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Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the maximum delay he allows between the Secretary of State receiving appeal decisions under rule 15(2) and 16(5), and 18(9A) and 19(6) amended by SI 4014 (L.31) 2001 and serving them on the appellants. 
Angela Eagle: We anticipate that almost all determinations received by the Home Office under these rules will be served within 48 hours. The remainder will be served within a further period which would exceed six weeks only in exceptional circumstances.
Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the new arrangements for service of appeal decisions under rules 15(2), 16(5), 18(9A) and 19(6) will come into operation. 
Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to come to a decision on the recommendation of the adjudicator on 17 October 2000, relating to the possibility of exceptional leave to remain being given to Mr. Mustaf Uka, his wife and children (Home Office Reference U48661 and Port Reference BDD/00/10800). 
Angela Eagle: It is most regrettable that this case was not actioned earlier and that Mr. Uka's solicitor did not receive responses to their correspondence. A caseworker will now make a decision in this case as a matter of priority and notify the solicitor accordingly.
Angela Eagle [holding answer 28 January 2002]: Between January and September 2001, inclusive, 15,060 grants of exceptional leave to remain were made. This figure refers to principal applicants only, and is provisional. Annual figures for 2001 are not yet available.
Information on asylum applications and initial decisions are published quarterly. The next publication will present data for the final quarter of 2001, and will be available from 28 February 2002 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what disciplinary measures are in place for Immigration Service personnel who do not treat visa applicants with a basic level of courtesy; and if he will make a statement. 
High standards of courtesy and professionalism are expected of all Immigration Service staff when carrying out official duties. Any complaint that there has been a failure to meet these requirements is treated very seriously, and if substantiated could result in disciplinary action.
The Immigration Service Complaints Unit has national responsibility for arranging and overseeing the formal investigation of allegations of misconduct or inefficiency made against Immigration Service personnel or other staff contracted to carry out work on behalf of the service. Written allegations of discourtesy are investigated in accordance with the formal complaint procedures. Verbal complaints about the conduct of staff are normally dealt with on the spot by a supervising officer.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment was made of the advantages and disadvantages of (a) rural and (b) urban sites for the proposed asylum accommodation centres. 
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact on local public services, with specific reference to (a) health and (b) police, of the construction of a new asylum accommodation centre. 
Angela Eagle: In making final decisions on preferred sites, we will take all the relevant factors into account including those to which the hon. Member refers. These assessments have not yet been made.
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Angela Eagle: The Immigration and Nationality Public Enquiry Office based in Croydon provides a fast track service for all straightforward applications for further leave and indefinite leave to remain combined with an urgent return of passport facility. All callers are seen on the day. Three other regional inquiry offices based in Liverpool, Birmingham and Glasgow offer a more restricted service in terms of opening hours and the type of applications they are able to consider.
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will announce to Parliament when the average time taken for completing applications for student visas has reached his target figure of three weeks. 
Angela Eagle: We aim to decide 70 per cent. of all new general and settlement applications within three weeks. We are working hard to achieve this as soon as possible. Information on the Immigration Nationality Directorate website will be regularly updated to reflect the current position. This will also be included in information provided by the Immigration and Nationality Enquiry Bureau and in letters acknowledging receipt of applications.
Angela Eagle: We are making best use of current resources and looking at options for additional staff in order to reduce the time taken to process new general immigration cases and to reduce the backlog of such cases, including those made by overseas nationals who are studying in the United Kingdom. We aim to reduce the turnaround time for new straightforward applications to three weeks as soon as possible.
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue guidance to staff dealing with student visas on the importance of providing a fast, efficient and courteous service. 
Angela Eagle: All staff are aware of the need to carry out their duties in a professional manner. Performance is continually monitored by management who would take appropriate action to remedy any weaknesses. Any allegations of inefficiency or discourtesy will be fully investigated.
Angela Eagle: All staff within the Immigration and Nationality Directorate posted to the Public Enquiry Office in Croydon receive induction training on joining the service, plus a further two weeks of immigration rules based modular training. Additionally, during their initial six to eight weeks they are mentored by experienced public counter officers. All elements of the training focus on providing a fast, fair and professional service to the public.
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Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the processing of one year student visas will achieve the target of completion in three weeks for 70 per cent. of applications. 
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 18 January 2002, Official Report, columns 55051W, on visas, how he will calculate the average waiting time to process a one year student visa when applications are decided within three weeks. 
Angela Eagle: We would expect the majority of student applications to be decided within three weeks. However, we are introducing a casework information database which, when fully operational, will enable us to monitor our performance on general immigration casework more effectively.
Angela Eagle: Staff attend a 10-day training course in the Immigration Rules before joining the Immigration and Nationality Enquiry Bureau (INEB). They then join a mentoring programme in INEB where they progress from listening to calls with experienced members of staff to taking a number of calls with a mentor listening in.
When their mentor and the new agent feel they are ready they are listened in to by a senior mentor and their line manager before they are allowed to take calls without another member of staff listening in. The length of time this takes varies from person to person and can take between 10 days and several weeks. Also, agents receive regular mentoring and training on all aspects of the Immigration Rules throughout their time in INEB.
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