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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps he is taking to ensure that rail freight facilities through the channel tunnel return to the pre-November 2001 levels. 
Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport to the hon. Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Tynan) on 18 April 2002, Official Report, column 1170W.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 24 April, ref. 52041, about Railtrack's random checks of personal track safety certificates, what
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action is taken (a) by Railtrack and (b) by railway employers in the 2 per cent. of cases where staff do not hold a valid certificate; and what action is being taken to reduce the percentage of staff without a valid certificate. 
Mr. Jamieson: Railtrack advise that they carry out a series of comprehensive spot checks every three months and supplement this with additional random spot checks. Railtrack log all the information they receive and use it to monitor the provision of staff by agencies and contractors. If anyone does not hold the correct accreditation they are removed immediately from site.
Ms Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the progress of the proposals for the Croxley Rail Link. 
Ms Keeble: I am pleased that this proposal has satisfied the economic appraisal set by the Department. The issues yet to be resolved are to do with its deliverability. My officials are expecting a paper on these issues from Hertfordshire county council's consultants shortly. We recognise the importance of the Croxley Rail Link and look forward to making progress on this scheme.
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what discussions the Government have had with (a) Connex South Eastern and (b) other rail operators to discuss the extension of services during the night. 
Mr. Jamieson: Any such proposal would be a matter for the train operating companies to take forward with the Strategic Rail Authority.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the level of deep-sea port traffic expressed in containers per annum has been in each of the last 10 years. 
Mr. Byers: Information on the numbers of containers entering or leaving the UK that were transported from or to deep-sea ports (excluding Europe and the Mediterranean) in each of the last 10 years to 2000 is published in "Maritime Statistics" annual reports for the years 1991 to 2000 inclusive, which are produced by my Department. Copies of these reports are held in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what additional resources he will make available to Gloucestershire county council to maintain the A40 following de-trunking; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Tim Matthews, to write to the hon. Member.
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Letter from Tim Matthews to Nigel Jones dated 1 May 2002:
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he proposes to make regulations under the Transport Act 2000 to amend the transfers of liability to vehicle hirers for fixed penalty charge notices for bus lane contraventions under the London Local Authorities Act 1996. 
Ms Keeble: Our target is to make London bus lane enforcement regulations under section 144 of the Transport Act 2000 this autumn.
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proposals the Government have to increase the number of night buses and night bus routes. 
Ms Keeble: Whether to provide night bus services is primarily a matter for commercial operators outside London, and for Transport for London. Local authorities outside London may however subsidise the provision of a service where they consider it necessary. There are already night bus services operating in a number of towns and cities.
Bus services in London are the responsibility of the Mayor and Transport for London. They have already made significant improvements in night bus services and more are planned. For example, 16 new night bus routes have been introduced since April 2000, and frequencies have increased on many others. There has also been a 20 per cent. growth in the number of night bus passengers in London in the last year.
As a devolved matter under the Scotland Act 1998, bus services in Scotland are primarily a matter for the Scottish Executive. I understand that the frequency of night bus services in Glasgow will be increased from 26 May.
Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 29 April 2002, ref. 53199, on processing by the DVLA, what the average time taken was to process replacement vehicle registration documents in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Jamieson: For the year 200102 in respect of registration documents issued in response to customers notifying changes to their own or the vehicle's details, the agency processed 95 per cent. of all transactions within 8.4 days.
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Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many NDPBs have ceased to exist since 1997. 
Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.
Records of the numbers of public bodies which are created and which cease to exist each year are not currently collected centrally. However, the total number of public bodies in existence each year is published in Annex B of the Cabinet Office publication, "Public Bodies 2001", a copy of which is held in the Library, and which is available on the internet.
In 1979, the first year in which the total number of public bodies was recorded, there were 2,167 public bodies. In 1997, this had decreased by 48 per cent. to 1,128. The total as at 31 March 2001 was 1,025 a further reduction of 9 per cent. In parallel with the continuing commitment to reduce the number of NDPBs, the Government also remain committed to ensuring that new NDPBs and other bodies are set up only where it can be demonstrated that this is the most cost-effective and appropriate means of carrying out the function concerned.
"Public Bodies 2002", giving details of public bodies in existence as at 31 March 2002, will be published in due course.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the Afghans who landed at Stansted in February 2000 in a hijacked aircraft are in Britain; and what their immigration status is. 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: Of the 170 people who arrived on the aircraft, 81, including the flight crew, returned to Afghanistan. Thirteen of the passengers, together with their 21 dependants, have asylum applications that are still undecided. This group includes the convicted hijackers. Thirty passengers with five dependants were refused asylum but remain in the United Kingdom pending the outcome of their appeal to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal. Six passengers and 12 dependants have been granted refugee status. Two passengers who previously indicated that they wished to return to Afghanistan have now indicated that they no longer wish to do so and their status is under consideration.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many dependants joined applicants for asylum after an initial decision on their case and are not included in the published total of asylum seekers in each of the years from 1995 to 2001; 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: I regret that the information requested is unavailable and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
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Administrative records for applicants for asylum do not necessarily record how many dependants join applicants following initial decisions for a number of reasons. Some applicants leave the United Kingdom following the initial decision and are subsequently joined by dependants outside the United Kingdom, who would not be included in the published total. Some dependants may apply for asylum as principal applicants and therefore not be identifiable as dependants of existing or former applicants, but would be included in the published total. Some dependants may apply to enter the United Kingdom for temporary purposes (for example, as a visitor) or apply for settlement within the United Kingdom without either identifying that they wish to join a former or current asylum applicant or applying for asylum. These dependants would not be included in the published total of asylum seekers.
Information on asylum applications and initial decisions is published quarterly on the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are taken to ensure that those who are refused asylum and who agree to depart voluntarily do so. 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: A voluntary departure is where an asylum seekers withdraws their asylum claim before all appeal rights have been exhausted and wishes to leave the United Kingdom. In all cases they are asked to sign a disclaimer confirming that they wish to leave prior to the conclusion of their application.
Some individuals make themselves known to the immigration service at the point of embarkation, for example, in order to collect ticketing and other documentation. The immigration service will conform with the carrier that individuals have departed from the United Kingdom.
If an individual does not inform the immigration service of his intentions and obtains his/her own documents, we may not be aware that he/she has departed from the United Kingdom.
Where a person is voluntarily leaving the United Kingdom under the Voluntary Assisted Returns Programme (VARP), operated on behalf of the Home Office by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), they will be assisted at the airport by the IOM. Before the flight leaves, the individual is required to sign a disclaimer confirming that the departure is voluntary. The IOM's London office advises IOM offices in the destination country and any transit country of the departure and notifies the Home Office.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum applicants have been dealt with under the backlog clearing exercise; and how many of them were granted (a) asylum and (b) exceptional leave to remain. 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: Record levels of initial decisions in 2000 and 2001 led to a reduction in the number of cases awaiting an initial decisionfrom 119,700 cases at the end of December
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1999 to 39,400 at the end of December 2001. Initial decisions continue to outstrip applications, so the number of outstanding cases continues to fall.
The data requested are shown in the table. This information relates to cases decided under measures aimed at reducing the pre-1996 asylum application backlog during 1999 and 2000.
|Granted asylum under backlog criteria||945||305||1,250|
|Granted ELR under backlog criteria||10,195||10,020||20,215|
|Refused under backlog criteria(15)||1,275||1,335||2,605|
(12) Figures are rounded to the nearest 5, and exclude dependents.
(13) Some cases decided under the backlog criteria may not be included, as they may be included in the figures showing cases considered under normal procedures.
(14) Provisional data
(15) Includes some cases where the application has been refused on substantive grounds.
Information on initial decisions is published quarterly. The next publication will cover the period up to March 2002, and will be available from 30 May 2002 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate web site at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/ immigration1.html.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which Government Departments provided support for asylum seekers in (a) 19992000 and (b) 200001. 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: In 19992000 support for asylum seekers was provided by the Department for Social Security (now Department for Work and Pensions), the Department of Health and the Home Office. The Department of Social Security (DSS) provided support to those asylum seekers who made their application for asylum at a port of entry until such time as an initial decision was made on the claim. But the costs of support provided by the DSS were met by the Home Office. The Department of Health was responsible for funding the support costs of unaccompanied asylum seeking children. The Home Office was responsible for payment of grant to local authorities who were supporting asylum seekers who had either applied for asylum in country or who, having applied at a United Kingdom port of entry, had received an initial negative decision on their claim and were appealing against that decision.
In 200001 support for asylum seekers was mainly provided by the Home Office. Support was provided either directly by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) or by grant paid to local authorities to meet the direct costs of those supported under the interim provisions. In 200001 the grant to social services departments caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children was also met by the Home Office. The DSS provided support for those asylum seekers who applied for asylum at a port of entry prior to 3 April 2000 and who had not received an initial decision on their claim. Again these costs were met by the Home Office.
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Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum applicants were (a) finally refused and (b) removed in (i) 19992000 and (ii) 200001. 
Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: Information on final decisions is not readily available and could be obtained only by examining individual case files to obtain information on the outcomes of initial decisions, of subsequent appeals to the Immigration Appellate Authority and the Tribunal, and of cases which have been reconsidered, which would incur disproportionate cost.
Information on initial decisions which refused asylum and Exceptional Leave to Remain (ELR) during these years is shown in the table. This table represents principal applicants only.
|Total initial decisions||52,040||132,840|
|Refused asylum and ELR under normal procedures(18)||23,720||97,040|
|Refused asylum and ELR under backlog criteria(19),(20)||1,490||1,110|
(16) Data are rounded to the nearest 5 and exclude dependants.
(17) Provisional data.
(18) Cases considered under normal procedures may include some cases decided under the backlog criteria.
(19) Cases decided under measures aimed at reducing the pre-1996 asylum application backlog.
(20) Includes some cases where the application has been refused on substantive grounds.
The number of failed asylum applicants removed in 19992000 and 200001 is shown in the table. This table represents principal applicants only.
(21) Persons who had sought asylum at some point, excluding dependants.
(22) Figures rounded to the nearest 5.
(23) Includes persons departing 'voluntarily' after enforcement action had been initiated against them and persons leaving under the Assisted Voluntary Returns Programme run by the International Organisation for Migration.
(24) Provisional figure.
Removals in 19992000 and 200001 do not necessarily relate to refusals in the same period.
Information on initial decisions and the number of asylum seekers removed from the United Kingdom is published on a quarterly basis on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost was of accommodating asylum seekers and those already granted asylum and exceptional leave to remain in the financial year 200001. 
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Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: Home Office expenditure on supporting destitute asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors, in 200001 was £751 million.
Those granted refugee status and exceptional leave to remain are entitled to work and to mainstream benefits and figures for the costs are not available.
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