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Police Officer Numbers

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: On 30 September 1999, the latest date for which information is available, there were 125,464 police officers in England and Wales. On 30 September 1994, there were 127,427 officers. We plan to publish data on police numbers for 31 March 2000 as soon as they are complete and have been verified. Our current plans are to publish these data by 30 June.

A.14 Huntingdon: Weight Limit

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Over the last convenient 12-month period, how many abnormal loads have required a police escort in order to negotiate the A.428 due to the 40-tonne weight limit on the A.14 at Huntingdon, and which were otherwise not escortable on motorways or linked dual carriageway.[HL2559]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Cambridgeshire Constabulary have estimated that there are about 540 such loads per year.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Over the last convenient three-month period, what has been the approximate number of police car hours expended in escorting abnormal loads in order to avoid the 40-tonne weight limit on the A.14 at Huntingdon.[HL2560]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Cambridgeshire Constabulary have estimated that about 134 police car hours are spent escorting these loads each quarter.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Over the last convenient three-month period, what has been the approximate cost of providing police escorts for abnormal loads in order to avoid the 40-tonne weight limit on the A.14 at Huntingdon.[HL2561]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Cambridgeshire Constabulary have estimated the yearly cost to the police service of escorting these loads at about £5,700.

ECHR, Protocol 12

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

    Whether they will assent to the opening for signature and ratification of Protocol 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights to secure enjoyment of any rights enforced by law without discrimination.[HL2526]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I understand that the text of the Protocol is currently under further consideration. Her Majesty's Government will decide their position in the light of the final text.

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Railtrack and the Freedom of Information Bill

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend that Railtrack plc should be subject to the Freedom of Information Bill in respect of its statutory responsibilities for safety; and, if so, what other public companies they intend should be similarly subject to that Bill.[HL2528]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Freedom of Information Bill contains a provision in Clause 4 which permits the Secretary of State, by order, to bring within the scope of the Bill private organisations which exercise functions of a public nature. Before making such an order the Secretary of State will be required to consult every person to whom the order relates or persons appearing to him to represent such persons.

Before reaching a decision whether to make an order under this provision, the Secretary of State will, among other things, wish to determine whether designation of a body as a public authority, as defined in the Bill, will lead to information being obtained which is not otherwise available from another public authority and the regulatory burden which would be imposed on the private organistation.

In the case of private organisations operating in regulated sectors of the economy such as Railtrack plc, it is intended that information relating to its public functions which would be disclosable under the terms of the legislation would be available from the regulatory authorities. In the case of Railtrack plc, this will be the Office of the Rail Regulator and the Health and Safety Executive. If legislation regulating the flow of information contains unjustified statutory bars to disclosure, these will be amended by an order made under Clause 74 of the Bill.

Therefore, the Government are satisfied that it is not necessary to designate Railtrack plc as a public authority for the purposes of the freedom of information legislation.

With regard to other companies which we intend should be subject to the Freedom of Information Bill, I refer the noble Lord to the list attached to the reply I gave on 20 April (Official Report, cols. WA 123-28). This contains those bodies which we are presently minded to consult about designation as a public authority under Section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act after Royal Assent.

Asylum Seekers: Acceptance Statistics

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the asylum seekers who entered the United Kingdom in each of the years 1985, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 have been accepted as such, after due process of investigation, and have been granted permission to stay.[HL2553]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The information requested is given in the table. The proportions relate to initial decisions made in that year, not the number

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of applications. Persons recognised as refugees and granted asylum or those not recognised as refugees but granted exceptional leave to remain prior to 27 July 1998 had to wait four or seven years respectively before being eligible for settlement. Since 27 July 1998, persons recognised as refugees and granted asylum are accepted for settlement at the same time, and those not

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recognised as refugees but granted exceptional leave become eligible for settlement after four years. Further information on the years requested can be found in the Home Office Statistical Bulletins Asylum Statistics United Kingdom 1990-91, issue 12/92, and the same publication for 1998, issue 10/99, copies of which are available in the Library.

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Applications received for asylum in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, grants of asylum and exceptional leave to remain

119851199011995119961199711998
Applications received4,39026,20543,96529,64032,50046,015
Decisions in year2,6354,02527,00538,96036,04531,570
Recognised as a refugee and granted asylum25759201,2952,2403,9855,345
Percentage of decisions made22%23%5%6%11%17%
Not recognised as a refugee but granted exceptional leave 1,5602,4004,4105,0553,1153,910
Percentage of decisions made59%60%16%13%9%12%

1 Figures rounded to the nearest 5.

2 Decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in the same period.

3 Where it would have been unreasonable or impracticable to seek to enforce return to country of origin.


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Terrorism Bill: Proscribed Organisations

Lord Glentoran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the list of organisations in Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Bill is compatible with the Government of the United States' list contained in the document Patterns of Global Terrorism; and[HL2594]

    Whether they propose to include non-Irish organisations in Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Bill; and[HL2595]

    What non-Irish terrorist groups they believe to be operating within the United Kingdom.[HL2596]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Bill lists organisations which are currently proscribed under either the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 or the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1996. These organisations will remain proscribed when the Bill replaces those Acts.

The proscription powers in the 1989 and 1996 Acts can only be exercised against organisations concerned in terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland. Schedule 2 to the Terrorism Bill, as presently drafted, therefore includes only Northern Ireland-related terrorist organisations.

However, the Terrorism Bill provides for the first time a power to proscribe organisations concerned in other forms of terrorism. The Government are considering which organisations involved in international terrorism might be added to Schedule 2 once the Bill is in force. They are of course aware of the list in the United States document Patterns of Global Terrorism and will take account of all relevant information and intelligence before recommending to Parliament which international organisations might be added to Schedule 2.

Final decisions as to the contents of the first draft order adding international terrorist organisations to Schedule 2 will not be made until the power to make that order is in force. We will take full account of all the circumstances obtaining at that stage.

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We do not disclose information on terrorist groups which may seek to operate in, or from, the United Kingdom.

Terrorism Bill: Cyber-terrorism

Lord Glentoran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to take advantage of the opportunity to legislate for cyber-terrorism in the Terrorism Bill currently before Parliament; and, if so, how.[HL2597]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As I indicated at Committee stage of the Terrorism Bill on 16 May (Official Report, col. 229) we are looking carefully at whether the definition of terrorism should explicitly refer to some acts of disruption to or interference with computer systems. Our consideration of the matter is still under way but we expect to be able to advise on the outcome in advance of the Report stage of the Terrorism Bill.


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