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17 Mar 2005 : Column 389W—continued


Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the update provided at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 19 November by the EU Counter Terrorist Co-ordinator on the EU's role in the fight against terrorism; and what documents were referred to during that update. [207091]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Minister with responsibility for Europe (Caroline Flint) attended the lunch on 19 November at which the EU Counter Terrorist Co-ordinator Mr. Gijs De Vries gave a brief oral update on work under way. He underlined the importance implementing the agreed measures and legislation and in this context welcomed: the Revised EU Action Plan to Combat Terrorism; working to combat terrorist financing through the new EU strategy; an EU solidarity programme for management of the consequences of terrorist attacks; a strategy for integrating CT issues into EU external relations policy.

All of these papers were subsequently agreed at the JHA Council on 2 December and then at the European Council on 17 December.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many delegates registered for his Department's conference on 18 January on protection against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorist threats have indicated on the application questionnaire a background in each relevant discipline; what guidance has been given by the security services in the selection of delegates to the conference; and what the role of the conference is in respect of tenders for work on countering CBRN threats. [208240]

Mr. Charles Clarke: All applicants inquiring about the UK CBRN Science and Technology Bidders Conference were asked to give brief details of their main areas of expertise or interest. The responses given were varied and it was not possible to categorise applicants clearly by a particular discipline. The applications were checked by a small cross-government scientific panel that judged whether the areas of scientific or technological interest given on each application indicated an ability to contribute to Government requirements.

In general when deciding which applicants should be invited, the panel showed a greater bias towards applicants indicating experience or an obvious interest in chemical and biological issues, given the nature of the conference agenda.

It has been the established policy of successive Governments neither to confirm nor to deny questions concerning the activities of the intelligence and security agencies.

Delegates are being asked to submit outline technical proposals in the appropriate areas following the conference and the most promising of these will lead to invitations to work them up into formal, costed projects that we hope could begin during 2005–06.
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Country Information and Policy Unit Reports

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what mechanisms organisations outside the Government may challenge the accuracy of information in his Department's Country Information and Policy Unit reports. [221805]

Mr. Browne: Any organisations or individuals wishing to challenge or comment on the country information material produced by the Home Office may contact the independent Advisory Panel on Country Information. The Advisory Panel was established under the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to provide expert external scrutiny of the Home Office's country information material and advice to help ensure that this is as accurate and balanced as possible.

The Advisory Panel welcomes feedback from all sources. Information about the work of the Panel and contact details are provided on its website at

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to ensure the quality and accuracy of information in the Country Information and Policy Unit's report on Algeria. [221807]

Mr. Browne: Standard instructions are given to the Country Information and Policy Unit (CIPU) staff about ensuring that the Reports are as accurate, balanced, impartial and up to date as possible. All Country Reports by CIPU go through a quality assurance procedure that includes internal scrutiny, and consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, before issue. In addition the independent Advisory Panel on Country Information provides rigorous external scrutiny of country information material produced by the Home Office and makes recommendations to help ensure that it is of the highest quality. The Advisory Panel rightly considered it essential that the Home Office's country information material should not only be objective in fact, but should also be perceived as being objective and have the confidence of all its users. That is why I announced on 8 September 2004 that in future, the production of country information material used by the Home Office will be undertaken by a country information unit dedicated solely to that function.

The Home Office Country Report on Algeria was last updated in April 2004. No further update was issued in October 2004 because Algeria does not currently come within the criteria we use when determining for which countries we produce regular reports.

Home Detention Curfew

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners have been released on the home detention curfew scheme since January 1999; what the categories of offences were for which they had been sentenced; how many such prisoners were released in each category; and what the average sentence received was in relation to each category. [218989]

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Mr. Charles Clarke: The information requested, as recorded on the Prison Service IT system for the period 28 January 1999 to 31 January 2005, is provided in the table.

Investigations suggest that offence codes are recorded incorrectly for around 5 per cent. of all home detention curfew (HDC) discharges. This is due to the way the Prison Service IT system deals with a prisoner's record if he/she is returned to custody for committing further offences prior to the licence expiry date of the original sentence. The new offence code overrides the original offence code under which the prisoner was released on HDC.

The table includes releases relating to sexual offenders. These were eligible to be considered for release under HDC until March 2001. Since then, prisoners subject to the registration requirements of part 1 of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 (now replaced by part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003) are statutorily excluded from the scheme and all other prisoners convicted of a sexual offence are presumed unsuitable for release on HDC. In addition, since 14 July 2003 prisoners convicted of certain serious offences, including offences involving the death of the victim, attempted murder, threats to kill and racially aggravated offences, are presumed unsuitable for release unless there are exceptional circumstances.
HDC discharges by offence type(19)—28 January 1999 to 31 January 2005

NumberAverage sentence (months)
Violence against the person19,07714.8
Sexual offences7812.0
Theft and handling14,21211.0
Fraud and forgery7,40913.4
Drugs offences15,13922.6
Motoring offences17,1485.5

1 Offence recorded on Prison Service IT system.
Investigations suggest that around 5 per cent. of offence types recorded on this system do not relate to the offence prisoners were released on HDC for, but relate to offences committed after release from prison and before their licence expiry date.
(19) Includes the offence of bigamy.

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David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the 35 main ports of entry to the United Kingdom, as defined by the Immigration Act 1971. [221091]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Statutory Instrument 1987/177 designated 35 ports of entry for the purposes of the Immigration Act 1971. These are as follows:

Seaports and Hoverports


David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which of the 35 main ports of entry to the United Kingdom are staffed 24 hours a day. [221093]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Of the 35 ports of entry designated in Statutory Instrument (SI)1987/177 (which designated ports of entry for the purposes of the 1971 Act), 11 are currently staffed 24 hours a day.

These are:



Other ports are staffed to provide coverage in line with passenger services requiring immigration control.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many illegal immigrants were found at each of the 35 main ports of entry to the United Kingdom in each year since 1997; and how many were found in total in each year. [221094]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Data are not available for 1997. Locally collated management information for 1998 to 2004 is provided in Table 1. These data may be subject to change and do not represent National Statistics. These figures relate predominately to clandestine entrants but may also include other categories of illegal entry.
Table 1: Illegal immigrants found at UK ports, 1997 to 2004(20)

Bournemouth (Hurn)n/a0000000
East Midlandsn/a0000020
Leeds/ Bradfordn/a236880011
Tyne portsn/a22354611947

(20) The data provided are based on locally collated management information, which may be subject to change.
(21) The total is only for the ports listed.

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Table 2 shows published data on the total number of persons against whom illegal entry action was initiated since 1997. Illegal entry action is initiated against those people who are detected having entered or attempted to enter the country clandestinely or by means of deception, either verbal or documentary. These figures include those illegal entrants detected both at ports of entry and inland.
Table 2: Persons against whom illegal entry action was initiated, 1997 to 2004(22)

2004(24)Not available

(22) Figures rounded to the nearest 5.
(23) Data were not of sufficient quality for publication in 2003, however it is estimated that 22,950 persons had illegal entry action initiated against them in this year. Due to poor data quality this is not an official statistic.
(24) Data for 2004 are not yet available. These will be published in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin Control of Immigration Statistics: United Kingdom, 2004" in summer 2005.

Official statistics on immigration matters are available from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many illegal immigrants were picked up each year by patrol boats in UK waters in each year since 1997. [221163]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Although the UK Immigration Service mounts joint operations with other agencies on an intelligence led basis they do not routinely patrol UK waters.

The local port deals with any illegal immigrants detected in UK waters but statistics on these detections are not collated separately.
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