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C-Far, Okehampton

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken by his Department to provide funding for C-Far in Okehampton, Devon; and if he will make a statement. [35531]

Beverley Hughes: A payment of £150,000 from the Criminal Justice System Reserve for 2001–02 has been approved as a contribution to the continuing costs of the C-Far "Life Change" programme and will be paid before the end of March. C-Far have also made an application for a further £1.9 million from the Criminal Justice System Reserve in 2002–03. A decision on this application has been deferred pending receipt of an interim evaluation report from C-Far and resolution of outstanding concerns regarding a full, independent assessment of the programme's effectiveness in reducing re-offending. The national probation service and the Prison Service jointly have set aside £20,000 to assist with the cost of such an independent evaluation.

Prisoners (Mental Health)

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many and what proportion of prisoners are suffering from a psychotic illness; [35405]

Beverley Hughes: A survey of mental ill health in the prison population of England and Wales, undertaken in 1997 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed that some 10 per cent. of remanded men, 7 per cent. of sentenced men and 14 per cent. of all women prisoners had suffered from a functional psychosis in the past year. Applying these rates to the current population would indicate that, on any one day, there would be around 5,300 prisoners in custody who would have suffered from symptoms of a functional psychosis in the previous year.

The ONS survey also reported that only one in 10 prisoners or fewer showed no evidence of any of the five disorders considered in the survey (personality disorder, psychosis, neurosis, alcohol misuse, and drug

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dependence). That would indicate that, at any one time, upwards of 60,000 prisoners would have a mental health problem of some kind.

The information currently available from research studies does not allow us to form an assessment of the proportion of prisoners who may have developed a mental health problem or psychotic illness while in custody.

Videos (Legislation)

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if the Government will bring forward legislation to establish the Video Appeals Committee as a statutory body; [35728]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

Responsibility for taking forward these and other issues raised in the Government's consultation paper on R18 videos passed from the Home Office to this Department last year. We are assessing the responses to the consultation and will produce our response as soon as possible.

BBFC Guidelines

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Government will require the British Board of Film Classification to submit its classification guidelines for parliamentary approval. [35654]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

The BBFC is an independent body, and it would not be appropriate to submit its guidelines—which were subject to public consultation—for parliamentary approval.

Prison Escorts (Tachographs)

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what safeguards are in place to ensure that prison custody officers employed to drive prison cellular escort vehicles do not drive for longer than would be the case if they were driving other similar size vehicles covered by the tachograph regulations; [35011]

Mr. Jamieson: I have been asked to reply.

The fitting and use of tachographs is governed by European Union (EU) Regulations. Passenger carrying vehicles with fewer than 17 seats are exempt. Prison escort vehicles with between 10 and 17 seats are subject to the separate UK domestic drivers' hours legislation which sets maximum driving and duty limits.

The European Commission has put forward a proposal to change the existing EU Regulation, including the possible removal of the exemption for passenger vehicles with between 10 and 17 seats. The UK Government are

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currently consulting on this proposal. Any change to the existing EU law will require the agreement of the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

Escort contractors are expected to comply with all relevant provisions of Road Traffic Legislation in respect of drivers' hours and to maintain, and produce, for inspection by the appropriate authorities, such records as are required.

Criminal Justice System Business Plan

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to publish the criminal justice system business plan for 2002–03. [37485]

Mr. Blunkett: My noble and learned Friends the Attorney-General, the Lord Chancellor and I will today be publishing a Business Plan for the criminal justice system for England and Wales.

The plan describes the priorities for the coming year which the Government expect the criminal justice system as a whole to work to deliver.

Copies of the plan will be placed in the Library.

SCOTLAND

Departmental Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will commission and publish an independent report on the reasons for the level of sickness absence in her Department. [26965]

Mrs. Liddell: The Cabinet Office already commissions and publishes an independent annual report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service". This report includes details of the causes of absenteeism. The report for the year 2000 will be published shortly.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many days were lost due to sickness absence in the Department in each of the last four years. [21264]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office was established in its present form on 1 July 1999 and staff numbers have increased since that date.

Details of the number of days lost to sickness absence are shown in the table:

Number of days
1 July 1999–31 December 1999(44)299
2000442.5
2001 to 1 November 2001(44)727.5

(44) Part year


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when she expects to reply to the Question of 5 December, ref. 21264, from the hon. Member for Buckingham on sickness absence. [24752]

Mrs. Liddell: I replied to the hon. Member today.

Remuneration

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will estimate the number of individuals in her

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(a) Department, (b) related agencies and (c) related non- departmental public bodies whose annual remuneration including benefits in kind exceeded (i) £100,000 and (ii) £200,000 in each of the last four years. [26321]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office was established in its present form on 1 July 1999. My Department has one member of staff whose total remuneration exceeded £100,000 in 2000–01. No individuals have had annual remuneration in excess of £200,000.

Public Relations Consultants

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent by (a) his Department and (b) bodies for which it is responsible on external public relations consultants in each of the last four years. [27392]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office was established in its present form on 1 July 1999. The Department has had no expenditure on external public relations consultants.

Theft and Fraud

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what her estimate is of the cost of theft and fraud to (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies in each of the last four years. [27982]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office was established in its present form on 1 July 1999.

In 1999–2000 the cost of theft to the Department was estimated at £2,200. In 2000–01, the Department had no cases of theft or fraud reported.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what additional security measures are planned by her Department to deter and detect theft and fraud. [31793]

Mrs. Liddell: A wide range of security measures are in place to deter and detect theft and fraud. These are kept under review and additional measures are put in place as appropriate.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate her Department has made of the cost to its budget since 1 May 1997 of fraud; and if she will make a statement. [27292]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office was established in its present form on 1 July 1999. No cases of fraud have been reported since that date.


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