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9 Nov 2005 : Column 534W—continued


Petrol Allowance

Tom Brake: To ask the Leader of the House how many hon. Members claimed the petrol allowance in the last year for which figures are available; and how much each of the 10 highest claimers claimed: [24613]

Mr. Hoon: 591 Members claimed a total of £3.73 million in motor mileage allowance in the 2004–05 financial year. The amounts claimed by each of the top 10 highest claimers were as follows:

In 2004–05 the motor mileage allowance was paid as follows:

For 2005–06 this rate has been reduced to a rate of 40p for the first 10,000 miles and 25p per mile thereafter.


Carbon Management Programme

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department will sign up to the Carbon Trust's Carbon Management programme. [23723]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office subscribes to the environmental policies adopted by the Department for Constitutional Affairs. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, on 7 November 2005, Official Report, column 162W.

IT Projects

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many IT projects have been developed for his Department since 2001; and whether he has agreed to make public Gateway reviews for these projects (a) in full and (b) in part. [23523]

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David Cairns: The Scotland Office's IT systems and support are provided by the Scottish Executive. There have been only two IT projects specific to the Scotland Office since 2001, both of which centred on the redevelopment of websites. As both projects were relatively small, neither was subject to a Gateway review.


Better Regulation Taskforce

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the Better Regulation Task Force's analysis of the extent of regulation faced by voluntary and community organisations. [26347]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Better Regulation Task Force is an independent body, set up to advise Government on action to ensure that regulation and its enforcement comply with the five principles of good regulation.

My hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Paul Goggins), has agreed to act as sponsor Minister for this report and will prepare a formal reply from the Government within the specified 60 days.

The Government welcomes the report which contains a number of helpful recommendations on ways to improve the regulatory climate in which the voluntary and community sector operates.

Senior Civil Service

John Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the representation in the senior civil service of (a) women, (b) people with disabilities and (c) ethnic minorities in 2004–05. [26679]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The civil service has already made good progress in increasing diversity at senior levels—meeting its targets to double the proportion of women in top management posts, from 12.7 per cent. in 1998 to 25.5 per cent. in 2005, and staff from minority ethnic backgrounds in the senior civil service (SCS), from 1.6 per cent. (1998) to 3.2 per cent. (2005). The civil service did not achieve the 2005 targets of 35 per cent. of women in the SCS and 3 per cent. for disabled staff in the
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SCS but still made significant progress, from 17.8 per cent. (1998) to 29.1 per cent. (2005) and from 1.5 per cent. (1998) to 2.3 per cent. (2005) respectively. Delivering A Diverse Civil Service—A 10-Point Plan, launched on 1 November 2005, commits to 10 key areas of change to lead broader change across the service in the way we manage and value equality and diversity at all levels, in all aspects of our business.


Departmental Consultation

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list formal consultations being sponsored by his Department; and what the (a) commencement date and (b) deadline for responses is in each case. [22579]

Mr. Hain: None at present.

Poultry Cull (Avian Influenza)

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government on the likely economic consequences of a large-scale cull of poultry in Wales following an avian influenza outbreak. [24504]

Mr. Hain: I have regular meetings with the Assembly's First Minister to discuss a variety of issues of which a possible outbreak of avian influenza in Wales is one.

The Assembly Government have worked closely with the poultry industry in Wales to develop its contingency plan. This plan will enable Wales to play its part in delivering a swift and seamless response to any 'bird flu' outbreak and ensure that the Assembly Government are taking the necessary measures to achieve this aim.

Government's present assessment is that the likelihood of further geographical spread across the world is high. This in turn increases the risk to the UK as it increases the opportunities for the introduction of the virus via migrating birds, trade in live birds and movement of people. Government are continuing to monitor developments closely and is also working with the poultry industry to minimise the risk of the disease entering the UK and address the impact on the industry if an outbreak does occur.
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Asylum and Immigration

Mr. Mudie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time was between the receipt of an appeal by his Department's appeal processing centre and the despatch of that appeal to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in the last period for which figures are available. [24873]

Andy Burnham: Since 4 April 2005 appeals have been lodged direct with the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT). They are then forwarded to the Appeals Processing Centre to prepare the appeal bundle.

Data are unavailable for appeals lodged prior to 4 April 2005 and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.

For appeals lodged after 4 April 2005 the average processing times are as follows:

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which regions of Somalia are deemed by his Department to be safe for returned failed asylum seekers. [18108]

Mr. McNulty: The safety or otherwise of a particular part of Somalia for a particular claimant will depend on the individual circumstances of that claimant. We do not make a generalised assessment of safety irrespective of the individual circumstances.

All Somali asylum and human rights applications are considered by the Home Office on their individual merits, in accordance with our obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Each application is considered against the background of the latest available information about the situation in the country of origin. These sources include intergovernmental organisations, governmental sources and human rights organisations. Full account is taken of the ability of the individual concerned to safely reside in other parts of Somalia. caseworkers have access to the Somalia Country report produced by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's (IND) Country of Origin Information Service as well as the Somalia Operational Guidance Note which assesses the most common types of asylum claims received and the circumstances in which they are likely to prove well founded or unfounded. Both documents are published on the IND website.

The Government firmly believe that the right approach is to continue to carefully assess the protection needs of individuals on an individual basis. Returns are similarly taken forward on a case by case basis and we
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only enforce the return of an individual where we are satisfied that the person concerned will not be at risk and has been unsuccessful in any appeals against the decision in their particular case.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) pregnant women, (b) single mothers with young babies, (c) single adults with young children and (d) families are in receipt of National Asylum Support Service section 4 support. [20495]

Mr. McNulty: The information requested is not recorded centrally and could be obtained only by an examination of individual case records. Families with children represent only a small fraction of the total on section 4 support. Failed asylum seekers who have children in their household generally retain access to regular NASS support provided under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and have no need to seek section 4 support. Access to section 95 support is only usually lost if they fail to comply with removal directions or fail to take steps to leave the United Kingdom voluntarily and therefore fall to be considered under the provisions of section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004.

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what support is available for failed asylum seekers with mental health problems. [23876]

Mr. McNulty: The general position is that failed asylum seekers are no longer entitled to access free NHS healthcare. This does not prevent failed asylum seekers being sectioned under Mental Health legislation or receiving after-sectioning care. Failed asylum seekers who have been discharged from compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 are entitled to receive continuing residential support in the community. Failed asylum seekers with mental health problems, identified as in need of care and attention as a result of being destitute, may be supported by the local authority under the National Assistance Act 1948.

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