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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): We pursue defence equipment collaboration with our European allies and with the United States when such collaboration offers value for money and satisfies our military requirements. There is no question of a general preference for either of these collaborative routes or for wholly British manufacture: securing best value for money continues to determine procurement strategy. In a limited number of cases wholly British production of equipment is necessary for reasons of national security.
Earl Howe: The US Counter-proliferation Initiative is a national US initiative in which the UK has no direct involvement. Collaboration on ballistic missile defence research with the US is carried out under the terms of the 1985 Strategic Defence Initiative Memorandum of Understanding; this is planned to continue. The UK is at present undertaking its own national ballistic missile defence pre-feasibility study, which, together with associated studies, will inform policy in this area. In addition, the UK is active in discussion of ballistic missile defence issues both bilaterally with allies, and in NATO fora.
(a) Department of Employment,
(b) Department of Education and Science,
(c) Department of Trade and Industry, and
(d) Department of Social Security.
Baroness Blatch: The latest available figures are for 1 April 1995. The Department of Education and Science was replaced by the Department for Education on 6 July 1992. The numbers of full-time equivalent staff employed on 1 April 1995 were:
Baroness Blatch: The efficiency scrutiny which we announced in October 1993 was intended to examine ways in which the Government as a whole could work more effectively to strengthen immigration control and to prevent those temporarily or illegally in this country from receiving state benefits to which they should not be entitled. The scrutiny demonstrated that, in many cases, either the rules governing eligibility for benefit or the procedures for granting it were insufficiently rigorous to prevent abuse. It also showed that too often illegal immigrants were able to escape detection because procedures for identifying them were unclear.
The Government do not believe that this is acceptable. It is wrong that people who are admitted to this country on the basis that they can provide for themselves or who are here illegally should receive benefits paid for by the taxes of lawful residents. The fact that this has been possible has provided a significant incentive for abuse of our immigration laws. Our objective is to end this abuse.
The recommendations made by the scrutiny have been carefully considered. The Government have agreed proposals affecting the work of several departments and agencies in respect of persons from abroad (a term used to mean a person who is not a national of a member state of the European Economic Area and who is not settled in the United Kingdom within the meaning of the immigration laws). The proposals, which fall into three interlinked groups, are designed:
These proposals will be put into effect in the following ways. First, in seeking to align eligibility for benefits and services with immigration status and to ensure that procedures to check eligibility are effective:
Third, in developing arrangements for more exchanges of information between officials in central and local government and the Immigration and Nationality Department of the Home Office, we shall be taking advantage of the opportunities which naturally arise in the daily contacts between officials and persons from abroad. So long as they are not prevented by their statutory obligations or by the sensitivities of their operational objectives, officials in central government will pass to the immigration authorities information about suspected illegal entrants and overstayers with whom they come into contact in the course of their normal duties. In its turn the Immigration and Nationality Department will be able to give details of an applicant's status under the immigration laws when that is relevant to his eligibility for a state benefit or service. In order to make quite sure that they are operating strictly within the provisions of the data protection laws, all departments and agencies concerned will fully consult the Data Protection Registrar before implementing these arrangements.
Because we attach great importance to the maintenance of good race relations in this country, the Home Department will consult the Commission for Racial Equality on a set of objective criteria which may be used by departments and agencies if it becomes necessary to seek clarification of an applicant's status under the Immigration Rules.
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