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Women on Remand: Bail

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blatch: The decision as to whether an accused person in criminal proceedings should be remanded in custody or released on bail is a matter for the court in the exercise of its judicial discretion, in accordance with the Bail Act 1976. The 1976 Act contains a general presumption in favour of bail, subject to certain exceptions.

Prison Repairs and Maintenance Cuts

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Hylton from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 13th May 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the impact of cuts in repairs and maintenance at 14 prisons (Bristol, Brixton, Dartmoor, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, North Sea Camp (Lincolnshire), Pentonville, Preston, Swansea, Wakefield, Wandsworth, Wetherby and Wormwood Scrubs); whether any cells will have to be closed; and whether remand prisoners will once again be lodged in police cells.

The reduction in the centrally-funded Prison Service repairs and maintenance budget in 1996-97, which is classified as work not affecting the continued operation of prison wings, means that some 50 per cent. (around £16 million) of projects have been deferred until later years. However, schemes which have been identified as vital are proceedings in 1996-97. Because of the nature of maintenance work, it is possible that other schemes might have a higher priority during the year and the Prison Service strategy is to monitor and review the situation on a regular basis.

The repairs and maintenance budget is separate from the much larger budget for refurbishment and modernisation. The reduction in this expenditure during the current financial year will mean that our plans to modernise and/or install sanitation at the 14 prisons will be changed. The general effect is that some schemes which were due to start in 1996-7 will be deferred until later years.

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An assessment of the effect on the possibility of police cell use of the reduction in capital expenditure was made in December 1995. This work concluded that there was no significant increase in the risk of using police cells in the 1996-97 financial year.

The Prison Service has not been using police cells since June 1995. Apart from a major unplanned loss of accommodation or an unexpected rise in the population above current projections, we do not plan to use police cells.

Gender Dysphoria in Prisoners

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When it is expected that the Directorate of Health Care of Her Majesty's Prison Service will have drawn up formal guidelines to assist clinicians who may have to deal with gender dysphoria.

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 Beaumont of Whitley from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 13th May 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about when the Prison Service's Directorate of Health Care will have drawn up formal guidelines to assist clinicians who may have to deal with gender dysphoria.

Work on guidelines on the care, management and treatment of prisoners with gender dysphoria is still in hand. However, I can assure you that work will be completed within the current financial year.

UN Human Rights Committee: Reports from NGOs

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they were given regarding reports submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee by United Kingdom based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to assist in the preparation of the Fourth Periodic Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and whether any of those NGOs made their reports available to Her Majesty's Government; and

    Which non-governmental organisations gave evidence regarding human rights in the United Kingdom to the UN Human Rights Committee and which countries they were from; and

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    Which United Kingdom-based non-governmental organisations supplied them with a copy of the evidence they were providing to the UN Human Rights Committee.

Baroness Blatch: Non-governmental organisations do not give formal evidence to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, but may send material to the committee at any time. It is not the practice of the committee to draw this material to the attention of the state concerned to assist in preparation of periodic reports to the committee or in preparation for the examination of such reports.

Her Majesty's Government received copies of documents prepared by a number of organisations, including Liberty, the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties, Amnesty International, Justice and the Howard League for Penal Reform, which had been sent to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in advance of the United Kingdom's oral examination on its Fourth Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Oftel/DTI Dialogue

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry last met the Director General of Oftel and what was discussed.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: The DTI has an extensive dialogue with the Director-General of Telecommunications and his staff. Mr. Ian Taylor, Minister for Science and Technology, meets Mr. Cruickshank regularly to discuss a wide range of relevant issues.

Privatised Industries: Regulators' Accountability

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the level of accountability of the directors general responsible for regulating the privatised industries.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: Yes the regulators operate within a statutory framework, and their decisions can be subject to judicial review. They are required to make an annual report to the Secretary of State, and the report must be presented to Parliament.

Privatised Industry Reports: Discussion by Parliament

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will, as a matter of course, provide time for the annual reports of directors general of the privatised industries to be debated in Parliament.

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Baroness Miller of Hendon: It is not normal practice to debate these reports as a matter of course. However, noble Lords had the opportunity to raise these matters in the very interesting debate opened by Lord Borrie on 8th May 1996.

Privatised Industries: Appeals against Regulators

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the appeal procedures against decisions made by the directors general of Offer, Ofgas, Oftel and Ofwat.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: Each director general operates within the procedures laid down in the relevant privatisation Acts.

When a licensed company does not agree to a proposal for a licence modification by the regulator, the matter may be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. There is no specific right of appeal for licensees against determinations made by the directors general under existing licence conditions although there are avenues of appeal elsewhere--e.g., by judicial review.

Government Computer Systems: Software Modification Costs

Lord Methuen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost of modifying government computer systems to overcome the software problems associated with the year 2000.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): The Government do not hold the information centrally. Nevertheless, the Government fully appreciate the importance of the problem, and are providing, through the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency, advice and guidance.

Lord Methuen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In relation to the contracts placed with Electronic Data Services (EDS) for the facilities management of computer systems within government departments and agencies, whether those contracts cover the cost of modifying these systems to address the year 2000 problem.

Earl Howe: Full information on contracts placed with EDS is not held centrally, and can only be provided at disproportionate cost. However some of the contracts with EDS were placed before the year 2000 issues had been identified and any costs of dealing with problems will have to be examined against the terms of individual contracts. The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency is developing contract conditions and warranties to include in any new contracts and is preparing advice and guidance on the practical steps to be taken by government departments and agencies in respect of existing contracts to minimise the costs of dealing with this problem.

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Morocco: Fisheries Agreement Cost

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the £400 million compensation paid to Morocco under recent European fisheries negotiations is to be paid by the United Kingdom.

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Lord Lucas: The European Commission calculate that the new fisheries agreement will cost a total of 500 mecu (approximately £414.1 million) over its four-year duration. The United Kingdom's contribution to the Community budget for this will be around 14 per cent. The Fontainebleau abatement does not apply to expenditure going to third countries.



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