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Failed Asylum Seekers

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many failed asylum seekers are receiving sector 4 support; and if he will make a statement. [189958]

Mr. Browne: The most recent information shows that 869 unsuccessful asylum seekers are in receipt of section 4 support.

Falun Gong

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many known members of the Falun Gong movement have applied for asylum in each of the last four years; how many of these have had their application rejected; and how many are still awaiting a decision. [193616]

Mr. Browne: Applications for asylum in the UK are collated and published by nationality, and are made in the UK rather than from abroad. The available data do not include breakdowns by religion or membership of specific groups, which would not necessarily be reliable even if such information were collated.

Information on asylum applications is published in quarterly web pages and in the annual statistical bulletin "Asylum Statistics United Kingdom". Copies of these publications and others relating to general immigration to the UK are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at

Foreign Agencies

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether foreign agencies are entitled to raid UK premises (a) with and (b) without his Department's authorisation. [195834]

Caroline Flint: No foreign agencies are entitled to act in the UK without prior authorisation from the appropriate Government Department. Any acts requiring search of premises and seizure of property in connection with a foreign enquiry could only be carried out by UK law enforcement agencies under strict legal criteria pursuant to the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.


Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on UK citizenship for the Gurkhas. [195535]

Mr. Browne: My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary announced on 30 September a change in policy for Gurkhas and other non-British members of the British Armed Forces which will enable them to apply for settlement in the UK on discharge from the Armed Forces. This will in turn provide an avenue for naturalisation as a British citizen. This new policy on settlement was implemented by an amendment to the Immigration Rules which took effect
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on 25 October. Officials are now considering citizenship applications made by people granted settlement under the new rules.

Horse Passports

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what instructions he has issued to police forces with reference to the enforcement of the horse passport regulations. [193484]

Alun Michael: I have been asked to reply.

The Food Standards Agency will be responsible for enforcing the checks carried out at slaughterhouses, while local authorities (in particular trading standards departments) will be responsible for enforcing the law elsewhere. We have not issued any instructions to police forces regarding enforcement of the horse passport regulations.

Identity Cards

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the estimated costs are of introducing a national identity card, broken down by (a) installing computer systems and software, (b) issuing cards and (c) running costs. [191139]

Mr. Browne: Set up costs for the first three years have been estimated at £186 million. Costs thereafter will be covered by charges. It would not be appropriate to publish more detailed information while we prepare options for procurement and implementation of the identity cards scheme.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what safeguards will be put in place to ensure that legislation to provide for identity cards will give primacy to the privacy provisions of the Gender Recognition Bill. [191892]

Mr. Browne: Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 sets out how information relating to a person's application for a gender recognition certificate or about the gender history of a successful applicant, is to be protected. Subsection (4) sets out the exceptions to the general prohibition on disclosure of such information, including where this information is disclosed in accordance with any provision of an enactment "other than this section".

The draft Identity Cards Bill establishes to whom information may be disclosed and creates a specific offence of unauthorised disclosure of information (at clause 29). Clause 24 of the draft Bill sets out the rules to be followed when information is disclosed from the National Identity Register. During the consultation on the draft Bill, we have discussed this clause and other provisions of the Bill with interested parties and it is our view that these rules are consistent with the provisions of the Gender Recognition Act.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for The Home Department what consultation he has undertaken regarding the right of privacy in relation to the identity card scheme. [191946]

Mr. Browne: The Government have undertaken two formal consultations on its proposals for an identity cards scheme, and on draft legislation. In addition
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officials have had several meetings with officials from the Office of the Information Commissioner and with other interested parties.

The identity cards scheme will be covered by the Data Protection Act 1998 and will comply with the data protection principles set out at Schedule 1 of that Act. This will include the right of people to check the information recorded about them subject to exemptions set out in the Data Protection Act eg in cases of national security. The draft Bill sets clear limitations on the information which can be held on the scheme and requires the consent of a card holder before a check is made except in limited, specified circumstances such as checks by the police when a person has been arrested.

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with IT companies on providing services for the identity card project. [193386]

Mr. Browne: The Identity Cards Programme has met a range of companies, including those in the IT sector, as part of its market sounding activities. Market sounding is the process of assessing the reaction of the market (that is, all potential suppliers considered collectively) to a proposed requirement and procurement approach , and is recognised as best practice in Government procurement.

Priority for market sounding to date has been given particularly to the smartcard and biometric sectors where the technology is developing quickly, standards are evolving and there is uncertainty about future trends. Seminars targeted at the IT sector have been run in conjunction with Intellect, the trade body for the UK based information technology, telecommunications and electronics industry and other events are being planned to address the wider requirements of the programme.

Market sounding focuses on suppliers as a whole, rather than the merits of individual suppliers. It includes no element of supplier selection (choosing suitable suppliers) or bid evaluation (looking at proposals, technical solutions or prices). There is no commitment of any kind involved—on either side nor any advantage to be gained by a supplier by getting involved. Further it is stressed that there is no formal procurement underway at the moment.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many passports were recorded as (a) lost and (b) stolen in the London area in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [143394]

Mr. Browne: On 8 December 2003 the UK Passport Service implemented a new reporting procedure and database for passports which are lost and stolen, and for those which are subsequently recovered.

The total number of passports recorded as lost or stolen for the period 8 December 2003 to date is 277,421 and the recovered total is 25,456. Of these 25,898 were reported as lost and stolen in the London area and 4,398 as recovered.
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