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26 Oct 1995 : Column WA121

Written Answers

Thursday, 26th October 1995.

Legal Education and Conduct: Report of Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct intends to publish its fourth annual report.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): The Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct will publish its fourth annual report on Friday 27th October. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Electricity Consumption in Wales

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the consumption of electricity in Wales in 1994 and what was the gross output of electricity produced by wind turbines in Wales in the same year.

Lord Lucas: The provisional estimate of sales of electricity to final consumers in Wales in 1994 was 15,869 gigawatt hours. The Department of Trade and Industry estimates that 167 gigawatt hours of electricity was generated by wind schemes in Wales in 1994.

Berkshire: Local Government Structure

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to appeal against the ruling of the High Court on 6 October 1995 that their decision to abolish Berkshire County Council and transfer its functions to the six existing district councils was invalid in so far as it concerns the transfer of functions to the borough of Bracknell Forest and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Earl Ferrers): The court ruling was not a judgment on the merits of the decision of the Secretary of State for the Environment on the structure of local government in Berkshire. It turned on a point of interpretation of the Local Government Act 1992 which the Secretary of State feels needs to be tested further. Leave to appeal was granted by the High Court, and the Secretary of State will be serving Notice of Appeal to enable the matter to be argued further in the Court of Appeal. The Secretary of State will not lay the Berkshire (Structural Change) Order before Parliament while the appeal is proceeding.

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Satellite Dish Sizes

Lord Donoughue asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why satellite dishes in England are restricted to no more than 70 cm in diameter, thus preventing the introduction of dual-feed systems which would widen consumer choice; and whether dishes of 90 cm diameter are permitted in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in northern parts of England.

Earl Ferrers: Householders in England and Wales have a general planning permission to install one satellite dish of up to 90cm in size in specified northern and western counties and up to 70cm elsewhere. The permitted size limit is 90cm in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In order to protect the environment for the residents, permitted development rights are given to dishes of the minimum size which are capable of receiving satellite signals. The size differential in England and Wales recognises that reception with the smaller dishes is not possible in northern and western regions.

University Air Squadrons

Lord Blease asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a list of the universities, colleges and polytechnics affiliated for ordinary membership to University Air Squadrons.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): The requested information is detailed below:

University Air Squadron Universities Affiliated for Ordinary Membership
Aberdeen, Dundee and St. Andrew's Aberdeen University The Robert Gordon University Dundee University University of Abertay, Dundee St. Andrew's University
Birmingham Birmingham University
Aston University
Keele University
Warwick University
University of Central England in Birmingham
Coventry University
University of Wolverhampton
Stafford University
Bristol Bristol University
Bath University
Exeter University
University of the West of England at Bristol
University of Plymouth
Cambridge Cambridge University
University of Essex
University of East Anglia
Anglia Polytechnic University
East Lowlands Edinburgh University
Heriot-Watt University
Stirling University
Napier University
East Midlands Nottingham University
Leicester University
Loughborough University of Technology
Nottingham Trent University
De Montfort University
Glasgow and Strathclyde Glasgow University
Strathclyde University
University of Paisley
Glasgow Caledonian University
The Glasgow School of Art
Liverpool Liverpool University
Lancaster University
Liverpool John Moores University
University of Central Lancashire
London London University
Brunel The University of West London
City University
Hertfordshire University
Greenwich University
Kingston University
University of Kent
Canterbury College, Kent
Manchester and Salford Manchester University
Salford University
University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST)
Manchester Metropolitan University
Northumbria Durham University
Newcastle University
University of Northumbria at Newcastle
University of Sunderland
University of Teesside
Oxford Oxford University
Oxford Brookes University
Reading University
Queen's Queen's University of Belfast
University of Ulster at Coleraine and Jordanstown Sites
Stanmillis College, Belfast
Southampton Southampton University
University of Portsmouth
Wales University College of Wales, Aberystwyth
University College of North Wales
University of Wales College of Cardiff
University College of Swansea
University of Wales College of Medicine
St. David's University College Lampeter
University of Glamorgan
Yorkshire Bradford University
Hull University
Leeds University
Sheffield University
York University
Sheffield Hallam University
Leeds Metropolitan University
University of Huddersfield
University of Humberside

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Queen's University (Belfast) Air Squadron

Lord Blease asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the statement issued by the Ministry of Defence on 6th September 1995 proposing the closure of the Queen's University (Belfast) Air Squadron.

Earl Howe: The Consultative Letter proposing the closure of Queen's University Air Squadron in Belfast was issued to trades unions and other interested parties on 5 September 1995. I will arrange for a copy of the text of the Consultative Letter to be placed in the Library of the House.

MoD Hospital Units

Lord Ironside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following their decision to locate the first MoD hospital unit at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth they have decided the location of the remaining two.

Earl Howe: Taking account of a range of defence-related factors, and in consultation with the Department of Health and the NHS, we have selected the Frimley Park Hospital NHS Trust in Surrey and the Peterborough Hospitals NHS Trust in Cambridgeshire as the sites for the new Ministry of Defence hospital units. Detailed contractual negotiations, which began with the trusts concerned last March, are progressing satisfactorily. We aim to have units fully established at these locations by April 1996.

Prisoners: PPG Testing

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many men have been subjected to PPG tests in the current and previous three years; how many of these were serving life-sentences; how many had "spent convictions" for sexual offences; and how many had no previous conviction for a sexual offence; and

    What is the scientific validity, particularly for predicting subsequent behaviour, and the margin of error in PPG tests; whether side-effects from exposure to mercury have been noted among those subjected to tests; and whether PPG tests have been independently evaluated; and

    What comparisons have been made, if any, between the reactions of prisoners and non-prisoners to PPG testing; and

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    Whether in all cases those undergoing PPG testing have to be subjected to erotic, pornographic or sadistic material; and what effect this is considered to have, particularly on long-term prisoners; and

    Whether they can confirm that penile plethysmograph (PPG) tests are continuing on men imprisoned for sexual offences; whether testing was publicly announced in advance; and on whose authority such tests are conducted; and

    What account is taken of the effect on relations between prisoners and their families, and on relationships within prisons (especially re Rule 43) before PPG tests are ordered.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Responsibility for these matters has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Hylton from the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26/10/95.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Questions about penile plethysmograph (PPG) testing in the Prison Service.

In the year ending 31 March 1995, PPG tests were carried out on 103 prisoners. In each case, concern about risk of future sex offending had already been identified and PPG testing was being carried out to identify one of the factors (sexual preferences) which might contribute to that risk and which would consequently need to be addressed in subsequent treatment. Information is not held centrally about the nature of the prisoners' sentences and criminal records and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. In practice, however, the prisoners concerned would almost invariably have been serving their current sentence either for a sexual offence or for a murder in which a sexual element had been identified. Information could also be obtained only at disproportionate cost about the numbers of offenders tested in the previous three years.

Extensive international research has been carried out with both prisoner and non-prisoner populations. The general finding has been that the great majority of men who have not been convicted of sexual offences show stronger reactions to depictions of consenting sex as compared to depictions of rape or violence, and stronger reactions to depictions of adults than to depictions of children. In contrast, deviant sexual interests are much more common among men who have been repeatedly convicted of sexual offences. The Prison Service's use of PPG has recently been reviewed by the independent panel of experts who advise the Prison Service on the development of the Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP). A comprehensive analysis of research findings by the panel has shown that PPG assessment provides the single most powerful predictor of future sexual offending. Many other factors are, however, considered when assessing the risk presented by sex offenders and the Prison Service never uses PPG tests in isolation.

It is difficult to determine the sole effect of PPG testing on prisoners as it comprises just one element of

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the comprehensive assessment which normally precedes participation in the SOTP. There is no mercury involved in the equipment used by the Prison Service. The material used for PPG testing is less explicit than some shown on national television and no men have been placed on Rule 43 as a result of their participation in PPG assessment. Prisoners' families may be affected by the knowledge that the Prison Service considers that the inmate may commit a sex offence after release. However, it is unlikely that the inclusion or exclusion of the PPG test in the assessment which follows this judgement makes a material difference.

The Prison Service's intention to begin large scale use of PPG assessment was announced in 1991 when the Sex Offender Treatment Programme, of which it forms a part, was begun. A copy of the publication Treatment Programme for Sex Offenders in Custody: A Strategy was placed in the Library of the House in July 1991. As the programme has increased in scale, PPG assessment has become more common. This trend is set to continue in the future. The SOTP is a centrally co-ordinated initiative and both the material used in PPG tests and the circumstances of assessment are carefully controlled by the central unit responsible for the co-ordination of this initiative.

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