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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress is being made by his Department in developing long-term synergies between wave, wind, solar and geothermal energy generation; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: Later this year we will consult on what more we should do, above and beyond current policies, to increase renewable energy use in the UK to meet our share of the EU 2020 renewable energy target. This will include consideration of the long-term role that wave, wind, solar and geothermal generation can play in our energy mix.
Mr. Timpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of jobs which will be lost as a result of the proposed closure of the Royal Mail sorting office in Crewe. 
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 6 June 2008]: I understand that a review of mail centres in the north-west has been conducted, but no decisions have as yet been taken. This is an operational matter for Royal Mail.
Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will review the dates on which daylight saving commences and finishes to fall more equally either side of the winter solstice. 
Mr. McFadden: The start and end dates of summer time are harmonised across EC member states through a European Directive. The Directive stipulates that, in each member state, clocks are put forward annually by one hour for the period between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what funding his Department is providing for the research and development of offshore tidal stream turbines in 2008-09; and if he will make a statement. 
The package of support measures we have put in place, includes the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's (EPSRC) Supergen Marine programme, Carbon Trust funding, research funding from the Technology Strategy Board and the Energy Technologies Institute. BERRs £50 million Marine Renewables Deployment Fund, provides a package of measures central to which is a £42 million Wave and Tidal Stream Energy Demonstration Scheme. We also support the European Marine Energy Centre wave and tidal stream test site in Orkney and have offered £4.5 million support to the proposed £28 million Wave Hub off the Cornish coast.
In addition through the Energy Bill we are banding the Renewables Obligation to provide additional support to foster the development of these emerging technologies, this would double the incentive available to the marine sector.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the answer of 15 May 2008, Official Report, column 1763W, on tidal power: River Severn, which companies have been awarded the contracts for feasibility studies. 
Malcolm Wicks: A consortium led by Parsons Brinckerhoff was awarded in April 2008 the contract to manage a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of the Severn Estuary. The consortium includes Black and Veatch, The Environment Council, Environ, ABPmer, HR Wallingford, Hartley Anderson, and George Corderoy.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) apprenticeships and (b) advanced apprenticeships there were in (i) her Department and (ii) the agencies for which she is responsible in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) does offer apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships to its staff, however there are currently no reliable data collected on actual numbers of participants, as decisions on offering apprenticeships have up to recently been taken on a local basis and therefore not centrally recorded.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to ensure that applicants and their legal representatives are informed (a) that consideration has begun and (b) of the final decision in asylum cases considered under the Case Resolution Directorate without the need for a questionnaire; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: The UK Border Agency is currently in discussion with stakeholders via the case resolution sub-group of the National Asylum Stakeholder Forum regarding the precise circumstances in which an applicant and their legal representatives will be contacted.
Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance her Department has issued on officials or representatives of foreign governments attending an interview with a national of their country applying for asylum in the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Byrne: Guidance has been issued to asylum staff that they must not disclose any information about an individual's asylum claim to their country of origin while the claim is under consideration, unless the applicant has given his explicit consent for the transfer of the data. Accordingly, officials or representatives of foreign governments are not permitted by the United Kingdom Border Agency to attend asylum interviews.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost of the asylum seekers dispersal programme was including the administrative costs of joint contracts and housing providers (a) in total and (b) in each region for each of the last four financial years. 
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government has taken to improve the quality of the initial decision-making stage of asylum applications. 
[holding answer 2 June 2008]: The UK Border Agency has taken a number of steps to improve the quality of initial decision making. All asylum case owners undergo a comprehensive 55-day foundation training programme, and a period of mentoring within that programme. An independent quality audit team has been established that assesses asylum decisions on a monthly basis against a framework agreed with
UNHCR. We are currently working with UNHCR in developing and piloting initiatives such as a decision making template.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government have taken to provide access to healthcare and education for families during the asylum application process. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 2 June 2008]: The Government policy on access to healthcare and education for families during the asylum process remains unchanged. All persons with an outstanding application for asylum in the UK, including where applicable an outstanding appeal, are entitled to access to NHS services. Education is made available to all children of asylum seekers who are of compulsory school age.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government have taken to consider the welfare of children during the asylum application process. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 2 June 2008]: The UK Borders Act 2007 placed a specific obligation on the UK Border Agency to have regard to a code of practice for keeping children safe from harm while in the United Kingdom. The agency is currently consulting about the code of practice, with opportunities for stakeholders to attend conferences and discuss specific concerns.
The agency has already started to roll out a Keeping Children Safe training programme to UK Border Agency staff to raise awareness about children's issues so that they are more responsive to children and their needs, including protection issues.
The Agency has also published Better Outcomes: The Way Forward which sets out a number of proposals on the way unaccompanied asylum seeking children are cared for and treated during the processing of their asylum application. A copy of this has been placed with the Library (DEP 2008-0274).
Additionally, each unaccompanied asylum seeking child now has a dedicated case owner who will see the application through from beginning to end. These case owners have received specialist training to ensure that they approach their task with due sensitivity to the needs of the child.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many failed asylum seekers were deported from the UK in each of the last 10 years; and how long on average it took to deport a failed asylum seeker after final refusal of an asylum claim in each year; 
[holding answer 3 December 2007]: The Home Office publishes statistics on the number of persons removed, including voluntary departures, from
the UK on an annual basis in the Control of Immigration: Statistics Command Paper. The information is broken down by asylum applicants, including dependants, and those who have not claimed asylum. This latest publication covers 1996 to 2006 statistics and is published in table 6.1 Persons removed from the United Kingdom and those subject to enforcement action. Final 2007 statistics will be published in the command paper this summer but provisional 2007 figures are available in table 8b: Persons removed from the United Kingdom in the most recent quarterly web-based asylum statistics bulletin.
Persons departing voluntarily can leave the UK at any time without informing the authorities. The Border and Immigration Agency often learns of such people departing after they have left the UK, and hence, it is not always possible to say when they left. Since voluntary departures are included in figures on removals it is therefore not possible to say how long on average it takes to remove asylum applicants. While it should theoretically be possible to exclude the cases having left the UK at an unknown time, and then calculate an average, in practice this would be very time-consuming and would therefore incur disproportionate cost.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government has taken to maintain the wellbeing of refused asylum seekers when taking action to remove them from the UK. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 2 June 2008]: The Government policy to maintain the wellbeing of refused asylum seekers when taking action to remove them from the UK remains unchanged. All removal cases are treated with due consideration to any compelling or compassionate factors which may be raised prior to removal. Failed asylum seekers subject to enforcement action are always treated with courtesy and dignity and removals are done in the most sensitive way possible.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many households were supported by the National Asylum Support Service and Border and Immigration Agency in accommodation supplied by Newcastle City Council in each quarter of (a) 2005, (b) 2006 and (c) 2007. 
The available information relating to the number of principal asylum applicants supported in accommodation provided by Newcastle city council at the end of each of the relevant quarters is in the following table. This accommodation is provided under the contract that the Home Office has with the North East Consortium for Asylum and Refugee Support (NECARS). You will note an increase in the number supported during quarter 3 of 2007. This was due to the transfer of section 4 supported asylum applicants from a private sector provider to Newcastle city council during this period.
|Principal asylum applicants supported in accommodation provided by Newcastle city council at the end of each quarter year, quarter 1 2005 to quarter 1 2008|
|Number of principal asylum applicants|
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