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22 May 1995 : Column WA47

Written Answers

Monday, 22nd May 1995.

Domestic Violence

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to issue the inter-agency circular on domestic violence and whether it will give clear directions to local networks to give priority to the development and funding of women's refuges and related support services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The inter-agency circular on domestic violence is to be issued shortly. The circular places considerable emphasis on the need for safe accommodation for those fleeing domestic violence and encourages local statutory and voluntary agencies to work together to provide help and support to those suffering domestic violence.

The circular also suggests ways in which local agencies might plan joint action to meet the needs of the local community, in terms of improving local services and developing preventive strategies.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When is the next scheduled meeting of the Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence.

Baroness Blatch: A date for the next meeting of the Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence has not yet been set, but arrangements are in hand for a meeting in the near future.

Life Sentence Prisoners: Home Visits

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all home visits for life sentence prisoners in Category C (or other prisons) have been stopped; and if so, why.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been 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:

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about home visits for life sentence prisoners.

Home visits for life sentence prisoners in category C or any other prisons have not been stopped, although, under the new scheme of release on temporary licence which came into effect on 25 April, home visits have been restricted.

Life sentence prisoners will, however, continue to become eligible to be considered for the grant of compassionate licence or resettlement licence provided that they satisfy the enhanced risk assessment and the eligibility criteria set out in Prison Service Instruction to Governors 36/1995, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

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A life sentenced prisoner may also be granted a home visit under escort for compelling compassionate reasons where the governor is satisfied that this is justified. The governor must also be satisfied that the arrangements for security in escorting the prisoner are adequate for the security category in which the prisoner has been placed.

National Park Authorities: Local Representation

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to respond to the concerns of those who live and work in the National Parks that their views should be properly represented in the management of these special areas.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): We are well aware of the concerns expressed during the Bill's passage that local people should have greater involvement in the running of the parks and management of park affairs. We have already made a number of amendments to the Bill to strengthen the part which local people should play in the parks' affairs. These have generally been welcomed, but we have been giving further thought to the membership of the NPAs, so as to ensure that the interests of park residents are properly represented on the new authorities.

Under the proposals, a third category of membership would be added to the current provisions of the Bill, which allow for two-thirds of the members of the new authorities to be appointed by the local authorities (that is, county, district and metropolitan district councils) with land in the parks and one-third by the Secretary of State. The new category would be allocated to parishes which lie wholly or partly within the parks.

It is proposed that the new authorities would be constituted along the following lines: (i) one half of the members plus 1 to be appointed by local authorities with land in the parks; and (ii) the remainder to be appointed by the Secretary of State, of whom one half of his members minus 1 would be drawn from the relevant parishes. Parish members would be drawn from parishes wholly or partly in the parks, and would be serving parish councillors or, where there is no parish council, chairmen of parish meetings.

Nominations to the Secretary of State for parish members would be sought from any or all of the following: the National Association of Local Councils, groupings of parishes within the parks or individual parishes. Nominations could also come from other sources, including individuals with an interest in park affairs.

Parish members would be appointed by the Secretary of State, after consulting the Countryside Commission, as is already the case for his direct appointments, and would be subject to the same provisions as set out in the Bill as regards, for example, attendance, disqualification from holding office, members' interests, allowances, as apply to local authority and other members appointed by the

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Secretary of State. I have placed a copy of the letter which has been sent to local authorities in the Libraries of the Houses.

These proposals apply to the English National Parks. Because of commitments which have already been made in respect of the membership of the National Park Boards being established under the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, and the circular letters already issued for consultations about establishing Welsh NPAs, the Secretary of State for Wales is proposing to leave unchanged the provisions for membership of the NPAs as they apply in Wales.

Household Division Costs

The Marquess of Salisbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated annual cost of three regular battalions of Foot Guards.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): The estimated annual cost of three regular battalions of Foot Guards is £38 million. This assumes that the battalions are in London and are recruited up to established strength.

This sum does not include costs for uniforms and transport, details of which could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The Marquess of Salisbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated cost of the extra companies required to enable the Household Division to carry out its ceremonial duties.

Lord Henley: The estimated annual cost of the three Public Duties Companies is £6 million. This assumes that the companies are in London and are recruited up to established strength.

This sum does not include the cost of uniforms and transport, details of which could only be provided at disproportionate cost.


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