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Asylum Seekers

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for political asylum in the UK in 1999 were (a) approved and (b) refused. [119280]

Mrs. Roche: The information requested is given in the table. The latest information on asylum is available on the Home Office internet site at http://www.homeoffice. gov.uk/rds/index.htm. This information is updated on a monthly basis.

Applications received for asylum in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, by location of application, and decisions, 1999 (13)
United Kingdom

Annual total
Applications received:
Total applications71,160
Applied at port29,455
Applied in country(14)41,700
Decisions:(15)(16)
Total decisions(17)32,330
Cases considered under normal procedures:
Recognised as a refugee and granted asylum(17)7,075 (18)(36%)
Not recognised as a refugee but granted exceptional leave(17)2,110 (18)(11%)
Refusals:
Total refused(17)10,685 (18)(54%)
Refused asylum and exceptional leave after full consideration(17)7,735 (18)(39%)
Refused on safe third country grounds1,830 (18)(9%)
Refused on non-compliance grounds(19)(17)1,120 (18)(6%)
Backlog clearance exercise:
Granted exceptional leave under backlog criteria(20)(21)11,230 (18)(90%)
Refused on non-compliance grounds under backlog criteria (22), (22)1,230 (18)(10%)
Applications withdrawn:730

(13) Figures (other than percentages) rounded to the nearest five.

(14) This excludes some cases lodged at Local Enforcement Offices and some postal applications.

(15) Decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in the same period.

(16) Information is of initial determination decisions, excluding the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions.

(17) Provisional figures.

(18) Percentages for cases considered under normal procedures and those within the backlog clearance exercise, are calculated separately.

(19) Paragraph 340 (paragraph 180F prior to 1 October 1994) of the Immigration Rules, 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.

(20) Cases decided under pragmatic measures aimed at reducing the pre 1996 asylum application backlog.

(21) Includes a small number of cases where asylum has been granted.

(22) Includes a small number of cases where the application has been refused on substantive grounds.

Notes:

1. Decision figures for January to March 1999 are low due to significant interruption to the casework operation during the transition of IND staff to Integrated Caseworking. This interruption also effects a small proportion of in-country applications in January 1999 which have been estimated.

2. Port figures for January 1999 are estimated and subject to revision.


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Probation

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the average length of time from breach of a probation condition to the offender's appearance in court for each probation service in England and Wales in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [120191]

Mr. Boateng: There is currently no centrally held data on this. We are trying to ascertain the national picture and are in the process of obtaining information which may provide an indication of the average time lapse between the service instigating breach action with the court and the breach sentence hearing. The results are not yet available, but I will write to the hon. Member as soon as the position is clearer.

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many unexecuted warrants for the arrest of offenders in breach of probation conditions are held by each police force in England and Wales. [120192]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The information requested is not available centrally. However, the Government are concerned that warrants in respect of breaches of community sentences should be executed as soon as possible, and we are currently undertaking some research to determine the current position. I shall write to the hon. Member when the results are available.

Special Constables (Ethnic Minorities)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women from ethnic minority communities living within Greater London were special constables on 1 April. [120071]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that on 1 April 2000, 92 men and 28 women from ethnic minority communities were serving as special constables with the Metropolitan police.

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Passports

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many foreign passports the Passport Office holds which are currently unaccounted for. [120119]

Mrs. Roche: The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) is, at present, holding some 300 foreign passports for which there is no current address for the owners. Arrangements are being made to return the documents to the appropriate embassy or High Commission in the United Kingdom.

Disabled Prisoners

Ms Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 on facilities for disabled prisoners. [120612]

Mr. Boateng: The Prison Service has developed policies that reflect the requirements of Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Goods, Facilities and Services) at each of its implementation stages.

A working group has been established by the Prison Service to assess the impact of the next stage of the Act, due in 2004, and to develop policies that will enable it to meet those requirements.

Prisons (Mother and Baby Units)

Sir Peter Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mothers with young babies sentenced or remanded to prison were admitted to mother and baby units in the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available. [120622]

Mr. Boateng: There are 64 places in total available in the four prison mother and baby units. On 17 April 2000, there were 51 mothers and their babies in the units.

The information requested is given in the table.

Number of mothers admitted to prison mother and baby units for the period 5 April 1999 to 4 April 2000

RemandsConvicted awaiting sentenceSentencedTotal
Askham Grange001010
Holloway323439
New Hall502025
Styal402024
Total1228498

Sir Peter Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what efforts are made to inform women received into prisons that they may apply for a place in a mother and baby unit if they already have a baby. [120621]

Mr. Boateng: The Prison Service Order on "The Management of Mother and Baby Units and the Application Process", which was published in February, requires all women's prisons to appoint a named liaison officer to be responsible for ensuring that all women, sentenced or unsentenced, who are pregnant or have a child under eighteen months are identified and informed

3 May 2000 : Column: 158W

of the arrangements for applying for a place on a mother and baby unit. All women's prisons now have a named liaison officer.

A new prisoner information booklet "All About Mother and Baby Units" was published and widely distributed to all women's prisons in March. Any eligible woman prisoner who expresses an interest in applying for a place for her child must be provided with the booklet which contains the standard application form.

Internet Voting

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce voting via the Internet in (a) local, (b) national and (c) European elections; and if he will make a statement. [120368]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Representation of the People Act 2000 allows local authorities to make applications to run pilot schemes involving innovative electoral procedures. Five local authorities will be piloting electronic voting or counting at the local elections on 4 May 2000 though none of these schemes involves internet voting.


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