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Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: A reply has been given to the noble Lord today.

Arms Industry: Investment by Political Parties

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The investment policies of political parties are a matter for them.

Immigration Act Detention: Written Reasons

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Since October 1999 it has been our administrative practice to serve all persons detained under Immigration Act powers, whether or not they are asylum seekers, with a form of notice (the IS91R) giving written reasons for their detention. Reasons are given by way of a checklist. This honours a commitment given in the Fairer, Faster and Firmer White Paper. We are currently considering whether a requirement to give written reasons should be included in rules (which are to be made under Section 153 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999) for the management of detention centres.

Following concern expressed by the noble Earl and others at Third Reading of the Bill which became the 1999 Act, we undertook to review the IS91R form. That review is now nearing completion and our aim is to introduce a revised IS91R this October. Though I cannot pledge that we shall be able to satisfy them in every particular, we are confident that the revised form of notice will go some way towards meeting the concerns which have been expressed by noble Lords and others about the existing form.

Prisoners Transferred to Hospital under Mental Health Act

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: The latest available information on numbers of prisoners transferred to hospitals as restricted patients under Sections 47 and 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983 in 1988 and 1999 is as follows:

Table 1: Number of prisoners discharged to the care of mental hospitals as restricted patients in years 1988 and 1999

19981999
Transferred from prison to hospital after sentence(1)94276
Transferred from prison to hospital while unsentenced or untried (2)82466
All transfers from Prison Service establishments176742

(1) Transfer from Prison Service Establishments under section 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983 with restrictions under section 49.

(2) Transfers under section 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

p The number of transfers in 1999 is based upon provisional data.


Probation Committees: Use of Home Secretary's Default Powers

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What use was made over the most recent five-year period for which information is available of the powers of the Home Secretary under Section 11(1) of the Probation Service Act 1993 to make rules regulating community service orders and the supervision of persons subject to probation orders.[HL3471]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: None. Section 11(1) of the Probation Service Act 1993 provides the Secretary of State with default powers where a probation committee fails to discharge its duty. These powers have not been used. Rules regulating community penalties, referred to in the question, are contained in Section 26 of the Act.

Community Service Orders and Probation Supervision: Home Secretary's Powers

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What use was made over the most recent five-year period for which information is available of the powers of the Home Secretary under Section 26 of the Probation Service Act 1993 to make rules regulating community service orders and the supervision of persons subject to probation orders.[HL3472]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: No use has been made of these powers over the last five years.

Transsexuals: Working Group Report

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Transsexual People will be published.[HL3681]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Interdepartmental Working Group reported to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary just before Easter. I am most grateful to members of the working group and those who contributed to it for the thoroughness of their work. Since Easter, my right honourable friend has consulted ministerial colleagues in other government departments and the devolved administrations.

My right honourable friend has today placed copies of the report in the Library. Similar arrangements are being made in the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly. The report will be placed on the Home Office website. Hard copies may be obtained on application to my department.

The report will be considered carefully within Government.

Access to Government Information: Code of Practice

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the 1999 report on the operation of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.[HL3683]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has published this report today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Asylum Support Adjudicators

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will announce the appointment of the Asylum Support Adjudicators. [HL3686]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today announced the appointment of the following Asylum Support Adjudicators, under Section 102 of and Schedule 10 to the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999:

Chief Asylum Support AdjudicatorMrs Sehba Haroon Storey
Deputy Chief Asylum Support AdjudicatorMs Gillian Carter
Asylum Support AdjudicatorsMrs Sarah Breach Mr Laurence Brass Mr Alan Ponting Dr Ethlyn Prince Mrs Susannah Walker

Fire Service: Capital Provisions

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will announce planned future capital provisions for the fire service in England and Wales. [HL3685]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: To assist the fire service in improving its efficiency and effectiveness, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, Mr O'Brien, is increasing credit approval provision for the service from its current level of £35.7 million to £59.7 million in 2001-02. Planned provision will be sustained at that level in 2002-03 and increased by a further £2 million to £61.7 million in 2003-04.

Horserace Betting Levy: National Lottery Impact

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the fifth report on the impact of the National Lottery on the horserace betting levy. [HL3687]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: An update on the impact of the National Lottery on the horserace betting levy has been published today. I am arranging for copies to be placed in the Library.

The paper, which has been prepared by the Home Office's Economic & Resource Analysis Unit, examines continuing trends in off-course betting expenditure and their relationship to the horserace betting levy.

The analysis indicates that in 1999 off-course betting expenditure was about 14.7 per cent below the level it would have reached in the absence of the National Lottery and that, by implication, the horserace betting levy raised £9-10 million less than it might otherwise have done.

This is broadly consistent with the findings of the first four reports.

As the Government have already announced their intention to abolish the horserace betting levy system, it is not our intention to commission any future reports in this series.

Sexual Offences Review: Report

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the sexual offences review report. [HL3680]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Office, Mr Clarke, can confirm that Setting the Boundaries: reforming the law on sex offences, report of the review of sex offences, has been published today.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary set out the terms of reference for the review in his reply of 25 January 1999 (Official Report, cols. 80-81). The review was asked to look at the law in England and Wales and to make recommendations that will provide clear and coherent sex offences that protect the individual, particularly children and more vulnerable people from abuse and exploitation; enable abusers to

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be appropriately punished; and are fair and non-discriminatory in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998.

This review was open and inclusive--it involved many stakeholders directly in its steering group and advisory external reference group, and consulted with many more at a series of conferences and seminars. It has looked at the evidence from research and the experience of law reform in other countries. The review has now completed its report to Government. It has made far-reaching recommendations to strengthen the effectiveness and protection of the law for children, raised important questions about the nature of the protection that should be offered to vulnerable people, proposed codifying and clarifying the law on consent in rape and setting the law on a fair and non-discriminatory basis for men and women whether as victim or offender. It also recommends new laws for dealing with the trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation and the use of children in sexual exploitation, as well as looking at penalties and treatment.

The issues involved are sensitive and complex ones, on which there will be differing views. It is a long time since we have had such a thorough and comprehensive set of proposals on the law of sex offences, based on careful thought and consultation. But these proposals are just that--recommendations made to Government by a broadly based review set up to provide the framework for further debate. The review involved many people from outside the civil service from many different groups and backgrounds, as well as civil servants from a wide range of departments. Before the Government can come to a conclusion on any of them we need further input and views on what is recommended. This is the start of a real debate on what we think the law should be and how it should be framed.

We would like views on all of the proposals in the report. The review has posed some specific questions, but we want reactions to all the recommendations. We would like to know how well they would work, whether they would add to the protection of the vulnerable, whether they would apply fairly, equitably and with justice and whether there would be any effects or consequences that have not yet been identified.

The Government particularly welcome the proposals to strengthen the law for children and vulnerable people--we have made great strides in tackling the issues of evidence for children and vulnerable people and it is time that the offences in the criminal law were revised to ensure robust and comprehensive protection for the weakest in our society. It is important to get the law right while ensuring that vulnerable people are not deterred from seeking advice from statutory authorities. We would welcome views on the proposals that relate to the protection of children and vulnerable people--what the impact and consequences of those would be. We welcome the review's clarity on the importance of the age of consent and the need to maintain it at 16.

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The Government do not think it would be right to take a view on the proposals in the report until they have been scrutinised and tested in consultation. This report and its proposals are not an end but a beginning--the report provides a carefully argued framework for consideration by all those who are affected, personally or professionally, by these proposals. The report is being made widely available in summary and full form both in hard copy and on the Home Office website. It is free and available on request, as is a supporting volume of evidence. The period for consultation is long--until March 2001--to give time for the full implications of the proposals to be considered. My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Office, Mr Clarke, looks forward to an important social debate that will help the Government frame proposals for a safe, just and tolerant society.

Copies of the report and summary have been placed in the Library and the Vote Office.


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