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Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the most frequent types of crime in Coventry are; what the level is of violent crime; and how many reports of these crimes there were (a) in 1998 and (b) at the last date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 10 December 2001]: Over the West Midlands as a whole, the most common category of crime is theft (including handling of stolen goods), which comprises about 38 per cent. of crime recorded by the police. This category is also the most common over England and Wales as a whole. Figures for all theft are not collected centrally below police force area level.
Totals of offences of violence against the person, sexual offences, and robbery, which comprise violent crime, have been collected at the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) level since 1 April 1999. The total numbers of violent offences recorded in the Coventry CDRP area in the years ending March 2000 and March 2001 were 5,986 and 6,912 respectively.
It should be noted that recorded violent crime is subject to changes in reporting and recording. The 2001 British Crime Survey found that, over England and Wales as a whole, reporting to the police of violent offences comparable to those in recorded crime rose from 35 per cent. in 1999 to 45 per cent. in 2000.
Also, the British Crime Survey has shown that, in England and Wales as a whole, victimisation for the violent crime in the survey which is comparable to recorded crime decreased by 19 per cent. between the 1999 and 2000 calendar years, whereas comparable violent crime recorded by the police increased by nine per cent. Violent crime recorded by the police may therefore not necessarily be a reflection of real changes in the level of victimisation.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the number of police officers (a) taking sustained sick leave and (b) who retire early on the grounds of ill health. 
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Mr. Denham [holding answer 22 November 2001]: Information from forces collected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary shows that in 200001 2,591 officers in England and Wales (excluding the Metropolitan police and South Wales police, for which figures are not available) took long term sick leave (defined as continuous sick absence of 28 days or more).
The Home Office plans to introduce a national occupational health strategy for the police service in England and Wales. The strategy will identify positive steps that forces can take to help officers who suffer illness or injury to make the speediest possible return to duty.
The number of ill-health retirements has declined from 2,012 in 199697 (45 per cent. of retiring officers) to 1,209 in 200001 (31 per cent.). (The figures collected centrally do not distinguish whether ill-health retirement took place either before or after the officer concerned was eligible for a maximum 30-year pension.)
The downward trend is encouraging but more work needs to be done. The Home Office has therefore asked the Police Negotiating Board to explore and agree ways to deliver a fair and more consistent approach towards early retirement due to ill health, so that forces can achieve the best quartile baseline by 2005.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 4 December 2001, Official Report, column 230W, when the solicitor was changed; and for whom he was acting. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 10 December 2001]: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that the solicitors previously referred to are from his Directorate of Legal Services and act on his behalf. The change of lawyers took place on 24 August 2001, as a consequence of the retirement of the original lawyer.
Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the transfer of £22 million from the criminal justice system reserve to the Crown Prosecution Service set out in the Winter Supplementary Estimate 200102. 
Mr. Keith Bradley [holding answer 10 December 2001]: The transfer of £22 million from the Criminal Justice System Reserve to the Crown Prosecution Service represents a payment towards the cost of approved initiatives that have the joint agreement of the Home Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Attorney-General. The initiatives support joined-up criminal justice priorities.
Mr. Denham: The Home Secretary regularly meets Chief Constables on both formal and informal occasions, and most recently met Mr. Des O'Conner, in his capacity as Vice-President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, on 3 December.
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Mr. Denham: Mr. Slough's letter of 11 September was one of several regarding his claim for compensation under the terms of the Firearms Compensation Scheme. An offer was made to him on 5 October and this formed the basis of a subsequent payment in respect of certain outstanding items. A letter was sent to him on 17 October in respect of all outstanding correspondence, explaining that since these letters had been written an offer had been made and an explanation given as to why remaining items were considered ineligible.
Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of the impact on civil defence procedures in Ilford, North of the flooding of the River Roding; and what improvements have been made in the last 12 months in the event of further flooding. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 16 November 2001]: As part of its responsibility for servicing the Civil Contingencies Committee, which is chaired by the Home Secretary, the Cabinet Office makes grants to local authorities under regulations made under the Civil Defence Act 1948. These cover the costs of emergency planning, liaison, training and exercising. They do not cover risk mitigation, prevention or response and it has not therefore made an assessment of the impact of specific emergencies upon any local authority.
Mr. Byers: I have decided to provide up to £40 million of financial assistance to compensate airlines for losses arising directly from the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States. Qualifying airlines will now be invited to submit claims under this scheme. I have placed a copy of the scheme conditions in the Library.
Compensation under the scheme will cover lost revenue over the period during which airspace was closed. It will also compensate for additional costs incurred during that period, such as (but not limited to) airport and airspace charges, costs incurred in transporting passengers from their diverted destination to their intended destination, additional operating costs of diverted aircraft and additional crew costs.
In making this decision I have had regard to the views of many hon. Members who have written to me, of their constituents, of the airlines and of the trade unions. I accept that the circumstances, which are consequent both
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on the terrorist attacks and on the subsequent decisions affecting airspace, are indeed exceptional and therefore merit exceptional assistance.
The Government have worked with their European partners to minimise distortions to the single market, and have therefore supported guidelines which limit airline compensation to cover these exceptional circumstances.
The assistance I am offering will help airlines at a time when passenger numbers on services between the UK and US, and therefore revenues, are still significantly below their pre-11 September levels, but without distorting competition or relieving airlines of the need to take appropriate measures to meet the changed conditions in the market. The UK is giving a lead in the EU in announcing a scheme of financial assistance in respect of the closure of US airspace, just as it was the first to provide third-party war risk insurance when the market failed.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what payments have been made to Railtrack in administration since 7 October by (a) the Treasury, (b) his Department, (c) the SRA and (d) the Rail Regulator; 
Mr. Jamieson: Since 7 October 2001, no payments have been made to Railtrack in administration by the Treasury or the Rail Regulator. Up to 7 December 2001, the SRA had paid £162 million of network grant and some £5 million for project development. My Department had made repayable cash advances of £1,228 million to Railtrack in administration under the Loan Agreement, copies of which were placed in the House Library on 17 October. Those advances, most of which are being used to repay existing Railtrack debt, are to be recouped from the realisation of assets of the company (or new debt) when it is brought out of administration.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much Government money was paid to Railtrack plc (a) directly and (b) via the Strategic Rail Authority in 200102 before the Administration Order; and how much was planned for the rest of the financial year. 
Mr. Spellar: Between 1 April and 5 October 2001, the SRA paid £360.2 million to Railtrack. Between 5 October 2001 and 31 March 2002, the SRA is scheduled to pay £162 million to Railtrack. Apart from repayable cash advances made since 7 October to Railtrack in administration under the loan agreement, no payments have been made, or are planned to be made, direct to Railtrack in 200102 by my Department. Details of those cash advances were set out in the reply given by the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Mr. Jamieson), to the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) on 13 December 2001, Official Report, column 1014W.
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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions on what dates requests for advances were received from the Railtrack administrator under section 5 of the commercial loan agreement; and if these were (a) trust and (b) working capital advances. 
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what variations in budget have been recorded in management accounts provided by the Railtrack administrator under section 8.1.6 (a) of the commercial loan agreement. 
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the future of the railways; what operations are under consideration for changes to their structure; and what funds will be allocated to Railtrack (a) during the period of its administration and (b) in the event that it is bought by a private company. 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 12 December 2001]: The Government want Railtrack plc's role as Network Operator transferred to a robust successor company capable of delivering the quality of service its customers deserve as soon as possible. The structure of the successor company will depend on which bid is approved by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
As far as the Government's proposal for a private sector company limited by guarantee is concerned, the broad structure was outlined in the answer given by my right hon. Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Hendrick) on 23 October 2001, Official Report, columns 19597W. But it will be for the bid team, under the leadership of Ian McAllister, to present a detailed proposal to the Administrators.
All potential bidders will need to take account of the guidelines published by my right hon. Friend in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) on 31 October 2001, Official Report, columns 66971W. The guidelines require them to address very clearly the basis, extent and nature of support that will be required from the Government.
The amount the Administrator needs to borrow to support the company will depend on how long administration lasts. All borrowing from the Department will be repaid at the point the network transfers to a successful company, if not before. The rail regulator's October 2000 periodic review and the April 2001
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agreement on the timing of direct grants from the SRA set the level of Railtrack's income for the current control period (200106).
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