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Baroness Blatch: The Home Office has issued guidance after consultation with SCOPE which sets out the considerations to be taken into account in carrying out audits of polling station accessibility. Acting returning officers are aware that grants are available towards the costs of purchasing temporary ramps where access to a polling station would otherwise only be available by steps. However, any disabled voter who is unable to attend in person at a polling station and who cannot vote unaided may, if he or she wishes, vote from home using a postal vote or by appointing a proxy. A Home Office leaflet, "Don't Lose Your Vote", explains the absent voting system and is available to electoral registration officers for distribution to the public at no cost.
What is now the mean time taken to reply to asylum applications from citizens of Bahrain; and what is the median and standard deviation from those times.
Baroness Blatch: Information on the current mean, standard deviation, and median times taken for an initial decision to be made on applications submitted prior to, and following, the implementation of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993, is given in the table.
|Pre 1993 Act applications (Months)||Post 1993 Act applications (Months)|
Baroness Blatch: United Kingdom identity cards will be subject to checks on issue at least as secure as those which apply to British passports. In order to prevent forgery, the cards themselves will contain a photograph and the signature of the holder together with several levels of security features, ranging from those which are visible to the naked eye and easily recognisable to those which may require specialist examination.
Baroness Blatch: The name of the successful contractor for the provision of a secure training centre at Onley in Northamptonshire will be announced when the contract is signed. It is then up to the contractor to obtain detailed planning permission to construct the buildings within an agreed time scale and propose the opening date.
Baroness Blatch: Since 1st April 1994, 150 prisoners in England and Wales have requested transfers to Northern Ireland on either a permanent or a temporary basis; of these, 53 requests were granted; 57 refused; 20 were not proceeded with; and 20 are still under consideration.
Baroness Blatch: Following the bringing into effect of the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons by the Irish Republic on 1st November 1995, a total of 94 prisoners in England and Wales have so far requested repatriation to the Republic. To date, 45 requests have been referred to the Irish authorities for their consideration; two prisoners have been repatriated to the Republic; and four further requests have been approved and the prisoners are currently awaiting transfer to the Republic. Ten prisoners have withdrawn their requests. One request has been refused.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): The types of organophosphate pesticides supplied to British troops in the gulf from military stores, or purchased locally, are being investigated by the Organophosphate Pesticide Investigation Team. We will report the outcome of their investigations as soon as we have the necessary information to hand.
Earl Howe: My department is in close touch with the French authorities in order to establish whether there are any lessons to be learned from the French experience in the Gulf War for our research programme. We have not,
Earl Howe: The information requested is not held centrally. The Commissioner for Public Appointment's Guidance on Appointments to Executive Non-Departmental Public Bodies and NHS bodies, which came into effect on 1st July 1996, states that "Departments should record their overall expenditure on, separately, the use of Executive Search consultants and on advertising posts covered by this guidance. The information will be collected by the Commissioner in order to help to monitor and evaluate the cost effectiveness of these procedures, in particular the new emphasis on advertising." An analysis of this information will be included in the Commissioner's second report, which will cover the period 1st July 1996 to 31st March 1997.
Earl Howe: These reports were commissioned in support of internal evaluations on UK Ballistic Missile Defence. Her Majesty's Government have no plans to publish either of the reports in their current or edited form.
The Chairman of Committees: The issue of childcare vouchers to House of Lords staff is not intended to cover the whole cost of childcare but is a contribution to that cost, in order to assist staff with small children to continue working. As the vouchers can be used anywhere, their value does not have to reflect the value of childminding facilities in central London. The value of the vouchers will be reviewed from time to time. Childcare provision for House of Lords staff using the voucher scheme is very popular in its existing form.
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