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27 Feb 2004 : Column 600Wcontinued
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the initiative by Spain to challenge the extension of the European franchise to people of Gibraltar, to limit the franchise to European Union citizens in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar and to exclude Commonwealth citizens. 
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 19 January 2004, Official Report, column 924W, to the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer), when Israel first tested a nuclear explosive device. 
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Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action the Government are taking to encourage the Sri Lankan authorities to give full protection to religious minorities in Sri Lanka. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are concerned about reports of discrimination against religious minorities in Sri Lanka and regularly raise this, and other human rights issues, with the Sri Lankan Government. On 27 January 2004, our High Commissioner in Colombo discussed our concerns about a possible Anti-conversion Bill with the Minister for Hindu Affairs. We will continue to look to the Government of Sri Lanka to protect the rights to freedom of religion enshrined in the Sri Lankan constitution.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response Her Majesty's Government have made to the global non-proliferation and counter-proliferation initiative President Bush announced on 11 February. 
Mr. MacShane: The Government welcome moves to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to strengthen, and achieve universal adherence to, the Treaties and Conventions against such proliferation.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the statement made by the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Beverley Hughes) in Standing Committee on 27 January 2004, Official Report, columns 44647, how many failed asylum seekers have left the UK in each year since 1999; what the evidential basis was for the Minister's assertion that Migration Watch UK's assumptions are spurious; what steps are being taken to ensure recent increases in work permit numbers are short-term; what proportion of the estimated population increase between (a) 2001 to 2026, (b) 2003 to 2026 and (c) 2002 to 2031 is attributable to net immigration; and to what less than 0.3 per cent. refers. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 25 February 2004]: The following table contains the number of asylum seekers who have been removed from the UK in each year since 1999, including those departing voluntarily after enforcement action had been initiated against them and persons departing under the Assisted Voluntary Return Programmes run by the International Organisation for Migration. The figures do not include those who have departed voluntarily under their own means without informing the Government.
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(14) Includes persons departing voluntarily after enforcement action had been initiated against them and persons departing under the Assisted Voluntary Return Programmes run by the IOM.
(15) Data on dependants are for April to December only.
(16) Provisional data.
Data are rounded to nearest five and may not sum due to rounding.
The population projections produced by the Government Actuary's Department (GAD) are part of National Statistics and are covered by the National Statistics Code of Practice. This means that they are completely independent and produced to the highest professional principals and standards. We believe that this, along with access to the most relevant and up to date information captured by the Home Office's statistical branch and the Office for National Statistics, makes GAD's assumptions more credible than those of groups such as Migration Watch UK. I have written to Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch UK setting out why the assumptions produced by his group are incorrect.
Work permits are issued in respect of posts which UK-based employers are unable to fill with suitably qualified resident workers and, except in the case of the Sectors Based Scheme for low skilled workers, are not subject to any numerical ceiling on the number of permits issued. Work Permits (UK), which administers these arrangements, seeks to ensure that the criteria for the issuing of work permits are responsive to changes in labour market conditions. The work permit arrangements are demand-led and the overall number of work permit applications in either the short or long-term will be dictated by the extent to which UK-based employers are able to fill vacancies with suitably qualified workers.
In his latest (2002-based) projections for the UK, the Government Actuary projects that (a) between 2001 and 2026 total population growth will be 5.1 million, of which total net inward migration is assumed to be 3.3 million; (b) between 2003 and 2026 total population growth will be 4.8 million, of which total net inward migration is assumed to be 3.0 million and; (c) between 2002 and 2031 total population growth will be 5.6 million, of which total net inward migration is assumed to be 3.8 million.
My reference to "less than 0.3 per cent." (Standing Committee, Official Report, column 447) should have been to the average population increase per annum. I am happy to take this opportunity to clarify this point for the record.
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Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of applications for (a) naturalisation and (b) citizenship that will be made between January and the implementation of the sections of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 that require knowledge of life in the UK and language. 
Beverley Hughes: New applications for all types of citizenship have increased since the publication of the final report of the "Life in the UK" Advisory Group in September 2003. Current trends indicate that application rates, which have fallen slightly since 1 January, will continue at the present level until the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. Forecast figures are not routinely published.
Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many places are available in residential drug treatment services in England; and how many were available in each of the previous five years. 
However, as part of the consultation exercise leading up to the implementation of the National Minimum Care Standards, a survey was commissioned by the Department at the end of 2000 to establish the number of places within the residential drugs and alcohol sector collectively. This survey showed that at the end of 2000 there were approximately 3,100 residential care places in England.
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