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In Country Asylum Seekers

The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration (Beverley Hughes): Following Royal Assent of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 on 7 November 2002 section 55 of that Act will be brought into force on 8 January 2003.

From that date, if an applicant for support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) makes an asylum claim immediately on arrival at the port then support will be granted provided the other criteria for support are fulfilled. If the person fails, without a good reason, to make an asylum claim immediately at the port of arrival then support will be refused unless one of the exceptions applies.

These exceptions cover families with children, those with special needs, those claiming asylum in country following a significant change in circumstances in their country of origin (provided they make their asylum claim at the earliest possible opportunity following that change of circumstances) and those who can show they would otherwise suffer treatment contrary to article 3 European Convention on Human Rights. Persons falling within these exceptions may be granted support (assuming they otherwise qualify for it) even if they have not claimed asylum on arrival at the port.

But apart from these exceptions, we expect all single asylum seekers or couples without children who wish to claim asylum and who want MASS support to make an immediate application for asylum at the port of arrival. It will not be acceptable for an asylum seeker wanting MASS support to postpone making an asylum claim unless there is a very good reason for doing so. And even if there is a good reason for not claiming asylum immediately on arrival at the port, the person must claim asylum as soon as possible thereafter.

The Secretary of State is prohibited by statute from providing support unless he is satisfied that the person claiming support has made the asylum claim as soon as reasonably practicable after arrival in the United Kingdom. In most cases, for those not within the exceptions, that will mean, claiming asylum immediately on arrival at the port.

28 Nov 2002 : Column 58WS


Freedom of Information Act

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Yvette Cooper): My right honourable and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor has today announced that, in accordance with section 87 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, he has laid before Parliament the annual report on the progress made in implementing the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Copies of the Report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. A copy of the Report on the review of legislation prohibiting the disclosure of information will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Access to Medicines Working Group

The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short): The report of the UK Working Group on Increasing Access to Essential Medicines in the Developing World was published on Thursday 28 November 2002.

The Working Group was chaired by the Secretary of State for International Development. It's members include representatives from the Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry and HM Treasury, pharmaceutical industry leaders, representatives of the World Health Organisation, the World Trade Organisation, the European Commission, Charitable Foundations and the Ugandan High Commissioner.

AIDS, TB and Malaria cause six million deaths a year—10% of the world annual death toll. This means the loss of $120 billion value in work and productivity each year mostly in the developing world thus impoverishing families and countries that carry this disease burden. AIDS alone has reduced average national economic growth rates across Africa by 2 to 4 percentage points. Many of these deaths could be prevented with existing treatments—but—just one example—in Africa only one in three people have access to effective malaria treatment.

The report proposes that pharmaceutical companies provide drugs at near to cost price for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria to the poorest countries, whose governments guarantee that tariffs are removed and reduced cost drugs will not be re-exported. Development agencies commit to working with such governments to develop basic health care systems capable of delivering the drugs to the people in need.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of the House and are also available from the Vote Office and from the Department. It can also be accessed at: