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Immigration and Nationality Directorate,


Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the performance of the 24-hour turnaround postal service for urgent straightforward cases announced in October 1997 for third party users of the IND office in Croydon. [42496]

Angela Eagle: The 24-hour turnaround postal service has been subject to regular quarterly reviews since its implementation in 1997. There have been regular user group meetings at which members of the Immigration and Legal Practitioners Association have attended along with a number of the existing users. Both postal recommendations from users and those raised at the user group meetings have been incorporated in subsequent reviews of the service. Any appropriate changes made are intended to reflect the views and wishes of the majority of the existing users.

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many third party users have taken advantage of the 24-hour turnaround postal service for urgent straightforward cases for third party users of the IND office in Croydon. [42497]

Angela Eagle: The 24-hour turnaround postal service operated by the Public Enquiry Office (PEO) of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) based in Croydon currently has 235 registered users of the service.

Illegal Immigrants

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with the French authorities about illegal immigrants invading Eurotunnel property; and if he will make a statement. [43032]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 14 March 2002]: Illegal immigration through the channel tunnel is a problem shared by France and the United Kingdom (UK) and we are working closely to prevent unauthorised access both to the tunnel and its surrounding areas.

There have been no large-scale invasions into the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles since December 2001 but a number of incursions have recently been made into SNCF's adjoining rail freight yard at Frethun. The Government is extremely concerned about problems over security at the Frethun terminal and the effect this is having on freight traffic and UK businesses and trade.

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My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and the Home Secretary have all raised the problems at Frethun with their French opposite numbers. The French Government have now given a commitment rapidly to increase police presence at the Frethun site. For their part, the SNCF have embarked on a programme for improving security, representing an investment of £3 million, which includes new higher perimeter fencing with anti-intrusion devices, infra-red barriers, surveillance cameras, additional floodlights and a new surveillance post. These improvements aim to provide a similar level of security to that already put in place at the Eurotunnel site following earlier discussions. Joint work on the situation in Northern France and its underlying causes continues at both Ministerial and official level.

Public Figures (Protection)

Denzil Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate has been made of the total annual cost to the EU Budget of establishing a European network for the protection of public figures as proposed by the Kingdom of Spain in a draft decision (Brussels 29 January 2002) (S361/02). [42493]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Spanish Presidency proposal for a council decision on a European Network for the Protection of Public Figures was not accompanied by a financial statement setting out the expected costs. Our own provisional assessment is that the proposal is unlikely to attract significant additional costs. Negotiations on the council decision are at an early stage and we do not expect the proposal to be discussed by Ministers before June 2002. The financial implications will be among the issues addressed by the United Kingdom delegation in the course of negotiations.

Internet (Racist Material)

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further measures he is taking to prevent racist content on the internet. [42661]

Angela Eagle: The Government continue to apply the principle that the law should be applied to criminal material on-line as it is to material off-line. The Government condemn those who produce race hate material including those who seek to distribute this material via the internet. The Public Order Act 1986 already deals with a range of material, which is threatening, abusive or insulting and intended or likely to stir up racial hatred and can be applied to material on the internet that falls within our jurisdiction. The Government have strengthened the provisions of the 1986 Act in amendments made by the Anti-terrorism, Crime & Security Act 2001. This means the maximum penalty for those inciting racial hatred has risen from two to seven years' imprisonment. It is also now an offence to incite racial hatred against a racial group abroad. We have asked the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to work together to pool knowledge and experience in the investigation and prosecution of race hate material.

The Government are working in conjunction with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) who provide a hotline for members of the public who wish to complain about racially inflammatory material they come across on the

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internet. If the material is potentially criminal the IWF will ask a British internet service provider to remove the material hosted by them.

The nature of the internet means that individual countries cannot counter this problem in isolation. That is why the United Kingdom is actively involved in discussions in the Council of Europe on a draft protocol to the Cybercrime Convention dealing with racist material on computer networks. The draft protocol, which is being considered by the Council of Europe states with the participation of the United States of America, Canada, Japan and South Africa, is designed to provide more effective judicial cooperation on racially inflammatory material between signatories to the protocol.

The United Kingdom is also involved in negotiations with our European Union partners on a draft framework decision on racism and xenophobia. The framework decision seeks to provide definitions of criminal racist offences and common penalties and includes draft provisions relating to racist material on the internet originating or hosted in an European Union country.

Anne Robinson

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost was to public funds of police protection for Ms Anne Robinson in Cirencester on 16 February; whether this cost was repayable by (a) Ms Robinson and (b) those who had invited her to Cirencester; and whether (i) Ms Robinson and (ii) those who invited her have offered to repay this cost. [40326]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 4 March 2002]: I understand from the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire that no specific request was made for police protection by Ms Anne Robinson or the organisers of the pro-hunting event that she attended in Cirencester on 16 February 2002. Gloucestershire police assigned a number of police officers to the event. Gloucestershire Police do not intend to claim costs from either Ms Robinson or the organisers of the event.


Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list contracts awarded by his Department to Capita since 1997, including (a) start and finish date of contract, (b) value of contract, (c) description of work to be carried out, (d) evaluation mechanism for successful delivery of contract, (e) penalty charges for failure to deliver and (f) if penalty charges have been incurred; and if he will make a statement. [40487]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 5 March 2002]: The Home Department has four contracts with Capita which are valued at £403 million. This includes a 10 year contract with the Criminal Records Bureau which is estimated to be worth £400 million over the term of the contract.


Civil Servants

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what was the (a) percentage and

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number of rail journeys undertaken on first class tickets, (b) average cost of a first class journey by rail and (c) total cost of rail travel in each of the past four years broken down by grade of civil servant. [37497]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The percentage number and average cost of first class rail travel undertaken in my Department in each of the past four years is as follows:

Percentage first classNumber of rail journeysAverage cost per ticket £
January to December 20018025,156135
January to December 20007623,132125
January to December 19997427,21195
August to December 1998761,715117

Information prior to contract start date 1 August 1998 is not available due to different systems in operation.

The total cost of rail travel broken down by grade of civil servant could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental staff have a responsibility to give due consideration to cost when planning any official travel and extensive guidance is provided on how to get the best

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out of official travel. This guidance covers items such as method of travel, environmental impact and effective use of time.

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