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6 Jun 2005 : Column 241W—continued


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations on behalf of the Uzbek Baptist Minister Farkhod Khamedov. [845]

Mr. Douglas Alexander [holding answer 26 May 2005]: We are disturbed by reports of religious intolerance and persecution in Uzbekistan. Discrimination, harassment and criminal prosecutions of Muslims, as well as harassment of religious minorities, including Protestant Christians such as Mr. Khamedov, remain commonplace.

We regularly raise these issues with the Uzbek authorities. In March 2005 our ambassador to Tashkent discussed Uzbekistan's record on religious freedom with Deputy Foreign Minister Nematov. As we have made clear to the Uzbek authorities, we believe that constraints on religious freedoms contribute significantly to the radicalisation of Islamic opinion.

Western Sahara

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the compliance of decisions to review reconnaissance contracts for oil and gas in the Western Sahara with the UN embargo on oil and gas activity in that country. [1286]

Dr. Howells: The Government regard the sovereignty of Western Sahara as undetermined pending United Nations efforts to find a solution to the dispute over the territory. UN Legal Counsel gave an opinion on the signing of contracts for exploration of mineral resources
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in Western Sahara in 2002 (S/2002/161 of 12 February 2002). This concluded that, while the contracts in question

We fully support this advice.


Asylum and Immigration

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the process by which those who fail to be granted refugee status have their status in the UK determined thereafter. [663]

Mr. McNulty: When an asylum claimant is found by the Immigration and Nationality not to be a refugee within the meaning of the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees, caseworkers will go on to consider whether a grant of Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave is appropriate under our published policies. Where a claimant qualifies for Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave, limited leave will be granted for a period of up to three years. Those who are found not to be in need of international protection and have no other basis of stay would be expected to leave the United Kingdom, subject to the outcome of any appeal. If a claim is certified as clearly unfounded, then any appeal could only be brought from abroad; otherwise the claimant would be entitled to remain in the United Kingdom until their appeal has been determined.

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether applicants for refugee status whose status is determined at the proposed accommodation centre for asylum seekers at Bicester and whose application fails will be (a) detained at Campsfield detention centre and (b) free to make their own arrangements for their removal from the UK. [670]

Mr. McNulty: All applicants are provided with information during the process to enable them to make a voluntary return to their country of origin if their application is unsuccessful, and will be encouraged to do so. Applicants whose claims fail and do not intend to return voluntarily may be removed directly from the centre. Those for whom detention is deemed necessary will be moved to whichever removal centre is considered to be most suitable.

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of migrants who apply for refugee status and for which it is determined that they do not qualify have appealed in the last 12 months; and what the average length of time for determining such appeals over that period was. [698]

Mr. McNulty: The latest published statistics estimate that 63 per cent. of asylum applications received in 2003 resulted in an appeal being lodged to the Immigration Appellate Authority (now Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT)).
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The Home Office and the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) set a jointly owned public service agreement target for 2003–04 that 60 per cent. of substantive asylum applications (excluding withdrawals and third country cases 1 ) received from 1 April 2003 should have a decision, up to and including final appeal at the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, within six months 2 .

The Home Office and DCA exceeded this target with 64 per cent. of substantive applications received in the period April 2003 to March 2004 had a final decision, up to and including appeals at the IAT, within six months.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the enabling regulations to bring into force section 9 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 will be laid; and if he will make a statement. [790]

Mr. McNulty: No enabling regulations are required. Section 9 came into effect on 1 December 2004.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy that interviews of asylum claimants are always tape recorded. [1530]

Mr. McNulty: The Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Dirshe, handed down on 20 April, requires the Home Office to allow the tape recording of substantive asylum interviews where the claimant is not accompanied at interview by a representative or interpreter acting on their behalf. As a result, we will record substantive asylum interviews upon request except where asylum claimants have public funding for a representative or interpreter to attend the interview or have the resources to fund a representative or interpreter to attend the interview themselves. We will not record substantive asylum interviews where asylum claimants have the right to a publicly funded representative or interpreter at interview but choose not to exercise that right.

We do not propose at present to extend this policy to those who fall outside the scope of the Court of Appeal judgment.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to restrict the right of appeal against refusal of visitors' visas. [382]

Mr. McNulty: The Five Year Strategy Controlling our borders: Making migration work for Britain" which was published in February, sets out the Government's plans for changing the right of appeal against the refusal of family visit visas. We will make changes to hear family visit visa appeals on paper only. In line with the Strategy, amendments will be made so that the right of appeal for family visitors only exists where the relevant family member is a close relative who is settled in the UK.

Additional measures will be considered to ensure that appeal provisions remain fair and prevent abuse. Since 1993 visitors, other than family visitors, have had no right of appeal under the immigration rules against a refusal of entry clearance.
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Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria are used for deportation of individuals following imprisonment; and what criteria apply to those holding dual nationalities. [954]

Mr. McNulty: Any foreign national convicted of a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment, with the exception of certain Commonwealth and Irish nationals who were ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom on one January 1973 and who have been resident here for the last five years, is liable to deportation.

The Secretary of State may make a deportation order against a prisoner either following the court's recommendation as a part of the sentence under section3(6) of the Immigration Act 1971, or on the grounds that his/her presence in the United Kingdom is not conducive to the public good under section 3(5) of the same Act. Each case is considered against the criteria laid down by paragraph 364 of the Immigration Rules HC 395.

Any person holding dual British nationality has the right of abode in the United Kingdom and is not liable to deportation. The fact that a person holds dual nationality of two other countries is not a direct factor when deciding whether or not to make a deportation order against them, but their views together with available travel documentation are taken into account when deciding to which country they are to be removed.

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