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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will launch a campaign to inform British nationals that they will be prosecuted for child sex crimes committed overseas; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Keith Bradley: We are keen to do all we can to protect the public, especially children, both in the United Kingdom and abroad, from sex offenders. This is why jurisdiction was extended by virtue of Part Two of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 to allow prosecution in the United Kingdom's courts for sex offences committed by British nationals and residents abroad against children. This allows us to prosecute such cases in this country when we need to.
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extremely difficult for the prosecuting authorities in the United Kingdom to gather sufficient evidence about an offence which took place in another country for a successful prosecution. In these circumstances, an information campaign of the kind suggested would not be appropriate. However, we will take every opportunity to warn people that they could be prosecuted in the United Kingdom for sex offences committed abroad.
Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what support his Department (a) is giving and (b) will give in future years to the schemes for young offenders run by the Army Cadet Force leadership as outreach. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 4 February 2002]: The Youth Justice Board committed £60,000 to Outreach for 200001 and the Home Office £60,000 for 200102. This funding supports the project's personal development training for 12 to 14-year-olds who are considered to be at risk of involvement in crime or not properly engaged in formal education. It includes adventure pursuit activities and team building exercises in conjunction with the Army Cadet Force.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what will be the functions, establishment and annual budget of the proposed Ministerial Briefing Unit; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 4 February 2002]: Work on the Ministerial Briefing Unit in the Home Office was commissioned in 2001 and the unit came into existence on Monday 28 January 2002. Its functions are to improve the quality of Home Office information made publicly available by providing research facilities and background briefing for the Home Secretary, his ministerial team and senior officials undertaking activity outside the Department on current and emerging topics of concern.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the proposed asylum accommodation centres will be constructed using the Private Finance Initiative; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela Eagle: Proposed asylum accommodation centres will not be developed using the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The Home Office has considered a number of procurement strategies for the delivery of these projects and determined that the PFI route was not appropriate in view of the urgent nature of the programme.
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Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what consultations he will undertake with (a) local authorities, (b) providers of local services and (c) members of the local community before reaching a decision on the use of Throckmorton airfield as the site of a proposed asylum accommodation centre; 
(3) if he will submit to Wychavon district council a full environmental impact statement in accordance with the town and country planning regulations before proceeding with a decision on the use of Throckmorton airfield as the site of a proposed asylum accommodation centre. 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 5 February 2002]: Home Office officials met recently with planning officials from Wychavon district council regarding the potential development of the airfield at Throckmorton. They will, in the near future and in agreement with the planning authority, embark on a consultation exercise with all relevant parties including local authorities, providers of local services and members of the local community.
The potential accommodation centre site at the Throckmorton airfield is a Crown development and as such my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary does not have to comply with the town and country planning regulations. However, an environmental impact study will be included as part of the planning notification package, to be submitted in accordance with Circular 18/84, to Wychavon district council.
The Home Office does intend to apply the special urgency provisions in paragraph 22 of Circular 18/84 (Development by Government Departments) to the development of proposed asylum accommodation centres. These provisions are being applied on the basis of the urgent national need relating to the development of accommodation centres. Officials at the Home Department are currently meeting with the relevant local planning authorities on this matter.
Angela Eagle: We intend that when the trial accommodation centres are opened, the new application registration card which was launched on 31 January 2002 will be issued to all new asylum seekers, including accommodation centre residents.
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Angela Eagle [holding answer 8 February 2002]: The Home Office is currently assessing the suitability of various areas within the boundary of the Throckmorton airfield for the potential siting of an accommodation centre. Officials are in consultation with a number of parties, including the owner of the airfield and Wychavon district council, on issues which may impact on any decision on the precise siting of the potential development.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of cases of applications for permanent residence visas by spouses of UK citizens taking more than eight weeks to process at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Angela Eagle: Information on the processing times for individual types of application is not recorded centrally and could be obtained only by scrutiny of individual case files, at disproportionate cost. We are currently introducing a new management information system which will provide much better information in due course on all of the applications in the system.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of postal applications for permanent residence visas for spouses of UK citizens are processed in three weeks. 
Angela Eagle: We do not routinely publish average processing times for individual types of application. We aim to decide all straightforward applications within three weeks, but at present it is taking up to seven weeks due to the exceptionally high number of applications received, particularly in the latter half of 2001, and process changes which are being introduced to improve our longer term performance. We are working to reduce this to three weeks as soon as possible.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what data underlies the statement on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website that applications for permanent residence from spouses of UK citizens are taking up to six weeks on average and up to eight weeks in some cases. 
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Angela Eagle: Applications are normally processed in date order irrespective of category. The information on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website, which currently states that initial consideration is taking between five to seven weeks, reflects the current average length of time between the receipt of all postal applications in Croydon and their initial consideration by caseworkers. This information is regularly updated. We are working hard to continue to reduce this period back down to our target of three weeks as soon as possible.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on the time taken by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate to process applications for permanent residence from people who are spouses of UK residents. 
Angela Eagle: We have received various representations from hon. Members and from applicants and their representatives about the current turnaround time for considering general after entry casework. No statistics are kept centrally on the number of such representations.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason applicants for permanent residence visas on the basis of being a spouse of UK citizens are advised not to send their applications more than five weeks before the previous visa expires. 
Angela Eagle: One of the requirements of the relevant Immigration Rules is the completion of a period of 12 months following admission to the United Kingdom, or having been given an extension of stay for 12 months as the spouse of a person present and settled here. People who apply too early cannot meet this requirement, hence the advice in the relevant application form.
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