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19 Oct 2005 : Column 1020W—continued

Passport Control

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the procedures are for the identification of an entrant at passport control who is wearing a burka or other face-covering apparel. [19047]

Andy Burnham [holding answer 18 October 2005]: In accordance with the Immigration Act 1971 all persons arriving in the United Kingdom must produce a valid passport or other document satisfactorily establishing their nationality and identity and immigration officers are required to verify that they are the rightful holders of the document presented.

Where there are cultural or sensitive reasons such as facial disfigurement which would cause difficulties for the individual in showing their face at the immigration control, an immigration officer will make arrangements for that person to be taken to a separate room where, particularly in the case of Muslim women, a female officer will ask them to lift their veil. People are usually content to do this but there are powers to refuse entry to persons who cannot be satisfactorily identified.


Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what basis the fees charged for transferring indefinite leave to remain stamps (No Time Limit) from former to current passports of citizens of other countries living in the United Kingdom for (a) the standard service and (b) the same-day Premium service were set. [16860]

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Andy Burnham: The postal (standard) fee of £160 for transferring indefinite leave to remain from former to current passports was set to recover the full cost of delivering the service. The process to produce the permit, which replaced the old stamp, is complex consisting of several stages incorporating many security aspects. The premium fee of £500 was set for all application types made in person at Public Enquiry Offices and was also set on a full cost recovery basis.

Police Force Restructuring

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider proposals for joint co-operation between police forces rather than full mergers as part of the consultation exercise on police force restructuring. [19411]

Hazel Blears: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has asked chief officers and police authorities to submit proposals for restructuring by the end of the year. The Home Secretary has made clear that any proposals submitted, including any based on joint co-operation, must be ones that design in capacity and resilience to deliver, through an integrated framework, both protective services and neighbourhood policing to national standards and in the quickest possible time scales. He has also emphasised that he fully endorses HM inspectorate of constabulary's conclusion that the creation of strategic forces offers the best business solution.

Runaway Children

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make an assessment of the Children's Society claim that a national network of refuges is required to support runaway children. [18705]

Maria Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

The Government is looking at the best way to deliver services that support young runaways and whether or not refuges—either through a national network or as a local response—should be part of our approach.

To help us in this, we are running six projects that aim to test out how best we can provide safe, flexible and responsive community based services that can be easily incorporated into mainstream children's services. Two of these projects are testing a refuge based approach.
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These projects are due to finish in March 2006 and we will consider the findings from these carefully, alongside other research evidence on runaways including from the Children's Society.

Sex Abuse Claims

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will make a statement on the validation process for individual claims for compensation from claimants alleging historical sex abuse; [16475]

(2) whether the validation process for claimants of compensation alleging historical sex abuse include (a) proof under oath, affirmation or equivalent, (b) the opportunity to challenge the account given by the claimant and (c) the opportunity for parties to tender witnesses and documents supporting or challenging the claimant's account. [16690]

Fiona Mactaggart: Claims for compensation from victims of sexual abuse are considered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. It is for the claimant to make out their case, and CICA determine applications on the balance of probabilities after having made appropriate inquiries of the police, medical and any other relevant authorities.

Applicants are required to sign an application form declaring, among other things, that the information given in the form is true.

Applications to CICA are confidential and details of the application, including whether any application has been made, are not disclosed to any third party without the consent of the applicant.


Armed Forces

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the trained strength of each of the armed forces against requirement was on the latest date for which figures are available, broken down by rank. [16709]

Mr. Ingram: The trained strength against requirement of the UK Regular forces 1 by service and paid rank at 1 July 2005 is given in the following table:
Naval Service
OF-6 to OF-9(10)120120220240100120
Other ranks30,77028,50087,03084,58038,40039,110
OR-1(17) to OR211,88012,30030,08029,50015,14016,550

(9)Data are for UK regular forces including nursing services and therefore exclude full time reserve service personnel, Gurkhas, the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists.
(10)No services have personnel at NATO rank OF-10 or OR-5.
(11)Professional Aviator/Specialist Aircrew OF-3 in RAF are included in OF-2 strength because the posts they are filling are included in the OF-2 requirement.
(12)It is not possible to split requirement for RAF between OF-1 and OF-2
(13)Requirements for RAF Officer Specialist ranks are set by specialism rather than by rank.
(14)Not available
(15)Not applicable
(16)The Royal Air Force has no personnel at NATO ranks OR-3 or OR-8
(17)The Naval Service has no personnel at NATO ranks OR-1 or OR-3.
Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10. Due to the founding methods used, figures may not always equal the sum of the parts. Numbers ending in five have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.
DASA (Tri-Service)

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Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 10 October 2005, Official Report, column 7W, on armed forces deployment, if he will name the three aircraft carriers earmarked for potential NATO operations. [18402]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 17 October 2005]: HMS Ark Royal, HMS Illustrious and HMS Invincible have been earmarked for deployment on NATO operations. Of these, HMS Invincible is available only at very low readiness and has been declared to NATO on this basis.

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