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People Trafficking

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there is a specific offence in United Kingdom law on the trafficking of human beings; and if he will make a statement. [70121]

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Beverley Hughes: The Government are committed to ensuring that stronger measures are in place to penalise people who traffic in human beings. We have signed the protocol on trafficking to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and have negotiated an European Union Framework Decision, which commits the United Kingdom to introducing offences of trafficking for the purposes of labour or sexual exploitation within two years of its adoption.

We have acted quickly to deal with the worst forms of exploitation by creating a new offence of trafficking for the purposes of controlling someone in prostitution within the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill currently before Parliament. It will carry a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment, as for drug trafficking offences. This is a stop gap offence pending more wide-ranging offences of trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation when parliamentary time permits, which will implement our international obligations.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the mechanism by which the holder of an asylum seeker's identification card can obtain access to the information contained on the card. [67763]

Beverley Hughes: The personal information contained on the card is that provided by the holder when the card is created. The holder is shown a copy of the information when the card is created. The card can only be updated at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) offices on the authorised system equipment. This would necessitate the holder's attendance and therefore their knowledge that the data held on the card had been updated.

The information held on the card is available on application to the Subject Access Bureau on payment of a fee of £10 payable to the Home Office Accounting Officer.

The address of the bureau for Immigration and Nationality Department inquiries is:

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers in London were (a) supported by the London boroughs, (b) supported by the National Asylum Support Service through the provision of emergency accommodation, (c) supported by the London boroughs and National Asylum Support Service through the scheme for disbenefited asylum seekers and (d) received assistance in the form of vouchers or cash only provided by the National Asylum Support Service in (i) 1999, (ii) 2000 and (iii) 2001. [69958]

Beverley Hughes: Information is not available in the exact form requested.

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The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) took on responsibility for supporting asylum seekers from April 2000 when it began operation. Before that time asylum seekers were supported by local authorities or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). NASS is responsible for supporting disbenefited asylum seekers who initially applied for asylum at a United Kingdom port of entry before 3 April 2000, were receiving support from DWP, had a negative decision recorded on their claim on or after 25 September 2000 which ended their entitlement to benefits, but who have subsequently appealed against that decision.

The only available figures for the number of asylum seekers supported by the London boroughs come from local authority grant claims sent to the Home Office as at September 2001. These show that local authorities in the London boroughs were supporting 14,420 1 singles and 11,060 1 families. Figures including dependants are not available. Figures for cases supported by NASS are not available by London borough.

The number of asylum seekers (including dependants) supported by NASS in emergency accommodation in London was 5,900 2 as at the end of December 2000, and 3,200 2 as at the end of December 2001.

As at the end of December 2001 NASS was supporting 820 1 asylum seekers (including dependants) in London through the scheme for disbenefited asylum seekers.

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There were no asylum seekers being supported by NASS in London through this scheme as at the end of December 2000.

NASS did not support asylum seekers before April 2000. The number of asylum seekers (including dependants) receiving subsistence only support from NASS and staying in the London region was 6,210 1 as at the end of December 2000, and 17,910 1 as at the end of December 2001.

1 Figures rounded to the nearest 10.
2 Figures rounded to the nearest 100.

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many unaccompanied asylum- seeker children were supported by each of the London boroughs in (a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01 and (c) 2001–02; and how much funding was (i) applied for by and (ii) allocated to each local authority in London to meet the cost of essential social support services for such children. [69957]

Beverley Hughes: The Home Office assumed responsibility for reimbursing local authorities for supporting Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) as of 1 April 2000 and does not have records for 1999–2000. Local authorities under either section 20 or section 17 of the Children Act 1989 for support provide these amounts.

The table shows the numbers supported by each of the London boroughs from the grant claims submitted and also the amounts claimed and paid.

Local authorityApplied and allocated 2000–01 (£)Number supported 26 January 2001Applied and allocated 2001–02 (£)Number supported 25 January 2002
Barking and Dagenham2,564,5942414,505,858262
Corporation of London114,40014171,60015
Hammersmith and Fulham3,131,3751664,154,800144
Kensington and Chelsea2,097,3251092,068,675100
Kingston Upon Thames225,20025352,80040
Richmond Upon Thames2,069,8831661,132,80079
Tower Hamlets376,40016290,60022
Waltham Forest2,130,6321712,952,765173

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Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers from Zimbabwe have (a) been detained and (b) had their cases certified since his announcement to suspend removals to that country on 15 January; and if he will make a statement. [37678]

Beverley Hughes: The latest available information on the number of persons detained solely under Immigration Act powers relates to 30 March 2002. As at that date, 30 Zimbabweans (to the nearest five) were being detained who are recorded as having claimed asylum at some stage, which excludes persons detained in police cells. Provisionally, 55 certified refusals were made on asylum applications lodged by nationals of Zimbabwe in January 2002, 35 in February and 45 in March.

I regret that information on the number of asylum seekers from Zimbabwe who have been detained since 15 January is not available.

The suspension of removals of asylum seekers to Zimbabwe is a temporary measure. We are monitoring events in the aftermath of the Zimbabwe presidential election in close liaison with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). There is no set time scale, but it would be unrealistic to be able to make any decision on a resumption of removals until the immediate post-election situation has calmed down and we have had time to assess properly the risks to returnees and gather and consider the views of FCO and others. Zimbabwean asylum seekers have continued, where appropriate, to be detained at Oakington Reception Centre as part of the fast-track asylum process. Aside from such individuals, there will be a very small number of people who are detained at present pending removal while outstanding applications, appeals and other matters are resolved. Once such issues have been resolved, the persons concerned will normally be granted bail or temporary admission as appropriate while the suspension of removals remains in place.

Information on Immigration Act detainees as at 29 June and refusals in the second quarter (April to June) of 2002 will be published on 30 August on the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at

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