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23 Feb 2004 : Column 221Wcontinued
Paul Goggins: Provisions in both the Criminal Justice Act and the Sexual Offences Act will help to strengthen public protection from known sex offenders. These include enhancing the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements, tightening sex offender registration requirements, introducing new orders to prevent sex offenders from committing further offences and making the prosecution of sexual offences easier.
Caroline Flint: We recognise the importance of supporting local communities to resist gun crime and gun culture. This is why we have provided support for the Disarm Trust to work directly with affected communities, and have allocated 1.2 million of recovered assets money to support community action in the most affected areas. We also hosted a major gun crime community engagement conference in January bringing together local community groups, voluntary organisations and others to help identify what more can be done.
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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanism is in place to ensure that respect for civil liberties is considered at each stage of his Department's policy-making process. 
Fiona Mactaggart: The Human Rights Act ensures that all legislation complies with the European convention on human rights. For all proposed legislation, section 19 of the Act requires the Minister to make a statement as to the compatibility with the convention. Throughout the policy making process we assess the effects on individuals and society through discussions with independent and representative bodies and where appropriate full public consultation.
Ms Blears: The Home Office does not routinely collect statistics on the use or otherwise of acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs). ABC schemes, also known as acceptable behaviour agreements, are voluntary and have been developed by a range of agencies whose role it is to prevent such behaviour.
Research conducted in April 2002 showed that there were 173 ABC schemes running in England and Wales, with 1,868 contracts signed. A Home Office RDS publication on the evaluation of an ABC Scheme in the London borough of Islington was published on 20 January this year.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the measures his Department is taking to ensure there is a co-ordinated asylum policy across EU member states. 
Beverley Hughes: The UK Government are engaged in the on-going negotiations to ensure that European measures on asylum allow member states to deal effectively with applications while retaining flexibility to respond to the particular circumstances they face domestically.
The UK has participated actively in negotiations on all EU asylum initiatives to date, and for example, played a major role in shaping the Eurodac and Dublin II Regulations, which have helped us identify and return asylum shoppers to EU countries where they first arrived or claimed asylum. We retain the right to opt in to European asylum measures on a case-by-case basis, and will do so where it is in the United Kingdom's interests.
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Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Iraqi asylum seekers (a) have been refused asylum or other legal status to remain in the UK and (b) exhausted their rights of appeal in each year since 1997. 
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grants of asylum and the outcome of appeals at the IAA, for Iraqi nationals, who have applied for asylum in the United Kingdom, for each year from 1997 to September 2003. Data by nationality are not available for outcomes at the other levels of appeal.
Information on the numbers of asylum applications by nationality and on the outcome of appeals is published in quarterly web pages and in the annual statistical bulletin Asylum Statistics United Kingdom, available from the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html. The next quarterly publication, covering the fourth quarter of 2003 and provisional full year data, will be published on 24 February.
|Cases considered under normal procedures(42)||Backlog clearance exercise(43)|
|Initial decisions(41)||Granted asylum||Granted exceptional leave to remain||Granted humanitarian protection||Granted discretionary leave||Refused||Granted asylum or exceptional leave to remain under backlog criteria||Refused under backlog criteria(44)|
|January to March 2003(48)||2,915||65||2,105||(45)||(45)||770|||||
|April to June 2003(48)||335||5||(45)||(46)||(46)||330|||||
|July to September 2003(48)||1,790||(46)||(45)||||15||1,775|||||
(40) Figures rounded to the nearest 5,
(41) Information is of initial decisions, excluding the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions.
(42) Cases considered under normal procedures may include some cases decided under the backlog criteria.
(43) Cases decided under measures aimed at reducing the pre-1996 asylum application backlog.
(44) Includes some cases where the application has been refused on substantive grounds.
(45) Not applicable
(46) Equals 1 or 2
(47) Revised figures
(48) Provisional figures
|Appeals determined by adjudicators|
|Total determined||Total||As percentage of total determined||Total||As percentage of total determined||Total||As percentage of total determined|
|January to March 2003(54)||1,355||280||21||910||67||160||12|
|April to June 2003(54)||205||40||20||145||69||20||10|
|July to September 2003(54)||1,220||50||4||1,040||85||130||10|
(49) Figures rounded to nearest 5 (except percentages), Figures may not add up due to independent rounding.
(50) Figures include cases withdrawn by the Home Office, as well as the appellant.
(51) Figures are based on the cases for which information is recorded on the Refugee Index.
(52) Equals 1 or 2
(53) Not available.
(54) Provisional figures
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which defences are under statute not to be considered as reasonable causes for asylum seekers no longer in possession of relevant documents. 
Beverley Hughes: For the purpose of the offence set out in clause 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill, whether or not an excuse for failing to have a document is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of the particular case.
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However, the offence explicitly rules out deliberate destruction or disposal as an excuse, unless that destruction or disposal is for a reasonable cause or beyond the control of the person concerned. Certain behaviour does not amount to a reasonable cause, namely if the destruction or disposal was with a view to delaying or enhancing a claim or on the instructions or advice of a facilitator.
Beverley Hughes: Initial decision outcomes are not available relating to persons living in particular areas of the UK. The requested information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.
Information on the numbers of initial decisions on asylum applications by nationality and on the outcome of appeals is published in quarterly web pages and in the annual statistical bulletin 'Asylum Statistics United Kingdom', available from the Home Office website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html. The next quarterly publication, covering the fourth quarter of 2003 and provisional full year data, will be published on 24 February.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers who were qualified doctors have applied to work in the UK as doctors in each of the last five years; how many applications were (a) accepted and (b) rejected; and how many rejections were overturned on appeal. 
Beverley Hughes: Generally speaking asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the United Kingdom while their claim for asylum is being processed. The Government are aware that some applicants use the asylum system as an alternative route for economic migration and we believe it is vital to discourage this and to send out a message that we will not tolerate abuse of the asylum system.
Until 23 July 2002 asylum seekers who had not received an initial decision on their asylum claim within six months of its being lodged could seek exceptional permission to work under the terms of the employment concession. No detailed statistics were kept on the number of asylum seekers given permission to work under the terms of the concession and the type of job they wished to undertake.
This concession has now been withdrawn. It is our policy to speed up the length of time asylum seekers are awaiting a decision on their status. The latest published figures show that 81 per cent. 1 , 2 of applications received in the period April to June 2003 had initial decisions reached and served within two months 3 , compared with 75 per cent. for the previous quarter. Proposals in the Asylum and Immigration Bill currently before
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Parliament will simplify and speed up the appeals process. In this context, we feel it is inappropriate for asylum seekers of any occupation to work.
Mr. Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers resident in Glasgow were granted refugee status in the last year for which figures are available; and what proportion of all applications this represents. 
Beverley Hughes: Initial decision outcomes are not available relating to persons residing in particular areas of the UK. The requested information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.
Information on the numbers of initial decisions on asylum applications by nationality and on the outcome of appeals is published in quarterly web pages and in the annual statistical bulletin "Asylum Statistics United Kingdom", available from the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html. The next quarterly publication, covering the fourth quarter of 2003 and provisional full year data, will be published on 24 February.
Beverley Hughes: There were 14,210 initial decisions on asylum applications in the period July to September 2003, the latest published figures, of which 5 per cent. of the decisions were grants of refugee status. A further 6 per cent. were granted discretionary leave and a minimal number (less than one per cent.) humanitarian protection. Information on appeals relating to initial decisions made in this period is unavailable but a percentage may be allowed.
Information on the numbers of initial decisions on asylum applications is published in quarterly web pages and in the annual statistical bulletin "Asylum Statistics United Kingdom", available from the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html. The next quarterly publication, covering the fourth quarter of 2003 and provisional full year data, will be published on 24 February.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department from which countries, other than Iraq, Zimbabwe and Somalia, asylum seekers can claim hard case support if their claims are refused on appeal. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 12 February 2004]: As a matter policy accommodation under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (hard case support) may be provided to failed asylum seekers who are unable to leave immediately due to circumstances entirely
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beyond their control. Currently accommodation will be provided to Kurds from the Kurdish Autonomous Zone of Iraq because until recently there was no viable route of return. Now that Kurds from Iraq can leave under the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme the policy of providing accommodation is being reviewed. It is possible for nationals of Zimbabwe and Somalia to make a voluntary return and accommodation will be provided only where they are seeking to return but cannot do so immediately. No other countries are routinely provided with accommodation if their claims for asylum are finally refused.
Beverley Hughes [holding answer12 February 2004]: Failed Iraqi asylum seekers are expected to return to Iraq voluntarily once they have exhausted the appeal process; they can do so through the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme operated by the International Organisation for Migration. We are currently working on proposals for enforced return.
Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what factors he is taking into account before deciding whether to proceed with a possible accommodation centre for asylum seekers at the Daedalus site in Lee-on-the-Solent. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 29 January 2004]: All prospective sites for accommodation centres are evaluated against a set of criteria including size, configuration, location, technical characteristics and planning considerations.
I announced on 3 February that we have decided not to seek planning approval to develop an accommodation centre for asylum seekers at HMS Daedalus. Following a careful evaluation, we have concluded that the difficulties associated with the conversion of historic buildings and the creation of a suitable access point make the site unsuitable for the purposes of the trial.
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