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26 Jul 1999 : Column WA137

Written Answers

Monday, 26th July 1999.

Sentencing of Women

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will request the Court of Appeal to issue guidelines to all courts on appropriate sentencing for convicted women, in accordance with the Crime and Disorder Act 1998; and, if not, why not.[HL3692]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The relevant provisions in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 relate to sentencing guidelines for specific offences, rather than particular categories of offenders. The Home Secretary therefore has no power under the Act to direct the Sentencing Advisory Panel to propose to the Court of Appeal that it issue guidelines on the sentencing of women.

Immigration Act Detainees: Access to Internet

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why detainees held in immigration and asylum centres, pending determination of their cases, are denied access to the Internet.[HL3702]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Immigration Act detainees held in Immigration detention centres have no access to the Internet. However they do have unrestricted access to postal services and telephones and in case of emergency can use fax facilities. Internet access has been considered in consultation with detention centre contractors but has been rejected as we do not believe that the current level of access control and restrictions are sufficient to meet our security requirements. This decision is subject to review should access controls be tightened satisfactorily to ensure that no information which could compromise the security of detention centres and the safety of detainees, visitors and staff would be available to detainees.

Immigration Act: Voucher Scheme

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their assessment of the cost of administering the voucher scheme proposed in the Immigration and Asylum Bill compared with the cost of the present arrangements; and what account they have taken of overseas experiences with voucher schemes in introducing a voucher scheme in the United Kingdom.[HL3703]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We have made no detailed assessment of the cost of administering the

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voucher scheme. However, one of the reasons we are contracting out the voucher scheme and subjecting it to competitive tender in the Autumn is to ensure that the administrative costs are kept as low as possible but consistent with the need for effective delivery of the service. It is not possible to make a comparison with the support arrangements provided by local authorities' social services departments because of the varying nature of those arrangements. Comparison of voucher schemes in other countries is of limited value, but the asylum support project team hopes to learn lessons from the experience in Germany.

Macpherson Inquiry Papers: Access

Lord Simon of Glaisdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many persons had access to the summary of the findings of the Macpherson Inquiry into the Lawrence murder and its associated commentary before their general publication.[HL3377]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: In announcing the outcome of the inquiry on 13 May the Home Secretary said that only a small number of officials and advisers had access to the relevant papers. Twelve people (apart from the Home Secretary) were interviewed by the independent investigator as having had access to both the summary and associated correspondence.

HM Prison Risley

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the report of HM Inspectorate of Prisons' visit to HM Prison Risley in December 1998.[HL3751]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The report was published on 14 May 1999. I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library.

Foreign Nationals: Leave to Remain in UK

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to replace the current application forms for foreign nationals wishing to apply for leave to remain in the United Kingdom.[HL3898]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The current application forms expire on 14 October 1999. Revised versions of the seven existing forms will be prescribed during September and it is planned to make them available before the end of that month. From the time they are issued until 14 October 1999, applications may be made on either the newly prescribed forms or the present versions. Only the new forms may be used for applications made on or after 15 October 1999. Copies will be placed in the Library as soon as they are available.

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Euan Sutherland and Christopher Morris

Lord McCarthy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What approach they are making to the European Court of Human Rights over the cases of Euan Sutherland and Christopher Morris.[HL3899]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: With agreement of the applicants, a further extension has been sought from the European Court of Human Rights in the stayed cases of Sutherland and Morris versus the United Kingdom.

We have informed the Court, in the context of this request, that the Government intend to re-introduce the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill next session and if necessary the Parliament Acts will be used to secure its passage.

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Lord McCarthy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to submit to the relevant international bodies their latest periodic reports under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.[HL3950]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The United Kingdom's Fifteenth Report under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and its first report under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities were submitted to the United Nations and Council of Europe respectively on 23 July 1999. Copies of the reports have been placed in the Library.

Passport Agency: Business Plan

Lord McCarthy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the United Kingdom Passport Agency business plan 1998-99 and annual report will be published.[HL3901]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Proof copies of the Passport Agency's annual report have been placed in the Library. The report will be printed and issued by September.

The Agency's business plan has, exceptionally, been deferred to later in the year in order that it will more accurately reflect the agency's position in light of the difficulties experienced earlier this year.

Macpherson Inquiry: Costs

Lord McCarthy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the costs of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, including the costs arising from the publication by the inquiry of the names of witnesses in Appendix 11 of the inquiry's report.[HL3902]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: The final costs of the inquiry have yet to be determined as there are outstanding bills for settlement in terms of legal fees. However, the costs incurred to date are:

Costs
Pay and allowances: Inquiry team, advisers and civil servants£667,000
Accommodation and associated costs£710,000
Legal representation and Treasury Solicitors costs£2,045,000
Miscellaneous running costs£777,000

This provides a total cost to date of £4.199 million. We have accepted the recommendation of Sir William Macpherson, chairman of the inquiry, that the Metropolitan Police Service should, in accordance with Section 49(5) of the Police Act 1996, meet the full costs of setting up and establishing the inquiry, together with all costs which directly accrued from part 1 of the inquiry relating to the police investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. These costs amount to £3.170 million to date of the total costs and these have been met by the Metropolitan Police.

We have also accepted Sir William's recommendation that the costs of part 2 of the inquiry, on the future handling of racially motivated crime, should be met by the Home Office as the findings were of more general application.

We have always made clear that we would take steps to remedy the serious problems caused to a number of people by the inquiry's error in publishing Appendix 11 of the inquiry's report in full. Arrangements have, therefore, been made to reimburse the costs arising from the need of 18 families and individuals to be moved by Greenwich Council or to sell their houses. The final amount spent for this purpose, including staff costs incurred by the council, is not yet known but is likely to be about £650,000.


Louis Farrakhan

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When a decision will be made on whether the exclusion from the United Kingdom of Mr. Louis Farrakhan is to be maintained.[HL3903]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Last year, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary informed Mr. Farrakhan that he was minded to maintain his exclusion from the United Kingdom on the grounds that his presence here would not be conducive to the public good for reasons of race relations and the maintenance of public order. Mr. Farrakhan was offered the opportunity to make further representations before my right honourable friend made his final decision.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has carefully reviewed the case for his continued exclusion in the light of Mr. Farrakhan's representations and other relevant material. My right honourable friend has concluded that it remains the case that the exclusion of Mr. Farrakhan from the United Kingdom is conducive

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to the public good. Mr. Farrakhan's representatives have been informed of the decision.


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