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15 Jan 2004 : Column 870Wcontinued
Beverley Hughes: Government Ministers have regular discussions with counterparts in other member states on asylum issues. These discussions take place within formal bilaterals and Justice and Home Affairs Councils, as well as in the margins of other meetings.
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at the end of February 2004 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
|Quarter 1||Quarter 2|
|Nationality||Total||Applied at port||Applied in country||Total||Applied at port||Applied in country|
|Other Former USSR||175||20||155||135||25||105|
|Other Former Yugoslavia||215||*||25||10||*||10|
|Middle East other||265||85||180||230||80||150|
|Middle East total||3,055||540||2,515||1,490||340||1,155|
|Dem. Rep. Congo||460||100||360||300||65||235|
|Other, and nationality||30||20||10||15||10||5|
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|Quarter 3||January-September 2003|
|Nationality||Total||Applied at port||Applied in country||Total||Applied at port||Applied in country|
|Other Former USSR||170||45||125||480||95||385|
|Other Former Yugoslavia||5||0||5||40||5||40|
|Middle East other||285||105||180||780||270||505|
|Middle East Total||1,835||365||1,470||6,380||1,245||5,135|
|Dem. Rep. Congo||380||75||305||1,145||240||905|
|Other, and nationality||20||15||10||65||45||20|
(3) Figures are provisional and have been rounded to the nearest 5 with * = 1 or 2.
(4) Serbia and Montenegro (SAM) replaced Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) from 5 February 2003. SAM comprises the Republic of Serbia, the Republic of Montenegro, and the Province of Kosovo (administered by the UN on an interim basis since 1999)
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Beverley Hughes: Records are available for the years from 2000. The number of staff deployed on decision-making depends on the volume of cases. Internal management information indicates that, as the backlog of outstanding applications has fallen and decisions have been made more quickly, the number of full-time equivalent staff deployed on making initial decisions for asylum applications was 477 in October 2000, 465 in October 2001, 396 in October 2002 and 365 in October 2003.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what written representations he has received from the First Minister of Scotland concerning his policy in relation to the detention of families with children in removal centres. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 8 December 2003]: No written representations have been received from the First Minister of Scotland on detention policy as this is a reserved matter. The First Minister has, however, written recently to me emphasising the importance of the UK Government's careful engagement with this issue.
Beverley Hughes: There are no plans to allow asylum seekers in general to take employment. The European directive on reception standards for asylum seekers comes into force in February 2005. At that time asylum seekers who have waited more than one year for an initial decision on their claim will be able to seek permission to work. Although the employment concession for asylum seekers was abolished on 23 July 2002 we retain discretion to allow asylum seekers to work. The discretion is exercised sparingly but might be appropriate in cases where an asylum seeker has, through no fault of their own, waited for longer than 12 months for an initial decision on their claim. The majority of asylum claims receive an initial decision well within this period. 81 per cent. of applications for asylum received in the period April to June 2003 had initial decisions reached and served within two months.
We are currently considering whether asylum seekers and failed asylum seekers currently in work whose employment would meet the requirements for the issue of a work permit should be allowed to remain in employment.
Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when Kent county council will receive central government funding in respect of the costs of asylum seekers outstanding for the financial years (a) 200102 and (b) 200203; when funding will be received for the 200304 financial year; and what
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estimate he has made of the cost to Kent county council in respect of support of asylum seekers between April and November. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 16 December 2003]: All amounts claimed for 200102 by Kent county councilin respect of support for Adults and Families and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children (UASCs)have been settled. Payments on account of the 200203 claim have been made but the final claim is subject to audit before it can be settled.
Payments on account for Adults and Families have been made to Kent county council for 200304, based on grant claims submitted for the first two quarters. Payments on account have also been made in respect of UASC support costs, using the provisional rate for 200304.
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers were removed or made a voluntary departure to the 10 East European candidate states for membership of the European Union (a) in each of the last three years and (b) in the first half of 2003. 
Estimates of the number of nationals of the 10 East European candidate states who had sought asylum at some stage and who were removed between January 2001 and June 2003 are shown in the following table. These figures include persons departing 'voluntarily' after the initiation of enforcement action against them, and persons leaving under Assisted Voluntary Returns Programmes run by the International Organization for Migration.
|Nationality||2001||2002(9)||January to June 2003(9)|
(5) Includes persons departing 'voluntarily' after enforcement action had been initiated against them, persons leaving under Assisted Voluntary Return Programmes run by the International Organisation for Migration, and removals on safe third country grounds.
(7) Data exclude nationals of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.
(8) Data have been estimated due to data quality issues.
(9) Provisional figures.
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The number of applications from nationals of the accession countries fell from 250 in October 2002 to 25 in June 2003 following the introduction (in November 2002) of the non-suspensive appeal measure included in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.
The Home Office will continue to remove nationals of the candidate states in the same circumstances as now up until accession, although this will be kept under constant review. This is being done in the interests of maintaining an effective immigration control and the need to control numbers prior to accession; because we are not legally obliged to grant free movement rights under 1 May; and because we are giving free movement rights earlier than some other member states.
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Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many cases heard by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal in each of the last five years for which figures are available the tribunal upheld the decision being appealed. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 8 December 2003]: Data on the number of cases in which the Immigration Appeals Tribunal upheld the decision being appealed, in each of the last five years for which figures are available, are given in the following table. Appeals received do not necessarily correspond to appeals determined in any given year.
Statistics on appeals to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal are published annually. The latest publication, Asylum Statistics United Kingdom 2002, is available on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
|Appeals to the Tribunal(11)||Outcome of Tribunal Hearings(12)|
|Received||Determined||Allowed||Dismissed||Withdrawn||Remitted to adjudicatorsfor further consideration|
(10) Figures rounded to the nearest 5. Numbers might not add up due to rounding.
(11) Figures based on data supplied by the Lord Chancellor's Department. Decisions and determinations do not necessarily correspond to applications and appeals received in any given year.
(12) Figures supplied by the Presenting Officers Unit. Figures for October to December 1999 are based on data for November to December.
(13) Revised figures.
(14) Provisional figures.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what basis he judges that the terms of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill as regards the removal of the children of asylum seekers are compatible with (a) the Human Rights Act 1998, (b) the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and (c) section 1 of the Children Act 1989. 
Beverley Hughes: The Bill creates no powers for the removal of children of failed asylum seekers from their parents. Insofar as the withdrawal of support from people who have failed to establish a right to political asylum and who refuse to co-operate in their removal from the country leads to consideratipn by local authorities of the need for support for their children, it will be provided in a way that is consistent with the Human Rights Act, the Children Act and the United Kingdom's obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers have been granted permission to work due to exceptional circumstances; and what criteria are used to determine whether an application will succeed. 
Beverley Hughes: The information requested could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. Generally speaking, however, asylum seekers are not now allowed to take employment while their claim for asylum is pending. Prior to 23 July 2002 asylum seekers could request permission to work if their claim remained outstanding for longer than six months without a decision being made on it. The concession was abolished on 23 July 2002.
The majority of asylum claims receive an initial decision well within six months. 81 per cent. of applications for asylum received in the period AprilJune 2003 had initial decisions reached and served within two months. 74 per cent. of applications for asylum received in 200203 had initial decisions reached and served within two months, 84 per cent. within four months and 87 per cent. within six months. The number of asylum seekers who would have been able to benefit from the concession had it remained in force is now much reduced.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost to West Sussex county council of the judgment in Behre and others v. Hillingdon London borough council, on asylum seekers in local authority care. 
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Beverley Hughes: The Home Office and the Department for Education and Skills are at present reviewing the grants arrangements for support of unaccompanied asylum seeker children (UASC) in the light of the Hillingdon judgment. A decision on the 200304 grant will be made shortly.
Mr. Keith Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from local authorities on the implications for them of children being taken into care under the provisions in the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 5 January 2004]: We received six representations on the provision in question from local authorities, or organisations representing them or the services they administer, during the consultation exercise we carried out recently. As we made clear in our response to this exercise, it is our objective to ensure that few, if any, children need to be taken into care as a result of this provision, and officials are meeting the Local Government Association in order to discuss its practical application.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals have been housed at Oakington Immigration Reception Centre during 2003 as a result of the detention overspill facility. 
Beverley Hughes: Following the success of the NSA process in 2002 that resulted in considerable intake reduction earlier than anticipated, there was the potential for utilisation of the Oakington facility. In line with considerations of public financial accountability a decision was taken to use part of the facility to detain families prior to removal on flights from nearby Stansted. It continued to be used for this purpose successfully throughout 2003.
The latest available information on people held in the immigration removal estate show that as at 27 September 2003260 people were housed at the Oakington Immigration Reception Centre. Information on the number of these who were there as a result of the detention overspill facility and on the total number of people detained in 2003 is not available except by examination of individual case-files at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what purposes, in addition to making initial decisions on asylum applications, detainees are housed at the Oakington Immigration Reception Centre. 
Mr. Keith Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what specific actions he expects local authorities to take to protect children who are not taken into care but whose parents have had their benefits stopped as a consequence of the implementation of clause 7 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill. 
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Beverley Hughes: We are discussing with representatives of local authorities whether guidance on the way in which they would exercise their responsibilities under these circumstances would be helpful.
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to change the system to record the number of asylum seekers (a) entering the UK illegally, (b) applying for asylum and (c) being detained awaiting deportation; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: There are no plans to change the system to record the number of asylum seekers (a) entering the country illegally, (b) applying for asylum and (c) being detained awaiting deportation. Information on asylum applications, detainees and removals is published quarterly. The next publication will be available at the end of February 2004 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website.
Beverley Hughes: There are no plans to do so at present. Section 50 of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 allows us to withdraw the opportunity for asylum seekers to apply for financial support only. During the passage of the Bill through Parliament we gave a commitment that there would be a full public consultation process before the provision was introduced. The provision is also subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.
Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements have been made for the UN High Commission for Refugees to work with Home Office training programmes to improve decision making on asylum applications; what the terms of reference are for UNHCR involvement; and when these arrangements will be brought into effect. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 13 January 2004]: The London office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees already contributes to the training of asylum caseworkers. We intend that this fruitful relationship should continue and we are presently discussing with UNHCR what further assistance they might provide in support of our measures to assure high quality decision making processes.
Ms Blears: This information is not held centrally. Local police involvement in immigration controls forms part of the arrangements made by Chief Constables in the light of police authorities' policing plans.
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under section 6 of schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 have been used. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 8 January 2004]: We have not so far withdrawn support from any family under this provision, although its availability may have helped induce a number of failed asylum seekers to depart voluntarily.
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