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21 Nov 2007 : Column 944W—continued

Sri Lanka: Politics and Government

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Sri Lankan Government on the situation in that country. [166024]

Dr. Howells: My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch- Brown, last met the Sri Lankan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rohitha Bogollagama, on 12 November in London. They also met in September in New York. In these meetings, the overriding message delivered by my noble Friend was to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to act with much greater urgency to find a lasting political solution and to avoid a descent into war.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Governments of other EU member states on Sri Lanka. [166025]

Dr. Howells: EU member states met in Brussels on 15 November to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka. We shall continue to stay in close contact with EU member states and the European Commission.

Uganda: Human Rights

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that the issues of (a) human rights, (b) corruption and (c) attacks on the judiciary and the press are on the agenda of the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Uganda; and if he will make a statement. [165858]

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Dr. Howells: I can confirm that my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary will discuss these issues at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

Home Department

Antisocial Behaviour: Young People

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the costs of the pilots for good behaviour youth cards announced on 8 March 2006 were; and if she will make a statement. [164853]

Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

The intention to pilot a youth opportunity card in 10 local authority areas was announced on 8 March 2006 as part of the Youth Matters: Next Steps. The project focused on enabling disadvantaged young people to take part in positive activities that many young people take for granted by giving them the means to pay for activities. In February 2007 we announced that we would not be proceeding with the pilots because uncertainties around the delivery solution and the potential costs meant that value for money could not be assured. The total cost of the youth opportunity card project, from December 2005 to February 2007, was £2.4 million.

The work carried out on the youth opportunity card has provided a solid foundation from which to build, and we have continued to work with nine of the pilot local authorities to develop alternative ways of empowering disadvantaged young people to take part in positive activities of their choice. In September I announced that these nine authorities will be piloting different approaches to giving individual disadvantaged young people spending power to pay for positive activities of their choice. All nine pilots are currently expected to start by April 2008 and run until March 2009.

Asylum: Children

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evidence of costs incurred is taken into account by her Department in setting the level of grants to local authorities for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. [165418]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 20 November 2007]: The basis of the grant payment made to local authorities in respect of unaccompanied asylum seeking children is set out in the Home Office grant instructions for unaccompanied asylum seeking children. I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the Library.

Asylum: Surrey

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children seeking asylum are resident in Surrey. [166177]

Mr. Byrne: The information requested could be obtained by the detailed examination of individual case records, only at disproportionate cost.

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Statistics on the location of asylum seekers in the UK are linked to the available information on the support that the asylum seeker receives. The numbers of asylum seekers in receipt of support are available broken down by Government office region, local authority and parliamentary constituency.

Cannabis: Misuse

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many arrests of cannabis users were made in each of the last 10 years; and what she estimates the cost to police resources was of making these arrests in each police force area. [165678]

Mr. Coaker: The information requested is not collected centrally. The arrests collection undertaken by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform provides data only on persons arrested for recorded crime (notifiable offences) by age group, gender, ethnicity, and main offence group, i.e. violence against the person, sexual offences, robbery, burglary, drugs offences etc. More detailed data about specific offences do not form part of this collection.

Custody Plus Scheme

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she expects to introduce the custody plus provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. [166190]

Mr. Hanson: I have been asked to reply.

No decision has yet been taken as to when custody plus will be introduced.

Data Protection: Passengers

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which (a) airlines, (b) ferry operators and (c) international rail service operators will be required to provide passenger name record information (i) as a matter of course and (ii) upon request from March 2008; and if she will make a statement. [163850]

Mr. Byrne: Legislation will shortly be introduced to require carriers to provide travel document information (TDI) together with passenger name record data (PNR) (otherwise known as other passenger information (OPI)) to e-Borders to the extent that it is known to the carrier.

From March 2008 those carriers which provide OPI data under existing arrangements to Project Semaphore, the e-Borders pilot project, will be expected to continue to do so. The Government have funded transmission and transaction costs together with some systems change costs of participation in this pilot. Analysis of both OPI and TDI data have delivered significant operational benefits to border agencies, contributing to the arrest of individuals wanted for offences including murder, drug smuggling, rape and assault; and has led to the seizure of counterfeit travel documents, drugs and contraband. This arrangement however, was always with the understanding that the funding would cease in March
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2008 and we will continue to fulfil our undertaking to industry to meet these costs until then.

The e-Borders Programme will cover the majority of passenger movements by 2009 and is committed to using all reasonable efforts to achieve a fair and equitable roll-out. This will be implemented progressively, in a consultative and collaborative manner with carriers and port operators.

Departmental Conditions of Employment

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff (a) have applied to work flexible hours and (b) work flexible hours (i) in the Department and (ii) the executive agencies for which the Department is responsible. [164318]

Mr. Byrne: The Home Office recognises that all staff need to find a balance between their work and home life and the Department promotes flexible working as part of a range of work life balance options for staff. The option of working flexibly is open to all staff, including those staff with a statutory right to request a flexible working pattern on the basis that they are either working parents or carers.

Applications are subject to local management agreement, based on a number of factors including the particular circumstances of the request and the business and operational needs of the department.

Information about the number of individuals who make applications to work flexibly is not collected centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However the overall number of staff working flexibly is held centrally and the figures for the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency, Criminal Records Bureau and the Identity and Passport Service are set out in the following table .

All members of staff have the opportunity to use the Department's and agencies' flexi time systems.

Staff numbers as at 31 October 2007 Home Office HQ Border and Immigration Agency Identity and Passport Service Criminal Records Bureau

Total staff





Staff working flexibly





Departmental Disclosure of Information

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultations undertaken by her Department have not been open to the public in the last year. [164792]

Mr. Byrne: Public consultation exercises run by the Home Office follow the Government's code of practice on consultation which sets out the basic principles for conducting effective formal written consultations. When undertaking such consultations we often engage proactively with individuals, organisations and trade associations. As the code explains, written formal consultations are not the only or even always the most effective means of consultation. Other forms of informal consultation such as stakeholder meetings,
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focus groups, regional events may help in this process. A list of the public consultations undertaken this year can be found at:

Departmental Official Hospitality

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what entertainment or hospitality members of the Department’s management board have received in each of the last three financial years; and if she will make a statement. [164736]

Mr. Byrne: Paragraph 4.3.5 of the Civil Service Management Code sets out the rules on the registration of hospitality. The Government are committed to publishing an annual list of hospitality received by members of departmental boards. The first list for 2007 will be published as soon as it is ready after the end of the current calendar year.

Entry Clearances

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the answer of 24 October 2007, Official Report, column 346W, on entry clearances, whether she plans to collect and collate data on applications for indefinite leave to remain for individuals on a (a) constituency basis and (b) local authority area basis; and if she will make a statement. [163103]

Mr. Byrne: As part of the Border and Immigration Agency's transition to full Agency status (and notwithstanding the announcement on 13 November about the creation of the new UK Border Agency), it has begun to make more data available to its partners, including local authorities to help them deliver, and eliminate abuse of, their services. In support of this, the Agency is examining whether any changes will be required to its current data collection and collation arrangements in respect of the location of those applying for indefinite leave to remain applications, and in other categories.

However, any geographical data that is provided will be based on a ‘snapshot' of where individual applicants were located on the last occasion that they needed to be in official contact with the Agency. The data will therefore be limited in its application (and this limitation will apply to any data that is derived from address or postcode information that the Agency holds).

Foreigners: Graduates

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the number of foreign nationals who will remain in the UK in 2008 as a result of the international graduate scheme. [165319]

Mr. Byrne: No formal estimates have been made of the numbers of foreign nationals who will remain in the UK in 2008 as a result of the International Graduates Scheme (IGS). IGS participants who wish to remain in
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the UK beyond their 12 months leave are able to switch into the various employment and self-employment categories provided they meet the relevant requirements.

Fraud: Motor Vehicles

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she has had discussions with (a) the insurance industry and (b) the Insurance Fraud Bureau on the establishment of a national strategy to tackle staged and induced motor accidents. [166219]

Mr. Coaker: Home Office Ministers and officials have regular contact with representatives of the insurance industry and the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

A wide-ranging cross-Whitehall review of fraud, which reported last year, recommended a national strategy on fraud, overseen by a National Fraud Strategic Authority (NFSA). The review and its recommendations were not specific to insurance fraud but a national strategy would cover this type of activity. The Comprehensive Spending Review made funds available to establish the NFSA; the Home Office and the Association of British Insurers are both actively involved in this process.

Human Trafficking: Prostitution

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will set up an anonymous helpline for members of the public to report suspicions of sex workers who have been (a) trafficked and (b) subject to coercion. [166407]

Mr. Coaker [holding answer 20 November 2007]: We have no plans to set up an anonymous helpline specifically on these issues. The Crimestoppers helpline is already available for members of the public to report crimes of any nature, anonymously.

The Government’s coordinated prostitution strategy, published in January 2006, has delivered a number of initiatives to improve the safety of those involved in prostitution. This has included the launch of the Crimestoppers ‘STOP' campaign, which aims to encourage those in the sex industry to report crimes to Crimestoppers. This information can then be passed to the police and also shared with others at risk in the area.


Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evidence of (a) actual and (b) potential effects on (i) local wage levels and (ii) local unemployment have been identified through research on international immigration (1) commissioned and (2) evaluated by her Department in the last six years. [165385]

Mr. Byrne: Research into the effects of immigration on wages and employment is summarised in the joint Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, which was laid before Parliament and published in October 2007, “The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration” (Cm 7237).

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Immigration Controls

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations she received from her counterparts in Romania and Bulgaria before making the decision to continue the restrictions on migrant workers from these countries. [163169]

Mr. Byrne: The Romanian and Bulgarian Governments were invited to contribute evidence on the type of work being undertaken by their migrants in the UK, the experiences of migrants coming to the UK to work and the impact of migration on the public, private and voluntary sectors in Bulgaria and Romania. Both Governments provided evidence which was carefully considered before the UK Government’s final decision was made.

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