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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his comments on the activities of other departments. Clearly, in order to advise further in this area, we must wait to see how the two pilots being conducted in the youth offender institutions are working and, following from that, how effective they have been and what value and merit they have.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, the Minister said that the reoffending rates for the activity courses were in parallel with other forms of punishment. However, earlier he seemed to say that we do not know what the reoffending rates are. I became a little confused as to what is the exact position. When will a full evaluation of the courses become available?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, reconviction studies thus far show that prison and community sentences are roughly equal in terms of reconviction rates. Our What Works initiative will focus on every aspect of the probation service's work with offenders on those matters which have been proven to reduce reoffending. That programme aims to ensure that all probation practice is based on evidence of success. We are conducting careful research and evaluation as to what works and we believe that that pragmatic and sensible approach will provide us with the best way forward in that area. We are confident that over the

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next 12 months we shall continue to see dramatic progress. Clearly, it is in the interests of us all to ensure that those programmes work; that they are effective; and that we bring down the reconviction rates. That is very important.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, I read in the Yorkshire Post today that the Army is to recruit in young offender institutions in Wetherby and Dover. Will the Government consider extending their courses to within the young offender institutions?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I thought I had answered that question when I responded to the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. I believe that it is something which we must keep carefully under review. It is obviously an important departure and we shall look to see how successful it is in the future.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, will the Minister agree that it is important that young people should be prevented from becoming offenders in the first place? Perhaps I may ask him whether the Government support such organisations as DIVERT--I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Elton who is its chairman is not in his place--which seek to provide sporting and other activities to children who may otherwise get into trouble?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I believe that the noble Baroness makes a very important point; that is, that we must ensure that young people do not get into the offending habit. Therefore, it is in the interests of us all to support those projects which carry out that important work.

Baroness Sharples: My Lords, can the noble Lord tell us what is the cost per annum?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, costs vary according to how one judges these matters. However, I shall try to give the noble Baroness a range of the unit costs. They vary considerably from £33 per participant who starts the programme. As far as we can identify it, the average cost of a place provided was £379. The average cost per participant who starts is £468. The average cost per completion is £730.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, will the Minister join me in condemning those Labour local authorities which over many years have refused to allow the military to recruit at schools, job fairs and the like? Does that not seem illogical in the light of the Government's decision on offenders?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the question seems somewhat wide of the subject with which we are dealing this afternoon. Clearly, that is a matter to which the Employment Service may wish to turn their attention.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, will the Minister say whether there has been any evaluation of the scheme at

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Applecross on the west coast of Scotland, which is a joint venture between his department and the Ministry of Defence?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, this is indeed tricky. We shall try to find the answer for the noble Baroness if we can. As far as I am aware, we have been looking closely at the Venture Trust project at Applecross in Scotland. Currently, we have agreed funding until 31st March next year. Obviously, funding beyond that date will be dependent on recent research and the reconviction study which has now been completed.

Powers of Entry to Private Premises

2.57 p.m.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which statutory instruments giving powers of entry to private premises have come into force since May 1997.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, no central record is kept and the research required to verify that information and provide a definitive list would be a disproportionate burden on resources. However, an initial survey has indicated that some 35 statutory instruments giving powers of entry to private premises may have come into force since May 1997. As an indication of the scale of the work involved in researching that area, the noble Baroness may be aware of the major and time-consuming inquiry into powers of entry conducted by Mr David Mitchell, formerly Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry, between 1979 and 1980. It identified some 700 powers and led to new criteria for central scrutiny of proposals then being introduced.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, does the Minister not agree that that is an astonishing Answer? The Question asks only for the number of statutory instruments since May 1997. The same question was asked of the Library in this House, which furnished the answer within 24 hours. Moreover, do the Government have any plans to take powers of entry for enforcement purposes to remove those people who take residence without permission in private property?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, perhaps the noble Baroness will phrase the second part of her point again so that I may be clear about the information she requires.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, do the Government have any plans to take powers of entry for enforcement purposes to remove people who have taken up residence without permission in domestic private property?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, dealing with squatters, as I know from personal experience, is not

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an easy task. However, we believe that the law is entirely adequate in that regard and has been strengthened by successive governments.

Lord Borrie: My Lords, will the Minister agree that with the advent of modern technology, especially computers, much commercial activity is now carried on from private premises and that if powers of investigation are required in order to combat commercial fraud, illegal cartels, insider trading and the like, it is necessary that there should be adequate powers to enter private premises where more and more commercial activity is now carried on?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am advised that there was a recent decision by the Divisional Court, the implications of which the Government are considering very carefully for the future.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, the Minister and his officials have been able to conduct at least some research into the number of powers of entry taken since 1997. Will the Minister therefore undertake to publish in Hansard the list of such powers taken since 1997, both resulting from statutory instruments and primary legislation? It would be helpful to all of us to see the nature of such powers.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am more than happy to assist the noble Lord as far as I possibly can. I have eight pages of lists of statutes and statutory instruments dating back to 1991. It might assist all of us if those were put into the Library. I undertake to do so at the earliest opportunity.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, does the Minister not agree that it is a serious matter to introduce legislation which is contrary to, and which limits, the rights of the individual? I refer to future legislation as well as to that recently passed. Statute 2170, for example, gives the right to any person who appears suitable to the Secretary of State to enter, at any time, premises, and so on. Does the Minister also not agree that the fact that the Government do not even think that it is worth keeping note of what they are doing is pretty disgraceful?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I cannot possibly agree with the noble Lord. We do keep a note but not a running total. We have ensured that adequate checking measures are in place to look carefully at the extent of such powers, which are commonplace throughout statutes introduced by governments of both persuasions. I refer, for example, to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, the Environmental Protection Act and the Food Safety Act of 1990, all of which contained extensive powers of entry. It is not just our Government who put such matters in place, but governments historically. They

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are there for a value and purpose--to ensure that we enforce and uphold statutes and enforce the law properly.


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