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29 Jun 2004 : Column 198W—continued

Animal Experiments

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to ensure that animal experiments taking place at universities are legal and ethical. [179599]

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Caroline Flint [holding answer 22 June 2004]: The use of animals in scientific procedures in the UK, whether at universities or elsewhere, is strictly regulated by the Home Office in accordance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

Licences are only granted for animal experiments undertaken for specified permissible purposes. There has to be no alternative to using animals, and the likely benefits of the work have to outweigh the adverse effects on the animals concerned. The number of animals used and any suffering that may be caused have to be minimised.

Any proposal to conduct a programme of animal experiments has first to be considered by the local ethical review process at the establishment concerned. A licence application is only submitted to the Home Office once those involved in that local process are satisfied that it can be justified.

Applications received by the Home Office are rigorously assessed by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate, to ensure the criteria in the 1986 Act are met. Inspectors are either medical or veterinary graduates, and advise the Secretary of State on whether and on what terms licence authorities should be granted. Some applications are also referred for advice to the Animal Procedures Committee.

Establishments where licensed animal experiments are conducted are visited regularly by the inspectorate, to monitor progress and ensure compliance with licence authorities. The majority of visits of inspections are without notice. Appropriate action is taken should irregularities or breaches of licence conditions come to light.


Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the likely impact of section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 on asylum seekers who have (a) been trafficked to the UK, (b) been smuggled into the UK and (c) suffered rape or torture or other serious traumatic experiences before arrival in the UK; and what written documents he expects such asylum seekers to produce as evidence of their circumstances. [179930]

Mr. Browne: Assessment of the impact of section 55 is integral to the close monitoring of the operation of the policy since implementation on 8 January 2003. As part of these arrangements the National Asylum Support Service maintains an open dialogue with the voluntary sector agencies, local government and other stakeholders. The Government have reviewed section 55 in the light of experience of its operation, the changing pattern of asylum applications since implementation, concerns raised about the impact of the policy, and most recently in the light of the Court of Appeal judgment of 21 May 2004 in the case of Limbuela and others.

Each case is decided individually on its merits. Those who can give a credible account, with or without supporting documents, that their asylum claim was made within three days of arrival in the United Kingdom will normally be eligible to apply for National Asylum Support Service (MASS) support. Families
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with children and those who can show that they would suffer treatment contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) receive support even if they did not make their asylum claim as soon as reasonably practicable.

No evidence has been produced to indicate that the categories of asylum seekers listed in the question have been adversely affected by the provisions of section 55.

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the proportion of asylum seekers subject to section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 decision who were granted access to asylum support in (a) the third quarter of 2003, (b) the last quarter of 2003 and (c) the first quarter of 2004. [179933]

Mr. Browne: Section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 came into force on 8 January 2003, restricting the availability of National Asylum Support Service (NASS) support to those asylum seekers who make an asylum application as soon as reasonably practicable. From 17 December 2003, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced that those who could give a credible account that their asylum claim was made within three days of arrival in the United Kingdom will normally be accepted as having applied as soon as reasonably practicable.

The table shows the proportions of asylum seekers that were considered eligible for support under section 55, in quarter 3 and 4 of 2003, and quarter 1 of 2004:
QuarterTotal cases referred for a section 55 decision(14)Number eligible for support under section 55(14)Proportion eligible for support under section 55 1 (percentage)
Q3 20034,26044510
Q4 20033,02038013
Q1 20042,6501,25047

(14) Figures rounded to the nearest 5, and do not include dependants.

Information on the number of asylum seekers supported by NASS is published in the quarterly web pages and in the annual statistical bulletin, "Asylum Statistics United Kingdom", available from the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at:


Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are to repeat the longitudinal studies of cannabis smoking completed in the 1960s and 1970s to take account of the increased potency of today's cannabis. [179329]

Caroline Flint: We have no plans to replicate such studies. We rely upon the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which is based upon a wide-ranging review of the available research. It is the council's view that there is no clear evidence that variants of cannabis with higher levels of its main psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cause more health problems. The council will continue to monitor the emerging international research on this issue very carefully.
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Community Cohesion

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to encourage community cohesion. [172737]

Fiona Mactaggart: The Home Office is working with a range of partners to build community cohesion. It is jointly supporting the Community Cohesion Pathfinder Programme—with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM)—under which local authorities and the voluntary and community sector are working together in 14 areas to build cohesion. The programme is generating examples of best practice in breaking down barriers between and within communities relating to race, faith, age and gender. The lessons learnt from this programme will be evaluated and shared across all local authorities in the country.

The Home Office and partners have issued guidance to local authorities on how to measure and build community cohesion, and is working with the independent Community Cohesion Panel and other Departments to mainstream cohesion into Government policy. For example, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) will shortly issue guidance on community cohesion standards for schools; the local authority comprehensive performance assessment for 2005 will cover community cohesion; and the Positive Activities for Young People Programme, funded by several Departments, according to a funding formula which takes account of community cohesion issues among other matters.

Other Government policies contribute to improving community cohesion. The Neighbourhood Renewal Fund supports cohesion by working towards increased employment, reduced crime, and better educational attainment in deprived areas of England. Civil Renewal and community cohesion complement each other—involving local people in identifying and solving the problems that affect their communities empowers communities to deal with change in society; and cohesion helps to build strengthened communities in which people come together to deal with their common concerns.

The ODPM Select Committee has found in its recent inquiry into social cohesion that there has been significant progress since the disturbances of 2001, and the Home Office will be giving careful consideration to the Committee's recommendations in deciding how to take the community cohesion agenda forward.

Crime Reduction

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date he expects to (a) receive and (b) publish the concluding assessments of the effectiveness of each project funded under the Crime Reduction Programme. [179713]

Ms Blears [holding answer 21 June 2004]: The Home Office has published a wide range of research reports containing results from evaluation of crime reduction initiatives funded under the Crime Reduction Programme (CRP). These include reports on the reducing burglary initiative, the CCTV initiative, the targeted policing initiative, the 'On Track' intervention
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aimed at children at risk of getting involved in crime and treatment of offenders. The reports have been deposited in the Library.

The CRP consists of many strands and many individual projects under these strands. The CRP publication plans are designed to bring together information from the various individual projects, with an emphasis of provision of material that will provide good practice guidance for practitioners. It is expected that reports containing the results from the CRP, with the exception of the final results from the restorative justice strand and the evaluation of Probation Pathfinder Offending Behaviour Programmes, will have been published by the end of 2004.

It is expected that the final evaluation report of the Probation Pathfinder Offending Behaviour Programme will appear in the summer of 2005. The CRP evaluation of restorative justice relates to a project commencing late in the course of the CRP and depends for its final assessment of effectiveness on a two-year reconviction rate study. This means that the final report is due towards the end of 2006, with publication in 2007. However, interim reports are planned for publication in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

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