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Special Constables

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Home Office funded research was completed last year into the premature wastage of special constables. We are currently

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exploring the findings from this research with the Police Service and Association of Police Authorities with a view to deciding how best to address the decline in the number of special constables in England and Wales.

Criminal Records Bureau Registered Bodies

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

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 5 March (WA 5), what steps they are taking to ensure that organisations which agree to act as registered bodies under the requirements of the Criminal Records Bureau will not suffer financially for undertaking this role.[HL1142]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We expect that in most instances employers (including voluntary organisations) will choose to act as the registered person as part of the normal recruitment process, in which they will be assisted by the service that the Criminal Records Bureau will provide. Although we have at present no plans to reimburse costs incurred by registered bodies, including those which act as "umbrella bodies", we shall, as I said in response to the Question from the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, on 5 March, (col. WA 5), be prepared to consider views put to us on this matter.

Proscribed Organisations Order

Lord Naseby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2001 will be debated in Parliament in March 2001.[HL1144]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2001, which is subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, was debated in the other place on 13 March. A debate has been scheduled in the Lords for 27 March.

Immigration Act Detainees

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give the number of people detained solely under the Immigration Act powers, broken down into those detained on arrival and those detained after entry, at the latest convenient date.[HL1148]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The most recent information relates to the number of persons detained under the Immigration Act 1971 as at 31 January 2001. At that date a total of 1,334 persons were recorded as detained. The information held centrally does not differentiate between those detained on arrival and those detained subsequently. This could be determined only by reference to the individual case files.

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Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Under what statutory authority they have issued instructions to staff concerning the list of nationalities referred to in the Immigration Service's Operational Enforcement Manual, chapter 38, on detention and temporary release; and whether they have considered the compatibility of these instructions with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.[HL1149]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The manual and the instructions referred to contain policy guidance to staff for which no separate statutory authority is required. We are satisfied that these comply with the Human Rights Act 1998 and, when it comes into force, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

Zimbabwean Asylum Seekers

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Zimbabwean citizens applied for asylum in the United Kingdom in November and December 2000 and in January 2001 respectively; of these how many were detained in Oakington, and how many were transferred to prisons or detention centres at the end of their stay in Oakington.[HL1150]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The number of applications for asylum received from Zimbabwe nationals in November 2000, December 2000 and January 2001 was 130, 145 and 125 respectively. From this total of 400 applications, there were 5,564 and 86 applicants from the respective months who had their cases considered at Oakington Reception Centre. Fifty-two applicants were subsequently transferred to prisons or detention centres on leaving Oakington.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Home Office has not published a country assessment on Zimbabwe.[HL1151]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As announced in response to a Question from the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, on 12 May 1998 (WA 123), the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's Country Information and Policy Unit produces assessments on the top 35 asylum producing countries in the United Kingdom. The assessments are revised and updated periodically; approximately every six months depending on the reported circumstances of the country concerned. The assessments were last revised in October 2000.

The number of applications for asylum from Zimbabwean nationals rose during 2000 to the extent that Zimbabwe now comes within the top 35 asylum producing countries in the United Kingdom. An assessment for Zimbabwe is therefore to be prepared and will be published in April when country assessments are next due to be revised.

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Immigration Service Operational Enforcement Manual

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

    Whether they will publish the operational enforcement manual containing instructions for members of the immigration service; and, if not, why not. [HL1180]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Yes. The operational enforcement manual is presently being revised with a view to publication on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website ( in due course. However, certain sections may not be published if we conclude that disclosure of those sections would prejudice the effective enforcement of immigration controls or other statutory provisions and where the public interest does not outweigh the harm likely to arise from disclosure.

Gaming Industry

Lord Currie of Marylebone asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to deregulate the gaming industry. [HL1292]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We are today publishing a consultation document which sets out proposals for an order under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994, or, if it is enacted, the Government's Regulatory Refom Bill, to change certain aspects of the gaming machine industry. Our consultation document makes three specific proposals that would alter the law contained in the Gaming Act 1968 on jackpot and higher-value amusement with prizes machines.

First, we propose to allow players to use bank notes and electronic smartcards in these machines. Secondly, we propose to allow winnings to be stored in these machines to be used for further plays without the player having to reinsert money into the machine. Finally, we propose to allow these machines to be set so as to pay out winnings in cash (notes or coins) by printing a cheque, by adding credit to the player's smartcard or by means of a credit note or token redeemable by the operator.

The Government believe that these reforms will benefit both the industry and its customers. The consultation document asks for comment by 15 June 2001. Copies are being placed in the Library.

Microsoft and Temporary Employees Ruling

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the ruling by United States District Judge John C Cougenhour in the so-called "permatemp" case between Microsoft and its

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    temporary employees, United Kingdom companies are likely to face similar claims from their contractors affected by the IR35 provisions.[HL1078]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is unlikely that similar claims will arise in this country.

Supermarkets and Suppliers

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the larger food buyers are abusing their commercial strength to the detriment of producers and consumers, notably in the cases of milk and meat; and, if so, what action they propose.[HL1138]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Competition Commission published its report on supermarkets on 10 October. The commission found the industry to be broadly competitive and that overall excessive prices are not being charged nor excessive profits made.

However, the commission did conclude that a substantial number of practices used by larger supermarkets in their dealings with their suppliers operated against the public interest. The commission recommended that a code of practice covering remedies for the practices concerned should be established which would put relations between supermarkets and their suppliers on a clearer and more predictable basis.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State asked the Director General of Fair Trading to approach supermarkets with 8 per cent or more of the relevant market to seek undertakings on a code of practice. These discussions commenced in October and the Office of Fair Trading is currently consulting with the representatives of suppliers.

A copy of the most recent draft of the code of practice can be found in the House of Lords Library.

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