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9 Jun 2003 : Column 662W—continued

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Government has to cease the support-only benefit for asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement. [113892]

Beverley Hughes: Section 43 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (the 2002 Act) provides for the withdrawal of financial support only to asylum seekers. Use of this provision is by way of an order subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. We have no current plans to make any order under this provision.

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many National Asylum Support Service private rented landlord houses there are in (a) Leeds and (b) the Leeds, West constituency; and what his estimate is of the total number of asylum seekers housed in (i) Leeds and (ii) Leeds West. [116009]

Beverley Hughes: The number of properties supplied to the National Asylum Support Service (NASS), as at 3 June 2003, by private contractors is (a) 468 in Leeds; (b) 25 in Leeds West. NASS also has a contract with the Yorkshire and Humberside Consortium of Local Authorities. The consortium may contract with private landlords.

The information for parts (i) and (ii) is not available in the form requested.

The availability of information on the location of asylum seekers in the United Kingdom is currently linked to the support the asylum seeker receives. Asylum seekers in the United Kingdom either receive support from NASS, local authorities or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), or are supporting themselves. There is no information available at constituency level.

At the end of March 2003, 1,785 asylum seekers 1 (including dependents) were being supported in NASS accommodation and 280 asylum seekers (including dependents) were in receipt of subsistence only support in Leeds.

From the grant claims sent to the Home Office by local authorities, as at the end of March 2003, there were 40 asylum cases (comprising 30 individuals and 10 families) being supported by Leeds local authority 1 . (Asylum seekers are not necessarily resident in the local authority that supports them due to the voluntary dispersal programme which operated prior to NASS).

No information is held centrally on the location or residence of asylum seekers supported by DWP or who support themselves.

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on asylum seekers from Afghanistan. [116886]

Beverley Hughes: The Home Office determines asylum applications from Afghan nationals on their merits according to United Kingdom's obligations under the terms of the 1951 Convention for the Status of Refugees.

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In July 2002, in response to the improving situation in Afghanistan, we revised our blanket policy of granting exceptional leave to remain to all Afghans who do not qualify for refugee status.

The Government's preferred option for repatriating Afghan asylum applicants whose asylum claims have been rejected is assisted voluntary return, in line with the Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding on Voluntary Return between the United Kingdom, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Afghan Transitional Administration.

On 28 April 2003 in line with our stated intentions and as agreed with the Afghan authorities we commenced enforced returns to Afghanistan. We are returning those not found to be in need of international protection or granted any other form of leave to remain who do not depart voluntarily.

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many jailed asylum seekers from Somalia have been deported in each of the past six months [113893]

Beverley Hughes: Pursuant to her reply, 20 May 2003, 753W. I regret that due to an administrative error the information given in the text was not wholly complete. The complete answer should have been that the nationality of people who are removed from the UK after being detained under Immigration Act powers or on completion of a prison sentence is not available and could only be obtained by examining individual cases files, this would be at disproportionate cost.

Furthermore statistics showing the total number of persons removed, by nationality, in the period January to March 2002 are due to be published at the end of August 2003 on the Home Office web-site:


Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on measures that his Department has put in place to ease the administrative burden on charities. [117275]

Beverley Hughes: The Government are committed to removing unnecessary administrative burdens and legal restrictions on charities. We undertook to implement a package of measures to that end, by means of a Regulatory Reform Order (RRO). The need for an RRO has now been overtaken by the review undertaken by the Strategy Unit (SU) 'Private Action, Public Benefit'. We expect to announce our response to the consultation on the SU Report in the summer. We announced in February this year that a Charities Bill would be prepared and published in draft as soon as practicable. The reforms originally proposed for inclusion in the RRO will be considered for inclusion in a Charities Bill.

Community Support Officers

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many community support officers there will be in each London borough under the

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second funding round in 2003–04; how many were allocated to each London borough in the first round; and if he will make a statement. [116748]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The allocation of Community Support Officers (CSOs) within the Metropolitan Police District is a matter for the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. The number of CSOs being allocated to individual Boroughs as a result of each funding round is set out in the table.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was allocated 500 CSOs in the first funding round, where the Home Office paid for salaries and direct on-costs.

They have also been allocated 250 CSOs in the second funding round on the basis that the Home Office will pay 50 per cent. of salaries and direct on-costs. The Commissioner has advised me though that the MPA will fully fund a further 250 CSOs. Their allocation is also included in the table.

BoroughsFunding round oneFunding round two and metropolitan police authority fundedTotal allocation to boroughs
Barking and Dagenham01515
Hammersmith and Fulham8715
Kensington and Chelsea30030
Tower Hamlets201838
Waltham Forest02020

(20) Table shows 1,001 due to rounding up adjustments and part-time posts.

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Community Support Officers in assisting police forces. [116873]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: More than 1,300 Community Support Officers (CSOs) are currently being deployed by police forces throughout England and Wales. We have already received a good deal of anecdotal information from a wide variety of sources that CSOs are having a positive effect in their communities by providing a visible and reassuring policing presence.

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The money given to each police force includes an element for evaluation and forces are due to send us their initial findings by the end of September.

Contingency Planning

Mr. Kenneth Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many members of the Nottinghamshire police service have received specialist training at the Police National CBRN training centre to improve their potential response to a nuclear, biological or chemical terrorist attack. [116480]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 3 June 2003]: The total number of CBRN trained officers to date is approximately 3,700 with 2,434 of these having been trained by the PNCBRNC since August 2002. This is in line with the Association of Chief Police Officers desired level of training to ensure that police forces nationally have the necessary resilience to deal with a CBRN incident.

It would not be appropriate, on security grounds, to give more specific information regarding the CBRN response capability in each police force.

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