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Class Sizes

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action her Department is taking to monitor the number of classes with over 30 pupils in Key Stage 1 and to deal with such cases. [15009]

Mr. Timms: Infant class size counts currently take place in January, as part of the Annual Schools Census, and September. From this September local education authorities and schools have been responsible for ensuring that infant classes for five, six, and seven-year-olds comply with the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 requirement to contain 30 or fewer children except in certain limited circumstances.

In January 1998, 29 per cent. of all infants were in classes of 31 or more. Figures published this morning show that in September 2001 after taking out the permitted exceptions allowed by law there are now less than 0.1 per cent. of the 63,000 infant classes that have extra children.

Special Needs Pupils

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the impact of special needs pupils on primary school SATs results for (a) England and (b) Shropshire. [14791]

Mr. Timms: The Department does not collect separate data on the performance of pupils with SEN and it is not therefore possible to assess their impact on the National Curriculum Assessment Tests.

We have made no specific assessment of the position of pupils with SEN on primary school National Curriculum Assessment Test results in Shropshire. The percentage of

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pupils with SEN in maintained primary schools in that LEA was 21.1 per cent. in January 2000, compared to the corresponding national figure of 21.6 per cent.

The Department established an SEN Data Strategy Group which, earlier this year, recommended a number of improvements to the collection of data on pupils with SEN. We are now considering how best these recommendations could be implemented, including developing appropriate data collection software and taking the views of schools and LEAs.

Primary School Therapists

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the waiting time is and how many are on the waiting list for (a) behavioural therapists and (b) speech therapists for primary school children in (a) England and (b) Shropshire. [14790]

Mr. Timms: This information is not collected centrally.

Under the Standards Fund 2001–02, support is available to local education authorities to enhance speech and language therapy services in conjunction with the NHS and the voluntary sector. This support will be extended to other therapies in the 2002–03 round.


Government Office for London

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people were employed by the Government office for London in (a) May 2000, (b) November 2000, (c) May 2001 and (d) November 2001. [15044]

Mrs. Roche: The Government office for London employed approximately 375 people in May 2000, 270 in November 2000, 245 in May 2001 and 255 in November 2001.

UK Online Project

Ms Buck: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the allocations this year to each London local authority area under the UK online project. [13661]

Dr. Whitehead: I have been asked to reply.

As part of the wider drive to get the UK online, some £25 million has been made available to support 25 local authority e-government pathfinders for 2001–02, in a programme of innovation and shared learning. Five of these pathfinders are London boroughs and their individual allocations are set out in the table.


Local authorityAmount of funding
London borough of Brent1,050,000
London borough of Bromley1,550,000
London borough of Camden1,810,000
London borough of Newham1,150,000
London borough of Wandsworth883,000

Written Answers

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will issue guidance to Departments to require that

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answers to written questions which are replied to by letter during a parliamentary recess are sent for publication in the Official Report for the following sitting day. [12073]

Mr. Robin Cook: I have been asked to reply.

I welcome the hon. Lady's suggestion. My office has today issued guidance to all Whitehall parliamentary clerks setting out new standing instructions.

This guidance states that when a written question is replied to by letter during a recess a copy of the parliamentary question and the reply must be sent to Hansard, in order for it to appear in the Official Report the next sitting day.


Energy Efficiency Week

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what action her Department took in recognition of Energy Efficiency Week. [11515]

Mrs. Liddell: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment on 30 October 2001, Official Report, column 592W.

Scottish Estuary Forums

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what support is provided by the Crown Estate to each of the Scottish estuary forums. [11547]

Mrs. Liddell: The Crown Estate provides funding and other support to each of the Scottish estuary forums. In addition, it has one member of staff on secondment to the Scottish Coastal Forum of which it is a member and participates in the management groups of the Tay, Forth, Cromarty Firth, Clyde and Solway Forums.

Parliamentary Questions

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when she will reply to the questions tabled by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West on 29 October. [13872]

Mrs. Liddell: I replied to the hon. Member on 14 November 2001, Official Report, columns 747–48W.

Electoral Registration (Ethnic Minorities)

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps she took prior to 1 July to encourage members of ethnic minorities in Scotland to register to vote. [14327]

Mrs. Liddell: The Scotland Office's publicity campaign in February this year operated in tandem with the Home Office's campaign on new electoral arrangements. It included a number of initiatives which specifically targeted people from ethnic minority communities across the United Kingdom. In particular, notices and material were placed in UK-wide publications and other media specifically aimed at ethnic minority groups, and it was arranged for the organisation's Operation Black Vote to use its database of ethnic minority contact points throughout the country, including Scotland, to distribute information leaflets.

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Cohesion Report

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what response she is making to the Scottish Executive's discussion paper on Scottish economic development in light of the cohesion report. [14406]

Mrs. Liddell: The paper to which my hon. Friend refers is one of a series of discussion papers produced by the Scottish Executive Economist Group.

It will be a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to consider whether to respond on the policy issues raised in this particular paper.


Islamic Society of Britain

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of links between the Islamic Society of Britain and (a) Muslim fundamentalist extremists and (b) anti- Zionist activism. [14842]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 14 November 2001]: We are not aware of any links that give rise to any criminal or security concerns, but if the hon. Member has any evidence to the contrary he should pass it to the police.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what circumstances an immigrant or asylum seeker is able to have visits from family members abroad. [10111]

Angela Eagle: The Immigration Rules make provision for visits to the United Kingdom. To qualify for entry as a visitor, applicants must demonstrate that they are genuinely seeking entry as a visitor for the period stated, that they have sufficient funds to support and accommodate themselves and any dependants without working or recourse to public funds, and that they will leave the United Kingdom at the end of the visit. The maximum period allowed for a visit is six months.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people seeking asylum have been dispersed to other areas of the UK from London in each of the last three years. [14730]

Angela Eagle: The information is not available in the form requested.

Asylum seekers were not dispersed centrally before April 2000.

Information recorded by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) shows that as at the end of July 2001, 28,130 1 , 2 asylum seekers, including dependants, were being supported in NASS accommodation outside of London after dispersal.

The number of these asylum seekers who were in London prior to dispersal is not available. NASS currently does not hold statistics on the location of asylum seekers before they are dispersed by NASS. Statistics are only available on the areas that asylum seekers are dispersed to.

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Denzil Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for political asylum in the United Kingdom were made in the three months to (a) 1 October 2001 and (b) 1 October 2000. [14310]

Angela Eagle: The table provides the information requested for the latest three months for which data are available, and for the corresponding period in 2000.

Applications for asylum to the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, May-July 2000 and May-July 2001(7),(8)

Total May–July20,140
Total May–July16,570

(7) All data rounded to nearest 5. The monthly data shown may not sum to three-monthly totals due to rounding.

(8) Provisional

Information on asylum applications and initial decisions is published regularly in the annual statistical bulletin "Asylum Statistics United Kingdom", a copy of which is available in the Library of the House, and from the Research Developments and Statistics (RDS) website Data for the period July to September 2001 will be published on 30 November. Revised monthly data for 2000 are available at

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of how many (a) refugees and (b) those with special immigration status in each of the last five years have medical qualifications; [14313]

Angela Eagle: We are aware that a number of the refugees who come to the United Kingdom are highly skilled and many have professional experience in the medical sector. However, asylum applications are judged solely on the basis of whether the applicant is genuinely fleeing persecution. Information about professional skills which are not relevant to the asylum claim, are not therefore collected on arrival.

We have no current plans to fast-track refugees or those with exceptional leave to remain, with medical qualifications, through English language classes. But we want to be able to identify the types of intervention that will assist people to gain employment quickly in their field of expertise, if they are given the right to remain in the United Kingdom.

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There is close co-operation between the Home Office and the Department of Health and other agencies to look at how we can do more to identify people with medical qualifications at an early stage. For example, over the last year, the Department of Health has worked with the Refugee Council to set up a voluntary refugee doctor database, which now contains the details of over 400 refugee doctors. In addition, the British Medical Association has been encouraged to prepare guidelines for clinical attachments for overseas and refugee doctors. This will help to provide valuable experience of the national health service and help preparations for language and clinical skill tests.

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers, previously under care of local authorities while under 18 years of age, upon reaching 18 have been dispersed to each of the NASS-designated dispersal areas. [14717]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 15 November 2001]: The information requested is not available. The figures recorded by National Asylum Support Service (NASS) for the dispersal of asylum seekers do not show the number of asylum seekers who were previously treated as an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC).

Under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, local authorities continue to have duties and powers in respect of UASCs who have been accommodated under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 until they are at least 18 and to assist them until they are at least 21. The Government's policy of dispersing asylum seekers would have made these duties difficult to implement. It has therefore been agreed that with effect from 1 October 2001, except in exceptional circumstances, NASS will not seek to disperse those young people who have been accommodated by the local authority under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 and who reach the age of 18 without a final decision being reached on their asylum claim.

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), 3 July 2001, Official Report, column 100W, on asylum seekers, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increase between 1999 and 2000 of refusal of asylum applications on the basis of non-compliance. [11974]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 5 November 2001]: A higher proportion of applications were refused on grounds of non-compliance in 1999 and 2000 than had previously been the case. The increase was due partly to the stricter enforcement of the 10 day deadline for return of the Statement of Evidence Form (SEF) and partly to administrative problems which led to a backlog of correspondence within the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and some flawed refusals as a consequence. We have made a number of changes over the past 12 months to improve our administrative processes and reduce flawed refusals. These include the introduction of a dedicated PO Box for the return of completed SEFs, and adjustments to internal procedures to ensure that the receipt of SEFs is registered on a database.

We have also taken steps to improve asylum applicants' understanding of the asylum process and of the importance of meeting the time limit. We have done this by simplifying the explanatory leaflet which is sent out

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with the SEF, and by making it available in the 33 languages spoken by most asylum seekers in the United Kingdom. The SEF form has also been simplified. Non-governmental organisations were consulted about these improvements.

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