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Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much stamp duty from the purchase of residential property was collected from (a) Kettering constituency, (b) Northamptonshire and (c) England in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Estimates of stamp duty from purchases of residential property in England between 199798 and 200405 are given at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/stamp_duty/table15_2_october04.pdf. Information is not available at the parliamentary constituency or county level for these years.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what value of hardship payments were made to tax credit claimants suffering hardship where an overpayment had occurred in (a) 200304, (b) 200405 and (c) each month of 200506. 
For 200506, it is no longer necessary for HM Revenue and Customs to issue manual payments in cases of hardship. Instead, a new process allows for an adjustment on the tax credits system to reduce the rate of recovery of an overpayment in-year.
Dawn Primarolo: HMRC's approach to handling overpayments is set out in its Code of Practice 26: What happens if we have paid you too much tax credit?" published on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/leaflets/credit.htm
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credit claimants have been waiting (a) one month, (b) two months, (c) three months, (d) four months, (e) five months, (f) six months, (g) one year and (h) two years for backdated tax credit payments to be made. 
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reasons the IT system used by Revenue and Customs staff when dealing with hon. Members' queries through the MPs Tax Credit Hotline was unavailable on Friday 14 October. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 20 October 2005]: There was an isolated fault at the local telephone exchange which affected a number of workstations within the Tax Credit Office including the MP Hotline. Other areas of the Tax Credit Office were functioning normally.
Dawn Primarolo: The tax credits IT system is delivered through an overarching IT services contract, known as Aspire. Within the terms of this contact there is a fixed price for maintaining live operational services.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 18 October 2005, Official Report, column 948W, on tax credits, if he will place in the Library a copy of the Customer Service Manual and Customer Contact Clarity of Writing: 200506 Guide. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Department's Customer Service Manual is being reviewed. It sets out the customer service policy and good practice for face to face service staff. It will be replaced in due course by content on the Department's Face to Face service site. As some of the content has already been superceded by the Clarity of Writing or other guidance, the manual is not available as a single document.
Greg Clark: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much in overpaid tax credits has been remitted in full and then held by the Tax Credits Office for offsetting in each of the last three years; and what the running total is for the 200506 financial year. 
However, where HM Revenue and Customs agree to remit an overpayment of tax credits, amounts already recovered will be used to clear any known overpayment due for recovery. Any net underpayment will then be paid to the claimant.
Dawn Primarolo: Information about the total value of overpayments from 200304 that remain outstanding as at 5 April 2005 can be derived from the Comptroller and Auditor General's Standard Report on the Accounts of the Inland Revenue 200405" This can be found at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/ir-report2005.pdf.
Mr. Mudie: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's recommendations in Tax Credits: Putting Things Right have been accepted; from what date they have operated; and how many (a) have been refused and (b) are under consideration. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which of the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Ombudsman in her report of June 2005 on Tax Credits: Putting Things Right have been (a) accepted and (b) implemented; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 18 October 2005]: The Government's response to the Ombudsman's recommendations was set out in the Paymaster General's letter to her of 29 July (a copy of which is available on the Ombudsman's website). The Department has already acted on a number of those recommendations, including:
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credit overpayments were caused in 200304 when an error resulted in a child or children no longer being shown on the award notice. 
Dawn Primarolo: Where a child or children are removed from a claim, whether or not as a result of an error, the effect would be to reduce payments and not generate an overpayment. It is therefore not possible to provide the information requested.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average length of time taken to process applications for a registration certificate under the Accession State Worker Registration Scheme was in the last period for which figures are available. 
[holding answer 26 October 2005]: For the period 1 April 2005 to 30 September 2005 the average number of days taken to process applications for a registration certificate under the Accession State Worker Registration Scheme is 13 days.
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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness to date of the Dublin II Regulation of 2003 in reducing (a) asylum shopping and (b) the problem of refugees in orbit. 
Mr. McNulty: The European Commission has recently launched a comprehensive evaluation process to cover all aspects of the Dublin arrangements, including the operation of the secure electronic communications network for Dublin II requests (DubliNet") and the supporting Eurodac fingerprint database. The resulting report, expected in 2006, will analyse the impact of the Dublin arrangements to draw conclusions on the added value of Dublin II and the Eurodac Regulation EC No. 2725/2000.
The second Annual Report to the Council and the European Parliament on the activities of the Eurodac Central Unit concluded that Eurodac represents an extremely important tool for a faster and more efficient application of the Dublin arrangements. The report also notes that Eurodac data provide a sound indicator of the phenomenon of asylum shopping" in member states. Copies of the report can be found in the Libraries. The Home Office's assessment of the report is set out in Explanatory Memorandum 10464/05 sent to the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committees on 14 September 2005.
Our own assessment of the new Dublin arrangements, supported by Eurodac is favourable. Dublin II and Eurodac enabled us to return 1,982 applicants in 2004 to other European countries without considering their claims ourselves. This is far more effective than the gentleman's agreement which applied until 1997, under which fewer people were removed in a year than the Dublin arrangements have enabled us to remove in a month. While it is not possible to prove to what extent asylum shopping that would otherwise have happened is not happening as a result of the new arrangements, asylum intake across the EU15 has fallen by 21 per cent. between 2003 and 2004 (source IRSS).
On the question of refugees in orbit, the Dublin II Regulation is based on a mechanism to identify the member state responsible for determining an asylum claim and provides guarantees that identified state will take charge of or take back an asylum seeker within prescribed time limits. In addition, unlike the old Dublin Convention, the regulation reflects the agreement that member states fully accept to take responsibility for an asylum applicant where a procedural time limit is breached. This ensures that asylum applicants do not face prolonged periods of uncertainty.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of how the UK compares with other EU member states in terms of reception conditions for asylum seekers. 
The Home Office commissioned research to compare the reception and accommodation policies for asylum seekers in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Germany in 200203. A summary of the report is due to be published as an online research findings publication in due course.
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The European Migration Network is currently in the process of producing a synthesis report of the reception systems that are in place for asylum seekers in the participating EU member states. The UK has provided information to inform this report which is due to be published early in 2006 by the European Commission.
An EU directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers entered into force on 5 February 2005; all EU member states were required to bring their law and practice into line with the directive by this date. The European Commission is due to evaluate the implementation of this measure by 2007.
Mr. McNulty: In April 2004, the Justice and Home Affairs Council reached a general approach on the draft asylum procedures directive. In November 2004, the text was remitted to the European Parliament for re-consultation.
The European Parliament delivered a further opinion on the draft directive in September 2005. The Council has now begun its consideration of the Parliament's report. Once this is complete, the Council will move towards final adoption of the directive.
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria were used in making the decision to maintain a non-cash or voucher system for providing support to asylum seekers who make section 4 declarations. 
Mr. McNulty: Support under section four is provided on a temporary basis to those who are in the process of leaving the country. It was always intended that support would take the form of accommodation and food and that there would be no access to cash. That is the position as set out in the legislation as approved by Parliament.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many failed asylum seekers are in receipt of National Asylum Support Services section 4 support, broken down by (a) regional location, (b) accommodation provider and (c) type of accommodation and subsistence support provided. 
A table showing the regional breakdown of those supported has been placed in the Library together with a list of accommodation providers who are providing section 4 accommodation to NASS. In the majority of cases support provided consists of accommodation and £35 per week in vouchers for each supported person to enable the purchase of food and other essential items. It is not possible, owing to the need to check individual records, to put a figure on the small number supported through full-board accommodation.
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|East of England||45|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||1,900|
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for section 4 support were made to the National Asylum Support Service in each month since 1 January; and what the outcome was in each case. 
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time taken by the National Asylum Support Service to determine an application for section 4 support was in the last period
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for which figures are available; what the target time is for determining such applications; and what the current performance against this target is. 
Mr. McNulty: The National Asylum Support Service's (NASS) target for deciding applications for support under section 4 is five working days which has routinely been met in the past year. However, a very significant increase in applications meant that NASS could no longer meet this target in all cases.
Increased recruitment and training of staff has improved performance. NASS expects to routinely be meeting the five days target by the end of this calendar year. In the meantime, special arrangements have been made with the voluntary sector (who represent the great majority of section 4 applicants) to prioritise the very urgent cases. These cases, which typically comprise about 20 per cent. of the weekly intake, are being decided on the same day they are received or the day after.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures have been put in place by each of the National Asylum Support Service section 4 accommodation providers to ensure that mothers with babies in receipt of section 4 vouchers exchangeable for food and drink are able to (a) obtain nappies and other essentials and (b) wash baby clothing. 
Mr. McNulty: Vouchers can generally be used to buy nappies and other toiletries at both supermarkets and other retail outlets. Where this is not the case the National Asylum Support Service works with its accommodation providers to supply the items direct to the supported person. The National Asylum Support Service requires that appropriate facilities to wash clothes must be provided in all properties used to house those supported under section 4.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers have been convicted and imprisoned for not possessing, without reasonable excuse, a valid document showing their identity and nationality when first interviewed by an immigration officer after arriving in the UK under section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004 since the Act came into force; how many asylum seekers have been convicted of attempting to leave the country with invalid documents in the same period; and how many in each category have been held in HMP Lewes in the corresponding period. 
Mr. McNulty: According to locally collated management information, which may be subject to change, there have been 350 convictions under section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004 since it came into force on 22 September 2004 until 20 October 2005.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average length of time was that a failed asylum seeker was held in a detention centre prior to deportation or removal from the UK in (a) 200203, (b) 200304 and (c) 200405; what the average length of time has been since April; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty: Information on the average length of time that a failed asylum seeker was held in a detention centre prior to deportation or removal from the UK is not available. It would only be available by examination of individual case files at disproportionate cost.
Quarterly snapshots are published showing the number of people detained solely under Immigration Act powers on the last Saturday of each quarter and these can be broken down by length of detention. This information may be found in the Quarterly Asylum statistics publications on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average number of times was that a failed asylum-seeker was transferred between detention centres in the UK prior to removal or deportation from the UK in the last period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much the Department spent on transferring failed asylum seekers between detention centres in the UK in (a) 200405, (b) 200304 and (c) 200203; how much it has spent since April; and if he will make a statement. 
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost of asylum support was at (a) 1 January, (b) 1 February, (c) 1 March, (d) 1 April, (e) 1 May, (f) 1 June, (g) 1 July, (h) 1 August, (i) 1 September and (j) 1 October; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty: Audited costs for the provision of support to asylum seekers for the period in question are not yet available. Information relating to costs for the financial year 200405 will be published on the immigration and nationality directorate (IND) website once the audit of that year's costs has been completed. Information for 200506 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the financial year. Information for the financial years 199697 to 200304 was given in answer to a question from the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 21 February 2005, Official Report, column 442W and is also published on the IND website.
The information is not available in the precise format requested. Before 3 April 2000 asylum seekers were supported under either the ad hoc arrangements administered by the Department for Work and Pensions or by local authorities.
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Asylum seekers supported under income support arrangements were eligible to receive housing benefit to meet the costs of their accommodation. I have placed a table showing the amounts paid in housing benefit from 19969719992000 in the Library.
Between 199697 and 19992000 the Department of Health was responsible for paying grant to local authorities supporting asylum seekers. Details of the total amounts paid to local authorities were provided on 9 May 2000, Official Report, columns 33031W in answer to a question from the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans). Part of this grant would have included an element to meet the costs of accommodation but it is not possible to identify the actual amounts.
Since 3 April 2000 the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) has been responsible for the budget for asylum support. I have placed in the Library information on the costs of providing accommodation to asylum seekers supported directly by NASS for the years 200001200304. Information for 200405 will be published on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website, www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk as soon as possible after the expenditure for that year has been audited.
Local authorities retain responsibility for providing support to some asylum seekers who made their claim for asylum before the NASS administered support arrangements took effect in their areas. The Home Office is responsible for paying grants to local authorities to meet their direct costs of providing support. Annual payments to local authorities by NASS from 19992000 can be found at: http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/ind/en/home/applying/national_asylum_support/stakeholders/finance.html
|Financial year||Expenditure on dispersal accommodation||Expenditure on emergency (initial) accommodation||Total expenditure|
Andy Burnham: Asylum seekers are not eligible to receive mainstream benefits. Eligible asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute may be provided with support (accommodation and/or financial assistance) by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). Financial support payments are made via the application registration card (ARC), a biometric smartcard that contains photographic identification and details unique to individual asylum seekers. Accommodation providers under contract to NASS are required, as part of their contract, to visit addresses at regular intervals to confirm the supported asylum seeker is living at the address.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Somalian asylum seekers tried to enter the UK in each year from 1997; how many have been allowed to stay; and how many have been deported. 
Andy Burnham: Information is not available on how many Somalis try to enter the UK each year who would, if successful, subsequently apply for asylum, and such information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Applications for asylum in the UK can only be made from within the UK.
Information on the number of asylum applications made by Somali nationals, initial decisions and appeals outcomes, and asylum removals is published quarterly and annually in the regular asylum statistics, copies of which are available from the Library and on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html
Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedures are undertaken before the decision is made to detain failed asylum seekers, with particular reference to (a) pre-notification and (b) the use of other detention methods. 
Andy Burnham [holding answer 7 November 2005]: Throughout the process and before any removal decision is taken, the person is notified in writing, and has explained verbally, his immigration status and liability to detention and bail rights. If detained he will also be informed of the reasons for detention.
Alternatives to detention, e.g. setting reporting restrictions, must be considered before any detention is authorised. In all cases detention must be used sparingly, and for the shortest period necessary.
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