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Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers have been granted exceptional leave to remain in the United Kingdom under the backlog clearance exercise; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Roche: Since the start of the backlog clearance exercise in late December 1998 up to the end of March 2000, 15,125 initial decisions were made to grant exceptional leave to remain under the backlog criteria set out in the White Paper. We are aiming to clear the backlog of pre-1996 asylum applications by the end of July this year.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the implementation of the voucher scheme for asylum seekers; what has been the impact on administrative costs of the scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mrs. Roche: The National Asylum Support Service commenced the distribution of vouchers on 3 April 2000. From this date, destitute asylum seekers and their dependants have been able to exchange vouchers for cash at designated Post Offices and for goods in over 18,000 affiliated national and independent retail outlets.
Mrs. Roche: The new support arrangements were introduced on 3 April for those seeking asylum at port and extended on 17 April to bring onto the scheme new in-country applicants who make an asylum claim in Kent and those asylum seekers resident in Kent who receive a first decision on their application and then go on to appeal. It is hoped to bring all new asylum applicants onto the new support arrangements within six months.
Mrs. Roche: In the period October 1999 to March 2000, of the initial decisions made under normal procedures on applications for asylum to the United Kingdom 7 per cent. were granted refugee status. In addition, 3 per cent. of applications received in the period July 1993 to December 1995 which were decided in the latest six months under the backlog criteria set out in the White Paper were granted refugee status.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provisions govern the legality of selling and buying vouchers issued to asylum seekers under the new support arrangements; what is the maximum penalty; how many persons have been convicted of an offence and what sentences they received; if the vouchers are marked 'non-transferable'; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Roche: There are no specific provisions in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 directly covering the sale or purchase of vouchers issued to asylum seekers under the new support arrangements. However, it is made clear on the face of a voucher that it is only for the use of the person named on it. Accordingly, any attempt to obtain cash or goods by a person other than the one named on the voucher could constitute an offence under the Theft Acts or conspiracy to defraud at common law, for which there is a range of maximum sentences. In certain circumstances, the offences of making false or dishonest representations (the maximum penalty for which is seven years imprisonment on conviction on indictment), under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, may be made out. These latter offences correspond to anti-fraud provisions in social security legislation.
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Any asylum seeker who disposes of their vouchers for cash might be liable to be charged with conspiracy to commit or aiding and abetting the commission of the offences under the Theft Acts or the 1999 Act.
Any asylum seeker receiving support under the national asylum support scheme who obtains cash from whatever source or by whatever means and fails to notify the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) would be liable to have their support suspended or discontinued under regulation 20(1)(a) of the Asylum Support Regulations 2000, as he would be in breach of a condition subject to which the asylum support had been provided (notification of change of circumstances). If they fail to notify the Service dishonestly and with a view to obtaining an advantage for themselves or another, they commit an offence under the 1999 Act which is punishable with a maximum of seven years imprisonment.
The NASS is presently in the process of establishing its intelligence and investigation functions. It is intended that NASS be able to receive complaints of fraud or misuse of its voucher scheme, to investigate these as appropriate, and to take such action as may seem correct in the individual case.
Mr. Boateng: No applications have been received from local authorities to establish child curfew schemes under section 14 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Following consultation with local authorities and the police, the Government are considering what improvements might be made to the provisions to ensure that they are able to contribute effectively to local partnership efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what timetable has been set for the review of the cancellation of the Global Cultural Diversity Congress announced on 22 February; if the review is under way; and if he will make a statement. 
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the persons who arrived in the United Kingdom on the hijacked Afghan airliner (a) have claimed asylum, (b) have been granted refugee status including as dependants, (c) have been granted exceptional leave to remain, (d) have had their claims refused, (e) have appealed against a refusal of their claim, (f) have remained in the United Kingdom, (g) have
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been removed to Afghanistan and (h) have been removed to a third country; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: Of those persons who arrived on the hijacked Afghan airliner 79 have claimed asylum; eight passengers and six dependants have been granted asylum but no-one has been granted exceptional leave to remain; 37 have been refused asylum, of which five are dependants; all those who were refused have appealed; none have remained in this country without permission; and no-one has yet been removed to Afghanistan or to another third country. However, 81 of those on the aeroplane have now left this country voluntarily. Twelve individuals are the subject of criminal charges in relation to the hijacking.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many anti-social behaviour orders have been issued against (a) persons (i) over and (ii) under the age of 18 and (b) persons under the age of 16; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: As hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Clarke), stated in his reply to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) on 21 February 2000, Official Report, column 824W, records of the numbers of anti-social behaviour orders issued are not currently held centrally. We understand that about 40 to 45 orders have been made in England and Wales since the relevant provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 came into force in April last year. We understand that at least 21 were in respect of persons under the age of 18, of which at least 14 were in respect of persons aged under 16.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to announce the revised allocation of recruits under the Crime Fighting Fund; what discussions and meetings he has had with police authorities and chief constables about the revised allocation; what representations he has received on this issue; when he first informed police authorities and chief constables that the allocation would be revised to allow the recruitment of 5,000 extra recruits over two years rather than three; and if he will make a statement. 
My officials have consulted police service and police authority representatives on how the recruitment scheme can be accelerated. I have received some representations from hon. Members, chief constables and police authorities about their allocations under the Crime Fighting Fund recruitment scheme. I announced details of the accelerated scheme in a reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Cunningham) on 27 March 2000, Official Report, columns 1-3W, and I hope to make the promised further announcement shortly.
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