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Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations have been made by his Department to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in respect of the eligibility of prison officers for a Golden Jubilee Medal. 
Beverley Hughes: The question of the Prison Service and other groups being included in eligibility for the Golden Jubilee Medal was considered by the Ministerial Group. It was decided that eligibility should be restricted to members of the armed forces and the emergency services. However, I am determined to ensure that improvements are made to the existing recognition mechanisms. Later this year both a Prison Service long service award and a prison officer of the year award will be introduced. In addition, consideration is being given to the proposal for a Queen's prison service medal.
Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 15 April 2002]: Information is not held by year in the way requested, and could only be retrieved at disproportionate cost. Approximately, 85,000 files have been destroyed since 1997.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria have been applied to decide which M15 files should be subject to destruction; and what is the minimum period a file is no longer classified as (a) green and (b) amber before destruction is authorised. 
Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 15 April 2002]: A copy of the criteria for file retention is in the Library. These are consistent with the Public Records Act 1958 and are approved by myself the Home Secretary and Lord Chancellor. Criteria for retention and release of historically significant records are agreed with the Public Record Office and endorsed by the Advisory Council.
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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many files held by M15 have been destroyed subsequent to an application being made by the subject of a file for access under the Data Protection Act 1998. 
Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (a) dated 14 February, regarding the Iona Community and (b) dated 10 October 2001, on asylum seekers. 
18 Apr 2002 : Column 1158W
correspondence. The first figure is based on performance for the whole financial year 200102, and the second figure is based on performance just for March 2002.
1 March 200231 March 2002: 75 per cent.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when officials at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate will answer the letters from the hon. Member for Vauxhall of 29 October 2001, 23 January and 26 February 2002, about a constituent (Home Office reference: E105598). 
Angela Eagle: The information requested is contained in 'Civil Service Statistics' published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office for the Government Statistical Service annually. For ease of reference, the figures for the Home Office are set out in the table.
|Home Office area|
|Year (as at 1 April)||Home Office Main||Fire Service College||Forensic Science Service||UKPA||HM Prison Service||Grand total|
(24) Old FTE
(25) New FTE
(26) Including agencies
1. With the new full-time equivalents calculation (1994 onwards), part-time staff are counted on the basis of the proportion of hours worked, formerly, they were counted as half.
2. From 1999 casual staff have been added to permanent staff to give the total for all staff.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government believe that it is desirable to set common penalties for serious organised crime offences across the European Union (EU), in line with the conclusions of the Tampere European Council. Council document 1395701 sets out different technical options for doing this, which were discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council on 67 December 2001. The Government supported the "combined" option described in the paper, whereby a limited range of penalties would be introduced based on a number of different minimum levels.
Following further discussion of this option at the informal JHA ministerial meeting in Santiago de Compostela, 1415 February, 2002 it has now been agreed that the "combined" option should be used as the basis for setting common penalties for offences in future EU instruments. Such penalties do not affect judicial
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Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the reading by prison authorities of mail to prisoners from hon. Members; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the reason underlying the reduction in the key performance target for staff sickness, as published in the Prison Service Corporate Plan 200102 between 200001 and 200102. 
Beverley Hughes: The Key Performance Indicator (KPI) target was agreed following the "Working Well Together" study published by the Cabinet Office in July 1998 and the recommendations of the National Audit Office report on the management of sickness in the Prison Service published in May 1999. The targets set aimed to achieve a stepped reduction in the average level of staff sickness by 20 per cent. by 2001 and 30 per cent. by 2003. These reductions are in line with Cabinet Office targets across the civil service.
The sickness figures for April 200102 are not yet available. However, a figure for the year ending February showed a KPI of 13.93 days. The key performance target in the Corporate Plan 200102 was to ensure that average staff sickness did not exceed 10 working days by April 2002. The service will not meet its KPI target.
Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there was a waiting list for (a) reading, (b) writing, (c) computer skills training and (d) other educational courses at HM prisons in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: Information on the numbers of prisoners waiting to take up educational courses is not collected but we do know that waiting lists exist for courses in prison education departments including those in basic skills and computer skills. The Government are creating more learning opportunities through increased investment over the next two years and by mapping basic and key skills into learning in other prison regimes such as vocational training, workshops, kitchens and physical education so that prisoners can gain dual accreditation.
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