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Identity Cards

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the projected costs of implementing the identity card proposals. [69754]

Beverley Hughes: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made a statement to the House on 3 July, announcing the publication of a consultation paper on Entitlement Cards and Identity Fraud. The consultation period will last until 10 January 2003. The Government has made it clear that the introduction of an entitlement card would be a major step and that it would not proceed without consulting widely and considering all the views expressed very carefully.

The paper includes a number of estimates of what a scheme would cost, depending on the sophistication of the card. A reasonable estimate would be that a scheme would cost around £1.5 billion over a 13 year period covering the three years it would take to set up the necessary Information Technology systems and the 10 year period for which the first cards would be valid.

This would include much more stringent identity checks than currently apply for passports and driving licences in response to increased levels of fraudulent applications.

It would also include the costs of using biometric information (fingerprints or iris images) which would uniquely link the card holder with a card.

This estimate does not include any savings to Government through more efficient administration and reductions in fraud. The paper also sets out how the costs might be recovered through increases in fees for driving licences and passports and charging a fee for entitlement cards issued to those who did not qualify for or who did not want to apply for a card in the form of a photocard

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driving licence or passport card. It would not be the Government's intention to use funds allocated for investment in public services for a card scheme.

Entertainment Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list for 1997–98 and for each subsequent financial year, including the current year to date, the amount spent by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies on (i) food and (ii) alcohol, indicating how much was spent on guests, and how much in respect of (A) Ministers and (B) staff, broken down to show how much was provided directly by his Department and how much reclaimed. [34445]

Beverley Hughes: The detailed information required is not available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. The available information relating to expenditure on hospitality and entertainment by the department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies is shown in the table:


Financial yearsExpenditure

Expenditure by Ministers on hospitality and entertainment averages four per cent. of the Departmental total each year.

Overseas Visits

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the overseas trips on departmental business that have been undertaken in each of the last five years by officials in his Department; and what the (a) cost, (b) purpose and (c) result was in each case. [68725]

Beverley Hughes: The following table lists the total cost, to the Home Office and its agencies, of official duty visits abroad in each of the past five years.

The other information is not collected in the format the hon. Member requires and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Core Home OfficeForensic Science ServicePassport AgencyPrison Service

Comprehensive Spending Review

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff have contributed to his Department's input to the Spending Review. [68697]

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Beverley Hughes: Staff from the different business areas of the Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) have contributed to the Home Office input to the Spending Review but it is not possible to quantify the amount of their time spent on this work. No central record has been kept.

Building Values

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the buildings owned by his Department and estimate the market value of each of them. [66940]

Beverley Hughes: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 3 July 2002, Official Report, column 340W.

Staff Training

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the Department has spent on staff training and development in each of the last five years. [61071]

Beverley Hughes: The Department recognises that the development of the skills, knowledge and experience of our staff is crucial to the delivery of business objectives and to helping staff achieve their career aspirations. The Department is, therefore, committed to ensuring that effective and affordable learning opportunities are available to staff. We have achieved the Investors in People Standard and are committed to ensuring that training and development are effectively focused on achieving our aims.

The following information is an estimate of the total amount spent on training and development in the Home Office and its executive agencies; it does not include the cost of many informal learning activities since such costs often go unrecorded:

Castle Award

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his Department has applied for a Castle award for equal pay. [65222]

Beverley Hughes: Since the inception of the Castle awards on 8 March 2002, the Home Office and its related agencies have not applied for such an award. The Department is in the process of conducting Equal Pay audits and when these have been completed, it is possible they may apply.

Work-related Illness

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many claims for work-related illness were settled by his Department in the last year for which records are available; and what the cost in compensation was. [56060]

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Beverley Hughes [holding answer 20 May 2002]: Information on claims for work-related illness and compensation payments are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Department is aware of its obligations to provide a safe working environment and takes steps to ensure that it meets the requirements of health and safety legislation.

The Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy Statement published in June 2000 set targets for all stakeholders aimed at reducing inter alia

Green Minister

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who his Department's Green Minister is; when they (a) have attended and (b) plan to attend meetings of the Green Ministers' Committee; what the outcomes of meetings were for his Department's activities; and if he will make a statement. [65982]

Beverley Hughes: The Home Office Green Minister is my noble Friend Lord Filkin who was appointed to the ENV(G) Committee in June 2002. Having only recently been appointed he has yet to attend any of the Committee's meetings but intends to do so in the future.

It is established practice under exemption two of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information not to disclose information relating to the proceedings of Cabinet Committees.


Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce a buddy system for immigrants similar to the one practised in Canada. [69006]

Beverley Hughes: The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill presently before Parliament contains provision for language and citizenship education for people seeking naturalisation. A group of experts is to be formed to advise my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, on how these proposals might be implemented in practice. Among other things, the group will be asked to advise on the practicality of a national voluntary scheme for mentors to assist naturalisation applicants in making contacts in their local community.

Membership of the advisory group will be announced shortly.

In addition, a European refugee fund grant has been secured in respect of a mentoring project for refugees in London, Birmingham and Glasgow. The project, "Time to Belong", is organised by TimeBank, a registered charity, and aims to provide mentors and coaches for 150 refugees.

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