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4 Feb 2003 : Column 241W—continued


Animal Cloning

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many animals have been cloned in the United Kingdom for each year since 1996, broken down by species; [94981]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Only a small number of projects are currently licensed by the Home Office under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 involving cloning by nucleus transfer for experimental or other scientific purposes. This technology may be used for a number of purposes, including the better understanding of the regulation of gene function and development in relation to cloning; the enabling of some potential therapies, or seeking additional potential therapies when stem cell therapy would not be an option; and to allow some forms of genetic modification not practical or possible by other current methods.

The specific information requested in respect of these projects is not collected centrally, or readily obtainable.

Cloning for other purposes, such as agricultural practice, including by common means such as embryo splitting, is not regulated by the Home Office.

Assets Recovery Agency

Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the Assets Recovery Agency. [94764]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Assets Recovery Agency came formally into being on 13 January 2003, and its Director, Jane Earl, took up post on 3 February 2003, as did her Assistant Director for Northern Ireland, Alan McQuillan. I have signed a commencement order to bring the Agency's powers of civil recovery, taxation, investigations and data sharing into force on 24 February 2003, and the criminal confiscation provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, which include powers for the Director, will come into force on 24 March 2003.

Jane Earl and her staff will have my full support in their efforts to reduce crime. They will do this by making sure that those in our communities who seek to live off of the misery and suffering caused by crime are not allowed to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

Air Guns

Dr. Kumar : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many pellet and air guns were sold in each year since 1990, broken down by region; how many crime incidents involved an air or pellet gun in each year since 1990; and if he will make a statement. [94227]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Information on the number of firearms sold, including pellet and air guns are not collected centrally.

The number of crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales in which air weapons were reported to have been used since 1990, are given in the table.

Number of offences involving air weapons


(10) There was a change of counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998, which would have the tendency to increase the number of offences counted. Numbers of offences before and after this date are therefore not directly comparable.

(11) Figures may have been inflated by some forces implementing the principles of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) before 1 April 2002.

The Government is not prepared to tolerate the misuse of air weapons and we are introducing new controls which will raise from 14 to 17 the age at which they may be acquired and possessed without adult supervision. We are also creating a new arrestable offence of carrying an air weapon in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

Airport Policing (Wheeler Report)

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what access he will give hon. Members to the restricted aspects of Sir John Wheeler's Report on Policing at UK Airports 2002; and if he will make a statement. [94459]

Mr. Jamieson: I have been asked to reply.

In his parliamentary reply on 30 October last year my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State explained that Sir John Wheeler's findings and recommendations were being placed in the Libraries of both Houses, but that the main body of his report, which contains information about operational security matters, was not being released. The Government's view remains that security considerations make it sensible not to give the full report a wider circulation.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Algerian asylum seekers there have been in each year for the past five years; and how many have (a) been refused and (b) left the United Kingdom. [93729]

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Beverley Hughes: The available information is provided in the table. It is not possible to say how many left the United Kingdom voluntarily without informing the Immigration Service.

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The refusal figures for each year do not necessarily relate to the applications received in the same year. The removals figures for each year do not necessarily relate to initial decisions made in the same year.

Initial decisions(12)
Applications receivedTotal initial decisionsRefused under normal proceduresNon compliance refusals under backlog criteria(13),(14)Removals and voluntary departures(12),(15)

(12) Information is of initial determination decisions, excluding the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions.

(13) Cases decided under pragmatic measures aimed at reducing the pre '96 asylum backlog.

(14) Includes some cases where the application has been refused on substantive grounds.

(15) Includes persons departing 'Voluntarily' after enforcement action had been initiated against them, persons leaving under Assisted Voluntary Programmes run by the International Organisation for Migration, and removals on safe third country grounds.

(16) May exclude some cases lodged at Local Enforcement Offices between January 1999 and March 2000.

(17) Cases considered under the normal procedures may include some cases decided under the backlog criteria.

(18) From October 2000, the source for data on decisions changed. The nationality breakdown is therefore not directly comparable with previous months.

(19) Provisional data


Figures rounded to nearest five.

Information on the number of asylum applications, initial decisions and removals is published quarterly on the Home Office website at The next publication will be available from 28 February and will cover the final quarter of 2002.

Mr. Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average cost to the taxpayer was of processing a claim for asylum per asylum seeker in 2002 and in each of the five previous years. [94132]

Beverley Hughes: The total cost of processing claims from asylum seekers cannot be separately identified within the overall processing costs of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what obligations those who provide accommodation to asylum seekers have to the Home Office when an asylum seeker leaves that accommodation. [94920]

Beverley Hughes: Support, including accommodation, comes to an end once a final decision is made on the claim except in the case of asylum seeking families with children under 18. In such cases where support ends, the former asylum seeker will be given notice to leave the premises at which they are residing by the accommodation provider. For those former asylum seekers who have received positive decisions on their claim, accommodation providers are expected to assist with issues such as access to the main benefits system and long-term housing.

Asylum seekers may choose to leave their NASS (National Asylum Support Service) provided accommodation before a final decision has been made on their claim. Providers are required to make regular checks to ensure the asylum seeker is resident at the address and must tell NASS if it is clear that they have left.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what checks the Department carries out on (a) accommodation provided to asylum seekers and (b) those who own such accommodation. [94938]

Beverley Hughes: The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) is part of the Home Office and all its procurement exercises are undertaken in accordance with standard Home Office procurement rules. As part of the procurement process checks were made on the capability and suitability of potential suppliers and these checks would have included a review of their experience of housing and accommodation but not necessarily limited to asylum seekers. All properties contracted to NASS are subject to inspection and contracts are monitored to ensure that the contractor is complying with the terms of the contract.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will take a decision on the application by Ms LC of Aylesbury (case reference C1048555/2; PO19353/2) for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. [95083]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 3 February 2003]: A decision has now been taken on this application.

Mr. Clappison : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time was before the initial determination of asylum claims (a) in the most recent period for which figures are available and (b) in each year since 1997. [95569]

Beverley Hughes: The average time between application and initial decision was seven months for initial decisions made between October 2001 and September 2002. This has been calculated using all cases for which data are available, including older cases decided as part of the reduction of the backlog, as well as new cases.

The table shows the average time to initial decisions for cases decided between 1997 and 2001.

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Average time to initial decision, 1997–2001(20),(21),(22)

Year of decisionAverage time to initial decision (in months)(23)

(20) Excluding dependants.

(21) Figures are estimates based on cases for which information is recorded.

(22) Based on data from Refugee Index for 1997 to 1999, and the ACID database for 2000 and 2001.

(23) The average length of time (in months) is calculated from date application is lodged to the date of initial decision, and relates to the year in which the decisions were made.

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