breakdown in the Library of the House: it shows that Orders are being used in 38 of the 42 Magistrates Court Committee Areas. As I said in response to a Question earlier from my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool South (Mr. Marsden), the White Paper "Policing a New Millennium" makes clear that we intend to take action to promote their use still more widely.

36. Mr. Pond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking to tackle persistent youth disorder. [21140]

Mr. Denham: The Government have introduced a range of measures to tackle disorder and antisocial behaviour. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduced crime and disorder partnerships, anti-social behaviour orders, child curfews and changes to the youth justice system. We have also introduced new community sentences for youth offenders including reparation orders, final warnings, child safety orders and parenting orders.

The White Paper "Policing the Next Century" proposes:

Active Citizenship

15. Mr. Rammell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to promote (a) community engagement and (b) active citizenship. [21158]

Mr. Blunkett: Community engagement and active citizenship are fundamental to the fabric of our society. I aim to ensure that they underpin all aspects of policy development in the Home Office and across Government.

Asylum System

16. Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to reform the asylum system. [21159]

17 Dec 2001 : Column: 77W

Angela Eagle: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced the steps being taken to reform the asylum system in his statement to the House on 29 October. We are determined radically to overhaul the asylum system.

Further details will be published in the forthcoming White Paper.

Police Pensions

17. Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to reform police pensions. [21160]

18. Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the funding of police pensions. [21162]

Mr. Denham: We are looking at ways of modernising police pensions to make them more flexible and affordable for future entrants and to reflect modern lifestyle patterns. The Government aim to complete this work as quickly as possible.

We are aware of police authorities' concern over the increasing burden of the funding of pensions. The Home Office and Treasury are reviewing the options for a revised system of funding which would give police authorities and chief officers greater certainty about pensions obligations on individual forces.

Special Constables

19. Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers to discuss funding for special constables. [21163]

Mr. Denham: The Home Secretary formally met the President of Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on Monday 3 December to discuss a range of matters in respect of the police reform programme.

The Government are committed to increasing the strength of Special Constabulary. We are considering a number of options for achieving substantial improvements in the conditions of service, management and deployment of Special Constables, to ensure that they are deployed effectively and provide an increased visible presence in our communities.

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