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GCHQ

Mr. David Nicholson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 17 November, Official Report, column 13, what was the value of new equipment investment in GCHQ Culmehead in the financial years 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96 to date; and if he will make it his policy that such new equipment will be effectively redeployed elsewhere when GCHQ Culmehead closes. [3128]

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 20 November, Official Report, column 13, when equipment was last ordered for the GCHQ composite tracking station in Culmehead; what was the nature of this equipment; and what will happen to this equipment after the site is closed. [2699]

Mr. Rifkind: It is not Government policy to reveal details of the procurement of equipment used for intelligence purposes. So far as possible, equipment at the composite signals organisation station at Culmehead will be redeployed when the station closes.

Correspondence

Ms Armstrong: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the published recommended response times within which his Department is expected to reply to letters from the public. [2996]

Mr. Hanley: The target for both the diplomatic wing and the ODA is 20 working days.

Middle East

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance Her Majesty's Government are giving to the peace process in the middle east. [876]

Mr Hanley: On his recent visit, my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary encouraged the Palestinians and Israelis to maintain progress on the Palestinian track. He also urged Syria and the Israelis to press forward in their negotiations. He encouraged all the countries of the region to support the peace process. In addition, the United Kingdom provides over £83 million in assistance to the Palestinians, and is providing observers for the forthcoming Palestinian elections.

Lockerbie

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with the United Nations the request of the Libyan Government to hold a trial in the Hague, under a Scottish judge, operating Scottish rules of evidence, of the two Libyan suspects involved in the Lockerbie bombing. [1638]

Sir Nicholas Bonsor: No.

Entry Clearance

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the cost of an application for entry clearance in pounds sterling in each of the entry clearance posts overseas. [2840]

29 Nov 1995 : Column: 792

Mr. Hanley: Entry clearance application fees are set in pound sterling, are the same worldwide and the equivalent is charged in the appropriate local currency. Details of the current fees are given in the consular fees order 1995 (SI 1995 No. 1617).

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list, for each entry clearance post, how many applications to visit the United Kingdom to (a) attend a funeral and (b) have medical treatment have been made in the last year for which information is available and how many of these applications were refused. [2842]

Mr. Hanley: The information requested is not available. A total of 1,086,940 applications for temporary admission were received in 1994 but separate records showing the purpose of each visit are not kept.

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action has been taken to implement the recommendations set out in the report by the independent monitor in respect of the Asylum and Immigration Appeal Act 1993, published in December 1994. [2844]

Mr. Hanley: In her first report as the independent monitor into entry clearance refusals without a right of appeal, Dame Elizabeth Anson made four recommendations.

First, that all applications and re-applications should be accepted and applicants should be told that they have a right to proceed, even where warned of likely failure. Instructions have been issued to posts to implement this recommendation, including a suitable written notification for applicants.

Secondly, posts should be more consistent in their requirements for documentation before an entry clearance application is lodged or an applicant interviewed. We are encouraging greater consistency between posts and encouraging all posts to have a set list of documents required in advance.

Thirdly, the refusal notice should not refer to confidential matters such as political asylum applications by United Kingdom sponsors or others, given that the notice may become a public document with an applicant's consent. Instructions have been issued to posts reminding them of this requirement.

Finally, writing should be legible on all documents on an applicants file. We are encouraging posts to ensure this, particularly the typing of refusal notices. This process is being helped by the spread of word processing equipment at posts.

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the average waiting time before an interview is granted at each entry clearance post overseas; and if he will make a statement on the training given to entry clearance officers on interviewing. [2839]

Mr. Hanley: Eighty-six per cent. of all applications are issued within 24 hours of being lodged either on the evidence of the papers or after a short interview. It is not possible to provide a calculation of average waiting times for longer interviews at each post except at disproportionate cost.

29 Nov 1995 : Column: 793

Prior to taking up appointment as an entry clearance officer, FCO personnel attend an intensive three-week course run by the immigration and nationality department unit.

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much has been collected in application fees for entry clearance since the introduction of the Asylum and Immigration Appeal Act 1993; and how much of that total represents fees accepted for applications which were subsequently refused. [2841]

Mr. Hanley: Records of application fees are kept by financial year only. The value of fees collected for applications which were subsequently refused is not separately recorded. The hon. Member may find the following useful:


Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many requests to reconsider refusals for entry clearances have been received from right hon. and hon. Members in each year since the introduction of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993. [2843]

Mr. Hanley: This information is not available except at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the location of entry clearance posts overseas, detailing for each (a) the number of locally engaged staff, (b) the total number of staff employed, (c) the number of full-time entry clearance managers and (d) the number of interpreters. [2836]

Mr. Hanley: In view of the amount of detail needed to answer this question I will write to the hon. Member shortly.

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the number of (a) applications to enter the United Kingdom for temporary purposes and (b) refusals made at each entry clearance post overseas from 26 July 1993 to the last available date for which information is available; and if he will express the number of refusals as a percentage of the whole. [2837]

Mr. Hanley: In the form requested, these figures could be compiled only at disproportionate cost. Details of entry clearance applications for temporary purposes, both granted and refused, are in table 2.1 in the "Control of Immigration Statistics" published by the Home Office for the years 1993 and 1994.

29 Nov 1995 : Column: 794

Mr. Fatchett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the time allowed for interviews at each designated entry clearance post overseas. [2838]

Mr. Hanley: As a guide, entry clearance posts are offered the following target times for interviews:


In practice, posts achieve timings close to these targets, but a list showing times taken in each post could be compiled only at disproportionate costs.


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