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Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the latest estimate is of the cost of the Trident acquisition programme; and if he will make a statement. [5987]

Mr. Hoon: The current estimate of the total acquisition cost of the Trident programme, with payments already made expressed at the prices and exchange rates actually incurred and future spend at the current financial year exchange rate (the hybrid estimate), is now £9,764 million. Leaving aside the effects of price inflation and exchange rate variation (+£7 million), there has been a real cost increase of £12 million. Expenditure on the Trident acquisition programme to 30 September 2000 represented some 98 per cent. of the total estimate. If all expenditure, past and projected, is brought up to this current year's economic conditions (the non-hybrid estimate) the estimate is £13,662 million.

The programme continues to show an overall reduction in real terms on its original 1982 estimate. This reduction, including the savings resulting from the decision to process missiles at the United States facility at Kings Bay, Georgia, now stands at over £3.9 billion at current prices.

The proportion of the estimate for work undertaken in the United Kingdom is around 70 per cent.

Our four in-service Vanguard class submarines are successfully maintaining continuous at-sea deterrence. HMS Vengeance entered service earlier this year.

Carrier Fighter

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress with the CVF (aircraft carrier) assessment phase contracts; and if he will make a statement. [5134]

Mr. Hoon: Negotiations continue with both candidate prime contractors on the basis of the work they have done so far and the proposals they have submitted for the next stage of CVF Assessment. It remains our intention to contract for the next stage of Assessment as soon as agreement can be reached with the prime contractors.

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Mr. David: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the Bowman project; and if he will make a statement. [5986]

Mr. Hoon: The Bowman project will provide the armed forces with a modern, highly capable tactical combat radio communications system to replace Clansman which has been in service since the mid-1970s. It will provide secure, reliable communications to our land forces and selected elements of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The system will also implement a tactical internet and provide automatic position location, navigation and reporting.

Last summer, in the light of major problems with the programme, the competition for the Bowman combat radio was re-launched. Following careful analysis of the bids submitted by Thales, TRW and CDC, I have decided that CDC, a subsidiary of General Dynamics already operating in the UK, should be selected as the preferred supplier of this system.

Our priority has been to deliver a successful solution that fills the capability gap at the earliest opportunity. CDC has offered a solution that fully meets the military requirement and represents the best value for money. I am confident that it will meet our demanding timetable for getting this vital equipment into service with the armed forces. It is based on the development of a proven system, and includes best of class radios and a very efficient approach to fielding and support. Its bid is the clear winner of the competition.

The Ministry of Defence and CDC will now work together on the programme to bring Bowman into service. We aim to be in a position to let the contract in late summer this year, in support of an In-Service Date in early 2004. The contract is valued at around £1.8 billion. It will cover both the supply of the Bowman system and the first five years of support up to the year 2009.

CDC's solution will provide employment opportunities in the UK in a broad range of system areas, including design, development, manufacture and project management. Ninety per cent. of the work content of the CDC bid will be UK-based—the highest proportion of any of the three bids. Around 1,600 jobs will be secured across the UK, including 400 new high-technology and support posts at the company's headquarters, which CDC plan to establish in south Wales. The company has also earmarked south Wales for a new Army Communications Technology research and development centre, which will be staffed by around 65 leading scientists. Other regions will benefit too. We expect sub-contract work to secure over 100 jobs in Scotland, over 300 jobs in south-west England, and around 75 jobs in the south-east centred on Hastings. Major UK sub-contractors include Alvis and GKN-Westlands.

This month will also see the first deliveries, ahead of schedule, of the Personal Role Radios, a new capability which was separated from the main Bowman requirement in 1999 in order to ensure early delivery to the front line. These radios will provide short range communications for dismounted infantry, and will transform their operations.

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Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the impact on procurement policy, with particular reference to the willingness of each of the competitors to accept future UK defence prime contracts, if (a) CDC, (b) TRW and (c) Thales were awarded the Bowman contract; and if he will make a statement; [5135]

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

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assurances he has received from TRW about its performance in respect of US digitisation programmes; and if he will make a statement; [5129]

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


European Refugee Fund

Mr. Michael Jabez Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which organisations successfully bid for funding under the European refugee fund for voluntary repatriation measures in 2000–01. [6026]

Angela Eagle: The International Organisation for Migration, with Refugee Action as an implementing partner, successfully bid for funding of three separate projects under this measure. All three projects are co-funded by the Home Office. They are:

Voluntary Assisted Return Programme 2000:

The project is open to any persons, subject to the European refugee fund criteria, who wish to return to their country of origin but do not have the means to do so. The programme aims, within a 12-month period, to organise a dignified and orderly return service to facilitate the return of 1,200 persons to their home destination. Information and assistance are made available, in the home country, to all returning persons. This project commenced in September 2000 and is therefore funded retrospectively.

Somalia Project:

This project aims to facilitate the sustainable return and reintegration of 100 Somali nationals currently living in the United Kingdom who have applied for asylum and now wish to go back to Somalia. The project will be concentrating on the regions of Somalia—predominantly

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Somaliland and Punt Land—where there is peace and conditions are conducive for the safe and orderly return and reintegration of Somali nationals.

Voluntary Assisted Return Programme (VARP) 2001:

This project, which will begin in September 2001, aims to continue the work already established by the earlier project (VARP 2000). The target is a further 1,200 voluntary returns. The same criteria will apply and it is intended that any identified improvements following evaluation of the VARP 2000 project will be incorporated into the programme.

Asylum Seekers

Mrs. Fitzsimons: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the asylum support adjudicators will publish their annual report and accounts for 2000–01. [6027]

Angela Eagle: The asylum support adjudicators annual report and accounts for 2000–01 will be published on Wednesday 25 July. A copy will be placed in the Library.

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers have arrived in (a) the county of Suffolk, excluding Felixstowe and (b) the Port of Felixstowe since 1 January. [4119]

Angela Eagle: Information on the number of asylum applications made in the county of Suffolk is unavailable. Asylum applications data are not available at regional level except by port of application. The requested information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.

The number of asylum applications made at the Port of Felixstowe in the period of 1 January 2001 to 30 June 2001 was 30 (excluding dependants). This information was taken from manual counts of asylum applications taken at port, which do not reconcile with the provisional monthly asylum statistics published on

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the shackling of asylum detainees attending hospitals for medical treatment. [5382]

Angela Eagle: Immigration detainees may be handcuffed, if this is assessed in a particular case to be necessary for reasons of security and control, while being escorted from their place of detention to another location. This could include attendance at a medical appointment. Handcuffs would in all cases be used for the minimum period necessary for the purposes of security and control and, in the context of medical appointments, would not be applied during any medical examination.

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the backlog of asylum appeals was on (a) 30 May and (b) 30 May 1997; and if he will make a statement. [2940]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 9 July 2001]: Provisional data indicate that on 30 May 2001 there were approximately 52,000 asylum appeals lodged with the Immigration and Nationality Directorate which has not reached the end of the appeals process.

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Data from the manual records kept in 1997 indicate that on 30 May 1997 the comparable figure was approximately 26,000.

Between 1997 and 2001 there was a 244 per cent. increase in decision making, from 38,895 initial decisions in 1996–97 to 133,695 in 2000–01. Over the same period the number of appeals within the process increased by 100 per cent.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what date he expects (a) to have completed his assessment of the fieldwork on the asylum vouchers review and (b) to make an announcement of his conclusions from the review; and if he will make a statement. [5115]

Angela Eagle: The review of the operation of the asylum voucher scheme remains on-going. We have not set a specific date for completion of our consideration of the evidence from the review, but we will not be making any announcements before the summer.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to ensure that asylum seekers who have been victims of torture are not detained in prisons; and if he will make a statement. [5116]

Angela Eagle: The detention under Immigration Act powers of any individual, whether an asylum seeker or not, has to be justified on the basis of the particular circumstances of the individual concerned and there is a general presumption in favour of granting temporary admission or temporary release. In any case where detention is considered necessary a range of factors must be taken into account before the detention is authorised.

One of these factors is whether the individual concerned has a history of torture. Evidence of such a history would weigh heavily against detention and, in any case where there is independent evidence of torture, the person concerned would not normally be considered suitable for detention.

Where information on a possible history of torture comes to light after a person has been detained this information would be taken into account in deciding whether detention of that person should continue.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he intends to implement Part III of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 relating to routine hearings to review the detention of asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement; [5119]

Angela Eagle: The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 does not specify a date by which part III is required to be implemented. While it was not proposed to implement part III before October 2001, the actual implementation date is currently under review and a final decision has yet to be taken.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to increase the regional structure of the National Asylum Support Service; and if he will make a statement. [5207]

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Angela Eagle: The structure of National Asylum Support Service (NASS) is kept under review. Any decision to increase the number of NASS staff in the regions much take into account the broader requirements of Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) as a whole.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if guidance notes accompanying statement of evidence forms are distributed to asylum seekers in their own language; how many translated guidance notes have been published, and in what languages; and if he will make a statement. [5205]

Angela Eagle: The guidance notes that accompany the statement of evidence form (SEF) have been translated into 33 main languages spoken by asylum applicants. Other languages may be added if a need is identified. When a SEF is issued to an asylum applicant, it is accompanied by a copy of the explanatory notes in English and a language which the applicant can understand.

The explanatory notes have been translated into the following languages:

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers are located in Southend; and how many have been sent to Southend from other areas. [2309]

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Angela Eagle [holding answer 5 July 2001]: The information requested is not available.

Southend is not currently a cluster area used by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) and so asylum seekers are not dispersed there by NASS. Information on the location of asylum seekers receiving voucher-only support from NASS is collated only by region, not by town.

Statistics for asylum seekers dispersed by local authorities are not held centrally.

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