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English Language

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the population is fluent in the English language. [34673]

Mr. Healey [holding answer 8 February 2002]: I have been asked to reply.

We have no reliable data regarding the proportion of the population who are fluent in the English language. Research undertaken by the Institute of Education and MORI in 1995 for the Basic Skills Agency suggested that around 450,000 people living in the UK, whose first language is not English, have little command of the English language. However, more recent research indicates that the figure could easily be twice this amount. Later this year, we will be conducting a survey of literacy, language and numeracy needs in England as part of our "Skills for Life" strategy to improve adult basic skills. This will provide a more accurate and current assessment of the extent of English language need.

Teacher Vacancies

Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which 10 education authorities have (a) the highest and (b) the lowest number of teacher vacancies; what the numbers of teachers involved are; and whether she is taking steps to remove the inequality. [36910]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

The 10 local education authorities in England that reported the highest number of teacher vacancies 1 for maintained nursery, primary, secondary and special schools in January 2001, and their number of vacancies, were as follows:

Education authorities
Tower Hamlets157

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Ten local education authorities reported no teacher vacancies. They were as follows:

In 2001–02, the Government made £33 million available to fund local teacher recruitment and retention initiatives. Almost 80 per cent. of those funds went to schools in London and the South East. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently announced a further £44 million for 2002–03. More than 3,500 teachers will also receive assistance to purchase homes in areas of high price or demand as part of the Government's £250 million Starter Homes Initiative. 2,890 of these teachers will be in London and the South East. My right hon. Friend has also proposed to accept the School Teacher's Review Body's recommendation to award a fourth successive above-inflation pay increase for all teachers from 1 April 2002.

Refugee Accommodation

Mr. Peter Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his oral statement of 7 February 2002, Official Report, columns 1027–29, on nationality, immigration and asylum, if he will make a statement on the future of other providers of accommodation for refugees. [35559]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 12 February 2002]: The trial of accommodation centres is expected to provide for 3,000 places. Asylum seekers requiring accommodation who are not offered a place in one of the accommodation centres will be dispersed in line with current policies. National Asylum Support Service (NASS) will continue to work with its existing contractors to provide accommodation in these circumstances.

National Asylum Support Service

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much it cost to run the National Asylum Support Service in 2001. [35995]

Angela Eagle: The information is not available in the format requested. For the financial year 2001–02 National Asylum Support Service (NASS) has been allocated

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£17.8 million 1 to cover pay and related administration costs and £22.1 million 1 for grants to voluntary organisations working with asylum seeker.

Electronic Tagging

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women were electronically tagged in England and Wales as at 1 February. [35998]

Beverley Hughes: 59,509 people have been electronically tagged in England and Wales between the start of the current electronic monitoring contracts on 28 January 1999 and 1 February 2002. Of these 53,764 were male and 5,745 were female. On 1 February 2002, a total of 3,391 persons were still being monitored. Of these 3,073 were male and 318 were female.

Prison Officers (Suspension)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prison officer in England and Wales are suspended from duty because of allegations of cruelty to prison inmates; and what is the average period of time these officers have been suspended for. [35997]

Beverley Hughes: There are currently 29 prison officers suspended for this reason. The average length of time they have been suspended is 7.25 months.

Suspects (Mental Illness)

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provision exists in (a) England and Wales and (b) Devon, for police and social services to liaise on matters concerning suspects suffering from mental illness. [16685]

Mr. Denham: Under the Codes of Practice issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, when a suspect who is suffering from a mental illness is in police custody the custody officer must, as soon as practicable, inform the appropriate adult of the grounds for detention and his whereabouts and ask the adult to come to the police station to see the person. An appropriate adult includes someone who has experience of dealing with mentally disordered or mentally handicapped people, such as an approved social worker as defined by the Mental Health Act 1983 or a specialised social worker.

Where a person has been detained at a police station under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 an approved social worker and a registered medical practitioner shall be called to the police station as soon as possible in order to interview and examine the person. The person should not be released until he has been seen by both the approved social worker and the registered medical practitioner.

I am informed by the chief constable that in Devon and Cornwall there is formal multi-agency policy, containing practice and procedural guidelines, which addresses issues relating to arrest, detention, assessment and care plan arrangements under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Local mental health issues, ranging from resources to specific care management reviews are addressed through four locally based multi-agency "Mentally Disordered

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Offender (MDO)" groups. A county level Multi-Agency Public Protection Panel (MAPPP) provides for a multi- agency problem solving approach to the management of high risk and potentially dangerous mentally disordered persons. These are linked to a Peninsula (Devon and Cornwall) Criminal Justice Strategies Group.

Informal case review meetings may be called at short notice by any of the representative bodies on the MDO groups when an actual or potential case management problem is identified. Such meetings allow for joint agency agreement on appropriate early intervention and, if necessary, referral to an MDO group or MAPPP.

Formal multi-agency information exchange protocols are still being developed for lower risk patients, but the Devon Approved Social Worker (out of hours) Service ensures that Devon and Cornwall police officers have 24 hour access to professional, informed advice on any known individual if required.

European Arrest Warrant

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes in the text of the European arrest warrant have been made since it was debated in the House; and if he will place the new text in the Library. [36042]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: On 10 December 2001 European Standing Committee B held a debate on the basis of document 13425–01, COPEN 65, which at the time was the latest available full English text of the Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant. The current text, which reflects discussions at the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council on 6–7 December, is numbered 14867/1/01, COPEN 79 REV 1. This version contains a number of changes. In addition to the revised wording of Article 5(1) concerning guarantees to be given for requests based on convictions in absentia, the most significant changes concern scope (Article 2) and time limits (Article 17).

The current text and Explanatory Memorandum were deposited in Parliament by the Home Office on 11 December 2001. As a matter of procedure copies of all deposited texts are sent to the House of Commons Library as well as to the Commons European Scrutiny Committee. Version 14867/1/01, COPEN 79 REV 1 was considered by the Committee and cleared from scrutiny on 12 December.

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