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19 Feb 2007 : Column 83Wcontinued
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much financial support his Department gave to the Lords Resistance Army negotiating team participating in peace talks with the Ugandan Government in Juba; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: In October 2006, the Juba Initiative Fund was established by the UN to provide financial support to the peace talks between the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda. The UN called for £2.5 million in contributions and the UK made a contribution of £250,000. Other donors have included Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway.
The fund has been used to help pay for the running costs of the Mediation Secretariat overseeing the talks and the team that was created to monitor the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. It was also agreed that expenditures could cover the accommodation and food costs of all the delegates at the talks, including those representing the LRA. However all these costs have been paid by the UN directly to the hotels used and no delegates have received cash payments.
The UN has recently reported to us that by the end of December 2006, it had spent approximately £1.4 million from the fund overall. We are awaiting a more detailed breakdown of expenditures which will include details on how much was spent on individual items including food and accommodation.
The LRA delegation left Juba in late December and they are currently refusing to return. They are demanding that the venue of the talks and the mediator be changed. Efforts are being made to try and persuade them to return and continue dialogue, led by UN Special Envoy Joaquim Chissano. A number of the LRA delegates are currently staying in Nairobi. The Juba Initiative Fund is not being used to finance their accommodation or living costs in Kenya.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will take further steps to ensure that UK aid channelled through international multilateral institutions is no longer subject to the condition of privatisation of public services including energy production following the announcement of a new policy on aid conditionality in March 2005. 
Hilary Benn: Following the launch of the UK policy on conditionally, improving the use of conditions by multilateral institutions has been a high priority. The majority of these efforts have focused on the World Bank and IMF and some important progress has been made.
In 2005 the UK agreed to provide £100 million in addition to our core funding of the World Bank if progress was made on harmonisation and conditionality. The first £50 million was linked to the bank carrying out a thorough review of its practice and current thinking on conditionality. In September 2005 the bank's governors endorsed this review along with five new Good Practice Principles for the use of conditions which accord well with the principles underlying the UK policy on conditionality.
We also secured an agreement that the bank management would report to the board on progress after one year. The first report did not provide sufficient information and in September 2006, we told the bank that we would withhold our second contribution of £50 million until we saw clear evidence
that the principles were being applied. President Wolfowitz agreed to produce a fuller report, which was discussed by the bank's board in December. In our view, this thorough and candid report provided the evidence that the bank has made the satisfactory progress on conditionality that is required to release the second £50 million contribution.
The report also reiterated bank management's strong commitment to make further improvements in its use of conditionality. For example:
avoiding conditions on sensitive policy areas if government ownership is uncertain or the political environment is fragile;
early and more proactive disclosure of the bank's analytic work;
reducing the number of benchmarks;
specifying the progress expected so that an assessment can be made of the impact of the programme on the poor and the bank's contribution to that programme.
Going forward, further progress on conditionality will be a central consideration in our funding of the next replenishment of the World Bank, which begins in March. We asked the bank to produce its next report on conditionality later this year and to consult with developing country Governments in order to hear their views on how things are changing.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has a set of conditionality guidelines that are aligned with the principles adopted by the bank. The IMF's most recent internal review demonstrated an improved focus of conditions within its area of core competence on macroeconomics. In addition a detailed report by the fund's independent evaluation office is currently being finalised. This will examine the IMF's use of conditions in areas such as privatisation and trade liberalisation.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his Department has spent on advertising with The Guardian newspaper including online, advertorials and advertising features in the latest year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Byrne: The Home Office spent £4,294 on direct advertising with The Guardian newspaper in 2005-06. The Department does not retain records of how much its contractors spend with particular media outlets, for example the Central Office of Information, which manages most of the Department's publicity campaigns.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent research his Department has conducted to ensure that the regulatory regime takes account of developments in animal testing. 
Joan Ryan: We make every effort to keep abreast of developments relevant to the use of animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. For example, our professional inspectorate maintains awareness of developments taking place within United Kingdom research laboratories, and of relevant publications.
Issues relating to the use of animals for toxicity and safety studies fall within the remit of the Inter-departmental Group on the 3Rs, which the Home Office leads and membership of which includes relevant United Kingdom regulators. We are informed of work on the validation of replacement alternatives within Europe through the United Kingdom representative on the Scientific Advisory Committee to the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM).
In addition, the Home Office contributes funding to and liaises with the National Centre for the Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) which was established by the Government in May 2004 to co-ordinate and stimulate research and practice in the 3Rsthe refinement of scientific procedures; reduction in numbers of animals used; and their replacement wherever possible. The NC3Rs funds high-quality 3Rs research and facilitates the exchange of information and ideas, the identification of knowledge gaps, and the translation of research findings into practice to benefit both animals and science.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he plans to review the licensing process for permission to conduct experiments on animals. 
Joan Ryan: Regulation of the use of animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is the subject of the Animals Scientific Procedures Better Regulation Programme which forms one strand of the Home Office Simplification Plan announced in December 2006.
The objectives of the programme are to simplify current regulatory requirements and administrative processes under the 1986 Act and reduce compliance costs by 25 per cent. by 2010 while maintaining animal welfare standards. The programme will actively involve operational level practitioners from industry and academia and those with a special interest in animal welfare.
We have no plans for any further review of the licensing process under the 1986 Act pending publication by the European Commission of proposals for a revised European Directive 86/609/EEC, which the 1986 Act transposes into United Kingdom law.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will publish material which takes account of the recommendations and factors identified as relevant within the Animal Procedures Committee review of cost benefit assessment. 
The Home Office response to the Animal Procedures Committee review of cost benefit assessment under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 was published in March 2005 and is available on the Home Office website. In the response, we agreed to review the information currently published by the Home Office on the cost benefit assessment with a view to expanding and updating it, where necessary. Secondly, we agreed that Home Office officials would work with the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research
(NC3Rs), and others, to identify areas of animal use where concerted effort might deliver specific reduction, replacement and refinement (3Rs) gains in the foreseeable future. The information review has been completed, but publication of updated material has been delayed pending the outcome of current judicial review proceedings which touch on related issues. We hope to be in a position to publish by the end of 2007. The Home Office is working closely with the NC3Rs and others on an on going basis to further the development of the 3Rs and animal welfare.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of (a) warning letters and (b) interviews in combating antisocial behaviour. 
Mr. McNulty [holding answer 8 February 2007]: The Department does not hold data about these informal interventions. However, a recent study and report by the National Audit Office (Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour, HC 99 Session 2006-07, 7 December 2006) confirmed that a tiered approach to tackling antisocial behaviour is highly effective, with warning letters being used as an example of the simplest sort of intervention.
Mr. Malik: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many antisocial behaviour orders have been issued in Dewsbury constituency in each of the last five years. 
Mr. McNulty: Antisocial behaviour order data are not available at parliamentary constituency level.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his response is to the recommendations of the Independent Race Monitor in his 2005-06 Annual Report that initial decisions on asylum cases should be made after an informed inquisitional hearing at which the claimants legal advisors could appear and argue the facts of the claim directly; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: The Home Secretarys response to the Independent Race Monitors report 2005-06 (dated November 2006) is published at: http://www.ind.homeoffice. gov.uk/aboutus/reports/independent_race_mon. In this response he indicated that consideration is being given to making the substantive asylum interview one in which the claimants legal adviser takes a more significant role in the discussion of those aspects of the claim which are accepted and those which are not, thus enabling a more soundly based decision to be reached.
As part of changes to the asylum process under the New Asylum Model (NAM), the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) and Legal Services Commission (LSC) are currently undertaking a joint pilot at INDs regional asylum team office in Solihull. This seeks to improve asylum decisions through early interaction between the case owner dealing with the application and the applicants legal adviser to ensure
the key issues in the case are identified before the asylum interview. The pilot will be subject to rigorous evaluation, after which a decision will be made about whether to integrate this approach permanently in the asylum processes and procedures.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the nationality of asylum applicants is determined in circumstances where the applicant asserts they are not lawfully entitled to the passport on which they entered the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Byrne: The nationality of an applicant will be determined by looking at and weighing up all the available documentary and oral evidence. Current guidelines for caseworkers involved in determining nationality in doubtful nationality cases can be read at:
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum applicants whose application was made before (a) 1 January 2001, (b) 1 January 2002 and (c) 1 January 2003 have yet to have their case determined by his Department. 
Mr. Byrne: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary referred to the large number of unresolved records relating to asylum cases in his statement to Parliament on 19 July 2006. The vast majority of these cases are beyond the initial decision stage. In some instances, the records indicate that an initial decision is awaited, but most of these are expected to be due to data errors. Work is under way on data cleansing and aligning the electronic and paper file records. This is focused primarily on the priority cases referred to by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in his statement to Parliament on 25 July 2006.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is notified of planned early morning immigration enforcement visits to asylum seekers before they occur. 
Mr. Byrne: Chapters 46 and 47 of the Operational Enforcement Manual (OEM), available on the IND website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk, set out the levels of authority of enforcement visits, including when Ministers are advised about forthcoming operations.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what period of notice is given to failed asylum seekers before enforcement or removal action is taken against them; and what the normal method of notification is. 
Mr. Byrne: Where asylum is refused individuals are notified by service of a letter of the decision and reasons for refusal and any statutory appeals rights. If they do not appeal they are expected to make arrangements to leave the UK.
The Enforcement and Removals Directorate checks on the case information database (CID) for cases where an appeal has not been submitted and the time limit for
an appeal has lapsed and for those cases where appeal rights have been exhausted. Officers allow a reasonable period of time before commencing enforcement action and this will depend on the individual circumstances of each case.
A minimum period of 48 hours notice (including at least one working day) must (other than in prescribed circumstances) be allowed between notification of removal directions to the person being removed, and the removal itself.
Mr. Binley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many failed asylum seekers have been held in detention centres without deportation or release for (a) more than one year, (b) more than two years and (c) more than three years. 
Mr. Byrne: The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only by examination of individual records at disproportionate cost. The information held does not differentiate between failed asylum seekers and others detained under immigration powers.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his response is to the proposal of the Independent Race Monitor that an independent element should be introduced into decision making on asylum cases; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: I refer my hon. Friend to the written reply I gave to him on 5 February 2007, Official Report, column 694W.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to incentivise the Immigration and Nationality Directorate to increase the rate of deportation of failed asylum seekers. 
Mr. Byrne: Within the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) each local enforcement office has its own targets for removing failed asylum seekers. Immigration officers are expected to contribute towards this but are not set individual targets. IND has been set a tipping the balance target of ensuring the return of more unsuccessful asylum seekers than the number of new applicants who fail to be granted refugee status or any other temporary protection.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to implement the recommendation from the UK Commissioner on Human Rights in the Quality Initiative Project February-August 2005 that Immigration and Nationality Directorate targets on asylum seeker cases should emphasise high quality of decision making. 
Mr. Byrne: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recommendation was accepted. We recognise the need for an appropriate balance between the quantity, timeliness and quality of decisions. Specific targets have been set for quality.
We continue to work closely with the UNHCR to improve further the quality of asylum decisions. In particular UNHCR has had a positive input into the development of measures in the New Asylum Model (NAM) to ensure that case owners are equipped to make high quality and sustainable decisions.
The first three reports by UNHCR on the Quality Initiative (QI) Project can be found at:
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