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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what resources he has made available, and at what cost, for the preparation of a national plan against racism in line with undertakings given at the United Nations World Conference Against
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Racism in September 2001; and which departmental staff, and at what grade, have been assigned to this task. 
Beverley Hughes: We have funded an extensive consultation of non-governmental organisations on the development of the national action plan. This included a series of seminars in September and October 2002 and a national conference in Manchester on 20 November 2002. I have made #27,800 available for this consultation process.
The national action plan is being developed by the Race Equality Unit of the Home Office, in consultation with other Government Departments, the devolved Administrations and a wide range of non-governmental organisations. Within the Race Equality Unit, this work has been taken forward by a grade 7, senior executive officer, executive officer, and administrative officer.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 9 December 2002]: Ball-bearing guns (more accurately known as airsoft guns) are very low powered, and not subject to the same controls as air weapons. We are, however, considering how to improve controls on the possession of airguns and imitation firearms in a public place. Our consideration of this covers airsoft guns.
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what legislation he proposes to bring forward to provide better protection for children in the workplace; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government take the health and safety of children very seriously and the United Kingdom has therefore fully implemented rigorous EU requirements to protect the health, safety and welfare of all employed young people below 18 years, including those on work experience. Employers also have duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 towards those who are not working but may be affected by the work activity. The Department has no plans to bring forward further general health and safety legislation concerning children in the workplace.
John Barrett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Government plans to ratify the Optional Protocol on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. 
Hilary Benn: The United Kingdom signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography in September 2000 and intends to ratify it at the earliest opportunity. We need to introduce a range of new offences to ensure that we are
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fully compliant with the instrument before we can ratify it, several of which, relating to trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and the sexual exploitation of children for gain, will be included in the forthcoming Sexual Offences Bill.
These measures are being pursued separately and will also require primary legislation to allow us to ratify the instrument. It is not therefore possible to say precisely when we will be in a position to ratify the instrument.
Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to give a substantive response to the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford's letters of 1 July and 22 October relating to constituent Bright Omokaro (ref 0170340). 
Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many UK nationals have been prosecuted for foreign corruption activities under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Blunkett: These provisions came into force on 14 February 2002. They do not have retrospective effect and therefore apply only to acts committed after that date. The prosecution authorities have informed us that there have been no prosecutions to date but given the lack of retrospectivity this is unsurprising.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how frequently the Government policy on domestic violence has been changed since 1997; and when it is next scheduled to be updated. 
Mr. Denham: The Government have developed their policy on domestic violence over the period from 1997, and continue to do so. As we have already announced, we will be publishing a consultation paper on domestic violence by the spring.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many arrests were made for evading fuel taxes during the last year for which figures are available, broken down by constabulary. 
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Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 9 December 2002]: An assessment of the link is made regularly with updated research conducted through various sources. The Government's Rough Sleepers Unit has succeeded in reducing the numbers sleeping rough on any one night by two-thirds. This has however resulted in the percentage of those who are hardest to helpdrug-using homeless peoplerising, due to drug-using homeless being left on the streets whilst others can be more easily accommodated.
By July 2002, research by the charity Crisis, supported by the Home Office, found that 83 per cent of single homeless people were drug users. Other studies confirm that among those remaining single rough sleepers, drug misuse problems are of this level of magnitudebetween 50 and 80 per cent.
In awareness of this linkage, much work has been done to improve the delivery of drug services to homeless people. On 4 December 2002 the Home Office and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister jointly published new guidance entitled XDrug Services for Homeless People: a good practice handbook" (published on the Government website www.drugs.gov.uk) which is aimed at addressing these figures through mainstream and specialised drug services.
Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many passports have been lost at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and what steps he has taken to ensure passports are not lost. 
Beverley Hughes: The information requested by the hon. Member is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost; however the Immigration and Nationality Directorate issue letters to the members of the public where the document cannot be traced. In the year 2000, 97 such letters were issued; and 103 letters in 2001. As at 29 November 2002 a total of 314 letters have been issued in the year to date.
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Beverley Hughes: The tables show asylum initial decisions and appeal outcomes made on asylum applications from Iraqi nationals for each of the last 12 months. Appeal outcomes in any given time period do not necessarily relate to initial decisions made in the same period.
It is not possible to say how many of the applicants are of Kurdish origin. Data on the ethnic origin of asylum seekers are not collated centrally and could be produced by examination of individual case-files only at disproportionate cost.
Information on asylum applications is published quarterly. The next publication will cover the period October to December 2002, and will be available from 28 February 2003 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
|Total initial decisions||Grants of asylum||Grants of ELR||Refusals|
(24) Figures have been rounded to the nearest five, and are provisional.
(25) Information is of initial determination decisions, excluding the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions.
(27) Figures include cases withdrawn by the Home Office as well as the appellant.
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