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8 Nov 2004 : Column 468W—continued

Illegal Immigration

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans to cut the levels of illegal immigration to the UK. [191269]

Mr. Browne: We have already made significant progress in strengthening the UK's borders. The measures we have put in place have reduced by half the number of asylum claims and they also serve to prevent would-be illegal migrants from circumventing our immigration controls. The operation of juxtaposed control operations and deployment of detection equipment overseas impact directly on those attempting to enter the UK illegally, regardless of whether they intend to abuse our asylum system or to reside or work here without entitlement.

We are committed to maintaining robust pre and on entry controls to prevent illegal immigration into the United Kingdom and there are many strands of work currently being undertaken to ensure the integrity of UK border controls. These include:

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The measures we have already taken to control illegal immigration and unfounded asylum claims are subject to on-going review and we will continue to use and develop our initiatives, resources and response capabilities to allow us to focus on areas of potential abuse whilst expediting the clearance of bona fide passengers.

Indymedia Servers

Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether prior notification was received by his Department concerning the seizure of the Indymedia servers on 7 October. [194455]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 28 October 2004]: I can confirm that the Home Office received no prior notification in relation to this matter.

Money Laundering

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his Department's consultation on money laundering and accountants' obligations to report money laundering. [191981]

Caroline Flint: On 4 August the Home Office issued an informal consultation paper seeking views on whether, and if so how, the law on the obligations of accountants to report money laundering needed to be changed to bring it into line with European law. This was in response to representations from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales which challenged the treatment of accountants, auditors and tax advisers under Part 7 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The consultation period ended on 30 September and around 40 responses have been received. The Home Office is giving full consideration to the responses, in consultation with other Departments. The Government have not reached a final view on whether the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2003 need to be changed.

Travel Documents (Prosecutions)

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions have been brought in the last 12 months against people who were suspected of destroying their travel documents. [195468]

Mr. Browne: Section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004 makes it an offence, in certain circumstances, to fail to produce a travel document when applying for leave to enter.
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Between 22 September 2004, when this legislation was implemented, and 30 October 2004, 79 people have been charged. This may include people who are suspected of destroying their travel documents.

There have been 15 convictions in the same period. This figure is provided from locally collated management information and may be subject to change.



Adam Price: To ask the Solicitor-General pursuant to the answer of 26 October 2004, Official Report, columns 1105–06W, whether the Attorney-General has sought the Prime Minister's view on the veracity of Iraqi declarations on weapons of mass destruction in the light of the evidence now available. [195390]

The Solicitor-General: No.


Private Pensions

20. Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Government have taken to encourage individuals to take out private pensions. [196336]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government are very keen to encourage individuals to take out private pensions. We have introduced stakeholder pensions, a low charge, flexible and portable pension arrangement as an alternative option to personal pensions, which can be costly and inflexible.

Pensions also offer more generous tax treatment on pensions than on any other form of investment. In addition we want to encourage individuals to plan for their retirement. Clauses in the Pensions Bill will enable us to promote and facilitate financial planning for retirement as part of our wider Informed Choice agenda.

Disabled Discrimination

21. David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to tackle discrimination against disabled people in the workplace. [196337]

Maria Eagle: By extending the Disability Discrimination Act from 1 October this year, we have provided comprehensive protection against disability discrimination in employment. The employment provisions now cover an additional one million employers and seven million more jobs, and we will be undertaking a targeted publicity campaign to highlight to employers their duties under the Act. In addition, provisions in the draft Disability Discrimination Bill would extend the protection of the Act, including in employment, to more people with HIV, cancer and MS.

State Retirement Pension

23. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent submissions he has
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received in relation to state retirement pensions from the National Pensioner's Convention; and if he will make a statement. [196339]

Malcolm Wicks: I received a copy of the National Pensioners Convention "Pensioners Manifesto" earlier this year. The Government shares its aims of securing dignity and fulfilment for both today's and future generations of pensioners.

My hon. Friend may also be interested to know my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State is due to meet Rodney Bickerstaff, president of the National Pensioners Convention on 15 November.

Economic Inactivity

24. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the Department's policies for reducing economic inactivity. [196340]

Jane Kennedy: Between 1979 and 1997 the number of people receiving incapacity benefit trebled and had that trend continued there would be around 4 million people now on incapacity benefit instead of 2.7 million.

Almost all of those who move on to incapacity benefits want and expect to go back to work, and our reforms will give them the opportunity and full range of help needed to realise that goal.

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