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6 Jul 1999 : Column WA79

Written Answers

Tuesday, 6th July 1999.

Regional Venture Capital Funds

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for stimulating the availability of finance for small and medium-sized enterprises through the regional venture capital funds element of the Enterprise Fund.[HL3474]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has today published a consultation paper, Addressing the SME Equity Gap--Support for Regional Venture Capital Funds, which sets out our proposals and seeks views on the design and form of the support for the Regional Venture Capital element of the Enterprise Fund. Depending on the results of the consultation, he will be making up to £50 million available over the next three years to support the creation of Regional Venture Capital Funds. He expects this to lever in significant amounts of matching private sector finance.

The intention of our support is to provide a model which regional partnerships, working with Regional Development Agencies, can use to stimulate venture capital funds to address the equity gap. The purpose of this intervention is to increase the amount of equity finance available to growing SMEs to enable them to compete in a global economy and ensure that each region in England has access to a viable, regionally based venture capital fund. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already have in place mechanisms for venture capital support.

The Government are seeking views from entrepreneurs, representatives of small firms, the venture capital and finance industries, Regional Development Agencies and business support organisations.

Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Library. We look forward to receiving comments from those interested by 30 September.

Immigration and Asylum Bill: Secondary Legislation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the long period of preparation and discussion of the Immigration and Asylum Bill, whether they will arrange for the many secondary rules and orders to be available, at least in summary draft form, in time for the Bill's Committee stage in the House of Lords.[HL3288]

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): It will not in most cases be possible to do so, but we will continue to provide as much information as possible about the operation of the Bill. In particular, initial drafts of the two codes of practice for which the Bill provides will be available before Committee stage. We have published, and placed in the Library, a detailed Process Manual and Information Document describing the operation of the new asylum support arrangements and a draft outline of the rules for the regulation and management of detention centres. We hope to issue consultation documents on the content of the secondary legislation to be made under Part VI before Report stage and will consider a revision of the Process Manual.

Asylum Applications: Outcomes

Lord Renton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many immigrants were granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom indefinitely during the last period of 12 months for which figures are available; and, during the same period, (a) how many applicant immigrants were refused such leave; (b) how many people were granted asylum; and (c) how many people were refused asylum.[HL3278]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Data for the period from June 1998 to May 1999 are as follows:

Granted indefinite leave to remain67,900
Refused indefinite leave to remain(1)1,290
Recognised as a refugee and granted asylum(2)(3)5,560
Refused asylum but granted exceptional leave to remain(2)3,220
"Backlog" grants (2), (4)3,910
Refused asylum and exceptional leave(2)15,300

(1) Excluding those granted further limited leave to remain.

(2) Initial decision only, excluding dependants.

(3) The majority of whom will have been granted indefinite leave to remain.

(4) Includes persons granted asylum, exceptional indefinite leave to remain or exceptional limited leave to remain under pragmatic measures aimed at reducing the pre-1996 backlog, as announced in the White Paper, Fairer, Faster and Firmer--A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum, published in July 1998.

Illegal Immigrants

Lord Renton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people are estimated to be living in the United Kingdom who have no lawful right to do so.[HL3279]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to the response I gave on 4 February 1999 (WA 227). The information given in that response remains the latest available.

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Mothers and Babies in Prison: Report

Lord Ewing of Kirkford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the report of the review of principles, policies and procedures on mothers and babies/children in prison will be published.[HL3522]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Prison Service report of the review of principles, policies and procedures on mothers and babies/children in prison is published today and copies have been placed in the Library. There are 62 recommendations. The report concludes that the overriding principle guiding the provision of, and allocation of places in, mother and baby units should be in the best interests of the child. The Director General of the Prison Service accepts and welcomes the report and that conclusion specifically. A full action plan, setting out how it proposes to proceed on each of the recommendations will be published soon. A copy of that action plan will be placed in the Library.

Immigrants with Leave to Remain: Benefits

Lord Ewing of Kirkford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action the Home Department is taking to ensure that persons who have applied in time for renewal of exceptional leave to remain are not denied benefits due to delays in processing their applications.[HL3523]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Responsibility for deciding who is eligible to receive benefits is a matter for the Department of Social Security and the Benefits Agency. An official in the Integrated Casework Directorate wrote to the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency on 27 April to clarify the immigration status of such applicants. In immigration law, provided a person with leave to remain applies for an extension before that leave expires, that person may remain lawfully in the United Kingdom after expiry of that leave until the application is decided, and of course beyond that date if the application is granted. The Chief Executive was advised that, provided persons seeking benefits produced evidence to Benefits Agency staff that they had submitted an application for extension of leave before it had expired, then Benefits Agency staff could assume that they were here lawfully.

Scotland: Murders by Persons Previously Convicted of Homicide

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people have died since 1963 in Scotland at the hands of persons previously convicted of homicide.[HL3065]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): During the period 1963 to date, a total of five persons in Scotland are known to have been murdered by persons who had previously been convicted of murder in Scotland. In addition a further seven persons found guilty of murder had a previous conviction for culpable homicide or manslaughter. Information is not readily available over this time period for those with a second conviction for culpable homicide.

This is now a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Diabetes among Minority Ethnic Groups

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why diabetes is increasing at a higher rate in groups of ethnic people in the United Kingdom than in other groups; and what research into this increase is being undertaken.[HL3379]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): Diabetes is particularly prevalent in communities of Asian and African-Caribbean origin, although it is not known to be increasing any more rapidly in these groups than in others. The Medical Research Council, which receives most of its income via grant-in-aid from the Department of Trade and Industry, spent about £3.5 million on diabetes research in 1998-99, including epidemiological work on causal factors and incidence of diabetes in different ethnic groups. The Department of Health and the National Health Service research and development programmes are also supporting a number of research projects on diabetes. The National Service Framework for diabetes will take account of the particular needs of minority ethnic groups.

KFOR: UK Contribution

Lord Janner of Braunstone asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to review the UK's contribution to KFOR.[HL3549]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Some elements of the UK contribution to KFOR have now completed the tasks for which they were deployed. In the light of this, we have agreed to the withdrawal of the Headquarters of the Fifth Airborne Brigade, Headquarters 3(UK) Division, and seven support helicopters, together with their supporting elements. HQ5 Airborne Brigade and the helicopters will start moving immediately, to be followed by HQ 3(UK) Division from 23 July. These withdrawals will not affect the number of UK battalions in KFOR, nor their ability to perform their assigned tasks.

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