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28 Oct 2002 : Column 612W—continued

Air Weapons

Joyce Quin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his policy on the acquisition and possession of air weapons. [75309]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government are very well aware of, and take very seriously, the damage which can result from the misuse of air weapons. We are looking at a number of options for dealing with the problem of air weapon misuse including a change in the age limits at which air weapons may be acquired and possessed. We will bring forward proposals shortly on measures to tackle this problem.

Alcohol (Young People)

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the powers of the police to confiscate drink in the possession of young people. [75347]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The police have powers to confiscate alcohol from under-age drinkers in public places (Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997). Section 29 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 further clarified the confiscation powers. This enables the police to deal with situations where young people's drinking is causing a nuisance to others or may lead to bad behaviour. We have taken careful note of representations from the police to increase the confiscation powers to include sealed containers, and we intend to bring forward amendments to do this when parliamentary time allows.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 19 September 2002, Official Report, columns 74–75W, when he will introduce legislation to amend the regulation issued under section 13 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 in respect of the confiscation of alcohol from under-age drinkers in public places. [76527]

Mr. Denham: The regulations made under section 13 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 are The Local Authorities (Alcohol Consumption in Designated Public Places) Regulations 2001. These set out the procedures to be followed by local authorities, relating to consultation and publicity, before making an order identifying a public place for the purposes of restricting anti-social public drinking. The regulations do not cover police powers to confiscate alcohol, and we have no plans to change them.

We are considering representations from the police and others about existing police powers to confiscate alcohol and we will introduce any changes in the law that may be necessary as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Antisocial Behaviour Orders

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what evidence he has collated on the effectiveness of (a) anti-social behaviour orders and (b) acceptable behaviour contracts; [76258]

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Mr. Denham: A major Home Office review of all aspects of the use of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) was published in April 2002. The review found that ASBOs were being used successfully to reduce many different types of anti-social behaviour, although there were some areas in which the orders were not being applied for. In response to these findings we brought forward a wide range of enhancements to the law relating to ASBOs in the Police Reform Act.

We have also commissioned a survey of Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) schemes in England and Wales, and is also evaluating the original ABC scheme in Islington. This research will be published in spring 2003.

The Home Office is producing new, joint guidance on anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) and acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs). The new guidance will include examples of good practice and reflect the changes to anti-social behaviour orders introduced by the Police Reform Act 2002. It will encourage greater use of ASBOs and ABCs by helping all those involved in protecting the community to implement the measures more effectively.

Asylum and Immigration Policies

Ms Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans to offer language and citizenship education to those settling in the UK. [75327]

Beverley Hughes: The advisory group, chaired by Professor Sir Bernard Crick, will be making recommendations on language and citizenship education for people seeking naturalisation. The advisory group is working on a programme of study, which will be part of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) language teaching for those assessed as not having sufficient English. The Group has had two meetings so far and intends issuing an interim report early in the New Year, with a final report around Easter 2003.

The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill refers to applicants having to deomonstrate Xsufficient English (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic)".

The Group is presently interpreting 'sufficient English' as meaning enough linguistic ability to sustain unskilled employment in an English-speaking environment. For those with that minimal level already, they consider that attendance at classes should raise their level of competence to the next entry level, as defined in the existing adult learning language skills criteria. In other words, the Group is considering the concept of attendance and progression, rather than requiring all applicants to reach an absolute standard that for some might never be achievable.

The Group has considered whether there might be some sort of screening process to filter out those people who already have sufficient English. While we do not want to make unnecessary work for people who already have a good command of one of the UK languages, we do want them to demonstrate their knowledge of life in the UK. Screening might also be used to allocate people to programmes which best meet their needs. ESOL

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teachers are well used to assessing linguistic capability to get people on to the right course and a number of such tools already exist.

Defining these borderlines more precisely will of course take a little time. Issues of numbers and resources, as well as standards, will also need to be considered. And, as I have said already, those with good English already may not be required to attend all the classes and may study privately for the citizenship element of the programme. This will require some innovative thought about delivery methods, bearing in mind that the overall objective is to facilitate integration and not just to test knowledge.

For those people for whom any course of study would be too challenging, perhaps by virtue of their age or infirmity, or because they have learning difficulties, the Bill includes a provision to waive these requirements. So, people who can provide sound reasons for not demonstrating progress or achievement will not be debarred from acquiring British citizenship.

The Group is currently considering a XLiving in the United Kingdom" programme under six broad heads. These are:

The level would obviously be basic, and dependent on someone's needs at a particular point in their immigration history. But the Group is involved in ongoing discussions as to whether a more in-depth programme on the last two items would not be sensible for those with good English already.

I understand that, because some migrants do not become eligible for free education immediately, the Group intends recommending that the kind of information contained in the XLiving in Britain" programme should be made available, perhaps at the point at which entry clearance is granted, to people such as work permit holders or spouses who have an avenue to indefinite leave to remain. For this purpose, the members will be proposing that the Government produces a 'Living in Britain' booklet to be given out at ports of entry or at posts abroad. Such a booklet could be translated into a number of languages to help those who, as yet, have not acquired language skills but who could, nevertheless, benefit from what it contains in their path to becoming active, involved citizens.

The Group intends to make an interim report early in the new year for public discussion and hopes to make a final report around Easter. The group will shortly be embarking on a widespread programme of consultation.

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Asylum Applications

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of asylum claims received a decision within two months in the last six months. [75314]

Beverley Hughes: The latest available information relates to October 2001 to March 2002, for which 68 per cent. of new substantive asylum applications made in that period were decided and served within two months.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will list the countries from which the Government will not as a matter of course accept asylum applications. [75332]

Beverley Hughes: There is no list of countries from which the United Kingdom will not accept asylum applications.

There are provisions in the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Bill to introduce a list of countries from which the starting presumption is that asylum claims will be clearly unfounded. However, there will continue to be individual consideration of those claims.

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many nationals of each country from which a visa is required applied for entry clearance to come to the United Kingdom for temporary purposes, including visitor and student applications in 2001; how many visas were issued for temporary purposes; how many recipients of these visas returned to their country of nationality before the visas expired; and how many applied (i) to remain permanently in the United Kingdom and (ii) for political asylum. [76148]

Beverley Hughes: The available information is given in the attached table. The information on grants of settlement includes persons who entered the United Kingdom with an entry clearance leading to settlement; and the data on asylum seekers includes those applicants who had not previously applied for entry clearance.

Entry clearance data for 2001 by nationality is not yet available. Data for 2000 was published in the Command Paper Control of Immigration Statistics United Kingdom 2000 Cm 5315, a copy of which is available in the Library.

Information is not available on the number of persons who return to their country of nationality before the leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom expires. Information is not available on the number of holders of visas for temporary purposes who subsequently apply for asylum or for settlement.

Grants of settlement and applications for asylum for nationals of countries or territories which require visas, 2001

NationalityGrants(16) Applications for asylum(17),(18)
Burkino Faso510
Burma (Myanmar)65100
Cape Verde(20)(19)
Central African Republic(19)5
Democratic Republic of Congo4651,395
Dominican Rep45(21)
Equatorial Guinea55
Federal Republic of2,4503,190
Hong Kong, holder of Cl or Dl25(20)
Ivory Coast165280
North Korea(19)(20)
Papua New Guinea10(19)
Sao Tome and Principe5(19)
Saudi Arabia405
Sierra Leone7201,930
Somalia 7,1956,465
Sri Lanka2,3055,510
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus50(21)
United Arab Emirates20(20)
Stateless/nationality unknown330330

(16) Excluding persons given indefinite leave to enter

(17) Excludes dependants

(18) Provisional data

(19) Nil

(20) Figures are rounded to the nearest 5 (1 or 2)

(21) Not available

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