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7 Feb 1995 : Column WA7

Written Answers

Tuesday 7th February 1995

Forced Labour, Northern Bosnia: Report

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether they will discuss with Anti-Slavery International the recent report on "Forced Labour in Northern Bosnia"; and whether they will bring it to the attention of all relevant international organisations and tribunals.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We understand that Anti-Slavery International intend to submit this report for discussion by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Bahrain/UK Relations

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether they have remonstrated with the Government of Bahrain about the accusation made by Crown Prince Hamad al-Khalifa that the United Kingdom was "a haven for terrorists and saboteurs"; whether the Foreign Secretary made any promises to the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Muhammad al-Khalifa, on this question when they met on 23 January; whether the Foreign Minister of Bahrain warned that relations between Bahrain and the United Kingdom would be harmed if particular applications for asylum were granted; and if so, what was the Foreign Secretary's response.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Our exchanges with the Bahrain Government are confidential. During the visit of the Bahraini Foreign Minister, Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, the Bahrain Government confirmed the strength of UK/Bahrain relations. They are also well aware that the British Government has no intention of allowing the UK to become a haven for terrorists and saboteurs.

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government: Following their Written Answer of 18 October 1993, whether they are now able to give details of the new award to recognise conspicuous gallantry and heroism by members of the Armed Forces.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): Her Majesty the Queen has graciously approved the institution of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross to recognise conspicuous gallantry and great heroism by members of the Armed Forces. This award will replace the Distinguished Service Order, when awarded to officers for specific acts of gallantry, the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (Flying). It will apply to all three Services, and will be open to Servicemen and women of any rank.

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The Distinguished Service Order is to be retained across all three Services as an award in recognition of exceptional service in positions of substantial responsibility for command and leadership during active operations.

Details of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross are contained in a Command paper presented today in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. A copy of the paper has been placed in the Library of the House.

European Commission: Member's Emoluments

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government: What are the salaries, benefits and allowances (expressed in pounds sterling) currently received by members of the European Commission, and whether these are taxable.

Lord Henley: The salaries of members of the European Commission are based on the salary of an official on the last stop of Grade A1, currently 524,113 Belgian Francs a month (£10,586 a month at a conversion rate of 49.51 Bfr- £1), as follows:

President—138 per cent.

Vice President—125 per cent.

Other Members—112.5 per cent.

Benefits and allowances would depend on personal circumstances, details of which are not available to us. Actual payments are a matter for the Commission.

These payments are not subject to UK tax. They are however taxed by the European Union.

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government: What are the pension benefits (expressed in pounds sterling) received by retired members of the European Commission, and whether these are taxable.

Lord Henley: Benefits and allowances would depend upon personal circumstances. details of which are not available to us. Actual payments are a matter for the Commission.

These payments are not subject to UK tax. They are however taxed by the European Union.

Prisoner Numbers: Effect of Reduction Measures

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government: What would be the impact on the total prison population in England and Wales if time served by prisoners in excess of six months were reduced by (a) two weeks per person, or (b) 10 per cent. of the net sentence.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Responsibility for this mater has been

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delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Hylton from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Derek Lewis, dated 7 February 1995:



    Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking what would be the impact on the total prison population in England and Wales if time served by prisoners in excess of six months were reduced by (a) two weeks per persons, or (b) 10 per cent. of the net sentence.


    The estimates are based on information on prisoners with determinate sentences of over one year in 1994. If the time served could be reduced by two weeks, subject to serving a minimum of six months, the population would be reduced by about 700. If the time served could be reduced by 10 per cent., subject to the minimum of six months, the population would be reduced by about 2,800. The reduction in time served was assumed to be in addition to any grant of parole.

Prison Service: Director General's Responsibilities

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether they will list the specific matters for which the Director General of the Prison Service has delegated responsibility as described in the Framework Document published by the Home Office in 1993 when the Prison Service became an Executive Agency.

Baroness Blatch: The matters for which the Director General of the Prison Service has delegated responsibility under the Agency Framework Document are described in the Framework Document itself, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Police Vehicle Maintenance and Building Cleaning

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government: What are their plans for introducing competition into the provision of police motor vehicle maintenance and repair, and the cleaning of police buildings.

Baroness Blatch: The initial proposals for the extension of compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) to police motor vehicle maintenance and repair, and the

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cleaning of police buildings, sought to recognise the operational and security requirements of the police service. In the case of the former, the proposed 40 per cent. competition requirement was intended to allow a core of sensitive vehicles to be serviced within secure in-house facilities. The 90 per cent. level initially proposed for cleaning provided an option to retain in-house staff to clean sensitive areas, or remote and small stations for which CCT might not be cost effective.

Detailed consultation proposals for both services were issued by the Home Office on 11 April 1994. The Government have now considered the responses received from the police service, local authority associations and other interested parties.

With the cleaning of police buildings, the consultation exercise sought specific comment on the need for a competition-free element. Many responded that a larger competition-free element was necessary to safeguard the cleaning of sensitive areas, and small and remote stations. The Government are satisfied that a sound case has been made, and they intend, therefore, that the competition level should now be set at 80 per cent. They are confident this will achieve a rigorous competitive regime, bring improvements in service and value for money, while providing the police service with the flexibility it requires.

With police motor vehicle maintenance and repair, the initial proposals were specifically designed to cater for concerns about security and operational effectiveness. The results of the consultation exercise have been looked at against the other initiatives being developed within police fleet management, such as centrally negotiated purchasing arrangements. The Government are now satisfied that the introduction of CCT to police motor vehicle maintenance and repair would not, in this case, add greatly to the gains being made in other areas. It has, therefore, been decided that the existing exemption should be retained.

The introduction of CCT to the police service is, of course, more than just achieving better value for money. It is also about providing a strong impetus for organisational change and service review. The Government remain committed to the value of these processes within public services, and they hope to announce in the near future their initial plans for introducing CCT to police white collar support services.

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