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Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions his Department has had as to the feasibility of allowing overseas domestic workers in the United Kingdom to change their employer; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: We have received a number of representations in support of allowing overseas domestic workers to change employers but we consider that this would be contrary to our immigration controls and against the interest of the resident labour force. Each case involving a domestic worker who wishes to remain in the United Kingdom after having left his or her employer is carefully considered and account is taken of any compassionate circumstances.
Mr. Grocott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the privatisations which
Column 1064his Department has promoted since 1979, indicating, in each case, the date of the sale, the proceeds of the sale, and the estimated current value of the company.
Mr. Howard: The available information is as follows:
|Proceeds of sale Name of Body |Purchaser |Date sold |£ million ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- National Transcommunications Limited (NTL) |Mercury Asset management |24 October 1991 |70.00 DTELS |NTL |1 March 1994 |6.60 United Racecourses (Holdings) Limited |Racecourse Holdings Trust Limited|29 April 1994 |30.25 No information is held on the current value of the companies concerned.
Mr. John Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for asylum have been determined since the passage of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993; in how many cases the applicant has been allowed to stay in the United Kingdom; how many principal applicants were successful; and how many dependants they had.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: Information on decisions made since the implementation of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993--1 August 1993 to 30 September 1994--and the estimated number of dependants accompanying these decided cases is given in the table.
Decisions<1> on applications received for asylum in the United Kingdom, and dependants, August 1993 to September 1994 |Decisions made in |August 1993 - |September 1994 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Total decisions made on principal applications for asylum<2> |24,665 - dependants accompanying cases decided<3> |7,565 Cases recognised as a refugee and granted asylum<2> |845 - dependants accompanying cases granted asylum<3> |600 Cases not recognised as a refugee but granted exceptional leave to remain<2> |3,330 - dependants accompanying cases granted exceptional leave to remain<3> |1,620 Cases refused asylum and exceptional leave after full consideration<2> |19,890 - dependants accompanying cases refused asylum and exceptional leave<3> |5,345 <1> Figures are rounded to the nearest 5. <2> Exclude dependants. <3> Information on dependants is of those applying with the principal applicant or arriving subsequently, before the principal application was decided. Information excludes dependants who arrive after the principal decision. <4> Including refusals on the grounds that the applicant had arrived from a safe third country and refusals under para 180F of the Immigration Rules for failure to provide evidence to support the asylum claim within a reasonable period.
Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for asylum are still outstanding after (a) four years, (b) five years and (c) six years; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: At 30 September 1994--the latest date for which the information is available--by the estimated number of asylum applications outstanding was 52,760. Information on the number of these cases waiting longer than four, five, or six years is not available.
Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the processing period of asylum applications at the present time.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: The estimated average length of time between the receipt of an asylum application and the decision, for cases decided on application for asylum received since the introduction of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993--26 July 1993 to 30 September 1994--was 4.7 months.
Ms Jowell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received about the therapeutic uses of cannabis; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Forsyth: Representations have been received from Members of Parliament, doctors and patients claiming that cannabis relieves the symptoms of a number of medical conditions and asking if it can be made available to treat them.
The Department of Health is considering these claims in conjunction with the Medicines Control Agency and the Home Office.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Sri Lankan Tamils (a) have applied for and (b) have been granted political asylum in the United Kingdom since 1 January.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: Information on Sri Lankan Tamils are not separately identifiable in the statistics. The table gives information for the period 1 January 1994 to 30 September 1994 on the number of applications for asylum from nationals of Sri Lanka and decisions made.
Decisions<1> on applications<1> received for asylum in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, from Sri Lankan nationals, 1 January 1994-30 September 1994 |Number of |principal |applicants -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Asylum applications<2> |1,835 Decisions<2> <3> |815 Recognised as a refugee and granted asylum |10 Not recognised as a refugee but granted exceptional leave to remain<4> |65 Refused asylum and ELR-after full consideration |615 Refused under para 180F<5> |65 Refused on safe third country grounds<6> |60 <1> Provisional figures rounded to the nearest 5. <2> Figures exclude information on applications made overseas. <3> Decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in 1994. <4> Usually granted for a year in the first instance, subject then to further review. <5> For failure to provide evidence to support the asylum claim within a reasonable period, including failure to respond to invitation to interview to establish identity. <6> Refused on the grounds that the applicant had arrived from a safe third country.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Sri Lankan Tamils have been deported from the United Kingdom since 1 January.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: Two Sri Lankan citizens were removed from the United Kingdom under the deportation process in the period January to September 1994. No distinction is made in statistical records between Tamils and other Sri Lankans.
Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the conclusions of the inquiry being carried out by Leicestershire police into alleged bribery in the West Midlands police service will be published; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean: The investigation, which is being conducted under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority, is still in progress.
Any announcement of criminal or disciplinary proceedings is a matter for the chief constable of West Midlands police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Police Complaints Authority.
Mr. Allason: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to extend the right of abode in the United Kingdom to all British dependent territory passport holders; (2) what plans he has to regularise the position of British dependent territories passport holders after June 1997, in respect of the position of Gibraltarians and Falkland Islanders.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: None. There is no reason to change the status of British dependent territories citizens either now or after June 1997.
Mrs. Maddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of public appointments made by his Department were held by women at the most recent date for which figures are available.
Mr. Howard: As at 1 September 1993, 40 per cent. of public appointments made by the Home Office were held by women. The 1994 figures will be announced in due course.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what responsibilities his Department has for liaison with the French Government regarding civil defence emergencies resulting from transport of nuclear material near the channel islands; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Norris: I have been asked to reply. All movements of radioactive materials in the French and English territorial waters of the English channel are subject to the maritime nuclear emergency plan for the English channel. The plan is administered by the prefet maritime, Cherbourg, controlled through the cross-channel maritime communications centre, and involves all the relevant United Kingdom and French authorities.
Mr. Allason: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what decision has been taken on the application by General Oleg Kalugin for a visa to visit the United Kingdom; and what were the reasons for the decision.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: Mr. Kalugin's application for a visa is at present under consideration. I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as a decision has been taken.
Mr. McAllion: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many United Kingdom airports receiving scheduled flights form abroad do not have permanent, full-time immigration service staff stationed at the airport.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: Immigration Service staff are stationed permanently at all airports where their full-time attendance is justified. There are seven small regional airports operating scheduled passenger flights where Immigration Service staff are not stationed on a permanent basis.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend the number of local drugs prevention teams in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland, (c) Northern Ireland and (d) England; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Forsyth: Funding for the drugs prevention initiative in England is being renewed for a further four years from April 1995. From that date there will be 12 teams, covering some 16 million people rather than the 6 million covered by the current teams. Arrangements for building from the work of the two teams in Scotland is being considered in the light of the report of the drugs task force. In Wales, a new strategy for the prevention of drug and alcohol misuse is being developed. There are no current plans to establish a drugs prevention team in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the differences in financial allowances between the independent appointees to the new police authorities and the allowances permitted for the local authority and magistrates' representatives.
Mr. Maclean: Councillor and independent members of new police authorities will be able to claim £15 per hour for time spent on police authority business, up to a limit of £120 per day and £3,000 per year--£6,000 per year if they are the chairman of the authority. Magistrate members of new police authorities will, as at present, be able to claim financial loss allowance at the rates payable to them as magistrates.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) formal or (b) informal representations he has received from (i) hon. Members and (ii) others asking for reconsideration of the refusal to grant British citizenship to Mr. Mohammed Al Fayed and Mr. Ali Al Fayed.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: As their applications have not yet been determined, the question of representations asking for
reconsideration of refusal does not arise.
Mr. Straw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will name the referees who have supported the applications for British citizenship of Mr. Ali al Fayed and Mr. Mohamed Al Fayed.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: No. It is not our practice to disclose such details.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what formal or informal representations he has received from persons other than hon. Members on the applications by Mr. Mohammed Al Fayed or Mr. Ali Al Fayed for British citizenship.
Mr. Nicholas Baker: We have received representations from three people other than hon. Members concerning these applications. It is not our practice to disclose the details of private communications.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the consultations held with ministerial colleagues concerning the applications for British citizenship by Mr. Mohammed Al Fayed and Mr. Ali Al Fayed; and what special principles apply when considering such applications.
Mr. Howard: I made a public statement on this matter on 24 October 1994, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.
Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with his European counterparts regarding regulating standards in the private security industries across the European Union.
Mr. Maclean: No such discussions have taken place.
Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has plans to extend to other categories of offenders the powers contained in section 44 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 to require sex
Column 1068offenders to be supervised for the whole of the remainder of their sentence; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean: We have no plans at present to extend the powers contained in section 44 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 to cover other offences.
Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of whether judges are sufficiently aware of the powers contained in section 44 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 to require offenders to be supervised for the whole of the remainder of their sentence following automatic conditional release.
Mr. Maclean: A circular was sent to all judges on 5 March 1992 describing the provisions contained in the Criminal Justice Act 1991 which were to be implemented in 1992, including section 44. The statistics suggest an increased use of the power in the years since its introduction.
Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions section 44 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 has been used by judges to require contrived supervision of an offender for the remainder of his or her sentence.
Mr. Maclean: The number of cases in which a court has ordered that an offender should be supervised for the whole of his sentence under section 44 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 are as follows:
1992 -- 1
1993 -- 11
1994 (January-June) -- 34
It is likely that the recorded figures for 1992 and 1993 are understated because of initial difficulties in probation areas in the recording of such cases.
Sir Ivan Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about future police and fire service arrangements in Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire, and Avon and Somerset.
Mr. Howard: In the light of the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment on 25 October, Official Report, columns 534-37 about the future arrangements for local government in Humberside. I announced my intention to consider and consult upon whether a separate Humberside police force, based on the four unitary authorities, should be retained. I propose to make a statement on future policing arrangements in Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire when the Humberside police review has been completed and I have reached a decision on that matter.
In the case of the Avon and Somerset constabulary, its present boundaries are unaffected by the decision to replace the county of Avon by four unitary authorities. The new unitary authorities will, from the appointed day of reorganisation, replace Avon county council as relevant councils for the appointment of councillor members of the police authority.
For fire services, in the light of advice which I have received from the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council and from Her Majesty's chief inspector of fire services, I propose to establish combined fire authorities when local government in Avon, Humberside and North Yorkshire is
Column 1069reorganised. These combined authorities will take over the functions under the Fire Services Act 1947 which are currently exercised by separate county councils. The provision of fire services in Lincolnshire and Somerset will remain unchanged.
Sir Ivan Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proposals he has for changes to the 1994 95 cash limits within his responsibilities.
Mr. Howard: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, the cash limit for class VIII, vote 3--Home Office administration, immigration, probation and police support services, England and Wales--will be increased by £39,000 from £1,212, 682,000 to £1,212,721,000. This is to enable a special capital grant at the rate of 100 per cent. to be made in order to fund the preliminary stages of the national probation service information systems strategy, for which the inner London probation service will act as the interim contractual authority. The total grant of £755,000 has been financed by a transfer of £604,000 from other probation capital grants, together with a reduction of £151,000 in the local authority capital non-voted HO/LACAP cash limit from £122,291,000 to £122,140,000. The new grant will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure. The cash limit for class VIII, vote 3 is increased by only £39,000 because at the same time a transfer of £112,000 is being made to the Welsh Office, class XV, vote 4, to meet the costs of providing additional places for Home Office-sponsored students at universities.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his calculation of numbers who have died as a result of the use of (a) solvents, (b) LSD, (c) amyl nitrate, (d) butyl nitrate, (e) khat, (f) temazepam, (g) ecstasy, (h) amphetamine and (i) GBH in each of the past five years.
Mr Michael Forsyth [holding answer 31 October 1994]: The information requested is contained in Tables 17, 19 and 20 of the Home Office statistical bulletin "Statistics of drug addicts notified to the Home Office, United Kingdom" and is summarised in the table:
Deaths from solvents and certain controlled drugs, United Kingdom, 1988-92<1> Number of persons |1988|1989|1990|1991|1992 -------------------------------------------------- Volatile substances |89 |84 |112 |87 |68 LSD |- |- |- |1 |2 Benzodiazepines <2> |- |308 |311 |316 |370 "Ecstasy"<3> |1 |2 |- |5 |- Amphetamines |4 |3 |4 |15 |10 <1> No information is available on deaths from the use of alkylnitrites (which includes amyl and butyl nitrite), khat, and GHB (gamma-hydroxy- butyrate), none of which are controlled drugs. <2> No data are available before 1989. This group of drugs includes Temazepam, for which separate figures are not available. <3> MDMA and other drugs related to MDA ( methylenedioxy- amphetamine).
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if IRA prisoners in Whitemoor prison have been permitted to make telephone calls of up to one hour's duration per month on telephones not limited to inland calls;
(2) what steps were (a) required by his Department and (b) taken by the Prison Service, at Whitemoor prison prior to 9 September, in response to (i) Prison Governors Association comments concerning Whitemoor prison (ii) representations from Whitemoor's board of visitors, (iii) HM chief inspector of prisons' report on Whitemoor and (iv) representations from the Prison Officers Association regarding Whitemoor;
(3) what (a) discussions there with the present governor of Whitemoor prison and (b) instructions were given to him regarding any change in regime from that pertaining immediately prior to his appointment;
(4) what arrangements existed for monitoring phone calls made on official telephones by IRA prisoners at Whitemoor prison prior to 9 September;
(5) how the prison regime at Whitemoor differs from any other comparable prison;
(6) if high-risk prisoners in special secure units (a) are and (b) have been permitted to make telephone calls of up to one hour's duration per month on telephones not limited to inland calls. (7) what special instructions he gave to the director-general of the Prison Service regarding the security arrangements for IRA prisoners, following the announcement that IRA prisoners, following the announcement that IRA prisoners would be moved from the mainland back to Northern Ireland;
(8) what arrangements exist for monitoring phone calls made on official telephones by high-risk and exceptional risk category A prisoners.
(9) in what ways the Whitemoor regime for IRA prisoners is different in terms of control and privileges from that of other category A prisoners;
(10) what measures have been taken to review and improve the security of prisons, following the recent security breaches at Whitemoor and Durham prisons.
Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 24 October 1994]: These issues are a matter for the Director General of the Prison Service. He wrote to the hon. Member on 25 October and a copy of that reply has been placed in the Library of the House.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he required the Director General of the Prison Service to review the circumstances and the security arrangements of IRA prisoners under Prison Service control following the recent movement of IRA prisoners from the mainland to Northern Ireland.
Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 24 October 1994]: There was no requirement to review the security of IRA prisoners remaining in prisons in England and Wales following the transfer of IRA prisoners to Northern Ireland. Security arrangements are to be examined in the light of the results of the inquiry by Sir John Woodcock.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the maximum amount of the proposed back-to-work bonus for each partner where a couple are both claiming benefit on a means-tested basis; and whether the total accumulated credit from part-time earnings of both partners would be payable when one of them moves into full-time work.
Mr. Roger Evans: The maximum amount of the proposed back-to-work bonus is £1,000 per benefit unit. The earnings of both partners may contribute towards building up this amount, which would be payable in full when the couple left benefit as a result either of the claimant moving into work of 16 hours or more per week, or the claimant's partner moving into work of 24 hours or more per week.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many (a) men and (b) women aged 100 years and over are in receipt of a state retirement pension.
Mr. Arbuthnot: At 31 March 1994, the latest date for which figures are available, a total of 830 men and 6,640 women, aged 100 and over (figures include persons residing overseas) were in receipt of state retirement pension ("State Retirement Pension" means a contributory retirement pension, a non-contributory retirement pension or a graduated retirement benefit).
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what he estimates will be the cost in a full year of raising the level of pension that may be received without affecting benefit from £35 to £50 a week combined with the removal of the age threshold; and how many people will benefit from this.
Mr. Roger Evans: Raising the level of occupational or personal pension that can be received without affecting a contribution-based job seeker's allowance from £35 to £50 per week, combined with removing the age threshold, would save around an estimated £10 million in a full year at current prices. It is estimated that around 15,000 claimants would gain through the raising of the abatement limit to £50.Notes:1. Estimates rounded to nearest £10 million and 5, 000 cases.2. Estimates assume:
a. 2.55 million unemployed claimants (GB);
b. 600,000 Unemployment Benefit claimants.
3. Losers are estimated using the Policy Simulation Model with 1990/91/92. Family Expenditure Survey data and 1994 Unemployment Benefit Statistics.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will give the latest cost of fully restoring the value of retirement pensions paid to United Kingdom citizens living abroad on the basis that the normal uprating had been paid as if the recipient had continued to live in this country;
(2) what would have been the cost of uprating the retirement pensions of United Kingdom citizens living abroad on the same basis as those pensions paid to those living in the United Kingdom in this financial year.
Mr. Arbuthnot: The estimated cost of paying fully indexed benefits to all people receiving state retirement and widows pensions living abroad whose benefits are not
Column 1072uprated is £230 million a year. The cost in the 1994 95 financial year of paying just the April 1994 uprating to these pensioners is estimated to be £16 million. Separate figures are not available on the cost of uprating benefits only for retirement pensioners or those who are citizens of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people have received a reduced rate of income support in the form of a hardship payment in the latest year for which figures are available and in each of the preceding three years.
Mr. Roger Evans: The information is set out in the table:
Awards of income support to prevent hardship |Number of Period |hardship payments ------------------------------------------------------------------------- April 1990-March 1991 |2,415 April 1991-March 1992 |2,992 April 1992-March 1993 |3,477 April 1993-March 1994<1> |3,701 April 1994-August 1994 (4 months)<1> |1,677 Note: <1> Figures are provisional and subject to amendment.