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Asylum Seekers

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why his Department is considering using the RAF Turnhouse site to build an accommodation centre for asylum seekers. [32517]

Angela Eagle: The Royal Air Force (RAF) Turnhouse site is one of eight potential sites presently under consideration for the building of trial accommodation centres for asylum seekers.

Criteria used for the selection of potential sites included; sites with the capacity to cater for several hundred residents plus facilities either as a new-build or conversion, and a reasonable geographical spread beyond the south-east of England.

Women Murderers

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the women convicted of murder who are the subject of applications to the Criminal Case Review Commission are still serving custodial sentences. [32502]

Mr. Keith Bradley: The Criminal Cases Review Commission does not collect routinely the statistics requested. However, the introduction of a new electronic database with effect from 1 April 2001 means the Commission can provide recent data. Of the 80 applications concerning offences of murder received from 1 April to 31 December 2001, five were from women. We are unable to say how many of these five are still in custody because of the disproportionate cost involved in obtaining this information.

Life Sentences

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what powers, and by what criteria he sets the tariff for persons serving life sentences. [33081]

Beverley Hughes: The Secretary of State sets tariffs only for adults convicted of murder. He does so under the discretionary powers presently contained in section 29 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997, and in accordance with the administrative arrangements set out in the written answer of 30 November 1983, Official Report, column 505, by the then Home Secretary, Mr. Leon Brittan, and a number of subsequent parliamentary statements.

In setting the tariff in a particular case the Secretary of State gives consideration to all the circumstances relating to the offence, any mitigating and aggravating factors, the recommendations made by the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice, and any relevant representations made about the case.

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Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in implementing the recommendations accepted in the Government response to the Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs report on cemeteries. [33653]

Beverley Hughes: The first meeting of the new advisory group was held in December 2001. A draft work plan to take forward work arising from the Committee's recommendations, some of which fall to other Government Departments and agencies, is now under consideration by group members.

The findings of a research project commissioned last year to provide information about the condition and management of cemeteries in England and Wales will be available shortly.

I understand that in December 2001 the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions jointly published "The Historic Environment: A Force for Our Future", reporting the Government's review of policies towards the historic environment.

I also understand that action has been taken by the Health and Safety Executive to address memorial safety and, together with English Heritage, the management of risks within the historic environment. English Heritage is planning to produce its guidance on the care and maintenance of historic cemeteries in April 2002.

Individual Learning Accounts

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people are (a) in custody and (b) on bail following charges connected with the fraudulent misuse of individual learning accounts; [33084]

Beverley Hughes: The information held centrally by my Department on fraud, whether relating to persons held in custody, arrested, or proceeded against, does not allow fraud in connection with individual learning accounts to be distinguished from other types of fraud, as the circumstances of each offence are not collected.

Immigration Appeals

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what instructions he has given to immigration staff about serving appeal decisions; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [27187]

Angela Eagle: The personal serving of appeals determinations is a new process and instructions to staff are constantly being refined in the light of operational experience. It is not advisable to publish these at present

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but arrangements will be made to place a copy in the Library once operational procedures have been fully evaluated and instructions finalised.

Asylum Accommodation Centres

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the criteria used to identify the eight sites for the proposed asylum accommodation centres. [31730]

Angela Eagle: Eight potential sites have so far been identified. The criteria used for their selection included: sites with the capacity to cater for several hundred residents plus facilities either as new-build or conversion and a reasonable geographical spread beyond the south east of England. The criteria for selection for the final sites has yet to be decided.

Racism and Xenophobia

Denzil Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has for implementing the EU Council Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia as it relates to (a) religion or belief and (b) national origin. [32836]

Angela Eagle: Negotiations on the European Commission's proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia are at a very early stage. The Government will consider proposals for implementing the framework decision once a final text has been agreed.


Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of the volume of (a) heroin and (b) cocaine imported into the United Kingdom in each of the past 10 years. [33029]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: On the basis of a study published last year we broadly estimate the size of the United Kingdom market as about 22 tonnes for cocaine and crack and 31 tonnes for heroin. Estimates for earlier years are not available.

Police Reform

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individual representations he has received from police officers about his White Paper on Police Reform. [26077]

Mr. Denham: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 5 February 2002 to the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Chidgey), Official Report, column 869W.

Witness Support Schemes

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals there are to (a) publicise the work of witness support schemes and (b) secure recruits for them locally. [32683]

Mr. Keith Bradley: All victims of reported crime are given or sent the "Victims of Crime" leaflet. This includes information about the Witness Service. Those called to appear as witnesses are sent the "Witness in Court"

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leaflet, which provides a variety of useful information, including details of the Witness Service and contact information.

The Witness Service is provided through the organisation Victim Support. The Home Office grant to Victim Support in the current financial year is £25 million, an increase of £6 million on last year's figure. The extra money has enabled Victim Support to replicate in magistrates' courts the witness support services they already provide in the Crown court. Local victim support schemes publicise their work and recruit volunteers in a variety of ways.



Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what systems are in place for monitoring complaints from members of the public about the service provided by her Department; and if she will make a statement. [30849]

Ms Rosie Winterton: There are various arrangements for dealing with and monitoring time to deal with complaints in different parts of the Department. These involve a range of time limits and targets. For example, complaints about the service provided by the Lord Chancellor's Department Headquarters are recorded and monitored by the Departmental Correspondence Unit which aims to deal fully with complaints within 20 working days. The Public Record Office and HM Land Registry aim to respond to complaints within 10 working days and five working days respectively. In the Court Service, written customer complaints are recorded by civil courts on the Business Management System and records are kept of those dealt with by Crown courts and at regional offices, and also by Court Service Headquarters. However, from April 2002 a computerised system will be introduced for all courts, regional offices and Court Service Headquarters to record and analyse all complaints from court users. This will include verbal, telephone and e-mail complaints, as well as those in writing.

Details about the complaints procedures produced by the Lord Chancellor's departments and agencies are published on the relevant websites. The procedures make it clear that complainants who are not satisfied with the response they receive can ask for the matter to be reviewed. If the complainant remains dissatisfied following the review then he or she may ask his or her Member of Parliament to raise the matter with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.

The judiciary are of course independent of the Department but the Lord Chancellor, as head of the judiciary, is responsible for investigating complaints about the personal conduct of Judges. He cannot consider complaints about judicial decisions. As a general rule he will investigate any complaint that a member of the judiciary has behaved in a way that falls short of the standards that both he and the public expects.

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