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Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many findings there have been of maladministration by ombudsmen with responsibility for agencies under the remit of his Department since 1997. [56302]

Angela Eagle: Information on the handling of complaints is set out in tabular form by the Parliamentary Ombudsman each year as an attachment to his Annual Report. For those complaints where there was evidence of maladministration which warranted a full investigation, the table sets out how many complaints were upheld as being fully or partially justified. Copies of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen's Annual Report for the period 1997–98 to 2000–01 inclusive can be viewed in the Library, or on the Parliamentary Ombudsman's website at

Rural Awareness

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when his Department will have rural proofing embedded in policy-making procedures as set out in the Countryside Agency's report, "Rural Proofing in 2001–02". [54431]

Angela Eagle: The Government has made a firm commitment to rural proof all relevant policies and for performance to be monitored independently by the Countryside Agency. This innovative approach—described as "courageous" by the Agency's Chairman Ewen Cameron, when his first report was published on 11 April this year—applies across Government and to agencies and other Government bodies.

The first report concludes that a great deal has been achieved since this approach was proposed in the Rural White Paper in November 2000, but that much more needs to be done to make rural proofing fully effective. The report sets out details of the checklist devised by the Countryside Agency as an appendix.

Following the decision to implement the strong rural agenda set out in the White Paper, a number of other changes have taken place. In June 2001, the new Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) came into being. For the first time, there is a Minister of State for Rural Affairs and a Director General within DEFRA backed by a team with a clear focus on rural social and economic issues and on implementation

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of the Rural White Paper. A Cabinet Sub-Committee, chaired by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for DEFRA (Mr. Meacher) has a specific focus on rural affairs. My right hon. Friend has met Ministerial colleagues across Government to discuss the challenges of delivering services in rural areas.

The Rural Services Standard, as set out in the Rural White Paper (Our Countryside: the future (Cm4909)) sets targets for the individual services delivered by Government. It is monitored for DEFRA by the Countryside Agency, and its content is currently being reviewed.

The Home Office reports regularly on the targets in the Rural White Paper for which it is responsible. It is currently reviewing and updating its policymakers checklist to include guidance to all staff on best practice and on cross-cutting issues to address in formulating policy on rural matters. Discussions are being held with the Countryside Agency on how they can assist the Department to develop training to support the guidance.

Racial Equality

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 8 May 2002, Official Report, column 229W, what proportion of consultees on the CRE's draft code of practice on the duty to promote racial equality responded to the consultation broken down by the major categories of consultee; and which public and voluntary sector organisations (a) were invited to and (b) participated in the CRE's promotional and consultative conferences. [56182]

Angela Eagle: The following table sets out the breakdown of the responses (by major category) as a proportion of the total consulted:

Major categoriesNumber of responsesProportion of total consulted
Central Government150.03
Local government2180.48
Police/criminal justice240.05
Further/higher education700.15
Non-departmental public bodies270.06
Voluntary sector180.04
Trade unions80.01

With regard to the number of public and voluntary sector organisations invited to, and participating in, conferences, the exact figures are not available as the individual conference organisers retain delegate lists.

However, I understand the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) has worked in partnership with a range of event organisers to put on over 20 conferences since December 2001, some of which were national and some of which were regional. A number of the conferences targeted all public sector organisations while others were sectoral in focus, for example health sector, criminal justice sector, education sector, local government, and police. Attendance at the conferences has varied from 50 to 200 delegates. The highest levels of participation were by representatives from the local government, health, police, criminal justice and education sectors.

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With regard to the voluntary sector, the CRE has commissioned the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO) to run 26 half-day seminars on issues for the voluntary sector. The seminars target both mainstream voluntary sector organisations and ethnic minority voluntary organisations. I understand the seminars will run until June 2002.

Dangerous Driving

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been given custodial sentences for dangerous driving in the last year for which figures are available; and what the average length of sentence given was. [56268]

Beverley Hughes: Information for 2000 (latest available) is given in the table.

Number of persons given custodial sentences(23) for the offence of dangerous driving(24) by type of court, England and Wales, 2000

Type of courtTotal immediate custodyAverage custodial sentence length (months)
Magistrates court(25)6754.5
Crown court1,0639.7
All courts1,7387.7

(23) Includes unsuspended imprisonment, secure training orders, detention in a young offender institution, detention and training orders (from April 2000) and at the Crown court secs 90–92 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (PCC(S)A00) (sec 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 was repealed on 23 August 2000 and its provisions were transferred to secs 90–92 of PCC(S)A00).

(24) An offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 sec 2 as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991 sec 2. Only persons for which the principal offence falls into this category are counted.

(25) Staffordshire police force were only able to submit sample data for persons proceeded against and convicted in the magistrates courts for the year 2000. These data are robust enough to be included in the table.

Criminal Records Bureau

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will investigate administrative arrangements put into place by the Criminal Records Bureau in respect of its pilot schemes affecting Stoke on Trent, including variations on date of commencement; what guidance was issued; and what compensation is available to those whose business is affected by delays in processing. [53331]

Mr. Keith Bradley [holding answer 2 May 2002]: Organisations which took part in the Criminal Record Bureau's (CRB) pilot phase did so on a voluntary basis. These included Stoke city council which along with others received written briefing and an informal presentation at CRB headquarters in Liverpool.

The organisations taking part in the pilot phase were supplied with application forms to be completed whenever a police check under the (then) current arrangements was required. Police forces agreed to use these to undertake checks and then to pass them to CRB. The forms were produced especially for the pilot phase and it was made clear in all briefing that they could not be used after commencement of the live Disclosure Service.

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The pilot phase continued until the commencement of the Disclosure Service on 11 March 2002. This was an extension to the original timescale of 1 March 2002. Any person who agreed to take part in the pilot by completing a Disclosure application form supplied for that purpose would not have been able to submit it after the pilot phase had ended, but were able to continue to submit them to be received by 10 March 2002.

CRB will consider any claims for compensation for loss of earnings caused by any delays as a result of proven errors by the CRB.


Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer from the Foreign Secretary of 15 January 2002, Official Report, column 129W, what progress has been made in the investigation initiated by his Department in conjunction with UK officials in Harare into the treatment of Mr. Gerald Mutekiwe. [31702]

Angela Eagle: I wrote to the right hon. Member on 18 February 2002. I apologise for the delay in responding.

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