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19 Jun 1995 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 19th June 1995.

Krakow: Proposal for British Consulate

Lord Belhaven and Stenton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the expressed words of the municipality of Krakow, Poland, that there should be a British Consulate in that city, they have any plans to instal one.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): There are no plans at present to open a British Consulate in Krakow.

Honorary Consulates have been opened recently in Gdansk, Poznan, and Katowice, and a fourth will open shortly in Wroclaw. Krakow falls within the consular district of Katowice.

These matters are kept under constant review, and the case for further Honorary Consulates will be considered carefully.

Protection of the Archaeological Heritage: Ratification of Convention

Baroness Hooper asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to ratify the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor): The United Kingdom supports the principle of a convention to provide a standard for the protection of archaeological sites throughout Europe and Her Majesty's Government ratified the first European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage on 20 April 1971. A revised convention was signed in 1992; its ratification is currently under consideration.

Jobseekers Bill: Power to Designate Groups

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish's remarks on 20th April (H.L. Deb, col. 694), what is the legal extent of their power under the Jobseekers Bill to prescribe that groups of people may have a nil applicable amount, and whether there is any legal limit on their vires to designate a 'group'.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The equivalent of this power is currently used in Income Support to prescribe groups such as members of religious orders, prisoners, and certain persons from abroad. It is intended that the power will be exercised in a similar way in Jobseeker's Allowance. The vires are subject to the usual legal limits—for example, on questions of rationality of discrimination. Any use of the powers would be subject to judicial review in the normal way.

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Social Security Budget

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish's Written Answer of 6th June (WA 91) whether the projected reduction in expenditure there mentioned is a reduction in the spending of the Department of Social Security or in public expenditure as a whole, and whether they have attempted to distinguish between these figures, and if so, on what basis.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The reduction in projected expenditure is in both the Social Security budget and public expenditure as a whole.

Ammonium Nitrate: Transport through Channel Tunnel

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, since ammonium nitrate can be easily converted to explosive material, they have had discussions with the operators of the Channel Tunnel on the desirability of transporting this chemical through the tunnel and the safeguards under which it is transported.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Carriage of dangerous goods through the Channel Tunnel must comply with the Regulations Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail and the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (RID/ADR). Only simple fertilisers based on ammonium nitrate which conform to EC directive 80/876 as amended are permitted for carriage. These are not classified as explosive substances under the international regulations.

Trust Ports: Privatisation

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they intend to take concerning privatisation of the larger trust ports.

Viscount Goschen: Ports privatised under the Ports Act 1991 are showing already the increased efficiency which comes from full commercial management and competition on an equal footing with other ports. Both ports and port users benefit from such increased efficiency. All trust ports can, at any time, use the Ports Act 1991 to take action to privatise themselves. Five—Forth, Clyde, Tees and Hartlepool, Medway and Tilbury—have done so already. Dundee is now in the process of privatisation. We welcome this, and hope more will follow.

Under the Act, following consultation, we are able to direct a trust port with an annual turnover of more than £5.4 million in two of its last three accounting years to form a successor company and to prepare a scheme for transferring the undertaking to that company, with a view to the sale of the company to the commercial sector.

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We are considering giving a direction to the Dover Harbour Board, the port of Tyne Authority and the Ipswich Port Authority directing each to form a company and to prepare a scheme for transferring the authority's undertaking to it. The Secretary of State for Transport has accordingly written separately today to the chairmen of those authorities to consult them on our proposal. We have no plans at present to consult with the other ports with annual turnover above the threshold.

Gringley Secure Training Centre

Baroness Faithfull asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the proposed contract for the secure training centre at Gringley is confidential.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Bids to design, construct, manage and finance secure training centres at Gringley and Cookham Wood were received on 12 June. The evaluation process is therefore at a very early stage. The draft contract remains a confidential document during the tender period.

Imprisonment for Fine Default

Baroness Faithfull asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of (a) all sentenced prison receptions and (b) receptions of prisoners sentenced to six months or less were fine defaulters in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

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 Baroness Faithfull from the Director of Finance, HM Prison Service, Mr. Brian Landers, dated 19 June 1995:

Lady Blatch has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question asking what proportion of (a) all sentenced prison receptions and (b) receptions of prisoners sentenced to six months or less were fine defaulters in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

The information requested is given in the table.

Fine defaulters as a percentage of all sentenced receptions and receptions of persons sentenced to less than 6 months, 1993 and 1994(1)

1993 1994
Percentage of all sentenced receptions 30.7 per cent. 27.2 per cent.
Percentage of receptions sentenced up to six months 48.3 per cent. 41.5 per cent.

(1) Provisional figures.


Baroness Faithfull asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many male and how many female fine defaulters were received into prison in 1993 and 1994 respectively and, of these, how many had originally been convicted of (a) motoring offences, (b) theft and

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    handling, (c) drunkenness, and (d) non-payment of television licences.

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 Baroness Faithfull from the Director of Finance, HM Prison Service, Mr. Brian Landers, dated 19 June 1995:

Lady Blatch has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question asking how many male and how many female fine defaulters were received into prison in 1993 and 1994 respectively and, of these, how many had originally been convicted of (a) motoring offences, (b) theft and handling, (c) drunkenness, and (d) non-payment of television licences.

Provisional information for 1993 and 1994 is given in the table.

Receptions of fine defaulters into Prison Service establishments in England and Wales, 1993 and 1994

Offence 1993(1) 1994(1)
Males Females Males Females
Theft and handling 3,802 265 2,341 186
Drunkenness 633 24 329 10
Motoring Offences 8,141 202 6,432 198
Using a TV without a licence 547 278 503 260
Not Recorded 82 16 2,775 125
All Receptions 21,097 1,306 21,303 1,420

(1) Provisional figures. The 1994 figures for types of offence are affected by a larger "not recorded" component.



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