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Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: No one other than a service person or diplomat was interviewed for the post of Lieutenant Governor of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. One female candidate applied for the post in response to The Times advertisement.

No. 2, Marsham Street

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The future of the Marsham Street site rests on the outcome of a public private partnership project to provide modern offices for Home Office and Prison Service staff. Bids from two private sector companies are being evaluated and an announcement on the outcome is expected shortly.

Foreign Nationals: Leave to Remain

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The current application forms are valid for use only until 14 October 2000. Revised forms will be prescribed before then. It is planned to make them available before the end of September. From the time they are issued until 14 October 2000, applications may be made on either

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the newly prescribed forms or the present versions. Only the new forms may be used for applications made on or after 15 October 2000. Copies will be placed in the Library as soon as they are available.

Police Forces in Rural Areas: Financial Provision

Lord Evans of Watford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to allocate the money recently agreed for police forces in rural areas in the current year.[HL3517]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: On 15 June my right honourable friend the Home Secretary in his Answer in another place (Official Report, col. 714W) announced provision of £15 million, made available in the Budget for assistance to police forces in rural areas this year.

The allocations for 2000-01 are shown in the table.

Police Authority£
Avon and Somerset494,892
City of London0
Devon and Cornwall1,554,673
Dyfed Powys1,297,570
Greater Manchester0
North Wales770,617
North Yorkshire1,005,224
South Wales0
South Yorkshire0
Thames Valley629,559
West Mercia1,157,670
West Midlands0
West Yorkshire0
All Police Authorities15,000,000

The sums have been apportioned on the basis of population weighted by a sparsity score. Payment will be made shortly.

Financial provision for future years has been included in the Spending Review 2000 settlement.

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National Probation Service: Funding

Lord Clarke of Hampstead asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they meet urgent expenditure relating to the National Probation Service for England and Wales subsequent to the enactment of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill.[HL3518]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Parliamentary approval to expenditure on the new National Probation Service for England and Wales will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Home Office Vote (Class IV Vote 1). Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £670,000 will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund. This expenditure is required to ensure that the National Probation Service would be able to come into effect on 1 April 2001, subject to the successful passage of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill.

Reform of the Probation Service is key to the Government's crime reduction and effective punishment strategy. Current plans envisage a vesting date of 1 April 2001 for the new National Probation Service. This date is key for delivering operational effectiveness gains, which would otherwise be lost or significantly delayed. Two critical ingredients of reform are changes in governance and leadership of the new service and it is in these areas that urgent expenditure would be incurred. The critical path for achieving the target date is dependent upon starting the process of selection to the 42 new probation boards and the recruitment of chief officers for the eight amalgamated services by July.

Criminal Records Bureau Information Systems and Services

Lord Murray of Epping Forest asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will announce the outcome of the invitation to tender for the Criminal Records Bureau Information Systems and Services.[HL 3520]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Criminal Records Bureau issued an invitation to tender on 12 June 2000 for the provision of information systems and services through a public private sector partnership. Three firms had previously been shortlisted and they provided their submissions in response to the invitation to tender on 28 June.

Following a thorough evaluation against separate qualitative and financial criteria, Bernard Herdan, Chief Executive of the Criminal Records Bureau, has accepted the recommendation of the tender evaluation

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board that the tender from Capita should be selected as the one which is the most economically advantageous based on the best combination of technical design, customer service, quality, schedule, risk transfer and cost. The Criminal Records Bureau and Capita will now commence preferred supplier negotiations with a view to award a contract in the near future, subject to completion of a satisfactory appraisal and business case.

Prison Service Performance

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will comment on the performance of Her Majesty's Prison Service in 1999-2000.[HL3551]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Office is pleased to report that today the Director General of Her Majesty's Prison Service has laid before Parliament the Annual Report and Accounts for the Prison Service for 1999-2000. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Scientific Procedures on Living Animals

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the figures relating to scientific procedures performed on living animals in Great Britain in 1999.[HL3552]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The information requested will be published as a Command Paper, Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain 1999, on 17 August.

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office (Mr O'Brien) has reported that: the number of procedures started in 1999 was about 2.66 million, almost exactly the same as in 1998: 83 per cent of these were performed using mice and rats; the number of animals used in 1999 was 2.57 million, about 24,000 fewer than in 1998; and the number of procedures involving the use of genetically modified animals rose by 63,000 to 511,000 in 1999, but this was almost exactly offset by a decrease to 1,894,000 in the use of animals with a normal genetic constitution.

Unduly Lenient Sentences: Attorney-General's Powers

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to fulfil their manifesto commitment to extend the Attorney-General's powers to refer lenient sentences to the Court of Appeal for review.[HL3553]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: An order extending the Attorney-General's powers in relation to unduly lenient sentences is being laid before Parliament today.

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This will enable the Attorney-General to refer sentences imposed for offences of illegal trafficking in drugs and pornographic material involving children and offences specifically against children (unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16, inciting a girl under 16 to have incestuous intercourse and indecent conduct towards a young child). The order comes into effect on 21 August 2000 and will apply to any sentence imposed after that date. The Government will keep under review whether further exclusions should be made in future.

Asylum Claims: Postal Applications

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the current arrangements for asylum claims to be made by post.[HL 3554]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We are at present receiving about 700 postal applications for asylum a month and estimate that about half come from applicants living in London. We take the view that asylum applications should normally be made in person so that the proper checks, including fingerprinting, can be made to establish identity and prevent fraudulent or multiple applications. From 31 July, postal applicants living in any of the London boroughs will be required to attend for screening at Croydon before their claim is recorded and processed. We will be seeking to extend similar arrangements to other parts of the country as soon as possible.

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