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Exceptional Leave to Remain

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): On 7 October 2002 my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced the ending of the routine granting of exceptional leave on a country basis and a review of its use and scope to focus it on those who really need special humanitarian protection but do not qualify as refugees.

In the past, exceptional leave has been used far too widely. It was only ever intended to be granted to those able to demonstrate compelling compassionate or humanitarian reasons for staying in the United

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Kingdom. Instead, the widespread use of exceptional leave has acted as a pull factor, encouraging economic migrants to apply for asylum in the United Kingdom in the belief that they will be given exceptional leave when their claim is rejected.

That is why we have decided to replace the exceptional leave system with a new humanitarian protection system. From now on the UK will only offer international protection to those who really need it.

From today humanitarian protection will be granted only to those who, though not refugees would, if removed, face in the country of return a serious risk to life or person arising from the death penalty, unlawful killing or torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Under the new system those who qualify for humanitarian protection will be granted leave for three years, at which point a person with a continuing need for protection will be eligible to apply for settlement in the United Kingdom. A person with no continuing need will not get any further leave.

The Secretary of State will also retain the discretion to grant limited leave to those who do not qualify for humanitarian protection or leave under the Immigration Rules. The circumstances in which discretionary leave will be granted will be defined and tightly focused. This leave will normally be granted for two periods of three years, but there is scope to grant shorter periods depending on the individual circumstances. Again, it will not be renewed unless a person continues to qualify for such leave.

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Both the humanitarian protection and discretionary leave systems will be far more focused and clearly defined than the exceptional leave system. Failed asylum seekers who do not fall into one of these categories will not be granted any leave and will be removed. We are determined that the asylum system will no longer be a short-cut to work or settlement in the UK. I believe that these measures, when taken alongside the provisions in the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, will take us even further forward in our efforts to reduce the number of unfounded asylum applicants seeking to abuse our immigration system.

Licensed Fertility Treatment: Selective Terminations

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many pregnancies arising out of licensed fertility treatment have been selectively terminated in each of the past five years; at what stage of gestation was each pregnancy terminated; and on what ground of the Abortion Act 1967 (as amended) was each abortion performed.[HL2146]

Baroness Andrews: Information on whether selective terminations of pregnancy were performed following licensed fertility treatment is not collected centrally as it is not a requirement of the Abortion Regulations 1991.

Information is collected on gestation and grounds and is shown in the following table. Data are for all selective terminations performed in England and Wales in the past five years.

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Number of selectively terminated pregnancies, by gestation and grounds under the Abortion Act 1967, as amended, in England and Wales, 1997 to 2001

YearGestation in weeksSection 1(1)(a)Section 1(1)(b)Section 1(1)(c)Section 1(1)(d)Total
1997under 920002
9 to 123320742
13 to 19210811
20 and over00077
1998under 941005
9 to 1220111840
13 to 1940059
20 and over100910
1999under 920002
9 to 121470526
13 to 1921047
20 and over1001011
2000under 901001
9 to 128100220
13 to 191101315
20 and over00066
2001under 920002
9 to 121090928
13 to 1924039
20 and over0001010

Prepared by Department of Health, Statistics Division 3G.

1. Data for 2002 will be available later this year.

2. The grounds under the Act are as follows:

Section 1(1)(a) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family; or

Section 1(1)(b) that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or

Section 1(1)(c) that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated; or

Section 1(1)(d) that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

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Tizard Centre, University of Kent

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they have given to the future funding of the Tizard Centre, University of Kent.[HL1865]

Baroness Andrews: The Government have received a number of representations about the future funding of the Tizard Centre. The Government's policy is to devolve as much money as possible to the front line and this is therefore a matter for the National Health Service and social care organisations which use the centre's services.

It follows that the Tizard Centre must secure its own funding by designing programmes and providing services which users wish to buy.

Blood Plasma

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, when there is transfusion plasma currently available in the United Kingdom to the National Health Service which is licensed in the United Kingdom and sourced in the United States, the National Blood Service continues to provide patients with United Kingdom-sourced fresh frozen plasma which has not been virally inactivated; and[HL2132]

    In the light of the move announced on 12 February towards providing haemophiliacs with safer clotting factors, why they intend to continue to supply United Kindom-sourced plasma, which carries the risk of vCJD, to transfusion patients born before 1996; and[HL2133]

    Why, when there is transfusion plasma currently available in the United Kingdom which is licensed in the United Kingdom and sourced in the United States, the National Blood Service is still unable to implement its recommendation to provide the majority of patients born after 1 January 1996 with United States-sourced, virally inactivated fresh frozen plasma.[HL2134]

Baroness Andrews: To date, there is no evidence worldwide that variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) has ever been transmitted through blood. As a precautionary measure, all fresh frozen plasma (FFP) produced by the United Kingdom blood service uses single unit plasma from UK blood donors which has been leucodepleted to remove the white cells which

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evidence suggests may carry the greatest risk of transmitting vCJD. Although most UK FFP is not virally inactivated, high levels of safety are achieved by using single unit, as opposed to pooled plasma, by screening out potential high risk donors and by testing every unit of donated blood for the presence of infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C before it is released to hospitals.

The decision taken to import FFP from the United States for young babies and children born after 1 January 1996 will provide additional protection to the most vulnerable group who will not have been exposed to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy through the food chain. The National Blood Service is currently involved in negotiating for supplies of FFP for this group of patients and plans to have it available later this year. A commercially produced FFP product, sourced from the United States, is also available for the National Health Service to purchase.


Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the decision of the United States Senate to ban partial-birth abortion, they have any plans to prohibit abortion up to birth on the ground of disability.[HL2230]

Baroness Andrews: We are not aware of the procedure referred to as "partial-birth abortion" being used in Great Britain. Methods of termination are monitored through the forms sent to the Chief Medical Officer by practitioners for every termination of pregnancy they perform.

It is accepted parliamentary practice that proposals for changes in the law on abortion have come from Back-Bench Members and that decisions are made on the basis of free votes. The Government have no plans to change the law on abortion.

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