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29 Oct 2002 : Column 759Wcontinued
Clause 35(2) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill provides that a child who is a resident of an accommodation centre may not be admitted to a maintained school or a maintained nursery. However, clause 36 enables an LEA to disapply that provision and to arrange for the education of a child residing in an accommodation centre. In such circumstances the LEA may require the admission of a child to a maintained school, after consulting the school's governing body. However, the LEA cannot require the governing body of a school to admit a child if the child's admission will result in special measures to ensure compliance with the Secretary of State's limits on infant class sizes.
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the teaching unions on his proposals to educate some children seeking asylum in accommodation centres. 
Beverley Hughes: There have been no discussions with the teaching unions on the proposals to educate some children of asylum seekers in accommodation centres. However, officials in the Department for Education and Skills have established an advisory group with representatives from the Local Government Association (LGA) and the local education authorities in the areas where centres are planned.
Clause 35 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill specifies which LEA duties are not to apply in respect of children living in accommodation centres. Clause 36(3) empowers the Secretary of State to provide guidance to be followed by LEAs when using their power to arrange for the provision of education in accommodation centres. Such guidance can also offer further information as to the role of LEAs in the delivery of education for children living in the centres.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on applications for asylum by individuals citing threats from a blood feud as a basis for their application; and if he will make a statement. 
Simon Hughes: Applications for asylum in the United Kingdom are considered individually on their merits in accordance with the UK's obligations under the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. Unless the applicant may reasonably be expected to seek asylum in a third country or the Dublin Convention applies, asylum is granted where the applicant fulfils the criteria in the 1951 UN Convention.
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Where an application is based on a blood feud, then we will assess whether the circumstances are knowingly tolerated by the authorities in the country concerned, whether they are unwilling or unable to offer effective protection, or whether the applicant could reasonably have been expected to seek the protection of the authorities, or moved to another part of the country where he or she would be safe.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next plans to meet Scottish Executive ministers to discuss the impact of the Government's asylum policies on Scotland. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 24 October 2002]: Immigration and asylum are reserved issues. The Under-Secretary of State at the Scotland Office my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mrs. McGuire) and I met the Scottish Minister for Social Justice (Margaret Curran) on 12 September; a further meeting will be arranged shortly. Home Office officials are also in regular contact with their counterparts in the Scottish Executive about the impact of the Government's asylum policies in Scotland.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of those who have sought asylum in the United Kingdom in each month in (a) 2001 and (b) 2002 have come from Somalia. 
|Month||Total applications||Applications from national of Somalia|
|Percentage of total|
(26) Figures (other than percentages) rounded to the nearest five.
(27) Data are provisional.
Information on asylum applications is published quarterly. The next publication will cover the third quarter (July to September) of 2002 and will be available from 29 November 2002 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
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Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what statistics are held by (a) the National Asylum Support Service and (b) the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate relating to the length of time asylum applicants have been in the UK before making an application for support. 
There is, however, evidence that a proportion of applications for asylum will have been made by someone who has been in the country for some time. Since a person cannot apply for asylum support until they have applied for asylum, it can be similarly inferred that this will also be the case for support applications
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children have been trafficked into the UK and forced into prostitution in each of the past five years; from what countries the children came; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There is currently no criminal offence of trafficking. Criminal statistics which might give an indication of how many children have been trafficked into the UK in each of the past five years, and from where they came, are not therefore available. The Nationality and Immigration and Asylum Bill currently before the House will introduce a new offence of trafficking for the purposes of controlling an individual in prostitution.
Forming an accurate estimate of the levels of trafficking in people is problematic given the reluctance of the victims of trafficking to report to the police. There is currently no accurate, reliable data in existence within the UK or the European Union.
A Home Office research study 'Stopping Traffic' (Police Research Series 125, published in 2000) indicated that there was intelligence to suggest that some women and children are trafficked into the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation. This was estimated at between 140 and 1,400 per year but it was impossible to make a more accurate assessment of numbers. The report concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that this was on a large scale compared with other European countries.
Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many recorded delivery items addressed to Lunar House, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon, are missing; and when he will reply to a letter from the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East relating to Mr. and Mrs. Ajaz Khan dated 1 September reference 18156/2. 
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Beverley Hughes: This information is not available. Items of recorded delivery post addressed to Lunar House, but not delivered, are the responsibility of the Royal Mail. All recorded delivery items received in Lunar House are logged into a computer database, together with a record of where in the organisation they have been sent.
Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the recent performance of the Immigration and Nationality Department Board in answering letters from (a) hon. Members and (b) the public. 
Beverley Hughes: Information on all correspondence received by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), is not recorded centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. IND received over 1 million pieces of correspondence during 200102, and systems are not yet in place to identify whether responses were given to all categories of correspondence received.
We are developing measures to record and track all categories of correspondence. The Home Office Customer Communication Foundation Project was suspended last November and has now been replaced by a short term/tactical Correspondence Tracking System (CTS) Project to address the handling of correspondence and the provision of accurate management information. The project is due to begin on 1 November and will be rolled out for operational use over the coming 12 months. IND's ministerial, official and public correspondence are all included in the intended scope of the project. The CTS project is part of a raft of measures to improve IND's customer service delivery which will be developed over the coming year, in which customer communications will feature strongly.
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