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Departmental Cars

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My department's cars are all either provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency or leased. Disposal is therefore a matter for the GCDA and the rental companies. I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my noble and learned friend the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office on 2 November 2000 (Official Report, WA 120).

13 Nov 2000 : Column WA5

DTI Web Pages

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why attempts to access the Department of Trade and Industry web pages http://www.dti.gov.uk/cii/regulation.html and http://www.dti.gov.uk/cii/ibpresponse.html are met with the message "Sorry, the page you requested does not exist".[HL4474]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The message "Sorry, the page you requested does not exist" was a temporary consequence of the recent substantial reconstruction of DTI's Communication and Information Industries Directorate (CII) website. The new site went live at 1830 on 31 October. There was an unfortunate delay of 24 hours before a CII-specific redirect page was put in place and during that period the default DTI message "Sorry, the page you requested does not exist" was displayed if a visitor used a link to one of the old pages.

Anyone attempting today to connect to the CII site via an old link or bookmark is redirected to the new CII home page. Specific information on telecommunications regulation and licensing can now be found at http://www.dti.gov.uk/cii/regulatory/telecomms/.

NMEC: Complaints

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has received any formal complaints against the New Millennium Experience Company; and, if so, whether he will list the names of those companies or organisations which have laid such complaints.[HL4476]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: It is the long-standing practice of the Department of Trade and Industry to regard all complaints as confidential.

NMEC: Financial Operation

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has to appoint inspectors to investigate the financial operations of the New Millennium Experience Company.[HL4477]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has no such plans at present.

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Prison Service: Courses Addressing Offending Behaviour

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What courses are offered by the Prison Service on addressing offending behaviour; and what comparisons they make on the effectiveness of these courses; and [HL4482]

    How many prisoners went on reasoning and rehabilitation courses in the last 12 months for which figures are available and, of these, how many dropped out and how many were asked to leave the course. [HL4481]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The Prison Service offers a range of programmes that have been accredited by independent panels of experts against effectiveness criteria established in the light of extensive international research as being likely to reduce re-offending. These consist of:

Reasoning and Rehabilitation and Enhanced Thinking Skills--cognitive behavioural programmes aimed at those at medium risk of re-offending with a high level of cognitive deficits;

Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it (CALM): a cognitive behavioural programme for offenders for whom anger and aggression feature as a component in current or previous offending;

Cognitive Self-Change: a programme for adult offenders with a history of violence; and

Problem Solving: an offence-based cognitive skills programme aimed at a similar population to Reasoning and Rehabilitation and Enhanced. Thinking Skills, designed by Dr James McGuire of Liverpool University.

The Service also offers a range of sex offender treatment programmes designed by the Prison Service to address sex offending, to challenge thinking patterns used by offenders to excuse and justify their behaviour and to teach new attitudes and behaviours related to positive, offence-free living. The courses consist of a core programme; an adapted programme for prisoners with learning difficulties; an extended programme for high risk sex offenders; and a booster programme for sex offenders who have already completed the core programme and are preparing for release.

There is also a partially accredited rolling programme for low and high risk offenders who have undergone other treatment.

A Prison Service long-term reconviction analysis assesses reconviction rates of graduates of the programmes after release from prison against control groups. These studies will be subjected to external, independent assessment and the Prison Service will ensure that any other necessary independent verification of programme outcomes is put in place.

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The data now beginning to emerge are encouraging but it is too early to draw firm conclusions at this stage from them. Between 31 October 1999 and 31 October 2000, 876 prisoners took part in the Reasoning and Rehabilitation offending behaviour programme, 43 dropped out of the programme and 33 were asked to leave.

Asylum Seekers Voucher System

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they are making in reviewing the voucher system applying to asylum seekers; when they expect to reach conclusions; and whether they will give instructions that change in full in cash should always be given when vouchers are tendered for purchases. [HL4496]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Goverment's review of the operation of the voucher support system is under way. It is hoped to complete the review early next year, when its conclusions will be reported in another place. All relevant stakeholders and interested parties are being invited to make representations. I will place a list of those organisations which contribute to the review in the Library.

The review will include early consideration of how change and lower denomination vouchers can be issued in the context of the decisions made by Parliament and reflected in the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act.

Asylum Seekers' Appeal Rights

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

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 23 October (WA 14) on standard notifications of the removal of asylum seekers, what is the new wording of the form in question; and whether it makes clear that there is an opportunity for asylum seekers to ask the Secretary of State to reconsider his decision on human rights grounds. [HL4478]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The phrase "Your above-named client has now exhausted all avenues of appeal following the Secretary of State's decision to refuse his/her asylum application" has been replaced with the phrase "Your client's asylum appeal has been finally determined".

The form does not mention the possibility of asking the Secretary of State to reconsider on human rights grounds. I refer the noble Lord to my Written Answer of 8 November (Official Report, col. WA 147).

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

    Further to the written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 23 October (WA 12), what steps will be taken by the Immigration and Nationality

13 Nov 2000 : Column WA8

    Department to inform asylum seekers and would-be immigrants appealing against decisions taken before 2 October of their entitlement to ask the Secretary of State to reconsider their cases in the light of human rights issues.[HL4428]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Immigration and Nationality Directorate informs people of their right of appeal when a decision is served but does not routinely inform asylum seekers and would-be immigrants appealing against decisions taken before 2 October of their entitlement to ask the Secretary of State to reconsider their cases in the light of human rights issues.

All such applicants are also informed how they can seek free professional advice and representation in connection with their appeal. I am confident that where there are human rights considerations which could make a material difference to the case, appellants will be advised accordingly. Unrepresented appellants who seek to argue that their case should be allowed on human rights grounds will be referred by the Home Office presenting officer or by the appellate authority to the precedent case of Pardeepan, which explains why they cannot do so. The precedent also explains that the human rights issue should be put to the Secretary of State for consideration and that if rejected there will be an opportunity to appeal on human rights grounds.

People appealing against decisions taken before 2 October do not have to wait until their appeal is determined or until any removal procedures are commenced before making a human rights claim. If they have an arguable case to make they should make it as soon as possible.


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