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8 Nov 2000 : Column WA147

Written Answers

Wednesday, 8th November 2000.

Sudanese Diplomats in London: Domestic Servants

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any evidence that women from Sudan to whom visas have been granted have been brought to this country against their will to work in enforced domestic service for any Sudanese diplomat serving in London.[HL4359]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): I am not aware that there is any such evidence. We are making enquiries and if the noble Baroness would write to me with details of her specific concerns I will write to her once these are complete.

Immigration Act Detainees

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For what reasons the number of persons detained under the Immigration Acts increased to an all time high of 1,108 at the end of September, notwithstanding that the number of asylum seekers in the preceding three months was 9 per cent lower than the eqivalent figure for 1999.[HL4416]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The increase in the number of people detained is a reflection of the gradual expansion of the number of detainee places available. An additional 112 places came on stream at the centre at Lindholme in July and built up to full capacity in September.

The Government are committed to increasing the number of failed asylum applicants, inadmissible passengers and illegal entrants removed from the country. Last year about 8,000 failed asylum applicants were removed. This year the target is 12,000. Regrettably, detention is necessary because of the lack of compliance with conditions of temporary admission. Only about 1/3 of people leave the country voluntarily following adverse decisions and completion of the appeal process.

Passport Format Standardisation

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by a Downing Street spokesman that the Prime Minister had "considerable reservations" about the European Union proposal to standardise passports and remove the Royal Coat of Arms from the cover of British passports, whether they will list each of those reservations. [HL4432]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Commission has not yet put forward any proposals on passport format, although it announced its intention to do so in September. We have made clear to the Commission that we would not agree to the removal of the Royal Coat of Arms from the cover of the passport. Nor would we agree to any other amendments which were not justified on security grounds.

We will inform Parliament more fully of our reactions to the proposals when they emerge.

Excess Winter Death Statistics

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the excess winter deaths for each English region, and for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in each year from 1998-99 to 1999-2000, with a breakdown by age for each year.[HL3917]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Earl Russell from the National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics, Mr Len Cook, dated 8 November 2000.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your parliamentary Question asking for the excess winter deaths for each English region, and for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in each year 1998-99 to 1999-2000, with a breakdown by age for each year.

Figures are provided in the attached table for English Government Office Regions and for Wales. Figures for Scotland are now the responsibility of the Scottish Executive. Figures for Northern Ireland are now the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Numbers of excess winter deaths can vary greatly from year to year, depending, for example, on the winter's severity or the occurrence of infectious disease epidemics. To allow for comparison, figures are therefore also presented for the two previous winters, 1996-97 and 1997-98, to cover the period since Government Office Regions were established. The figures for winter 1999-2000 are provisional and will only be finalised in October 2001, when data for all deaths occurring in 2000 become complete.

Excess winter deaths are defined by National Statistics as the difference between the number of deaths during the four winter months (December to March) and the average number of deaths during the preceding autumn (August to November) and the following summer (April to July).

Excess winter deaths by age-group and Government Office Region of usual residence, 1996-97 to 1999-2000

Age at death1996-971997-981998-991999-2000 (provisional)
All ages44,85021,73044,01046,520
All ages2,8801,2902,9002,970
North East0-6413011090310
All ages2,2201,5502,3702,720
North West0-64510280630470
All ages6,3602,7707,3506,170
Yorkshire and the Humber0-64240210260420
All ages4,5502,4604,7604,710
East Midlands0-64250130310400
All ages3,5402,0004,0903,900
West Midlands0-64410250470480
All ages4,5302,4504,8605,370
All ages5,0102,5404,8004,970
All ages5,9302,5304,9306,030
South East0-64420250370720
All ages7,6503,2006,7107,830
South West0-64300120230370
All ages5,0602,2304,1304,830

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UK Tourism and Strength of Sterling

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they respond to the Chief Executive of the British Tourist Authority's view that the strength of the pound is detrimental to the promotion of British tourism.[HL4413]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The value of sterling is one of many factors that overseas visitors take into account when deciding whether to visit Britain. While present conditions are not easy, the relative weakness of the euro does help increase the British Tourist Authority's promotional spend in Europe because its grant goes further there.

National Lottery Operator's Licence

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the terms of the interim licence by which Camelot has been granted an extension to its licence to run the National Lottery until December 2001.[HL4307]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Camelot's licence to operate the National Lottery comes to an end on 30th September 2001. Contrary to an inaccurate media report, Camelot has not been granted an interim licence to operate the Lottery beyond then. I understand that the National Lottery Commission intends to negotiate a possible interim licence with Camelot, in order to allow a 12-month handover period in the event of a change of operator. The commission also intends to ensure that any handover does not fall during the Christmas period. Should an interim licence become necessary, the precise length of it will be finalised after the award of the seven-year licence. The details of any such licence will be made public once negotiations are complete.

Departmental Cars

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 16 October (WA 68), what is the policy of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in relation to the disposal of government cars after use.[HL4298]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Government cars are supplied under a three-year lease contract by the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA). At the end of the lease period they are returned to the GCDA.

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