Previous Section Index Home Page


Bristol Prison

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are to (a) expand permanent parking facilities at HM Prison Bristol and (b) return temporary parking places to their former use; and if he will make a statement. [35752]

Ms Quin: There are no plans to expand permanent parking facilities at Her Majesty's Prison Bristol, but the establishment is exploring the possibilities for finding a suitable off-site parking facility. There are no temporary parking places at the prison.

Operation Countryman

Mr. Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will release the conclusions of the report of the Operation Countryman investigation. [35698]

Mr. Michael: No. Disclosure is a matter for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. Investigating officers' reports are as a class regarded by the courts as subject to public interest immunity. In our response to the Home Affairs Committee Report on Police Disciplinary and Complaints Procedures, we said that we will consult on the scope for greater openness in respect of investigation reports, either generally or individually.

Prisons (Commercial Activities)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to ensure that

26 Mar 1998 : Column: 231

commercial activities undertaken by prisons do not compete unfairly with local enterprises; and if he will make a statement. [35890]

Ms Quin: It is Prison Service policy that commercial activities should not be undertaken by prisons at the expense of private sector businesses or employment in this country. Prisons should seek work which substitutes imports, or which uses their facilities for work which would be uneconomic for outside contractors, for example because it involves short production runs or is labour intensive.

Prison Service goods and services should be offered at a fair market price, which recovers direct manufacturing costs plus a contribution to the recovery of overheads. Prison overheads are much higher than outside because of high fixed costs (such as the cost of supervision, a short working week and low productivity rates).

Rather than competition, the Prison Service is keen to see private sector businesses make use of prison labour and facilities through partnerships.

Child Curfews

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the compatibility of his proposal for local child curfews with the European Convention on Human Rights; and if he will make a statement. [36047]

Mr. Michael: I am satisfied that the proposals for local child curfew schemes as set out in the Crime and Disorder Bill are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. They are designed to protect the interests of children and the wider community.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what existing sources of free competent legal representations are available to destitute asylum appellants ineligible for benefits to pursue appeals against refusal of refugee status. [35904]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Immigration Advisory Service and The Refugee Legal Centre provide free legal representation to asylum appellants. It is also open to appellants to seek assistance from other voluntary bodies.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the success rate for asylum appellants at appeals hearings before the Immigration Appellate Authority who are (i) legally represented and (ii) unrepresented in the latest period for which figures are available. [35907]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I regret that the requested breakdown is not available because the figures are not held in a form which would enable us to provide the information accurately.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provision he has made to ensure that destitute asylum appellants who are ineligible for benefits can afford to pay for legal representation on their appeals against refusal of refugee status. [35905]

26 Mar 1998 : Column: 232

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Home Office makes grants under section 23 of the Immigration Act 1971 to the Refugee Legal Centre and the Immigration Advisory Service which provide free advice and representation to people with rights of appeal under immigration and asylum legislation. In 1997/98, the total grant paid to the two organisations will be just under £5.9m.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the criteria used to determine which asylum seekers will be sent to Category A prisons; and on what grounds asylum seekers are currently held in such prisons. [36227]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: About half of those people detained under Immigration Act powers are housed in immigration detention centres, which are run on the lines of secure hostels. Some, however, are held in Prison Service accommodation, generally because their current behaviour or past history indicates that they require a greater level of control or supervision than can be provided in immigration accommodation. Such persons who are placed in prison custody, some of whom will be asylum seekers, are subject to Prison Rules made under section 47(1) of the Prison Act 1952 which empowers the Secretary of State to make rules for, among other things, the classification, discipline and control of prisoners. Rule 3 of the Prison Rules 1995 provides for the classification of prisoners


In accordance with guidance contained in the Prison Service Manual on Security, prison staff are required, on reception into prison custody, to report to Prison Service Headquarters the cases of those prisoners who, on the information available, may need to be placed in Category A. Category A, the highest security category, is applied to those prisoners whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or the police or the security of the State, no matter how unlikely that escape might be; and for whom escape must be made impossible.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to grant (a) an amnesty and (b) exceptional leave to remain in the United Kingdom to those whose asylum appeals are still outstanding. [36440]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are reviewing all aspects of the asylum system, including how best to deal with the backlogs inherited from the previous administration, but have no plans to grant a general amnesty.

Travel Document Fees

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on travel document fees. [36749]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: In line with the increase in the fee for a British passport which I announced on 13 February 1998, Official Report, column 402, the fee for a Refugee Passport and for a Stateless Persons Document will be increased from £18 to £21 today.

The cost of a Refugee Passport and of a Stateless Persons Document is directly linked to the cost of a British Passport. A fee of £21 still represents very good value for money.

26 Mar 1998 : Column: 233

Drugs

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have died in each of the past 18 years following heroin misuse; and how much was spent in each year to counteract (a) heroin misuse and (b) all illegal drugs misuse. [36253]

Mr. George Howarth: We understand from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that the number of deaths from heroin during the period 1979-1992 were published by ONS in Series DH4 "Mortality Statistics": Injury and Poisoning" Numbers 6-18, copies of which are available in the Library. Deaths in the following four years are as follows:





Data for the period 1993-96 are not directly comparable to those given for earlier years in the DH4 Series. Since 1993, deaths from misuse of drugs have included those certified as due to drug dependence and non-dependent abuse of drugs. Series DH4 included only deaths certified as due to Suicide, Accident and Undetermined injury.

Information on how much was spent in each year to counteract drug misuse, including heroin misuse, is not recorded. It was estimated in 1995 that at least £526 million was spent on tackling drug misuse across the United Kingdom in 1993/94, but that estimate appears not to have taken account of all Government spending connected with drug misuse. A more comprehensive estimate is being developed and will be published shortly.

Police Raids

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 28 January 1998, Official Report, column 278, if the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has completed his investigation of the leak to a journalist of targets of police raids on 21 November 1997; what were his conclusions; and if he will make a statement. [36046]

Mr. Michael: This is an operational matter for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis . However, he tells me that one of the Metropolitan Police's Complaints Units has carried out an investigation. This included questioning a journalist who had knowledge of the source of the leak. The journalist, whilst not revealing the identity of the source, has categorically assured the investigators that the leak did not come from the Metropolitan Police.

The Metropolitan Police's role in the raids was to act as a facilitator in the co-ordination of intelligence in the raids. The Commissioner tells me that there are several prosecutions pending as a result of the police raids.


Next Section Index Home Page