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Asylum Seekers (European Pilot Projects)

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the meeting of Ministers of the member states of the European Union and Community to consider the establishment of pilot projects to receive those wishing to seek asylum within the Union, what the origin was of the document containing those proposals; who was responsible for producing that document; what the treaty bases were for those proposals; which member states supported the proposal in principle pending administrative agreement; what views were presented to meetings by representatives of the United Kingdom; who those representatives were; what consultations in (a) private and (b) public were held in the UK prior to the response made on behalf of the UK; and what progress has been made with the project. [200097]

Mr. Browne: In June 2003 the European Commission published a Communication (COM(2003)315 final) "Towards more accessible, equitable and managed asylum systems". That discussion document examined possible policy objectives and approaches for reformed asylum systems, having regard to concerns expressed by the UK about the deficiencies of the international protection system for refugees. The Thessaloniki European Council in June, 2003 took note of the Communication and invited the Commission to present a further report, by June 2004, suggesting measures to ensure more orderly and managed entry in the EU of persons in need of international protection and to enhance the protection capacity in the regions of origin.

On 4 June this year the Commission presented its further Communication "On the managed entry in the EU of persons in need of international protection and the enhancement of the protection capacity of the regions of origin—Improving access to durable solutions" (COM(2004)410 final). This contains two main recommendations. Firstly, the Commission advocates the development—in close co-operation with UNHCR and in partnership with the third countries concerned—of "flexible and situation specific EU Regional Protection Programmes", designed to address protection issues in third countries in the regions of origin. Secondly, the Commission proposes the development of a EU Resettlement Scheme. This would enable member states who wished to, to join forces in
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receiving, direct from regions of origin, persons found to be in need of international protection. The Communication itself has no legal base. The proposed EU Resettlement Scheme would be based upon Article 63(2)(b) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC).

Representatives of EU member states have discussed the Commission's Communication in various fora at both official and ministerial level (including the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the Strategic Committee on Immigration Frontiers and Asylum, the High Level Working Group and the Development Working Group). These discussions showed widespread support for Regional Protection Programmes among member states although an EU Resettlement Scheme is unlikely to be acceptable to some. The UK welcomed the Commission's Communication and supported the broad purpose of its proposals, while making it clear that national Governments of participating member states must retain final control of the numbers and origins of any refugees accepted in their territory.

EU Foreign Ministers adopted conclusions at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 2 November which require the Commission to present to the Council an action plan for one or more pilot Regional Protection Programme(s), and a proposal for a possible resettlement scheme, by July 2005. Furthermore, the European Council at its meeting of 5 November agreed the Hague Programme setting out a five-year work programme for JHA. This called on the Commission to develop EU Regional Protection Programmes in partnership with the third countries concerned and in close co-operation with the UNHCR.

British Nationality

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why British nationality is not granted to an individual born in Britain to a British father if the individual's mother is not a British national; if he will bring forward proposals to allow maternal and paternal nationality to be of equal weight when determining the nationality of a child born in Britain; and if he will make a statement. [200482]

Mr. Browne: British citizenship is acquired automatically, at birth, by a person born in the United Kingdom if either his mother or (providing the child is legitimate) his father was at the time of the birth either a British citizen or settled in the United Kingdom. Where, owing to illegitimacy, British citizenship is not acquired automatically it may be acquired subsequent to birth by registration on application to the Secretary of State. Such registration is discretionary, but the current policy is to grant it where the father is a British citizen, there is satisfactory evidence of paternity and both parents consent. Section 9 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 will remove the distinction in British nationality law between legitimate and illegitimate children but will not take effect until regulations concerning proof of paternity are in place.

Citizenship Ceremony

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average waiting time is
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between notification of British citizenship being conferred and the confirmation of citizenship ceremony in (a) England and (b) Dorset. [201339]

Mr. Browne: The information requested is not readily available. However, each citizenship ceremony should be conducted within three months of the decision to grant the application in principle.

Community Safety/Support Officers

Mr. Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what applications he has received from West Midlands Police funds for community safety officers in (a) 2004–05, (b) 2005–06 and (c) 2006–07. [199503]

Ms Blears: For 2004–05 West Midlands Police applied for Home Office funding for 50 per cent. of salary and direct on-costs for 40 Community Support Officers. The force were allocated funding for 33 posts under this round.

For 2005–06 the force applied for funding for 100 per cent. of salary and direct on costs up to £24,500 for each of 165 full-time equivalent Community Support Officers under the first round of the Neighbourhood Policing Fund. The force were allocated 81 posts under this round.

Allocations in both rounds were scaled back because the overall demand from forces exceeded the funds available.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what account the maximum funded cost for a community support officer takes of higher police pay in London. [199713]

Ms Blears: Community Support Officers (CSOs) are employed by police authorities and their terms and conditions of employment are determined locally, not by the Home Office. The maximum available under the first round of the Neighbourhood Policing Fund (NPF) was £24,500 per CSO post for salary related costs. In addition a one-off payment was made available of £2,500 per post towards training and additional costs.

The first round of NPF was massively oversubscribed and bids from forces had to be scaled down considerably. The Metropolitan police were allocated 250 posts under this round.


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when his Department will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (reference B2050/4) of 27 September about the surety lodged by Mr M. A. of Aylesbury (case reference A1022329). [199603]

Mr. Browne [holding answer 29 November 2004]: The Department sent a holding reply to the hon. Member on 29 November. The circumstances of the case are currently being examined and a more detailed reply will be sent within two weeks.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when his Department will reply to the letter of 6 August to the Minister of State for
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Immigration from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (reference PO9072/4) about Mr A. R. of Aylesbury (references R1055140/2 and PO4967/03). [199604]

Mr. Browne [holding answer 29 November 2004]: My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart) wrote to the hon. Member on 25 November.

Dungavel Detention Centre

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to reopen Dungavel Detention Centre to families; and whether a date has been set for such a reopening. [199785]

Mr. Browne: Following the disturbance at Harmondsworth in July it was necessary, for a short time, to use the family accommodation at Dungavel for single male detainees.

The family accommodation at Dungavel is no longer being used for this purpose and families are being detained there as appropriate.

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