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20 Feb 2001 : Column WA87

Written Answers

Tuesday, 20th February 2001.

Gutteridge Farm Incident

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will call for a report on the incident on 9 December 2000 when Essex Police told Mr Andrew Bond that they did not have the manpower to deal with intruders who had broken into a barn at Gutteridge Farm in Weeley, Essex, causing criminal damage to wheat stored in the barn.[HL646]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The Chief Constable of the Essex Police has advised me about the incident at Gutteridge Farm on 9 December 2000 in which the police responded to the rave being held on Mr Bond's property without his consent.

I understand that the officers attending the incident assisted Mr Bond in so far as he was prepared to exercise his rights as landlord.

Chief Inspector of Prisons

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the advertisement in the Guardian of 7 February for a successor to Sir David Ramsbotham as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales from 1 August 2001:


    (a) why Sir David is to be retired on that date;


    (b) when and how he was told he was to be retired on that date; and


    (c) who told him he was to retire on that date.[HL716]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Sir David Ramsbotham was appointed for a period of five years, which expired on 30 November 2000. The terms of his appointment allow it to be extended for a maximum period of three years by mutual agreement.

The Home Secretary wrote to Sir David on 19 April 2000 to tell him of his decision to offer Sir David an extension of appointment until the end of July 2001. Sir David replied on 27 April accepting the extension to his appointment. The Home Secretary announced in Parliament on 9 June that Sir David would retire on that date (Official Report, cols. 392W-93W).

In a post as high profile and demanding as that of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, we consider it right to look for a fresh focus from time to time on the difficult issues that confront the Prison Service. Sir David will have served nearly six years by the time he retires, and the Home Secretary's judgment is that the time is right for the post to be re-opened to competition.

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Prison Service Chaplain General

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why there are no non-Christians on the interviewing panel for the selection of new Chaplain General for the Prison Service; and whether they will consult the religious advisory group about this appointment.[HL717]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Members of the Advisory Group on Religion in Prisons are not being consulted about this appointment which, in line with the normal Prison Service and Civil Service rules on recruitment, will be made by the Prison Service on the recommendation of the recruitment board. As the field for this post has been confined to ordained clergy from within the Anglican communion, the recruitment board will include representatives of the Christian churches in addition to members of the Prison Service Management Board.

Hinduja Brothers: Citizenship Claims

Lord Northbrook asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any Minister at the Home Office has discussed the citizenship claims of the Hinduja brothers with the Prime Minister's Envoy, Lord Levy; and[HL668]

    Whether the Home Office has ever received representations on behalf of the citizenship claims of the Hinduja brothers from the Prime Minister's Special Envoy, Lord Levy; and[HL669]

    Whether the Home Office has ever received representations on behalf of the citizenship claims of the Hinduja brothers from the sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company.[HL670]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced on 24 January that he had asked former Treasury Solicitor Sir Anthony Hammond QC to review the full circumstances surrounding approaches to the Home Office in connection with the possibility of an application for naturalisation by Mr S P Hinduja in 1998. Sir Anthony started his review on Thursday 25 January. After an initial reading of the papers, Sir Anthony has decided that, in order to fulfil the terms of reference of his review of the application for naturalisation of S P Hinduja, it is appropriate for him to look at the circumstances of the granting of naturalisation in respect of G P Hinduja because the circumstances of both applications are closely related. For the same reason, he has also decided that it is appropriate for him to look at the circumstances surrounding the inquiries about naturalisation in respect of Prakesh Hinduja.

Sir Anthony aims to complete his review as quickly as possible, consistently with the need to conduct a thorough investigation. I understand that on the information currently available to Sir Anthony, he hopes to complete the review by the end of February. The report will be published and copies will be placed

20 Feb 2001 : Column WA89

in the Printed Paper Office and the Library. It would be inappropriate for me to pre-empt the outcome of this review.

Metropolitan Police Service: Candidates with a Criminal Record

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a criminal record remains a disqualification for service in the Metropolitan Police.[HL727]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: A criminal record is not necessarily a disqualification for service in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) or any other force in England and Wales. Police regulations require a candidate for appointment to a police force to produce satisfactory references as to character. It is for chief officers to decide whether or not a conviction should be a bar to the recruitment of an applicant.

In considering an applicant with a previous conviction(s), the overriding rule adopted by the MPS is that no one is eligible for appointment if they have been convicted of any criminal offence which if committed by a serving police officer would result in their dismissal from the MPS; would cause embarrassment to the service; or would create difficulties to the individual in carrying out his/her duties.

Metropolitan Police Service: Physical Standards

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether physical standards for Metropolitan Police officers have been relaxed since May 1997.[HL728]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I have been advised by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) that the basic standards have not been relaxed but some changes have been made in relation to applicants' medical and dental history.

The changes are the result of a review of the minimum standards applied to recruitment by the MPS Recruitment Task Force. They are designed to bring the criteria applied by the MPS into line with those of other forces in the United Kingdom.

All the changes have been carefully considered to ensure the MPS is socially inclusive, non-discriminatory and fair, while maximising the number, quality and diversity of recruits who meet the minimum standards.

Victims and Perpetrators of Violent Crime: Ethnicity

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are now able to answer questions on the ethnicity of the victims of violent crimes and the alleged perpetrators; and[HL735]

20 Feb 2001 : Column WA90

    Whether the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 31 January (WA 63) concerning the ethnicity of those reportedly involved in robberies and assault in the Metropolitan Police area is compatible with his letter of 17 November 2000 to the Lord Tebbit.[HL736]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My answer of 31 January 2001 referred to the published information on the ethnicity of those arrested in the Metropolitan Police area who were involved in robberies and assaults. No information is collected centrally on the ethnicity of victims for these offences. A proportion of such violent offences will be identified as racist according to the definition adopted following the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. It is information on this subset of violent offences that will be covered by the new data collection that was referred to in my letter of 17 November 2000. This new data collection will include information on the ethnicity of victims of racist violent crimes, their age group and gender.

Gay Elms and Whitehouse Primary Schools

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations have been received from elected councillors from the Bristol South constituency concerning the proposed closure of Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools. [HL696]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Government are not aware of any representations being made on the proposed closure of Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools from elected councillors in Bristol.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations have been received from the Member of Parliament for Bristol South concerning the proposed closure of Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools.[HL697]

Baroness Blackstone: The Government are not aware of any representations being made on the proposed closure of Gay Elms and Whitehouse primary schools from the Member of Parliament for Bristol South.


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