Previous Section Index Home Page

8 Dec 2003 : Column 238W—continued

Student Visas

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for student visas have been refused in each year since 2000. [141359]

Mr. Mullin: I have been asked to reply.

8 Dec 2003 : Column 239W

Number of students visas:
YearApplied forGrantedRefused

The table above shows the number of student visas applied for, granted and refused at entry clearance posts world-wide each year since 2000. Since 2001, statistics have been collated by financial year (1 April to 31 March) rather than calendar year.

Women Prisoners

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list for each women's prison as at 31 October the (a) normal prisoner establishment, (b) actual numbers held, (c) prison officer establishment, (d) prison officers on strength and (e) number of suicides at each prison since 1 January. [140451]

Paul Goggins: The information requested is as follows:

PrisonOperational capacityPopulationTarget prison officer gradesActual in post
Askham Grange14111631.7530.75
Buckley Hall320300113106.5
Bullwood Hall1841569173.5
Cookham Wood1401266359
Drake Hall3152858381
East Sutton Park1009721.521.5
Eastwood Park346274132127
Edmunds Hill310266139120
Foston Hall23522210394
Low Newton396294144144
Morton Hall3953271,17115.5
New Hall426370189180
Winchester West Hill(17)8778

(17) These establishments are part of the male estate and separate figures for prison officer grades in the women's units are not available.

There have been 14 deaths of women in custody since 1 January, as follows:

Eastwood Park1
New Hall3

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to survey the women's prison population to determine prisoners' home locations in order to facilitate resettlement. [141620]

Paul Goggins: There are no plans currently to conduct such a survey. As at 30 September (the latest date for which information is available) 50 per cent. of the

8 Dec 2003 : Column 240W

women prisoners who gave details of their home addresses were held under 50 miles from home. 26 per cent. were held between 50 and 100 miles from home, and 24 per cent. were held more than 100 miles away from their home address.

The provision of housing advice and support is being strengthened in women's prisons, especially in those with a local function, and wherever possible the Prison Service aims to hold prisoners in establishments that are near to their homes or to the courts dealing with their cases.

Young Offenders Institution (Wetherby)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times staff at HM Young Offenders Institution Wetherby used control and restraint in each of the past five years. [140588]

Paul Goggins: The relevant information was not recorded centrally until the beginning of this year. During the period 1 January 2003 to 31 October 2003, control and restraint was used at Wetherby on 199 occasions.



Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held with his counterparts from (a) Dubai, (b) Uzbekistan, (c) Iran and (d) Pakistan concerning the trafficking of (i) opium and (ii) heroin out of Afghanistan; and whether the Government's opium eradication policy in Afghanistan includes combating the transporting of opium of Afghan origin in the region. [140820]

Mr. Straw: The UK is committed to supporting implementation of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy which aims to eliminate the production of opium in Afghanistan within 10 years. The Afghan strategy includes tackling trafficking of drugs within Afghanistan and at its borders.

The UK is also tackling opium once it leaves Afghanistan. Pakistan, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan are some of the transit points for Afghan-produced heroin. Ministerial colleagues, Government officials and I regularly raise these issues with counterparts from these and many other countries. Most recently, I discussed drugs issues with the Iranian Foreign Minister when I met him in New York on 24 September 2003.

In May 2003 I attended the international conference in Paris hosted by the French government on "Drug Routes from Central Asia to Europe". This conference led to the formation of the Paris Pact which provides a consultative mechanism for drug and crime control for countries affected by the trafficking of Afghan opium.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress with the Government's policy on eradicating the production of opium in Afghanistan. [141008]

8 Dec 2003 : Column 241W

Mr. Straw: The Afghan National Drug Control Strategy was adopted in May 2003. The objective of the strategy is to reduce opium poppy cultivation by 70 per cent. within five years and to eliminate it in 10 years. The UK has allocated £70 million over three years and posted additional personnel to Afghanistan to assist the Afghan authorities to implement a range of activities coherent with the strategy. Eradicating illicit poppy crop will form an important part of the drug control effort. However an eradication-led approach will not provide a sustainable solution to eliminating the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan and must be supported by other measures to build up law enforcement capacity, promote alternative livelihoods for poppy farmers and improve the effectiveness of Afghanistan's principal drug control institutions.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2003 survey showed an 8 per cent. increase in cultivation to 80,000 hectares and a 6 per cent. increase in production to 3,600 hectares. Although unwelcome, this increase is not unexpected given the poor security situation outside Kabul.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the amount of heroin (a) produced in Afghanistan and (b) exported to the UK from Afghanistan in each year since 2000; what the estimate is for 2003–04; and if he will make a statement. [141351]

Mr. Rammell: Afghanistan is the source of 95 per cent. of the heroin exported to the UK. There are no reliable figures for the level of heroin production in Afghanistan. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) does however conduct an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production. It has reported levels of cultivation and production since 2000 as follows:


The low level of cultivation and low production figure in 2001 reflect the Taliban ban on opium cultivation; the ban did not however address the underlying causes of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and was enforced with mix of threat and bribery. In March 2004 the UNODC will publish an Opium Rapid Assessment Survey for Afghanistan. This will give an early insight into the pattern of opium poppy cultivation for the 2003–04 growing season.

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government expect to deploy additional British troops to Afghanistan during 2004. [141903]

Mr. Ingram: I have been asked to reply.

We have no plans to change the overall level of our military commitment in Afghanistan although, as with any operational deployment, we shall keep numbers and tasks under review.

8 Dec 2003 : Column 242W


Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the compatibility of the provisions of the draft European Constitution for a common asylum and immigration system with his proposals for legislation on asylum. [142094]

Mr. MacShane: The Treaty will not change the relationship between EU and domestic legislation on immigration and asylum. We will retain the right to decide whether to opt in to measures in this area. If they are not in our interests we will not opt in; if they are we will—as with Eurodac and Dublin II, which have helped us identify and return asylum shoppers to EU countries where they first arrived or claimed asylum.

Next Section Index Home Page