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Written Answers

Monday, 19th February 2001.

Independent Football Commission

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to consult representatives of football supporters in the appointment of the chairman and members of the Independent Football Commission.[HL593]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport wrote to the Football Supporters' Association and National Federation of Football Supporters' Clubs last year asking them to draw the IFC chairman post to the attention of those they thought would be good candidates for the post. The Government have made clear that the process of appointing the chairman is to be conducted in an open and transparent manner according to the standards that would apply to a public appointment. Therefore the consideration of applications once received, following open advertisement, is a matter for the Independent Public Appointments Advisory Panel.

Nigerian State Funds: Requests to Freeze

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why and how authorities in Jersey have been able to freeze funds alleged to have been wrongfully removed from Nigerian state accounts; and why they and city institutions have been unable to do so here, despite requests from Nigeria.[HL672]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): It is my understanding of the matter that the authorities in Jersey have not yet frozen funds related to the Abacha affair, but that the financial institutions there are aware of the sanctions--on the fronts of constructive trusteeship, regulatory law and criminal law--which attach to any transfer of funds which transpire to have been the proceeds of crime, and may therefore have taken precautionary steps for their own protection.

In respect of the request to freeze funds in the United Kingdom, the position remains that we await further information from the Nigerian authorities before we can take the action sought. We are actively pursuing the solicitors acting for the Nigerian Government to secure the information needed, and repeat our willingness to assist the Nigerian authorities whenever it is possible to do so, according to United Kingdom law. It is my understanding that the Jersey authorities are in the same position.

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National Asylum Support Service

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list by number and title the National Asylum Support Service Policy Bulletins which are currently applicable.[HL690]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: A list of the current National Asylum Support Service (NASS) Policy Bulletins is shown by number and title in the table below.

NASS Policy BulletinsSubject
Policy Bulletin 1Supercal
Policy Bulletin 2Sharing
Policy Bulletin 3Supercal
Policy Bulletin 4Threshold Table
Policy Bulletin 5Backdating Vouchers
Policy Bulletin 6Asylum Process Overview
Policy Bulletin 7Failure to travel [Superseded--Deleted]
Policy Bulletin 8Initial Consideration in Allocation
Policy Bulletin 9Asylum Support Adjudications
Policy Bulletin 10Social Security Benefits, Homelessness assistance and Local Authority Support
Policy Bulletin 11Mixed Households
Policy Bulletin 12Refusals
Policy Bulletin 13Judicial Review [Superseded Deleted]
Policy Bulletin 14Failure to travel [Superseded--Deleted]
Policy Bulletin 15NASS Roll-out
Policy Bulletin 16Kent Disbenefited Cases
Policy Bulletin 17Failure to Travel
Policy Bulletin 18Racial Harassment
Policy Bulletin 19Medical Foundation
Policy Bulletin 20Voucher breakdown
Policy Bulletin 21Medical Foundation (Emergency Accommodation)
Policy Bulletin 22Discontinuation
Policy Bulletin 23Appeals Process
Policy Bulletin 24Subs only
Policy Bulletin 25Failure to travel (addendum)
Policy Bulletin 26Oakington
Policy Bulletin 27Disbenefited cases
Policy Bulletin 28Travel
Policy Bulletin 29Transition at Age 18 (Amended 9/2/01)
Policy Bulletin 30Human Rights 1998
Policy Bulletin 31Dispersal Guidelines (Amended 9/2/01)
Policy Bulletin 32Cancelling Accommodation
Policy Bulletin 33Age Disputes
Policy Bulletin 34Additional Single Payments
Policy Bulletin 35Acid record not found
Policy Bulletin 36Emergency Accommodation Monitoring
Policy Bulletin 37Maternity Payment
Policy Bulletin 38Grace Periods
Policy Bulletin 39Support rate change
Policy Bulletin 40Supercal updated
Policy Bulletin 41Dealing with representations in respect of an asylum claim
Policy Bulletin 42Initial Accommodation [Withdrawn]
Policy Bulletin 43HC2 Certificates
Policy Bulletin 44Referring Files to other Sections
Policy Bulletin 45Initial Accommodation
Policy Bulletin 46Northern Ireland
Policy Bulletin 47Judicial Review

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many asylum seekers have died while being supported by the National Asylum Support Service; and what were the causes of death.[HL691]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The information requested is not available.

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Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether an investigation is taking place into the management, structure, efficiency or performance of the National Asylum Support Service; and, if so, who is undertaking it; what are its terms of reference; who has commissioned it; and to whom and when is a report to be delivered.[HL689]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The National Asylum Support Service has been working with a consultant from INEX Consulting commissioned through the S-CAT framework. The terms of reference were to:

    Determine where workflow and document management techniques could bring benefits. Possibly propose changes to the current processes (though s/he should be aware of restrictions which legal and audit requirements, such as the separation of duties, place upon the possible alternatives). A draft report was received on 15th February and is under consideration.

An interim evaluation of the National Asylum Support Service has been undertaken by external consultants. Following competitive tender, Deloitte Touche were commissioned by the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate to carry out an interim evaluation of NASS. Deloitte Touche terms of reference were to:

    monitor and report on the efficiency and effectiveness with which the new asylum support arrangements are being implemented and operated;

    make recommendations for improvement where necessary. The report was delivered to NASS management in October 2000.

Asylum Seekers: Detention at Oakington Reception Centre

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many asylum seekers have been detained in Oakington since it was opened for that purpose; and, since those merely seeking asylum in the United Kingdom are not imprisoned, what were the further reasons given for their detention there.[HL692]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As of 2 February, 3,583 principal asylum seekers have been referred to Oakington Reception Centre in Cambridgeshire since its opening on 20 March 2000. Applicants are detained at Oakington if it appears to the immigration officer that their application is capable of being dealt with quickly and there are no other factors which make the application unsuitable for consideration at Oakington.

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Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the consultation exercise on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (HL865)

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government will shortly be inviting Parliament to approve a wide-ranging package of improvements to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. The scheme provides payment to those who have been the victim of a crime of violence or who have been injured in trying to apprehend criminals or prevent crime in England, Wales and Scotland.

The introduction of the statutory scheme in 1996 broke the link with the common law damages basis of assessing compensation used under the earlier, non-statutory scheme. Compensation is now determined on the basis of a tariff (scale) of awards for injuries of comparable severity. Additional compensation for loss of earnings or earning capacity and the costs of care are payable to victims more seriously affected by their injuries.

In 1999 the Government published a consultation paper Compensating Victims of Violent Crime: Possible Changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. The paper sought views on how the scheme might be improved in the interests of victims of violent crime. It was sent to individuals and organisations with a particular interest in the scheme, to the media, and to members of the public on request. Those responding included victims' organisations, academics, trades unions, the legal profession, police, charities and individual victims.

The Government made it clear in the consultation paper that any changes to the scheme would have to be made within the existing legislative framework. In the light of the responses to the consultation paper, and of the outcome of the Spending Review 2000, the Government have carried out a thorough review of the scheme and have drawn up a wide-ranging package of improvements.

The Great Britain Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is already one of the most generous and comprehensive in the world. The improvements that the Government are now proposing will mean that many victims of violent crime, especially those more seriously injured, will receive even more compensation for their injuries, and that all victims will find the scheme clearer and easier to use.

Outline details of the changes proposed are as follows: Uprating the tariff levels:

Some respondents to the consultation exercise argued that the value of the tariff awards had been eroded since the tariff scheme's inception in 1996. However, an across the board reflation of all tariff

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bands would be very expensive, and the Government do not consider that this is either necessary or would make best use of the available resources. Awards at the top end and bottom end of the tariff do not, in the main, differ too significantly from the level of damages typically awarded by a court. It is in the middle bands where any divergence is more noticeable. The Government accordingly propose to uplift tariff bands 7 to 23 inclusive by 10 per cent. This will significantly increase the compensation payable to many more seriously injured victims. Increased Awards for Sexual Assault and Child Abuse:

The view was widespread amongst respondents to the consultation exercise that compensation for rape and child abuse was too low. The Government have looked carefully at this very complex area, and are proposing that there should be a significant increase in awards for rape and sexual assault and for serious sexual and/or physical abuse of children. For example, the minimum award for rape would be increased by almost 50 per cent (from £7,000 to £11,000), and the maximum payable for serious physical child abuse would more than double. All the injury descriptions relating to physical and sexual abuse have been carefully reviewed and the relevant sections of the tariff re-ordered for greater clarity. The Government also propose additional payments of compensation for victims infected with HIV/Aids. Increasing awards for serious multiple injuries:

Compensation for victims who suffer serious multiple injuries is calculated by formula. Under the present scheme, victims receive 100 per cent of the tariff award for the most serious (highest value) injury, 10 per cent of the award for the second, and 5 per cent for the third. Many respondents to the consultation exercise thought this formula left more seriously injured victims under-compensated, despite the formula being developed on the basis of practice in the civil courts. The Government share that concern, and propose to increase the formula to 100 per cent, 30 per cent, 15 per cent. Extending eligibility for fatal awards to partners of the same sex:

Under the current arrangements, only parents, children, spouses or long-term heterosexual partners of homicide victims can qualify for a fatal award under the tariff. The Government believe that there are no grounds for continuing to exclude long-term homosexual or lesbian partners from this aspect of the scheme, an issue that was highlighted following the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho in 1999. The Government will be recommending that Parliament makes the appropriate change to the scheme. Other detailed changes:

Having thoroughly reviewed the scheme, and in the light of the advice of the bodies charged with its administration, the Government are proposing to refine many of the injury descriptions and make

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presentational changes to the layout of the tariff of awards to make it simpler for victims to understand. The Government also propose making a number of minor, textual changes to the scheme itself to remove possible ambiguities and provide greater clarity where experience has suggested this would be helpful.

The proposed changes to the scheme would cost some £20 million in a full year. The Government believe that the proposed package of changes will greatly improve the scheme for the benefit of victims of violent crime, and that the wide-ranging changes proposed would make the most effective use of the resources available.

The Government will shortly be laying a draft of the scheme incorporating the proposed changes before Parliament, and inviting approval by the affirmative resolution procedure. If such approval is forthcoming in time, it is proposed that the changes would come into force on 1 April 2001, and apply to all applications lodged on or after that date.

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