HC Deb 05 June 1980 vol 985 cc791-2W
Mr. Latham

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on the results of his Department, after 13 months of the present Government, in achieving the policy programme which he set it on assuming office.

Mr. Whitelaw

We have followed a policy of upholding and reinforcing the rule of law, giving a very high priority to the services which are responsible for the protection of the public, and preserving the liberty of the subject.

Immediately on taking office, we fulfilled our pledge to implement the recommendations of the Edmund-Davies, committee, and the police service, which stood at 114,857 for the whole of England and Wales at the end of April 1979, has since grown by well over 3,000 to over 118,000. The Police Negotiating Board Act received the Royal Assent in March. With my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, we have set in hand a review of the law relating to public order, and published a Green Paper in April. We have renewed for a further year the legislation for the prevention of terrorism connected with Northern Irish affairs, and with my right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary have taken active steps to deal with problems of terrorism in this country of overseas origin. The Government have recently signed the agreement applying the European convention on the suppression of terrorism among the Nine.

We have introduced tougher regimes in certain detention centres; 16 new junior attendance centres have been opened and at least eight more—including five more senior centres—are on the way. We have accepted and given effect to the recommendations on pay and allowances of the May committee on the prison service, and I announced on 30 April a major reorganisation of the prison service based on that report; as the next step, we are setting in motion reviews of the design of prison regimes, attendance systems and associated conditions of service, procedures for handling industrial relations, training and other proposals to which the report refers.

The immigration rules have been comprehensively revised; the new rules came into force on 1 March. A White Paper on nationality will be published this summer.

We have continued to work towards our objectives of developing good community relations.

We have introduced a Broadcasting Bill which has now completed its Committee stage; it will make provision for a television service on the fourth channel, and establish a broadcasting complaints commission. We have approved proposals for the further development of local radio in the United Kingdom. We have announced our agreement in principle to the introduction of a new personal radio facility to be called Open Channel.

Proposals to strengthen the powers of the courts in relation to young offenders and juveniles, and the review of home defence, are in an advanced state of preparation. Good progress is also being made with the major review of electoral law that we have undertaken.

The financial provision for law and order services has been increased, and the Home Office is at the same time playing its full part in the Government's strategy of securing increased efficiency at less cost in the public service.

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