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13 Dec 2001 : Column WA225

Written Answers

Thursday, 13th December 2001.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are currently taking to deny Iran and Iraq the ability to develop weapons of mass destruction.[HL1668]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): Countering the proliferation of WMD is a key priority of the Government. We promote universalisation of the relevant international treaties and exercise tight export controls on both specialist and dual-use equipment capable of use to develop, produce or use WMD. We are active members of the international export control regimes that seek to co-ordinate controls on trade in such items. We continue to play an active role in support of UN efforts to ensure that Iraq's WMD programmes are terminated under international supervision in accordance with Security Council resolutions.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they last made representations to the Russian Government to halt their support for the civil nuclear projects in Iran.[HL1669]

Baroness Amos: We regularly discuss Russian nuclear co-operation with Iran in our contacts with the Russian Government, most recently when my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs met Foreign Minister Ivanov in October.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider Iran's civil nuclear projects and efforts to acquire the means to produce fissile material raise the prospects of Iran being able to deliver nuclear weapons.[HL1670]

Baroness Amos: As a state party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran is entitled to develop a civil nuclear programme, subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The Bushehr reactor, the centrepiece of Iran's civil nuclear programme, is subject to IAEA safeguards. We remain concerned over persistent reports that Iran may have a nuclear weapons programme and urge Iran to sign up to the IAEA's additional 93 plus two protocols which allow more thorough international inspection of all nuclear sites. We attach utmost importance to Iran abiding fully by all of its NPT obligations.

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Entry Clearance Refusals

Lord Parekh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to lay before the House the report by Mr Rabinder Singh, the independent monitor of entry clearance refusals.[HL2019]

Baroness Amos: Mr Singh's report on entry clearance refusals was laid before the House today. I very much welcome the report, which acknowledges the high standards of our entry clearance operation overseas and the Government's commitment to ensuring that it continues to operate fairly and professionally. Mr Singh's comments and suggestions will receive careful consideration.

Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers

The Countess Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For each year since 1990, how many asylum seekers who are citizens of Sri Lanka and who have exhausted all legal means of appeal against refusal to recognise them as refugees have been returned to Sri Lanka; and how many have been granted exceptional leave to remain.[HL1826]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): Information on the number of Sri Lankan asylum seekers removed from the United Kingdom and granted exceptional leave to remain in the years 1990 to 2000 is given in the table. It is not possible separately to identify how many of those persons granted asylum or ELR under the backlog criteria were granted ELR.

I regret that information on the destination of failed asylum seekers removed from the United Kingdom is not collected centrally and could only be obtained by examining individual case files at disproportionate cost.

Information on asylum applications, initial decisions, appeals, removals and detention is published quarterly on the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at

Sri Lankan asylum seekers(1)

YearRemoved from the United Kingdom(2,3)Granted ELR under normal procedures(4)Granted asylum or ELR under backlog criteria(5)

Figures rounded to the nearest five.

(1) Persons who had sought asylum at some point. Information on grants of ELR is of initial decisions, excluding the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions.

(2) Includes persons removed under enforcement processes and persons refused and removed at ports of entry.

(3) Includes persons departing Xvoluntary" after enforcement action had been initiated against them.

(4) May include some cases decided under the backlog criteria.

(5) Cases decided under measures aimed at reducing the pre-1996 asylum application backlog.

(6) Decision figures for 1990 and 1991 may understate.

Provisional figures.

— Not available.

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Firearms Incidents Involving Police Personnel

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How, given its role in the investigation of individual incidents involving the police and firearms, the Police Complaints Authority will provide the independence required to secure confidence in its review into firearms incidents involving police personnel.[HL1854]

Lord Rooker: The role of the Police Complaints Authority in supervising investigations means that it is well placed to draw the lessons to be learned from incidents occurring over a number of years in different forces. The authority has engaged an independent expert on police firearms to ensure that all the relevant cases are rigorously scrutinised.

Highly Skilled Migrants

Lord Archer of Sandwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to enable highly skilled individuals to come to the United Kingdom to seek employment.[HL2039]

Lord Rooker: Currently, it is not possible for individuals, other than those with ancestral ties to the United Kingdom, to come to this country to seek and take up work in the absence of a job offer. This makes it difficult to attract highly mobile people with the special talents that are required in a modern economy. We are therefore introducing a programme specifically for highly skilled migrants which will enable them to come to the United Kingdom and seek work.

This programme is designed to allow highly skilled people to migrate to the United Kingdom in order to seek and take up work. It differs from the work permit scheme as it does not require an employer to obtain a permit for the individual, and from the existing business routes (for example, the Innovators scheme or other business categories) in that it does not require a detailed business plan or investment in the United Kingdom. It will initially be run as a concession outside the current Immigration Rules.

In order to qualify, applicants will need to demonstrate that they score 75 points or more. Points can be scored in five areas: educational qualifications, work experience, past earnings, achievement in chosen field and Highly Skilled Migrant Programme priority applications. This final area has been specifically designed to facilitate the recruitment and retention of

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suitably qualified overseas doctors who wish to work as general practitioners for the National Health Service.

I am today placing in the Library a draft version of the guidance to applicants. This includes full details on how an individual can score sufficient points to meet the standard required to qualify under this programme. Applicants will also have to demonstrate that they can continue their chosen careers and that they will be able to maintain and accommodate themselves and any family whilst in the United Kingdom.

Those already in the United Kingdom in a capacity leading to settlement may apply directly to the Home Office to obtain this status. We will also allow those graduating from a United Kingdom university or completing their post-graduate medical studies to apply while remaining in the United Kingdom, provided they have not been sponsored by their home governments.

The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme will run for an initial period of 12 months and will come into force in January 2002. Application forms will be available from the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office websites at and respectively. Applications will be accepted by diplomatic posts overseas from 28 January 2002.

This programme represents a further step in developing our immigration system to maximise the benefits to the United Kingdom of highly skilled workers who have the qualifications and skills required by United Kingdom businesses to compete in the global marketplace. It will allow eminent scientists to base their research projects here, should encourage the movement of business and financial experts to the City of London and give those at the top of their chosen profession the choice of making the United Kingdom their home.

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