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9 Dec 2002 : Column 109W—continued

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on problems affecting asylum seekers in Clearsprings houses in the UK; [84655]

Beverley Hughes: Clearsprings Management Ltd has a contract with the National Asylum Support Services (MASS) to provide accommodation for destitute asylum seekers. The contract is due to expire in March 2005. I am unable to give details about payments to Clearsprings under the terms of this contract since this information is commercial in confidence. Clearsprings Management Ltd is required to operate within the conditions of their contract with NASS. All properties supplied under contract must comply with all planning and other regulations set by the relevant local authority. NASS is responsible for monitoring the performance of Clearsprings Management Ltd. In particular all properties supplied by the company under contract to NASS will be inspected to ensure they meet the specification laid down in the contract. The contract also includes performance measures which the company is expected to show that it is meeting. NASS can impose financial penalties if either a property is shown to have defects or the company is not meeting its performance targets. I am not aware of any major problems with accommodation provided by Clearsprings Management Ltd. The company is meeting the terms of its contract with NASS and any problems with their accommodation are rectified within agreed timescales.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers have completed all stages of their application and are awaiting removal from the country; and if he will make a statement. [84880]

Beverley Hughes: The requested information is not held centrally and could only be obtained through examination of individual case files thereby incurring a disproportionate cost.

The demarcation between the end of the appeals process and the beginning of the removal process is not clear-cut. When asylum appeals have been dismissed, the scope for further legal challenge undoubtedly acts as an obstacle to removal, although by no means the only one. Other limiting factors in the removals process include difficulties in securing travel documentation and legal issues arising from judicial and human rights reviews.

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There are measures in place to counter these barriers and subsequently expedite removal.

Mr.Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time between completion of all stages of the asylum seeking process and notice of removal being issued was in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [84882]

Beverley Hughes: Information on the time between completion of the asylum process and the issue of a removal notice may only be obtained by examination of individual case files at disproportionate costs.

Different timescales apply for issuing a notice of removal following completion of the asylum process, according to the type of case. For example the timescale will differ for detained cases under the expedited appeals process, those on monthly reporting, and others whose determinations are served to the last known address.

The initial programme of work to serve appeals in person has now been expanded nationally. The process allows for a six-week deadline for determinations to be served. Statistics are maintained for this particular workstream.

The number of applications for judicial review that are specifically against removal directions is estimated at 30–35 a month. The opportunity to apply for Judicial Review, is usually sufficient to cause arrangements issued on more than one occasion.

Mr. Howard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his oral answer of 2 December 2002, Official Report, column 616, to the Member for Dover (Mr. Prosser), if he will withdraw his proposal to use the former police station in Shorncliffe road, Folkestone as a 24-hour reporting centre for asylum seekers. [85562]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 5 December 2002]: I refer the right hon. and learned Member to the reply I gave on 5 December 2002, Official Report, column 972W. There are no plans to withdraw the proposal for use of the former Police Station in Shorncliffe road, Folkestone, as a Home Office reporting centre, which forms part of a wider strategy to bring about improved contact with asylum seekers while their claims are under consideration and to control and counter illegal and clandestine entry into the United Kingdom.


Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are held in prisons in England and Wales for cannabis-related offences; and how many people were received into prisons in England and Wales in 2001 for cannabis-related offences. [83678]

Hilary Benn: Data on the number of people sentenced to immediate custody for drug offences involving cannabis are shown in the table.

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Number of persons sentenced to immediate custody at all courts for cannabis offences which can be separately identified, England and Wales 1996 to 2000(28)

Sentenced to immediate custody
Offence descriptionStatute19961997199819992000(29)
Production or being concerned in production of a controlled drug (cannabis)Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, sections 4(2) and 6(2)178233216206156
Supplying or offering (or being concerned in) to supply a controlled drug (cannabis)Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 4(3)628650656573405
Having possession of a controlled drug (cannabis)Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 5(2), as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, section 157, schedule 8, part II204268410451361
Having possession of a controlled drug (cannabis) with intent to supplyMisuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 5(3)9831,1291,2841,112808
Permitting premises to be used for unlawful purposes (cannabis)Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 8171827259

(28) These data are on the principal offence basis.

(29) Staffordshire Police Force were only able to submit sample data for persons proceeded against and convicted in the magistrates' courts for the year 2000. Although sufficient to estimate higher orders of data, these data are not robust enough at a detailed level and have been excluded from the table.

Child Abuse

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the prevalence of child abuse in the home within different categories of family configuration and marital status; [85102]

Hilary Benn: Central Government have funded or directly undertaken several research studies into different aspects of child abuse in the last five years, but none specifically into the issue of prevalence within the home.

With regard to family configuration, a three-year study, jointly funded by the Home Office and the University of Birmingham, looked at the issue of repeated abuse during childhood (Hamilton and Browne, 2000). The index sample consisted of 400 children referred to police child protection units. The vast majority (91 per cent.) lived with their biological mother, 44 per cent. with their biological father and 39 per cent. with both natural parents. However, the study did not indicate the marital status of the relationship or the presence of a step-parent.

Civil Contingency Planning

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what funds have been allocated for the next financial year to cover CBW civil contingency planning in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [83532]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 3 December 2002]: Several Departments have responsibilities relating to management of the consequences of chemical and biological attacks, and these Departments are obliged to plan for carrying out those responsibilities. Like all civil contingencies work, this planning is part of Departments' mainstream activity and spending. The different elements of the response to a Chemical,

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Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) incident are well co-ordinated and are regularly exercised to ensure their effectiveness.

My right hon. Friend (John Denham), Minister of State in the Home Office, is responsible for co-ordinating efforts to improve the United Kingdom's ability to respond to CBRN attacks, and is supported in this by the Home Office CRBN Team.

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