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21 Feb 2001 : Column WA97

Written Answers

Wednesday, 21st February 2001.

Ultra-low Sulphur Petrol

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made on the introduction of ultra-low sulphur petrol in the United Kingdom. [HL944]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Pre-Budget Report in November that the Government would reduce duty on ultra-low sulphur petrol (ULSP) on Budget day this year, in recognition of its environmental benefits, subject to consultation and it being widely available.

Ministers have today met the major oil companies to discuss this issue. On the basis of that meeting, I am glad to say that we believe that the oil companies are on track to meet their target to supply ULSP nationwide at their retail sites by the end of March.

Ministers also asked representatives of independent petrol retailers to meet us today. They operate over 5,000 retail sites across the country. Many are small businesses, often playing a vital role supplying rural and urban communities.

Although some independents are already supplying up to 50 per cent ULSP, their representatives indicated that they anticipate that it could take independent retailers longer to complete the nationwide transition to ULSP than for the major oil companies, because of constraints on the capacity of UK oil refineries.

The independent retailers could move faster by increasing imports, but this might cause uncertainty in the wholesale and retail markets and would not necessarily be to the benefit of motorists.

The Government's objectives are to ensure that everyone should be able to share the environmental benefits of ULSP, and the benefits of the duty cut associated with it. It is in the whole country's interests that these objectives are achieved, and achieved as smoothly as possible.

Any decisions on actual duty rates will be taken and announced by the Chancellor in the Budget itself but, as a sensible measure that will be supported by independent petrol retailers, to guarantee that all motorists would benefit from a cut in duty on Budget day, I can announce that the Government intend to match any reduction in duty on ULSP that is announced in the Budget with a reduction in duty on unleaded petrol for a temporary period until 14 June 2001.

This will ensure that the introduction of ULSP across the country will happen in the smoothest way, and that car-drivers--especially in rural areas supplied by independent petrol retailers--will be able to benefit from any duty cut that is announced in the Budget for ULSP. We want to match nationwide availability at

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the major oil companies with all motorists benefiting from any duty cut at independent stations too.

In this way we best achieve our aims set out in November--first, that the long-term benefits to the environment are achieved; second, that motorists would be able to benefit from a cut in petrol duty on Budget day; and third, that the benefit would go to all motorists in all areas.

Arable Area Payments: Payment Dates

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the postponement of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) due date from 31 December 2001 to 31 January 2001 is for this year only; whether the next payment will be due on 31 December or 31 January 2002; or whether it is likely that the due date will be further postponed in 2002.[HL639]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The change in payment dates under the Arable Area Payments Scheme (AAPS) is contained in EU Regulations agreed by the Council of Ministers and applies until further notice. From 2000 onwards payments must be made between 16 November and 31 January (up to 1999 these were made between 16 October and 31 December). Payments on set-aside used for the production of non-food raw materials must be paid between 16 November and 31 March. MAFF and the other UK agricultural departments aim to make payments as soon as possible within those time periods. In England in 2000 half of all payments were made within the first two weeks after 16 November.

National Intelligence Model

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all police forces in England and Wales have adopted the National Intelligence Model. [HL925]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The National Intelligence Model was developed by the National Criminal Intelligence Service on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers and has been adopted by them. We look forward to all forces in England and Wales implementing it. The model offers the prospect of forces working to common standards and discipline in intelligence-led policing which will benefit them locally and also provide benefits in tackling crime at regional and national levels. The use of intelligence to inform operational decisions is necessary if forces are to make the most effective use of their resources and to respond to changing forms of crime. We are making up to £10.6 million available in 2001-02 towards the capital costs of implementation of the model.

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Lawrence Steering Group

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there exists within Scotland Yard a committee known as the Lawrence Steering Group; what are its proper designation, terms of reference, membership and frequency of meeting; to whom does it report; and what authority it possesses.[HL726]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced in another place on 18 May 1999, he set up the Lawrence Steering Group, which he chairs. Its terms of reference are:

    to oversee and audit the implementation of the Home Secretary's Action Plan, published in March 1999 as the Government's response to the report of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. The group has met 10 times so far. Details of membership of the steering group are as follows: Members representing official bodies:

    The right honourable Jack Straw MP--Home Secretary

    Charles Clarke MP--Minister of State, Home Office

    Jacqui Smith MP--Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for School Standards, Department for Education and Employment

    Gurbux Singh--Chairman, Commission for Racial Equality

    Bob Purkiss--Commission for Racial Equality

    Mark Addison--Chief Executive, Crown Prosecution Service

    Dan Crompton--Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary

    Maqsood Ahmad--Assistant Inspector of Constabulary

    Ian Blair--Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police

    Tony Burden--President, The Association of Chief Police Officers

    Fred Broughton--Chairman, The Police Federation

    Peter Gammon MBE--Chairman, The Superintendents' Association

    Ruth Henig--Chair, Association of Police Authorities

    Ravi Chand--National Black Police Association Independent members of the Steering Group:

    The Baroness Howells of St Davids OBE

    Beverley Thompson OBE

    Doreen Lawrence

    Neville Lawrence

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    Judy Clements

    Keith Kerr

    Usha Sood

    Sir Herman Ouseley

    Mark Blake

Violent Crime

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what they attribute the recent rise in crimes of violence; and which sections of the population are the principal victims of violent crime.[HL734]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The British Crime Survey, which is widely accepted as the most authoritative source of information on the real rates of crime, indicates that violent crime has been falling since 1995, and reduced by 4 per cent between 1997 and 1999, the latest date for which figures are available. It is none the less true that there has been an increase in the number of violent crimes recorded by the police.

The increase in recorded crime figures in recent years may be due, at least in part, to the fact that additional assault offences were introduced into the recorded crime series in April 1998 and racially aggravated harassment in September 1998. Within violent crime, the change in counting rules impacted most on violence against the person, which now includes common assault and assault on a constable. The numbers of recorded crimes in this category were inflated nationally by the change in counting rules by 118 per cent.

Another reason for the increase may be the determined effort to encourage more reporting of racial harassment, homophobic offences and domestic violence. We would expect the recorded figures to rise in these categories as people become less tolerant of these types of violence, and of assaults arising from fights between acquaintances, and therefore more willing to report incidents.

The reasons for the recent rise in robbery are complex. The 2000 British Crime Survey suggests that risks for younger people may be increasing. According to evidence from police forces, the number of younger offenders and victims has increased. There is also some evidence to suggest that mobile phone theft may account for some of the increase.

Figures from the 2000 British Crime Survey show that the risk of being a victim of violent crime is greatest for men aged between 16-24. Young women are also more at risk of experiencing violence than are older women. Risk decreases sharply for the older population. Personal characteristics influence risk, with the following groups being at higher risk: unemployed adults, single adults, single parents, separated adults and those who go to the pub more than three times a week.

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The type and location of the household are also factors that influence risk of violent crime. Risks are high where the home is rented privately and in areas of high physical disorder. Risks of violent crime in rural areas are only half the level of those in inner cities and other areas.

Drawing on the British Crime Survey, it is also possible to identify which occupations may be most at risk of experiencing violence at work. Those most at risk are the police, social workers, probation officers, publicans and bar staff, security guards, nurses and other health care professionals, transport workers, especialy taxi drivers, welfare, community and youth workers, teachers, managers/proprietors in retail sales and national and local government administrators. Victims of violence at work also have a high risk of being victimised again.

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