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4 Mar 2003 : Column 956W—continued

Sure Start (Harwich)

Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what funding has been allocated to the Harwich constituency under the Sure Start scheme. [96912]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 10 February 2003]: No Sure Start local programme funding has been approved for Harwich to date. Plans for a 'mini' Sure Start programme are currently being considered by the Sure Start Unit. The Harwich 'mini' Sure Start, if approved, will receive up to £100,000 each year for revenue expenditure and funding for capital expenditure of up to £250,000 in total.

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HOME DEPARTMENT

Angel Group

Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will list the contracts which the Angel Group and its subsidiaries have agreed with local authorities for the provision of services for asylum seekers and other specific groups of individuals; [99687]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 27 February 2003]: The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) has one contract with the Angel Group which was signed on 3 April 2000 and runs for five years. I am unable to supply information on tenders submitted by the group during the last five years since this is commercial in confidence. NASS is not aware of any contracts the Angel Group has entered into with local authorities and other agencies regarding the provision of services for asylum seekers.

Animal Experiments

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what recent assessment he has made of the reliability of animal experiments relating to behavioural neuroscience; [99788]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government believe that animal based research still has an important part to play in research relating to the biomedical sciences. Neurological diseases and disorders remain major sources of human morbidity and mortality. Their impact is felt by individuals, their families, and society in general. Notwithstanding progress that has been made with understanding the causes and identifying possible treatments, there remains an urgent need to find better methods of preventing and treating conditions such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, and mental health problems. This requires the identification and use of the best current scientific technologies, not simply a reliance on animal research.

To meet section 5(4) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, any application to use protected animals in research must be subjected to a detailed cost/benefit assessment by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate. This is undertaken on a case by case basis. The reliability and relevance of all animal models requested are key considerations in the cost/benefit assessment and the Secretary of State looks to a number of sources, including Home Office inspectors and the Animal Procedures Committee, to provide advice not only relating to programmes of work, but also relating to technical developments that enable animal models to be reduced, refined and replaced. Licence authorities are only granted when there is no

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replacement alternative, and when all relevant and reasonable steps have been taken to identify and incorporate relevant reduction and refinement strategies.

Asylum Seekers

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what sources of in-country information about (a) Afghanistan, (b) Iraq and (c) Somalia are used in contesting appeals against refusal of an application for asylum from people leaving these countries. [100058]

Beverley Hughes: The main sources of in-country information for these countries are the Country Assessments and bulletins produced by the Home Office Country Information and Policy Unit. These are produced using published material from a wide variety of sources, which include non-governmental organisations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and overseas governments. Information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office may also be included.

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their application have stated that they fought for or supported the Taliban; [99568]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 27 February 2003]: We are not in the business of offering asylum to Taliban terrorists or anybody else who poses a security risk to our country.

All cases where a Taliban connection is claimed are referred to a Senior Caseworker to decide whether exclusion from the protection of the Refugee Convention is appropriate and for further security checks if appropriate. No evidence has been found that anyone who has willingly supported and fought for the Taliban has been granted asylum, and no other cases have arisen that have merited security action.

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department after what period benefit payments are stopped in respect of asylum seekers who are refused asylum. [99711]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 3 March 2003]: An asylum seeker without children under the age of 18 remains eligible for asylum support from the Secretary of State under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, subject to meeting the other criteria for eligibility, until the claim for asylum is determined. The time when a claim for asylum is treated as determined for this purpose varies depending on the type of case pursuant to regulations 2 and 2A of the Asylum Support Regulations 2000. Where the claim for asylum is

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rejected, the claim for asylum is treated as determined 21 days after receipt of the decision refusing asylum or, if the person appeals, 21 days after the disposal of the appeal. However, where the asylum claim is rejected but the person is at the same time given exceptional leave to enter or remain, or where the asylum claim is rejected initially but the person successfully appeals against refusal of asylum, the claim for asylum is treated as determined 28 days after receipt of the decision, respectively the disposal of the appeal.

In the case of an asylum seeker whose claim is rejected but whose household includes a child under the age of 18, while the child remains under 18 and the asylum seeker and the child remain in the United Kingdom, unless they are granted leave to enter or remain, they will be eligible for asylum support under Part VI of the 1999 Act, subject to meeting the other eligibility criteria, until they leave the United Kingdom.

Carter Report

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will publish the Carter Report into the Criminal Records Bureau. [99690]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 27 February 2003]: We have made it clear that the conclusions and recommendations which the Independent Review Team led by Patrick Carter presented at the end of last year took the form of advice to Ministers and included matters which are commercially confidential; and, as such, were not in a form intended for publication. But on 27 February my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made a written statement welcoming the report. The main findings and recommendations of the Team have been placed in the Library, and my right hon. Friend's statement described how the Government proposes to take forward work on the 10 recommendations which have been made.

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date he received the report of the independent team led by Patrick Carter into the operation of the Criminal Records Bureau; when the report, or parts thereof, will be published; and what the key conclusions of the report are. [99713]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 3 March 2003]: The Independent Review Team's report was received on 17 December. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made a written statement on 27 February setting out how the Government propose to take forward the Review Team's 10 recommendations. The main findings of the Review Team were published on the same date. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Charity Law

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he has taken to implement the recommendations in the Strategy Unit report Private Action, Public Benefit; and what the timetable is for drawing up a Charities Bill to implement the recommendations on charity law. [99650]

Beverley Hughes: The consultation period for the Strategy Unit report has now ended and over 1,100 responses have been received, which Home Office officials are now analysing.

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Where recommendations have commanded general support and do not require legislation, we aim to move as quickly as possible to implement them, although some may first need further policy development work.

However, legislation would be needed to give effect to many of the recommendations; including the areas relating to the introduction of the Community Interest Company, the changes to Industrial and Provident Society legislation and changes to charity and fundraising law.

Initial analysis of the responses to the Strategy Unit report indicates support for the Community Interest Company concept. The Department of Trade and Industry, the Home Office and other interested Departments are now considering the timing and content of a possible technical consultation on the concept, which would be necessary before legislation could be introduced.

The Treasury are currently examining the responses received to the proposals for changes to Industrial and Provident Society legislation and considering options for taking forward the recommendations. However, my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly) made it clear at the Second Reading of the Co-operatives and Community Benefit Societies Bill, (private members Bill sponsored by my hon. Friend, Member for South Derbyshire (Mark Todd)) that it is Government's intention to enact an asset 'lock-in' regime, following further examination and consultation, if it continues to appear sensible and feasible to do so. Such a regime was one recommendation of the Strategy Unit report. The Treasury are working with Mark Todd to see how they can facilitate the introduction of such a regime through his Bill.

Further policy development work will need to be done in some areas before the Home Office would be in a position to produce a draft Charities Bill, which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary recently promised to publish as soon as possible. Currently Home Office Officials are liasing with the Department for Transport and the Treasury on their respective areas of responsibility.


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