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Veterans (Noise-induced Hearing Loss)

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what medical and scientific research her Department has commissioned to support the use of 50 decibels as the threshold for veterans claiming compensation for noise-induced hearing loss as a result of their military service; and if she will re-assess this threshold. [25894]

Mr. Touhig: I have been asked to reply.

Neither the Ministry of Defence, which is responsible for veterans' matters, nor the former Department of Social Security, which was responsible for the War Pensions Scheme until 2001 and remains responsible for the related civilian Industrial Injuries Scheme, have commissioned medical or scientific research on this issue. However, the Government's approach to noise-induced sensorineural hearing loss assessment is based on contemporary scientific evidence and understanding. This has been confirmed in recent years by several reviews carried out by independent audiological experts including an Industrial Injuries Advisory Council review which confirmed the appropriateness of the threshold in November 2002. Any change to our approach would need to result from further medical and scientific evidence.


Air Weapons

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of violence involving the use of air weapons there were in West Lancashire in the last year for which figures are available. [27685]

Hazel Blears: Lancashire police recorded 23 violent offences involving the use of air weapons during 2003–04. The corresponding figure for West Lancashire is not available centrally.

Antisocial Behaviour

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 2 November
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2005, Official Report, column 1103W, on antisocial behaviour, what the role is of the head of the antisocial behaviour unit in implementing the policies set out in the answer; and what the reasons were for the time taken to reply to the question. [29023]

Hazel Blears [holding answer 16 November 2005]: The Government's Co-ordinator for Respect (formerly National Director of the antisocial behaviour unit), is responsible for driving forward the Government's Respect agenda including: supporting the work on neighbourhood policing, police reform and alcohol and violent crime strategies. An action plan setting out our plans will be published by the turn of the year.

Unfortunately, performance data in respect of your Parliamentary Questions (PQs) is not available. I am sorry you did not receive a more prompt reply to your question. Ministers and officials make every effort to answer questions substantively in accordance with performance guidelines. However this is not always possible. I have asked those responsible for oversight of the Department's PQs to look at how we can improve our performance.

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many antisocial behaviour orders have been issued in West Lancashire in each year since they were introduced. [27694]

Hazel Blears: A table giving a breakdown by the local government authority area in which prohibitions are imposed within antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) is available on the Crime Reduction website at This table gives data by year since ASBOs were introduced.

Anti-terrorism Legislation

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been (a) detained and (b) arrested under powers in anti-terrorism legislation and subsequently (i) released without charge or (ii) not charged with an offence relating to terrorism in (A) each of the five years up to the end of 2004 and (B) in the first nine months of this year. [18605]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Section 45(4) of the Terrorism Act 2000 confers the power to detain a person only for the amount of time reasonably required to conduct a search authorised by virtue of section 44 of the Act. Records for stops and searches carried out under these powers and subsequent arrests under anti-terrorism legislation are shown in the following table.

No information is collated centrally on the charges arising from these particular arrests subsequent to the use of stop and search powers.

Total stops and searches under section 44 for the financial year 2004–05 will be published in December this year. Data for the financial year 2005–06 will be published in December 2006.

Detention under anti-terrorism legislation is also provided for following an arrest under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Figures available show that between 11 September 2001 and 30 September 2005, 895 people were arrested under this power. Of these, 138
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were charged with offences under the Terrorism Act. The remainder were either released without charge or dealt with under other legislation.
Stops and searchesArrests

(80) Conducted under sections 13A and 13B of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, which preceded powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
(81) Conducted under 13A and 13B of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, and section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
(82) Under section 44.

Arrestee Survey

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the findings of the Arrestee Survey referred to on page 102 of the 2005 Departmental Report. [26656]

Paul Goggins: The findings of the Arrestee Survey are not yet available. The results from the first year of the survey will be published shortly and will be made available on the Home Office website and a copy placed in the Library.

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been allocated to fund antisocial behaviour orders in West Lancashire in 2005. [28141]

Hazel Blears: We do not allocate any funding for antisocial behaviour orders. (ASBOs) are obtained from courts on application from local agencies and it is the responsibility of these agencies, in accordance with partnership working arrangements, to meet any associated costs.

Asylum and Immigration

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Department has to re-evaluate the cost-effectiveness of legal assistance for asylum seekers. [29501]

Bridget Prentice: I have been asked to reply.

The arrangements for providing publicly funded legal services for asylum seekers are subject to monitoring and review to ensure that they remain effective and provide value for money for the taxpayer.

Review and evaluation work is being undertaken currently on the reforms of legal aid introduced in April 2004, on the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme introduced as part of the April 2004 reforms, and on the arrangements for the review and reconsideration of appeal decisions made by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that were introduced in April 2005.

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that decisions to detain asylum seekers (a) are automatically and regularly reviewed as to lawfulness, necessity and appropriateness by a court or similar independent body and (b) are
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accompanied by the provision of legal aid; and if he will ensure that alternative non-custodial measures are considered before resorting to detention. [29516]

Mr. McNulty: Immigration detention is used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary. In all cases all reasonable alternatives to detention must be considered before detention is authorised.

All detention is subject to administrative review at regular intervals. Further, we are satisfied that access to judicial review and habeas corpus provide sufficient means by which the lawfulness of detention may be challenged.

Measures to bring asylum legal aid under effective control and to cut unnecessary expenditure were implemented by the Government in April 2004. These new measures were introduced to ensure that funding is concentrated only on meritorious cases, to improve the control of costs and to introduce a system of quality assurance for suppliers of immigration legal advice.

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek a statutory prohibition on the detention of (a) vulnerable and (b) ill asylum seekers. [29528]

Mr. McNulty: It is already the case that certain persons are normally considered suitable for detention in only exceptional circumstances. Elderly persons, pregnant women, those suffering from serious medical conditions or who are otherwise mentally ill and those where there is independent evidence to show that they have been tortured would be included among those persons who would usually be considered unsuitable for detention. Detaining officers will always consider on a case by case basis whether detention is appropriate in any particular case. There is health care provision at all removal centres and the needs of detainees who require medical attention are addressed.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Libyan asylum seekers are in the United Kingdom. [24296]

Mr. McNulty: Information on the total number of Libyan asylum seekers currently in the UK is not available. This could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Some applicants may leave the United Kingdom without informing the Immigration Service.

E-borders and ID cards will enable us to monitor this more precisely in the future.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he collects on the treatment in their country of origin of failed asylum seekers who were Christian converts from Islam and are returned to Islamic countries; and if he will make a statement. [24818]

Mr. McNulty: The Home Office collects information from a wide range of sources about conditions in the countries of origin of asylum seekers. This country of origin information (COI) focuses on the main issues raised in asylum and human rights applications. Where relevant, the COI regarding Islamic countries covers the treatment and legal position of failed asylum seekers, Christians and converts to Christianity. We do not routinely monitor the treatment of individuals once
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removed from the UK. But any specific allegations of ill-treatment of returned failed asylum seekers are followed up through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and with those Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating within the country concerned.

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers are awaiting deportation. [28627]

Mr. McNulty: This information is not available.

Published statistics on immigration and asylum issues are available on the Home Office's Research Development and Statistics website:

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many illegal immigrants have been caught trying to enter the UK through Tilbury Docks in each of the last 10 years. [27123]

Mr. McNulty: In recent times there have been no recorded clandestine arrivals at Tilbury, other than stowaways. The last clandestine arrival recorded was in 2003.

Between 1996 and 2003 there have been on average 45 cases per year, where passengers have been subject to further examination on board vessels at Tilbury. Cases have decreased to an average of 10 per year in 2004 and 2005, as a result of increased security.

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures the Government are taking to regulate immigration. [24094]

Mr. McNulty: We have already made significant improvements to the regulation of immigration to the United Kingdom by:

These measures have had a significant impact both on deterring illegal immigration and reducing asylum intake.

In our five-year strategy we announced our intention to further improve border controls through initiatives such as a further expansion of the airline liaison network and the introduction of iris biometric automated gates at our major ports. Also, all visa applicants will be fingerprinted by 2008, and pre boarding checks of all persons entering and leaving the UK will be introduced through the e-borders programme. e-Borders will also deliver timely data, information, intelligence and risk assessments to relevant Government agencies on all passengers seeking to enter or leave the UK.

The five-year strategy also proposed that a point-based system should be introduced to facilitate migration beneficial to the UK economy while helping to maintain the protection and security of the public through:

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