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Depleted Uranium

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how much depleted uranium is left behind in tank gun barrels after the firing of depleted uranium rounds; [146579]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 22 January 2001]: MOD officials are researching the reports addressing the issues raised. I will write to the right hon. Member once the review is complete, and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 5 February 2001, Official Report, column 358W, if he will publish a list

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on the reports on depleted uranium commissioned by his Department from DERA; and if he will place copies of these reports in the Library. [149650]

Mr. Spellar: I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Pensions

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of retrospectively increasing the pensions of those ex-servicemen retiring in a pensions trough; and if he will make a statement. [149542]

Mr. Spellar: The cost of any adjustment could not be considered in isolation from other public service schemes.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from ex-servicemen affected by the pensions troughs of 1977 and 1991. [149541]

Mr. Spellar: The number of inquiries which the Ministry of Defence has received is set out in the table:

Letters to Ministers and officials--including letters from MPs

1977 Pension trough1991 staging
199680
1997120
199860
1999120
2000100
2001(11)242

(11) Up to February


KFOR

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of British troops in KFOR. [148229]

Mr. Spellar: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), Official Report, 12 February 2001, column 5.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the total value of the change which has not been given to asylum seekers using vouchers in shops. [149289]

Mrs. Roche: Retailers participating in the asylum voucher scheme are not required to keep records of the sums they retain as a result of the no change policy. We believe that asylum seekers are managing to combine their vouchers and cash to ensure they do not lose out. However, we are looking into this issue as part of our review of the operation of the voucher scheme.

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the practice of detaining asylum seekers in other European countries; what European countries have a policy of the systematic detention of asylum seekers in secure reception centres; and if he will make a statement. [149547]

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Mrs. Roche: The Government monitor the asylum practices of other European Union member states.

All member states detain asylum seekers in certain circumstances. The criteria for detention vary considerably between member states.

Some member states also operate a system of reception centres to accommodate asylum seekers. Most such centres are not secure, but in some cases the freedom of movement of asylum seekers is restricted by a requirement for continuous residence or regular reporting.

Mr. Michael: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is his policy to encourage asylum seekers to undertake voluntary activity while they are awaiting a decision on their case; and what guidance is offered on this matter by his Department. [149890]

Mrs. Roche: The Government are keen that asylum seekers should have the chance to contribute to their local community by taking part in voluntary activity.

Guidance which will be of help to organisations and to asylum seekers interested in this area has today been placed in the Library.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of people who have had their applications for refugee status refused, but remain illegally in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [150075]

Mrs. Roche: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) on 8 January 2001, Official Report, column 700.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers eligible for support from NASS are receiving voucher-only support; and if he will make a statement. [150038]

Mrs. Roche: As at the end of December 2000, 8,870 1 asylum seekers (including dependants) were allocated voucher-only support by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS).


Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many unaccompanied minors who are classified as asylum seekers are under the protection of local authorities; and if he will make a statement. [150034]

Mrs. Roche: The latest available estimate is that, as at 31 March 2000, the number of unaccompanied minors who were classified as asylum seekers and are under the protection of local authorities was 5,190.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many adult asylum seekers are resident in the United Kingdom awaiting the outcome of their asylum applications, but are not in receipt of support from NASS; and if he will make a statement. [150037]

Mrs. Roche: The number of asylum applications awaiting an initial decision at the end of December 2000 was 66,195.

Information is available on the number of asylum seekers that were allocated National Asylum Support Service (NASS) support, however these figures may include some family cases who have received a final

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decision on their asylum claim and are awaiting removal. In total, as at end December 2000, 25,500 1 asylum seekers (including dependants) were allocated NASS support.


3. Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with local authorities regarding the dispersal of asylum seekers. [147089]

Mrs. Roche [pursuant to her reply, 5 February 2001, c. 647]: The year for which the figure 3,190 refers is 1995 and not 1996.

Robbery

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average custodial sentence imposed by the courts for robbery was in (a) the last six months of 2000 (b) the first six months of 2000 and (c) each of the previous four years. [149208]

Mr. Charles Clarke [holding answer 6 February 2001]: Available information, taken from the Home Office's court proceedings database, regarding the average custodial sentence imposed by the courts for robbery offences under S8 of the Theft Act 1968 for the period 1996 to 1999 and for the first half of 2000 (provisional data) is given in the table. Data for the second half of 2000 are not yet available. The offence of robbery carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The average custodial sentence (in months) imposed by type of court, and the numbers sentenced to life imprisonment at the Crown court, for the offence of robbery, England and Wales, 1996 to 2000(12)

Average sentence length (months)
YearSentenced at magistrates courts(13)Sentenced at the Crown court(14)Total number sentenced to life at the Crown court
19963.840.18
19973.740.94
19983.937.316
19993.737.337
2000(12)3.736.89

(12) Data for 2000 are for the period 1 January to 30 June only and are provisional

(13) Offenders aged 10 to 17

(14) Excludes those offenders sentenced to life imprisonment


Child Abuse

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many suspects have been identified and charged using the trawling method by the police in connection with child abuse allegations in the last three years. [149430]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The conduct of child abuse investigations is an operational matter for the police. Information on the investigative methods used by the police is not collected centrally.

The police have a duty to investigate all allegations of child abuse thoroughly, and to undertake a complete investigation, pursuing all lines of reasonable inquiry in accordance with the law. When considering whether a charge should be brought, the police must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to form the basis of a

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prosecution, which requires that the offence is capable of being proved beyond reasonable doubt. It is then a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service, an independent body responsible for determining whether a prosecution should proceed, to assess the weight of this evidence, and in particular whether there is any indication that false evidence might have been offered against the individual accused of the crime.


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