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Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his assessment is of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's website; and how many days it was inaccessible in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. McNulty: While not inaccessible, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website has been performing slowly. Hardware and software failures due to unseen increased demand have caused delays. A significant amount of work is currently being undertaken to improve the service of the website. The Home Office has approved the purchase of a new hardware platform and the implementation of a new site management tool. The rollout of these technical solutions will noticeably improve the performance rate of the website. This is scheduled for completion by 15 April 2006.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Immigration andNationality Directorate; what the operating cost of the Directorate has been for the past 12 months for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government's Five Year Strategy for Immigration and Nationality (Cm 6472, February 2005) includes many initiatives which will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate. These include:
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Developing plans for biometrics, including biometric visas, biometric residence permits, passports and ID cards to improve security at and within our borders. In parallel with the introduction of biometric visas overseas, biometrics will be added to travel documents issued for asylum seekers.
Project Semaphore, the working prototype for the e-borders programme, will be extended to increase the collection of passenger data up to 30 million passengers per annum. It will focus on routes of specific interest to the border control agencies in order to deliver early operational benefits in advance of e-borders during 2008.
Continuing to work on the points-based system to ensure that the migration system works to the benefit of the UK by setting out a detailed system blueprint, changing the criteria of the highly skilled migrants programme as part of the phased implementation of the new system, and implementing a system for non-attending students.
Fully implementing the new asylum model, expected to be achieved by the end of 2006. Improving the contact we have with asylum applicants throughout the process so that we are able to remove swiftly those whose applications fail. This will be delivered through use of new contact management technologies and linking reporting requirements to payment of support.
Rolling out for settlement applicants who have limited formal educational opportunities specially developed language with citizenship courses, successful completion of which will enable them to qualify for settlement and ultimately citizenship without the need for a further test.
Mr. McNulty: Both I and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary have recently met the Children's Commissioner. Our discussions covered a number of issues including the detention of children. In addition, I recently met representatives of Save the Children. This meeting was a follow-up to a meeting held last year to discuss the Save the Children report No Place for a Child".
The latest published information pertains to persons detained as at 31 December 2005. The accompanying table shows the number of persons detained solely under Immigration Act powers as at 31 December 2005 recorded as being under 18, broken down by age. Information on the number of persons detained, broken down by those who are under 18 years of age, are published in the Quarterly Asylum Bulletin,
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on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html
|Age of person as at 31 December 2005|
|Total minors(103)||Under five||Five to 11||12 to 16(103)||17(103)|
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time a child was detained for immigration purposes in a detention centre in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Mr. McNulty: Period statistics covering those leaving from detention during July to September 2005 has been published. Statistics on the total number of persons under 18 years of age at the time of leaving detention during this period, broken down by length of detention are published in the Quarterly Asylum bulletin. Published editions of this bulletin and other information on immigration and asylum are available on the Home Office's Research Development and Statistics website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the longest time a child presently detained for immigration purposes has been held; what the longest period a child has been so held since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty: Management information shows that the longest length of time that a child, who is presently being detained solely under Immigration Act powers, has been held is between four and six months.
Published statistics on the detention of minors, for both those detained as at the last Saturday of the quarter and those that have left detention over a period of time, broken down by length of detention are available on the Home Office's Research Development and Statistics website: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html. Minors are detained only in two limited circumstances: first, as part of a family group whose detention is considered appropriate; second, when unaccompanied, while alternative care arrangements are made and normally just overnight. While the detention of families with children is very regrettable, it nevertheless remains necessary in appropriate cases in order to maintain an effective immigration control and to tackle abuses of the asylum system.
Mr. McNulty: People under 18 are detained under Immigration Act powers in only two circumstances: as part of a family group and, when unaccompanied, if it is exceptionally necessary to do so while alternative care arrangements are made. Unaccompanied children are normally granted temporary admission in co-operation with social services if no relatives or friends are available to accommodate them, and are rarely made subject to reporting arrangements.
Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were employed (a) full-time and (b) part-time as immigration officers in the last three years for which figures are available. 
|Full-time (headcount)||Part-time (headcount)||Full-time equivalent|
|2003 (31 December)||3146||304||3341.1|
|2004 (31 December)||3095||331||3305.2|
|2005 (31 December)||2994||376||3245.21|
|2006 (2 June)||3142||385||3403.96|
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