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Asylum Appeals

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Latest available figures show that, for the 12-month period to August 2003, the Home Office was not represented in up to 28 per cent of asylum appeals being heard by adjudicators at the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA).

Statistics are not available for earlier periods.

We aim to provide representation in 95 per cent of all appeals, including asylum appeals, being heard by adjudicators at the IAA. It has been difficult to recruit sufficient numbers of presenting officers, particularly in the London area, which accounts for the majority of cases. However, action is in hand to address this and a further 65 presenting officers will be in post by mid-March 2004.

British-Irish Council: Minority Languages

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the communique following the recent British-Irish Council Meeting in Cardiff, what were the agreed areas where enhanced co-operation at governmental level would be beneficial; and what are the countries and languages involved.[HL861]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): The recent British-Irish Council (BIC) meeting in Cardiff focussed on indigenous, minority and lesser-used languages. It was agreed that members of the BIC should:


    Jointly consider outcomes of research into intergenerational language transmission;


    Carry out an assessment of structures supporting indigenous language learning in adult education in each of the BIC administrations;


    Work together to identify priorities for their respective indigenous languages in relation to information and communication technology development;


    Consider together the potential benefits of co-operating on the development of language use surveys;


    Share information on their experiences of the relationship between planning policy and linguistic considerations;

Other aspects of the BIC's meeting are described in the meeting communique (copies of which are available in the Library of the House).

The members of the Council are the British and Irish Governments; the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey and the Isle of Man. (Since the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Northern Ireland interests within the British-Irish Council have been represented by Northern Ireland Office Ministers as part of the UK delegation).

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Work being taken forward on agreed areas will embrace the following indigenous, minority and lesser-used languages:


    Cymraeg/the Welsh Language


    Gaelic in Scotland


    Gaelg/the Manx Language


    An Ghaeilge/the Irish Language


    Guernesiais/Guernsey-French


    Jerriais/the Jersey Language


    Ulster Scots


    Cornish

Traffic Courts

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many specialist traffic courts there are; whether they intend to carry out a full evaluation of these courts; and if so, when the evaluation will be completed.[HL1288]

Lord Filkin: The listing of road traffic cases as with all magistrates' courts business is managed on a local basis by magistrates' courts committees (MCCs), depending on local circumstances. Most MCCs will have regular weekly or daily courts within their area but this information is not collected centrally nor do the Government intend to carry out an evaluation of these courts.

Adoption

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any guidance has yet been issued to social services departments of local authorities in the light of the judgment delivered by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of P C and S v the United Kingdom (2002), involving a baby forcibly removed from her mother by social services soon after birth; and, if not, why not.[HL1016]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The European Court of Human Rights handed down its judgment on 16 July 2002. The Court did not find any legislation or guidance to be in breach of the Convention. However, the judgment did raise a number of issues for the Department for Education and Skills to consider. The department has continued to keep these issues in mind as it reviews and develops its guidance to local authorities. This is an ongoing process.

The department has now begun an extensive programme of consultation on the draft regulations and guidance that will implement the Adoption and Children Act 2002 provisions. In November 2003 it

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issued the first of five consultation packages which sets out the draft regulations and guidance governing the arrangement of adoptions, and which addresses some of the issues highlighted for further consideration as a result of the judgment. For example, the consultation includes the draft regulations that place a requirement on agencies to explain to a birth parent the consequences of adoption and how the parent may apply for a contact order at the time of the adoption hearing. Furthermore, the draft guidance sets out the procedure for counselling a birth parent about contact and how the arrangements for contact may change through the adoption process. This consultation exercise will run until 1 May 2004.

Pensioners

Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What number and proportion of pensioners are (a) homeowners with a mortgage; (b) homeowners without a mortgage; (c) tenants; and (d) living in other circumstances.[HL1234]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Family Resources Survey can provide estimates for 2002–03 covering the United Kingdom. This information is presented in the table below.

Proportion and number of pensioner benefit units by tenure type

TenureNumber of pensioner benefit units (millions)Proportion of pensioner benefit units (per cent)
Homeowner with mortgage0.910
Homeowner without mortgage5.158
Tenants2.326
Other0.56
Total8.8100
Sample size10,389

Source:

Family Resources Survey, 2002–03

1. All figures are estimates and are taken from the Family Resources Survey (FRS). The latest year for which data are available is 2002–03. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest percentage point and numbers of pensioners have been rounded to the nearest 100,000 benefit units.

2. A benefit unit is defined as a single adult or a couple living as married and any dependent children.

3. A pensioner benefit unit has been defined as any benefit unit which contains at least one member who is 60 years old or over. This definition ties in with qualification conditions for the pensioner premium for benefits.

4. The Other tenure category covers pensioner benefit units that do not include the householder, for example those living with a son or daughter who is the householder, and households occupied as rent-free or squatting.

5. The estimates are based on sample counts that have been adjusted for non-response using multi-purpose grossing factors that control for tenure type, council tax band and a number of demographic variables. Estimates are subject to sampling error and remaining response bias.

6. Figures may not sum due to rounding.


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Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What number and proportion of pensioners who are receiving one or more income-related benefits are (a) homeowners with a mortgage; (b) homeowners without a mortgage; (c) tenants; and (d) living in other circumstances.[HL1235]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The Family Resources Survey can provide estimates for 2002–03 covering the United Kingdom. This information is presented in the table below.

Proportion and number of pensioner benefit units by tenure type for those benefit units receiving at least one income related benefit

TenureNumber of pensioner benefit units (millions)Proportion of pensioner benefit units (per cent)
Homeowner with mortgage0.16
Homeowner without mortgage0.625
Tenants1.765
Other0.14
Total2.5100
Sample size3,150

Source:

Family Resources Survey, 2002–03

1. All figures are estimates and are taken from the Family Resources Survey (FRS). The latest year for which data are available is 2002–03. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest percentage point and numbers of pensioners have been rounded to the nearest 100,000 benefit units.

2. A benefit unit is defined as a single adult or a couple living as married and any dependent children.

3. A pensioner benefit unit has been defined as any benefit unit which contains at least one member who is 60 years old or over. This definition ties in with qualification conditions for the pensioner premium for benefits.

4. The Other tenure category covers pensioner benefit units that do not include the householder, for example those living with a son or daughter who is the householder, and households occupied as rent-free or squatting.

5. Income related benefits include the following benefits:

Housing-benefit

Council tax benefit in Great Britain

Rates Rebate in Northern Ireland

Extended payment of housing benefit

Extended payment of council tax benefit in Great Britain

Income support/minimum income guarantee

Income-based jobseeker's allowance

Social fund grant for funeral expenses

Social fund grant for maternity expenses

Social fund grant for community care

Back to work bonus

Child maintenance bonus

6. Benefit receipt is based on self-assessment and therefore may be subject to misreporting. There is evidence to suggest that some pensioner respondents to the Family Resources Survey may not correctly identify which benefits they are receiving, in particular minimum income guarantee being recorded under retirement pension; this may cause an under-reporting on income-related benefits.

7. The estimates are based on sample counts that have been adjusted for non-response using multi-purpose grossing factors that control for tenure type, council tax band and a number of demographic variables. Estimates are subject to sampling error and remaining response bias.

8. Figures may not sum due to rounding.


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