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Drug Supply Offender Order Proposal

Lord Dixon asked Her Majesty's Government:

4 Feb 1999 : Column WA225

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): An undertaking was given during the passage of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to consult on the proposal to introduce a drug supply offender protection order. A consultation paper was issued on 23 June, copies of which were placed in the Library, together with a list of the organisations to which it was sent.

The proposal would enable magistrates, on application, to impose an order requiring anyone convicted or cautioned of a drug supply offence in this country or overseas to refrain from any act if that was considered necessary to protect the public from the supply of drugs.

The consultation exercise has revealed little support for such an order. The overwhelming view expressed is that the present legislation is adequate and that the order would have little impact on the present levels of misuse.

This response to the exercise has confirmed our view that there would be no advantage in introducing such an order at present.

Chile: Home Secretary's Visit

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 18 January (WA 88) about the present Home Secretary's visit to Chile in 1966, the Home Secretary took legal advice on whether his visit in 1966 had any bearing on his ability to make decisions on the request for the extradition of General Pinochet.[HL820]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Yes. When it became clear that the Home Secretary would be called upon to take a decision in the Pinochet case he was, of course, conscious that he should approach the decision in a completely unbiased way and did so. He also took advice from the Home Office Legal Adviser and Counsel and satisfied himself that his visit was not relevant to the decision on extradition which he faced. The Home Secretary is satisfied that it was entirely proper for him to proceed to take the decision.

McGonnel v. United Kingdom

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

    Whether they intend to accept the opinion contained in the report of the European Commission of Human Rights of 20 October 1998 in McGonnel v. United Kingdom, that the United Kingdom is in breach of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights because the Bailiff of the Royal Court of Guernsey, being both a senior member of the judiciary and a senior member of the legislature and the executive, did not satisfy the requirements of independence and impartiality.[HL718]

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Lord Willliams of Mostyn: The Commission has referred this matter to the European Court of Human Rights and it will be examined by the Court in due course.

Immigration Staff at Airports

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will institute discussions with the British Airports Authority in order to improve facilities for immigration staff at Heathrow and other British airports.[HL767]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Immigration Service has regular discussions with the British Airports Authority, and other airport authorities in the United Kingdom, about the accommodation which it occupies. These discussions provide the opportunity to address Immigration Service needs in relation to its operational responsibilities, and agree improvements where appropriate.

Female Prisoners in Prison

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many female prisoners who were:


    (a) convicted; and


    (b) on remand were in prison in England and Wales on 31 December 1995, 1997 and 1998.[HL711]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The information requested is given in the table.

Number of female prisoners in prisons in England and Wales on 31 December 1995 to 1998, by type of custody

Type of custody
As at 31 DecemberUntried(1)Convicted UnsentencedSentencedTotal
19953491091,4721,930
19964181671,7892,374
19974072002,1582,765
19984652372,3643,066

(1) Includes civil prisoners.


Female Prisoners on Home Detention Curfew

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What reduction in the number of female prisoners they expect to achieve by 31 December 1999 by means of the electronic tagging scheme.[HL712]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The estimated reduction in the number of female prisoners achieved by 31 December 1999 by means of Home Detention Curfew, as allowed for by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, is about 180. The exact number will depend on how many persons are assessed as suitable for the scheme.

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Immigrants: Grant and Refusal of Leave to Remain

Lord Renton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many immigrants were granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom indefinitely during the last period of 12 months for which figures are available; and[HL759]

    How many would-be immigrants were refused leave to remain in the United Kingdom indefinitely during the last period of 12 months for which figures are available.[HL760]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: In the period from November 1997 to October 1998, 64, 340 persons were granted indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom and 1,870 were refused. A further 2,480 persons were granted indefinite leave to enter; the number refused indefinite leave is not separately identifiable.

Immigrants: Grant and Refusal of Asylum

Lord Renton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people were granted asylum during the last period of 12 months for which figures are available; and [HL761]

    How many people were refused asylum during the last period of 12 months for which figures are available.[HL762]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: In the 12-month period January to December 1998, 5,345 persons were recognised as refugees and granted asylum in the United Kingdom while, in the same period, 3,910 were not recognised as refugees but granted exceptional leave. Twenty-two thousand, three hundred and fifteen were refused asylum and exceptional leave. These figures exclude dependants and the outcome of appeals and other subsequent decisions.

Illegal Immigrant Numbers

Lord Renton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people are estimated to be living in the United Kingdom who have no lawful right to do so.[HL763]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There is no estimate of the total number of persons living in the United Kingdom who have no lawful right to do so.

Information is available on the number of asylum absconders recorded on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) port and enforcement databases at the end of 1998. That figure is around 20,000. This is a snapshot of those persons (excluding dependants) who have applied for asylum at some point and who have breached the conditions of their temporary admission, temporary release or restriction order, or are otherwise found to be out of contact with IND.

4 Feb 1999 : Column WA228

Firearms: Central Register

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What sums have been set aside during the current and next financial year respectively to meet their obligations under Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 to establish a central register of persons who have applied for a firearm or shotgun certificate or to whom a firearm or shotgun certificate has been granted, which obligation came into force on 1 October 1997; and whether they will estimate the cost of complying with this statutory obligation.[HL770]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The intention is to establish this register as part of the Police/Home Office Extended Names Index (PHOENIX). The full cost of establishing the register cannot be determined until the detailed police user requirement has been finalised, but is expected to be in the region of £300,000-£500,000. No dedicated sum has been set aside for this project. Once finalised, the user requirement will be submitted to the Association of Chief Police Officers Police National Computer Steering Committee and the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) to assess the operational priority of the database. That will enable PITO to determine how the costs of the project should be met from within the overall resources available to them.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What facilities exist for the authorities to establish whether a person suspected of, arrested for or convicted of a criminal offence has been granted a firearm or shotgun certificate by a police force which is not that of the area in which the suspect, accused or criminal is currently residing.[HL771]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There is currently no central facility in England and Wales for this purpose but it is open to the police to make enquiries of any force in whose area the person is known to have previously lived. A suitable computer module is being developed as part of the Police/Home Office Extended Names Index which will ensure that information about firearms and shotgun certificate holders is available on-line to all police forces. In Scotland the Scottish Criminal Records Office database already holds a marker for all firearms and shotgun certificate holders which shows in which force area the certificate was issued.


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