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26 Nov 2002 : Column 249Wcontinued
Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the use of health checks at ports of entry to identify those seeking leave of entry who are suffering from infectious diseases. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 25 November 2002]: Under the Immigration Act 1971, immigration officers are able to refer persons seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom (UK) to Medical Inspectors at ports of entry.
The immigration rules state that immigration officers should refer anyone who mentions health or medical treatment as a reason for coming to the UK, or who appears not to be in good physical or mental health.
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This action at ports of entry is complemented by work done by the national health service (NHS) at local level. The NHS follow up any cases of infection that are identified by the Medical Inspector and arrange any necessary testing which is unavailable at the port.
It is also intended that asylum induction centres will provide basic health screening. To evaluate the specification and benefits of this service, a pilot commenced at Dover Induction Centre during the summer of 2002. The results of the pilot have yet to be evaluated.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which ships entering Shoreham Harbour in each of the last two years had immigration crew lists which were submitted by Shoreham Port Authority acting as agents. 
Crew lists for commercial vessels using Shoreham are submitted to the UK Immigration Service at Newhaven by the United Kingdom based shipping agents. Shoreham receives no passenger services, but between 10 to 15 commercial vessels arrive each week originating in the United Kingdom, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe. Crew lists for vessels using Shoreham and Newhaven are retained alphabetically by name of vessel for those ships starting their journey in Europe.
(3) what action is taken against language schools found to be issuing certificates of enrolment in exchange for cash payments. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 25 November 2002]: The Immigration Service (IS) is developing an intelligence-led strategy to deal with abuse of the United Kingdom's immigration laws. Where such intelligence suggests that immigration offences are being committed by any college or language school, the IS will pursue, with other agencies as appropriate.
Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training is provided, and how long members of the emergency services will be trained to operate under full NBC protection. 
Mr. Blunkett: All three emergency services have officers equipped and trained in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) suits. These suits allow them to attend an incident where there has been a release of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) material, and to proceed to carry out their jobs without becoming contaminated themselves.
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Since their roles at a CBRN incident vary, the emergency services carry different specifications of PPE suits. The Fire Service, who work in the area of highest contamination, carry the highest grade of PPE suits, which include breathing apparatus. The precise length of time during which the emergency services can operate in a CBRN contaminated environment depends on the nature, volume and method of dispersal of the contaminant, as well as the location of the incident and other environmental factors.
Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what investigations have been conducted by the Home Office regarding the issuing of work permits, before 1 September, to workers at the Marie Star Cafe, Belfast; whether the Department of Employment and Learning followed Home Office practice with respect to work permits issued to workers at the Marie Star Cafe before 1 September; and whether the application for work permits specify that they would be lap-dancers and pole-dancers at the Marie Star Cafe, Belfast. 
Beverley Hughes: Before 1 September 2002, the Department of Employment and Learning held responsibility for the issuing of work permits for Northern Ireland. Therefore, the Home Office did not carry out any investigations regarding work permits in Northern Ireland relating to permits issued before that date.
Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the paperwork relating to the issuing of and re-applications for work permits for workers at the Marie Star Cafe has been passed from the Department of Employment and Learning to the Home Office. 
Beverley Hughes: Yes. Northern Ireland's Department of Employment and Learning transferred all available paperwork relating to work permit applications made in Northern Ireland to Work Permits UK in early September 2002. However, the work permits for the Marie Star Cafe had by that time already been issued by the Department of Employment and Learning.
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Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on progress in the initiative to ban visitors found smuggling drugs into prisons; and how many visitors were banned during the last six months; 
(3) what assessment he has made of the effect on drug availability in prisons of passive and active drug dogs; 
(4) what assessment he has made of the effect of the low furniture initiative in prison visits areas on the amount of drugs being smuggled into prisons. 
Hilary Benn: The Prison Service is taking a number of steps to stifle the availability of drugs in prisons. These measures, which include mandatory drug testing, operate alongside a comprehensive treatment framework and the provision of voluntary drug testing. The overall impact on drug use is demonstrated by the reduction in the positive rate of random mandatory drug tests from 24.4 per cent. (199697) to 11.3 per cent. (year to date). The complementary nature of some supply reduction measures, e.g. drug detection dogs, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) and low furniture in visits areas, and the complex nature of drug supply make it difficult to determine the impact of any single factor in reducing the availability or use of drugs.
Prisons continue to use the visit bans initiative to take firm action against visitors suspected of smuggling drugs. In 200102 (the latest period for which figures are available) a total of 2,815 visitors received a ban.
Hilary Benn: Prisoner records are held locally at each establishment and, since 1988, this information has been held on the computerised 'Inmate Information System' (US) which provides a central view of prisoners held in England and Wales. Although some pre-1988 records have been placed on the US, 'historical' information remains largely paper-based but is still accessible if required, subject to the normal disposal regime for obsolete files.
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