Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Drugs Prevention Initiative

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are publishing on 30 March the Home Office Drugs Prevention Initiative's eighth and final progress report.

This report reflects the initiative's valuable contribution to advancing the case for effective community based drugs prevention over the last nine years. That contribution was fully recognised in the Government's White Paper on drugs, Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain, published in April last year. The work of the initiative, in terms of its good practice findings from its rigorously evaluated demonstration projects, has helped influence thinking and improve the evidence base for drugs prevention.

The initiative reaches its planned conclusion on 31 March 1999. The White Paper recognised the need for successor arrangements to the initiative to support the Government's 10-year anti-drugs strategy. We are pleased to announce that the Home Office Drugs Prevention Advisory Service (DPAS) will replace the Drug Prevention Initiative (DPI) from 1 April 1999. The new service will cover the whole of England and will work closely with all drug action teams to encourage good drugs prevention practice and to support their work in delivering the national strategy.

A copy of the final DPI report will be placed in the Library tomorrow at 10.30 am.

Handguns: Compensation Claims

The Earl of Denbigh asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Payment offers have been made on all but around 400 claims, principally under Option C of the compensation schemes, which cannot yet be fully processed, mainly because the required evidence of value of the surrendered guns and ancillary equipment has not yet been provided. There are around 5,000 outstanding offers of payment awaiting a response

29 Mar 1999 : Column WA8

from the claimant before a final payment can be made. The bulk of these should be cleared within the next few days.

Trials of Children who Commit Grave Crimes

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have plans to review the present practice of conducting the trials of children charged with serious offences in the adult courts.[HL1592]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Her Majesty's Government have no plans at this stage to adjust the way in which children and young persons who commit grave crimes are dealt with in the courts.

Enforcement Cameras

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What guidance has been given to the police service on the use of enforcement cameras in respect of-- (a) whether to photograph the front or the rear of vehicles; and (b) measures to ensure anonymity of front-seat passengers if a vehicle is photographed from the front.[HL1536]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Privacy issues were discussed during the passage of the Road Traffic Act 1991, which brought automatic traffic law enforcement cameras into general police use. Our guidance to chief officers of police on the Act included advice on privacy issues. At that time rear photography was the best technical option.

The enforcement of road traffic law is an operational matter for the police and in 1995, before the introduction of the first automatic speed camera using front photography, the Association of Chief Police Officers expanded on previous advice to forces to deal specifically with privacy for front-seat passengers and other non-drivers in vehicles photographed from the front.

Crime (Sentences) Act, Section 4

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to table a statutory instrument to bring into force Section 4 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997.[HL1619]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Section 4 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 will be brought into force in December 1999 by means of a commencement order which the Government plan to lay before parliament in the autumn.

29 Mar 1999 : Column WA9

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that no administrative arrangements are made to implement the mandatory sentencing provisions in Section 4 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 until praying time against the statutory instrument to bring it into force has expired.[HL1620]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The commencement order bringing Section 4 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 into force is not subject to an affirmative or negative resolution procedure.

Immigration and Nationality Directorate: Computer System

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What penalties there are in the £70 million contract with Siemens Business Systems for computer systems at the Immigration and Nationality Department for late delivery and failure to meet specifications; and when it is expected that the system will be fully operative.[HL1629]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Immigration and Nationality Directorate's (IND's) casework programme is a private finance initiative project and over 90 per cent. of the payments to the supplier, Siemens Business Services, are linked to the successful delivery of key elements of the programme, including the computer system, and to improvements in IND's productivity. If the expected benefits are not achieved the payments to the supplier fall below the target in the contract. The delay in delivering the programme and the computer system means that Siemens Business Services has received less income. The current plan is for the computer system to be available to IND for testing in June 1999 and to be rolled out throughout the latter part of 1999, leading to a fully operative system early in 2000.

Asylum Decisions

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they still adhere to the aim announced in paragraph 8.9 of the White Paper, Fairer, Faster, Firmer--A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum, that most initial asylum decisions will be made within two months of receipt of applications; and what is the target for April 2000.[HL1630]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It remains our intention that by April 2001 most initial asylum decisions will be made within two months of the asylum claim. Progress towards the two-month target during 1999-2000 and 2000-01 will depend on a number of factors, including the level of new asylum applications, the rate at which the backlog can be cleared, and the successful completion of the casework programme.

29 Mar 1999 : Column WA10

Immigration and Nationality Directorate: Asylum Applications

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many asylum applications were awaiting decisions by the Immigration and Nationality Department on (a) 1 May 1997; (b) 31 December 1997; (c) 31 December 1998 and (d) the latest date for which the information is available.[HL1631]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The information requested is given in the table. Information on the number of outstanding cases relates to the position at the end of the month.

Asylum applications outstanding(1)

Number
April 199754,020
December 199751,795
December 199864,770
February 1999(2)71,295

(1) Figures rounded to the nearest 5.

(2) Provisional figures.


Salvador Allende

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, as alleged in a report in the Mail on Sunday on 21 March, the present Home Secretary met Salvador Allende in Chile in 1966.[HL1669]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: To the best of his recollection, the Home Secretary did not meet Salvador Allende in Chile in 1966.

General Pinochet

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, as alleged in a report in the Mail on Sunday on 21 March, the present Home Secretary has participated in London in protest marches against General Pinochet.[HL1670]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Home Secretary has not to the best of his recollection participated in any protest marches against Senator Pinochet.

Children: Age of Consent

Lord Ashbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    At what age a child ceases to be the victim of paedophila (even if consensual) and becomes a responsible sexually active child, entitled to tax-funded contraception.[HL1601]

29 Mar 1999 : Column WA11

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There is no legal definition of the term "paedophile" in English law. It is, however, unlawful to engage in any sexual activity with a person under the age of consent. This is set at 16 for heterosexual activity. In addition, it is unlawful to engage in an act of anal intercourse with a person under 18 or take part in homosexual activity with a male under that age.

Advice and treatment can be made available to those under 16 but before issuing contraception to them doctors should always seek to persuade the young person to inform their parents or guardians. If the young person cannot be persuaded, a doctor should only offer advice and treatment without parental consent in accordance with the judgment given by this House in the case of Gillick v. West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority [1985] 3 All England Law Report 402, which dealt with the circumstances in which those under 16 may consent to their own treatment.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page