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Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Inmates Information System (IIS) which incorporates the Local Inmates Database System is expected to be replaced as part of the business change process which will be facilitated by the Quantum project. The nature of the prison population is such that IIS has had to deal with dates beyond 2000 from its inception in 1989 and it was designed with this in mind. In addition, it has been subjected to exhaustive further testing as part of the Prison Service year 2000 programme and appropriate
Lord Williams of Mostyn: I believe that, in conjunction with the Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency, the Prison Service can call upon personnel with relevant knowledge, experience and skills to evaluate proposals from bidders. To a limited extent, this may involve the use of outside specialist assistance.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Prison Service is currently undertaking the preliminary scoping work for setting up its own web site with a view to having a presence on the Internet by the spring of this year.
The Board of Visitors web site was initially one page within the Home Office web site which became available in late 1996. The Board of Visitors site was redesigned and relaunched on 27 January 1999 at a cost of £7,000 to coincide with their new recruitment for volunteer board members.
Whether, in view of the potential impact on community relations, they consider that a continuation of the current level of use of stop and search powers can be justified.[HL968]
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The use of stop and search powers is an operational matter for chief officers of police. Several factors may influence the recorded level of use of police stop and search powers in an area. The factors include local operational priorities; the extent to which policing is intelligence-led; and the accuracy of local recording and data collection. The stop and search statistics show the proportion of stop/searches leading to arrest, but it is not possible from this to say exactly what proportion led to a crime being
The proper use by the police of their powers of stop and search is an important weapon in the fight against crime. Research published by the Metropolitan Police Service in August 1998 found that stop and search accounted for 7 to 8 per cent. of all clear ups for burglary and robbery; a quarter of all clear ups for possessing drugs with intent to supply; two thirds of all clear ups for drugs possession and almost all clear ups for possessing weapons (Stop and Search: Renewing the tactic published by the Metropolitan Police Service August 1998). Experience has also shown that there appears to be a relationship between the level of searches and the overall level of crime. For example, during an initiative in Tottenham in 1994 and 1995, recorded crime steadily increased as the level of searches fell. Similar findings have been noted in San Diego and the City of London.
However, the continuing disproportionate use of stop and search on black people in particular, as revealed by the latest figures published under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, is a cause for concern. Getting to grips with this issue will be a key challenge for the police service as it works to maintain the trust and confidence of all sections of the community. Proper supervision and management of police officers' use of their powers is crucial. We welcome the initiative currently being piloted in the Metropolitan Police Service to manage the use of stop and search fairly and effectively. The revised PACE Code of Practice, which has recently been approved by the House, stresses that supervising officers should address any evidence that these powers are being used in a discriminatory way.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The 1998-99 aggregate budget, including training and contingencies, is £1.317 million. The 1999-2000 budget will be determined in the light of my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Wales' spending decision for health.
Lord Gilbert: The Ministry of Defence is currently in the process of evaluating bids for the full development and production phase of the Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) programme. On current plans, we aim to announce a decision in the spring, and award a contract later this year.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The Government will give careful consideration to any proposals by the Commission taking account of liberalisation of postal services across the European Union and the reform package announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 7 December 1998.
Lord Simon of Highbury: No proposals have been received from the European Commission on the levying of VAT on postal services. Last year's increase in the price of sending a letter to other European countries was prompted by increased handling costs and is in line with the agreement, set out in the European Postal Services Directive, that prices should be geared to costs. The increase was introduced by the Post Office following consultation with the Government and with the Post Office Users' National Council (POUNC).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Standard Spending Assessments are the Government's way of dividing up total standard spending (not including specific and special grants) between local authorities. The formulas used to work out Standard Spending Assessments make use of information on the demographic, social and physical characteristics of local authority areas. They are set out in Section 4 of the Local Government Finance Report.
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