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4 Apr 2005 : Column 1265W—continued

Unemployment (Wirral, South)

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on unemployment in Wirral South. [224417]

Jane Kennedy: In the last year alone overall unemployment in Wirral South fell by 10 per cent. and since 1997 it has fallen by around two-thirds, with long-term unemployment falling by 92 per cent. There are currently 750 people unemployed in Wirral South, roughly 1.7 per cent. of the total working-age population of that area.

The improvements in the labour market in Wirral South and over the rest of the country over the last seven years have been principally due to our success in providing economic stability and sustained growth, as well as providing active help to unemployed people through programmes such as the new deal.


Asylum and Immigration

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum claims are outstanding in the UK; and from which countries. [224334]

Mr. Browne: Information on asylum claims outstanding by nationality is unavailable and could be produced only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.
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Information on the number of cases awaiting an initial decision or appeal outcome is published quarterly on the Home Office website at

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are in custody serving sentences of more than four months imprisonment following conviction under section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004; and in which prisons each is being held. [224531]

Paul Goggins: Information on the number of people in custody who are serving sentences of more than four months imprisonment following conviction under Section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004 is not available.

Between 29 September 2004 and 19 March 2005 148 people have been convicted under Section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004. All those convicted have received custodial sentences.

The figures provided are obtained from locally collated management information and may be subject to change.

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Home Department took to inform (a) Parliament and (b) the public of the changes to the immigration rules in respect of ECAA switching cases which were applied by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (i) from August 2003 until 10 February 2004 and (ii) from 10 February 2004 until 30 April 2004. [218876]

Mr. Browne: No changes to the Immigration Rules in respect of ECAA switching cases were made during either period.


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of individuals successfully prosecuted for begging in each year since 1990 have re-offended; and if he will make a statement. [220680]

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Paul Goggins: No data are readily available on reconviction rates for those convicted of begging.

Published reconviction rates are calculated using data from the Offenders Index. The Offenders Index only contains information on Standard List offences. Begging is not a Standard List offence.


Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what policies his Department has in place for supporting employees with cancer. [218581]

Fiona Mactaggart: Employees diagnosed as having cancer have access to support and advice from the Department's Welfare Services. This can cover both personal and work related matters. It can include home visits, discussions with family members and help in finding specialist support groups. Assistance can also be provided with planning for the financial implications of a long term illness or terminal illness.

The Department would normally seek Occupational Health advice at an early stage when the diagnosis, or the severity of the condition, becomes known. The Occupational Health provider will advise on the functional effects of the condition. For employees able to continue working, the Department provides support in the workplace by making reasonable adjustments to working hours, duties and working practices.

Employees who are on sick absence have a contractual entitlement to sick pay at a rate of full pay for six months and half pay for six months. After
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entitlement to contractual sick pay has been exhausted, an employee may be placed on sick pay at pension rate. This decision is taken on the advice of a medical officer in circumstances where it is envisaged the employee is likely to return to work within three months, or the ill-health retirement criteria are likely to be met. Entitlement is reviewed every three months.

The Department will also consider medical/ill health retirement in cases of poor prognosis, significant functional impairment or proximity to normal retirement age.

Catering Costs

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent on (a) entertainment lunches involving civil servants andguests and (b) working lunches, in each year since 1997. [215046]

Fiona Mactaggart: Hospitality is classified as the provision of food and drink or entertainment to non-civil servants when it is not strictly necessary for the conduct of public business, but where to do so is nevertheless beneficial to the interests of the Department.

Working lunches and refreshments are offered as a normal courtesy to visitors or made available to facilitate the efficient management of meetings.

The total costs of hospitality and working lunches for the Home Office Department since 1997 are given in the table.
Working lunches346,68592,916457,147511,610572,279727,3541 ,330,997
Percentage total spend0.0060.0020.0070.0070.0070.0080.012

The records for hospitality costs do not distinguish between civil servants and guests. The costs for refreshments and working lunches are combined and therefore separate figures cannot be extracted.


Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what schemes are available to provide financial assistance for the extension of closed circuit television in town centres. [223237]

Ms Blears: Previously, closed circuit television (CCTV) has been provided using a range of national and local funding streams. The principal fund has been the crime reduction programme from 1999 to 2003 which invested £170 million in CCTV schemes.

Currently, crime reduction funding is allocated directly to local crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs) through the building safer communities fund and to basic command unit (BCU) commanders through the BCU fund. These funding streams finance a variety of interventions, including CCTV, to tackle local crime priorities. Funding allocations are local decisions and are the responsibility of individual CDRPs and BCUs.


Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will increase the proportion of funding for C-FAR derived from Criminal Justice Service sources; and if he will implement the concept of full cost recovery in support of C-FAR's work. [221748]

Paul Goggins [holding answer 14 March 2005]: To date the Home Office has given £570,000 and pledged £150,000 for 2005–06 to C-FAR. Given the decision taken by C-FAR's Trustees on 8 March to close the centre on 11 March 2005, the Home Office will not be providing further funding. The Home Office is committed to implementing the concept of full cost recovery for all the organisations that it funds.

Chartered Aircraft

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money his Department has spent on chartering aircraft in each of the past five years. [213716]

Fiona Mactaggart: Travel by Ministers makes clear that special flights may be authorised when a scheduled service is not available, or when it is essential to travel
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by air, but the requirements of official or parliamentary business or security considerations or urgency preclude the journey being made by a scheduled service. In respect of overseas travel by Ministers, since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The list published in 1999 covers the period 2 May 1997 to 31 March 1999. Where RAF/private charter aircraft are used this is shown in the list. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas.

Copies of the lists are available in the Library. Information for 2004–05 will be published in due course.

For operational reasons the Home Office uses charter aircraft as a means of removing failed asylum seekers and other immigration offenders when there is no availability of seats on scheduled aircraft. They are also used for removals to destinations that carriers from the United Kingdom currently do not operate.

Charter flights have been used to remove failed asylum seekers since March 2001. The cost of charters since 2002 are given in the table:
Expenditure £ million

Figures for 2001–02 are not available as they were not separated from other public expense removal costs.

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