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Asylum Policy

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

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Government's response was published along with the report itself. The Government rejected then, and reject now, the argument that necessary measures taken to prevent abuse of the right of asylum can be held responsible for manifestations of racism and xenophobia. Since the report and the United Kingdom's response were published, the system of issuing vouchers to asylum seekers has been discontinued.

Independent Police Complaints Commission

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The programme of work setting up the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the new police complaints system began in September 2002. In 2002–03 the budget for the implementation of the new complaints system, which included the establishment of the IPCC, was approximately £1.7 million. In 2003–04, the IPCC's set-up year, the Home Office allocated £15 million resource expenditure and £11.5 million capital expenditure to the IPCC.

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Neither the Home Office nor the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has required police forces to devote additional resources to respond to the new complaints system and no additional money has been provided.

Any changes to the resources allocated to this area have been determined by police forces themselves within their existing budgets. These changes have not been quantified and to do so would incur a disproportionate cost.

While it is impossible to predict exactly, it is believed that the new system will bring both costs and savings for police forces, with the intention of greater

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efficiency over the long term. The exact resource implications of the new system will be informed by early operational experience.

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the guidance about the new Independent Police Complaints Commission will be published. [HL2039]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Home Office has produced interim guidance on the new complaints system and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to inform preparation and early operation. This guidance was distributed to all police forces in February 2004.

The Police Reform Act 2002 gives the IPCC responsibility for providing statutory guidance about the new complaints system. The IPCC intends to produce this statutory guidance from October 2004 based on consultation and the experience gained in the period following its launch on 1 April 2004.

Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003: Guns

The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have provided the public with adequate information to enable them to surrender gas cartridge air weapons or to apply for Section 1 firearms licences, in order to comply with the requirements of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.[HL2205]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: All police forces in England, Wales and Scotland were made aware of the changes in the law. In addition, the Home Office produced a number of posters and leaflets which explained what people must do if they wanted to keep any guns they already had. These were sent to all forces for display and further distribution as they saw fit.

The changes were also discussed with the relevant trade organisations who shared our wish to ensure that as many dealers as possible and their customers were aware of how the new law would affect them. They were also sent copies of the posters and leaflets together with a special sticker for them to put on tins of air gun pellets as a reminder of the change in legislation.

We are continuing to work with the police—and any other interested organisations—with a view to securing further local and national publicity.

The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many gas cartridge air weapons, as restricted by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003—


    (a) are currently in circulation in the United Kingdom; and


    (b) have been surrendered to date.[HL2206]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: It is estimated that around 70,000 of these weapons were sold but there is no information available regarding the number currently in circulation in the United Kingdom.

No running total is being kept centrally of the number surrendered to date.

Local Authority Election Voting

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker on 7 November 2002 (WA 131), whether they agree with the view of the Electoral Commission that a citizen registered to vote in two different local authorities may vote in both authorities on the same day.[HL2163]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The Government is aware of the Electoral Commission's view that it is legal to vote in elections for two different local councils and this is under consideration.

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order: ODPM Responsibility

Lord Brookman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which directorate and division of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will have responsibility for the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order once it has been implemented. [HL2234]

Lord Rooker: Buildings Division in the Sustainable Communities Group of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is expected to be responsible for the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order once it has been implemented.

Defence School of Languages

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the arrangements for foreign language training for British military personnel other than at the Defence Schools of Languages and what was the cost of this training in the most recent year for which figures are available.[HL1909]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): Over 77 per cent of foreign language training for British military personnel, measured in terms of man training days, is provided under the auspices of the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre (DISC), Chicksands. This includes training at the Defence School of Languages, the Defence Special Signals School and under outsourcing arrangements, for languages where demand is limited, to the extent that it is not cost-effective to retain permanent staff on the establishment.

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Some 11 per cent of foreign language training is delivered across the following units—22 SAS in Hereford, Salmond House Training Centre in Rheindahlen, Gurkha Language Wing in Catterick, the Brigade of Gurkhas in Nepal and the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. Low-level language training for orientation purposes, making up 12 per cent of the overall total, is provided in Germany and Cyprus. The cost of this training is not identified separately and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the levels of foreign language skills of regular and reserve British military personnel broken down by colloquial, linguist and interpreter level.[HL1910]

Lord Bach: The terms colloquial, linguist and interpreter are now obsolete. British military personnel are assessed in accordance with NATO STANAG 6001 in the four skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Grades are as follows:


    Level 0—No practical proficiency


    Level 1—Elementary


    Level 2—Fair (Limited working)


    Level 3—Good (Minimum professional)


    Level 4—Very good (Full professional)


    Level 5—Excellent (Native/bilingual).

Single Services record the individual's level of proficiency in each skill area, expressed as a standard language profile (SLP). (Example: SLP 3321 means level 3 in listening, level 3 in speaking, level 2 in reading and level 1 in writing). The Defence Language Co-ordination Cell (DLCC) has access to these records, which can be searched as necessary in order to confirm the capability available to defence in a given language at a specified level. Work is under way between the DLCC and the single Services to ensure that the records are complete.

In total, the department trains personnel to elementary level or above in approximately 50 languages, plus dialects where appropriate.

Military Exercises

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What major military training exercises they have planned for 2004 and 2005.[HL2044]

Lord Bach: The British Armed Forces plan to conduct a great variety of training each year. This ranges from company-level unit training exercises through to large-scale joint and multinational events with NATO and other allied nations. Regular crisis management exercises also take place at the higher command levels involving participation by other government departments.

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