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Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what additional resources are (a) available and (b) planned for local authorities with the duty to provide integration strategies for asylum seekers granted exceptional leave to remain. 
Beverley Hughes: The Secretary of State is empowered under Section 110 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to pay grants to organisations in respect of expenditure incurred in connection with persons who are or have been asylum seekers and their dependants. The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) may grant fund Regional Consortia for their enabling role in providing services and support for asylum seekers dispersed to their region. A grant agreement exists between NASS and the Regional Consortia to facilitate payment, a key element of which is to develop, implement and deliver a strategy for resettlement and integration for those who are granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
The enabling grant is payable for each financial year and is increased proportionately to cover the costs of the enabling authority.
Additionally, the Home Office has distributed #1.5 million through the Refugee Integration Challenge Fund of which around #340,000 has been given to local authorities in order that they may implement pilot projects in the field of refugee integration. Around #1.7 million of the European Refugee Fund 2002, provided by the European Commission, has also been awarded to local authorities for similar projects. It is the intention that these projects will be robustly evaluated in order to identify good practice and so inform future policy making.
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he proposes to start his support package to help asylum seekers to return voluntarily to Afghanistan; what he anticipates will be the cost in the first six months of its operation; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The support package announced on 20 August 2002 is fully operational. The costs of the programme include the resettlement grant payment, flight costs and funding for implementing agencies who will counsel returnees and arrange their return. The cost
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of this programme depends on the number of participants, and sufficient funds are available for up to 1000 returns.
The Government are fully committed to assisting in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and packages such as this will be an important element in fulfilling that commitment, enabling the return of Afghans to their country and their subsequent re-integration to be managed in an orderly and beneficial way.
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the French Government about identifying in France those asylum seekers who might have a valid claim in the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has had wide-ranging discussions with his French counterpart on the problem of illegal immigration, including the practicalities of implementing their welcome commitment to closing the Sangatte centre. But the general principle is that asylum claims made in France are dealt with by the French authorities.
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress of discussions with the UNHCR and others concerning the new gateway for those seeking to settle in Britain. 
Beverley Hughes: As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced on 7 October, we are working to develop our resettlement gateway, which will start in April 2003. The United Kingdom is a regular attendee at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) resettlement working group, and we continue to discuss positively with UNHCR the establishment of our programme.
Official level discussions have taken place with other Government departments in order that the impact of the scheme on them is fully taken into account during its development and implementation. These will continue, as will our contact with the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) sector.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many items have been lost once
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deposited at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The information requested by the hon. Member is not held centrally and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost; however the Immigration and Nationality Directorate issue letters to members of the public where the document cannot be immediately traced. In the year 2000, 97 such letters were issued; and 103 letters in 2001. As at 11 October 2002 a total of 265 letters have been issued in the year to date. Action is being taken to address this issue.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many apprehended clandestine immigrants have claimed to have entered the UK via Portsmouth ferry port but have been apprehended elsewhere in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The Home Office does not collate statistics in relation to where illegal immigrants claimed to have clandestinely entered the United Kingdom. Although attempts are made to capture this data the responses given are unreliable. Most claim not to know where they specifically entered the United Kingdom or where they embarked from in Europe, or are unwilling to divulge this information.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with cross-channel ferry companies concerning the improved detection of clandestine immigrants entering the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The UK Immigration Service (UKIS) has close working relationships with cross channel ferry companies and has regular contact with the management and staff of P&O Ferries, SeaFrance, Norfolk Line, Hoverspeed, TransEuropa and Brittany Ferries. UKIS officers offer support and advice in respect of inadmissible passengers and clandestine entry.
The government is taking forward a project to procure new detection technology equipment for deployment at Continental Channel ports serving the United Kingdom. It is proposed that this be made available on a loan basis to port and/or ferry operators to supplement the search regimes that they already conduct by visual checks and using CO 2 detectors.
In taking this project forward, UK Immigration Service officials propose to visit all ports which pose an actual or potential risk of clandestine traffic to the UK and have already visited Calais, Dunkirk, Ostend, Zeebrugge and Cherbourg. In each case there has been dialogue with port and ferry operators to determine their equipment needs, how it will be operated and by whom.
Good progress has been made at those ports visited and both port and ferry operators have shown enthusiasm for the initiative, which will provide both a deterrent to clandestine entry and a considerable service to the road haulage industry. Remaining ports will be visited in the near future.
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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many apprehended clandestine immigrants who have claimed to have entered the UK via Portsmouth have sought asylum in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The Home Office does not collate statistics in relation to where asylum seekers claimed to have entered the United Kingdom clandestinely. Attempts are made to capture this data through initial screening and interviews for asylum. However, the information provided by those seeking asylum is often unreliable as most claim not to know where they entered the United Kingdom or unwilling to divulge this.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to improve the detection of clandestine immigrants coming to the UK via (a) St. Malo, (b) Caen, (c) Le Havre and (d) Cherbourg; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The government are determined to reduce the flow of clandestine entry to the United Kingdom from Continental Channel ports in freight vehicles and, as a first step in a project, are procuring new detection technology equipment for the use of port/ferry operators in Calais to supplement the vehicle checks already conducted there. This is the first of a number of initiatives, which will provide a significant deterrent to clandestine entry to the United Kingdom and to strengthen our controls at the Channel ports.
It is recognised, however, that these positive measures in Calais may initially result in displacement of clandestine traffic to other Continental ports. As a precaution extra freight searching operations have been conducted in Poole and Portsmouth by UK Immigration Service (UKIS) in respect of vessels arriving from France. Results of these extra searches revealed no indication of significant displacement of clandestine traffic into these ports. Consideration is also being given to the deployment of mobile detection units in order to respond more quickly to changing threats in respect of cross-channel illegal migration.
Funding has also been made available for the procurement of additional equipment for deployment in those ports and considerable progress has already been made.
In taking the project forward, Immigration Service officials have visited a number of ports to assess the risk of displacement, current security measures and the extent of their equipment needs. In all cases, port and other officials have welcomed the initiative and have voiced their willingness to participate. Cherbourg is amongst those ports already visited and further visits are planned to others, including St. Malo, Caen and Le Havre.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many clandestine immigrants have entered the UK via Portsmouth ferry port in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The nature of clandestine entry is such that it is not possible to state how many people have entered the UK clandestinely via Portsmouth in the last five years. However, the department is able to
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state how many clandestines have actually been detected by UKIS at the port of Portsmouth. There has been a decreasing number of clandestines detected over a five year period:
The decrease is attributed to current initiatives, which include close working relationships with carriers which has resulted in an increased detection of clandestines in the French ports prior to travel.
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