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Armed Forces: Homosexuality Policy

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: In accordance with its terms of reference, the Homosexuality Policy Assessment Team was required to undertake an internal assessment of the current policy. The report of that assessment was placed in the Library of the House on 4th March.

BBC: Complaints Procedure

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): Yes, the BBC has put in place a range of measures to

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ensure that complaints are properly dealt with, and these are continuing to be developed in the light of experience. Routine comments, queries and criticisms about the BBC's programmes and policies are dealt with by its Viewer and Listener Information services. A daily summary of telephoned comments is seen by senior programme-makers so that they can gauge public reaction, and written representations are answered by the Viewer and Listener Correspondence section or programme-makers as appropriate. In accordance with the policies set out in 'An Accountable BBC' in 1993, and in addition to these established arrangements for handling the whole range of public comments, the Governors agreed a new approach to handling serious complaints about what the BBC has broadcast.

Since February 1994, viewers and listeners have been able to write to a named individual in the new post of Head of the Programme Complaints Unit. The present head of the unit is Mr. Fraser Steel. The unit is independent of the programme-making divisions of the BBC and is responsible for ensuring that complaints about serious breaches of accepted broadcasting standards are dealt with thoroughly, impartially and quickly. Its primary purpose is to provide appropriate means of redress to licence-fee payers. All programme areas are required to co-operate with the unit's investigations and to make corrections or provide redress on air where that is warranted. The procedure can also identify weaknesses which need to be addressed or provide management with the grounds for taking other action to prevent the recurrence of problems identified.

Any complainant who is not satisfied with the way in which the complaint has been handled by the unit may ask the Governors' Programme Complaints Appeals Committee, chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe, to consider the matter. It will do so if in its judgment the complaint raises significant issues of public interest. It will then make a recommendation to the Board of Governors, who will decide on the outcome. The decision and the action taken are publicised in the regular Governors' Programme Complaints Bulletin, which also analyses complaints received centrally by the BBC and gives an account of the work of the Programme Complaints Unit, it summarises each complaint, the unit's findings and action taken. Details of the BBC complaints procedure are set out in a free leaflet, on the letters page of the Radio Times and on Ceefax.

Undergraduate Medical and Dental Education and Research

Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If they will confirm the publication date of the Fourth Report of the Steering Group on Undergraduate Medical and Dental Education and Research.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): We are pleased to announce that the Fourth Report of the

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Steering Group on Undergraduate Medical and Dental Education and Research is published today, and copies will be placed in the Library. Both the Department for Education and Employment and the Department of Health welcome and endorse the report.

The steering group brings together all the main bodies involved in the management of undergraduate medical and dental education and research, and we are grateful to the representatives of these bodies who have served on the group.

Close co-operation between the National Health Service and the universities is essential for the successful management of medical and dental education and research. The report acknowledges and welcomes the close co-operation that already exists between the NHS and the universities and explores how this can be further developed. It includes a revision of the "Ten Key Principles" which help define the shared goals of the two parties.

Secure Training Centres

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the secure training centres at (a) Gringley in Nottinghamshire and (b) Cookham Wood in Kent to be ready for use.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Tenderers have proposed a range of projected opening dates for the two Secure Training Centres. These dates form part of the negotiations currently taking place and when agreed will be specified in the final signed contracts.

Fire Safety Signs

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In what circumstances County Fire Officers have the authority to require that traditional fire EXIT signs are replaced by the new European sign depicting a running person and what costs they estimate are being incurred as a result.

Baroness Blatch: Where fire authorities are responsible for enforcing fire safety legislation, they are also responsible for enforcing the requirements for the provision and use of fire safety signs included in the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. Those requirements for pictogram signs will only apply to existing fire safety signs after 24th December 1998. The estimated costs of this are between £2 million and £12 million.

Prison Population Statistics

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the average prison population of adult females in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 respectively; how many of these were on remand; and how many

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    were serving sentences of (a) under 12 months, (b) 12 months or more but under four years, and (c) four years or more; and

    What was the average prison population of adult males in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 respectively; how many of these were on remand; and how many were serving sentences of (a) under 12 months, (b) 12 months or more but under four years, and (c) four years or more.

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 Baroness Masham of Ilton from the Director of Finance of the Prison Service, Mr. Brian Landers, dated 18 March 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Questions asking what was the average prison population of adult males and females in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 respectively; how many of these were on remand; and how many were serving sentences of (a) under 12 months, (b) 12 months or more but under four years, and (c) four years or more.

The information requested is given in the attached tables.

Average prison population (1) of adult male and female prisoners in England and Wales, 1992-95
Adult males

Type of prisoner1992199319941995
Remand
Untried5,8255,8166,7976,247
Convicted unsentenced1,2491,8132,1511,935
All Remand7,0747,6298,9488,182
Sentenced
Less than 12 months3,6523,8934,5414,979
12 months less than 4 years11,0769,60010,48511,488
4 years and over (including life)14,16713,69714,31415,506
All Sentenced28,89427,18929,34031,973
All adult males36,26435,32838,85840,713

Adult females

Type of prisoner1992199319941995
Remand
Untried226238303285
Convicted unsentenced9289113117
All Remand318327416402
Sentenced
Less than 12 months183226265301
12 months less than 4 years404375448488
4 years and over (including life)470397425489
All sentenced1,0579981,1371,277
All adult females1,3801,3561,5811,703

1 Includes prisoners held in police cells.

2 Components may not add to totals because they have been rounded independently.

3 Includes persons committed in default of payment of a fine.

The sentence length breakdown has been partly estimated

from previous sentence bands, which were; up to 18 months;

over 18 months and up to 4 years; over 4 years.


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