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Children: Deportation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Four thousand eight hundred and seventy children under the age of 18 were removed from the UK in 2005 and 5,795 in 2006. These figures include enforced removals, persons refused entry at port and subsequently removed, persons departing

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voluntarily after enforcement action had been initiated against them, persons leaving under assisted voluntary return programmes run by the International Organization for Migration and those whom it is established have left the UK without informing the immigration authorities. They include both asylum and non-asylum cases. These figures are rounded to the nearest five; the figure for 2006 is provisional.

An unaccompanied child under the age of 18 would not be considered for removal from the UK unless it has been established with the country to which the child is to be removed that adequate reception arrangements are in place. Officers must liaise with social services and/or the nominated guardian with responsibility for the care of the child in the UK to ensure the removal is affected in the most sensitive manner possible.

National statistics on the number of persons against whom removal action was initiated in 2005 and 2006 are not available due to data quality issues. Therefore it is not possible to say how many persons the Border and Immigration Agency sought to remove. In addition, those departing voluntarily can leave the UK at any time.

Information on the number of asylum applicants removed from the UK between January and September 2007 will be published in the Asylum Statistics: 3rd Quarter 2007 bulletin, scheduled for 20 November. Copies of this publication will be available from the Library of the House and on the Home Office's research, development and statistics website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.

Children: Rights

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): I welcome the report from UNICEF and acknowledge its continuing efforts to help meet our shared goal of putting an end to human trafficking and protecting vulnerable children from this awful crime.

I have read UNICEF's report with interest and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Crime Reduction met the chief executive, David Bull, to discuss its recommendations. We are considering the report in light of our UK action plan on tackling human trafficking and the Government's signature of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of trafficked children discovered in the UK.

We continue to work closely with UNICEF and value its advice as a member of our Inter-Ministerial Stakeholder group on human trafficking.



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Children: Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): We are not considering creating a system of legal guardians for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The role of such a person is unclear and we consider that the children already receive sufficient assistance from the local authority social worker assigned to their care. The children are also referred to the Refugee Council children's panel, which provides additional advice and signposts the individuals to appropriate services. Legal assistance is of course available to assist with the asylum application.

The Government are also committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all trafficked children discovered in the UK. The protection of any child or young person in the UK should be given the highest and most immediate priority.

As we develop implementation options to comply with the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings we will consult with a range of stakeholders, including via our established non-governmental organisation (NGO) stakeholder group. This will include an assessment of all the options for improvement to the arrangements for children.

Driving: Mobile Phones

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Driving while using a hand-held mobile phone became a specific offence from 1 December 2003.

The figures for England and Wales show that there was one prosecution in 2003, 789 prosecutions in 2004 and 2,090 prosecutions in 2005. However, offences are also dealt with by the offer of a fixed penalty. In 2003, there were 1,888 tickets paid, in 2004 there were 73,976 tickets paid and 126,768 tickets were paid in 2005.

Enforced Disappearance

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The preliminary work necessary to identify any changes required to our law in order to ratify the convention necessarily began when the convention was under negotiation, but it has not yet been possible to progress it further to date. This is a difficult area involving complex and sensitive issues and will take some considerable time to complete.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Malloch-Brown: The Government support the International Covenant for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The UK was active throughout the negotiations to draft the convention and we supported its adoption last year at both the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. The preliminary work necessary to identify any changes required to UK law in order to ratify the convention necessarily began when the convention was under negotiation, but it has not yet been possible to progress it further to date. Until this work is complete, we will not be able to determine the UK’s position towards ratification, including whether we would need to make any reservations. At the adoption of the convention at both the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, the UK made an interpretative statement clarifying our understanding of certain provisions, including what constitutes an enforced disappearance, the application of obligations under international humanitarian law and the procedures applicable to the adoption and placement of children found to have resulted from an enforced disappearance. This statement can be found at: www.fco.gov.uk/ukmisgeneva.

EU: Foreign and Defence Policy

Lord Jay of Ewelme asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Nineteen operations have taken place under the EU’s common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and European security and defence policy (ESDP) since 1998. Four of these have been military missions, in the Balkans and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Seven have focused on policing, again in the Balkans and the DRC, but also in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and, more recently, Afghanistan. There have been two rule of law missions in Georgia and Iraq, one security sector reform mission in the DRC, and supporting action to the African Union mission in Sudan. There has been participation in a monitoring mission to Aceh and two border assistance missions: one at the Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt, the other between Moldova and Ukraine. Lastly, there has been a long-running Balkans-wide monitoring mission that transferred from CFSP to ESDP in 2000.

Two further missions are in differing stages of the planning process: a military mission to Chad and the Central African Republic and a rule of law mission to Kosovo.

Houses of Parliament: Senior Salaries Review Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: I refer the noble Lord to the statement given by the Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland) on 26 July 2007 (Official Report, col. WS107).

Immigration: Detention

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Border and Immigration Agency regularly consults with Bail for Immigration Detainees and considers carefully any such evidence the charity wishes to submit.

The Detained Fast Track office was disappointed not to have been consulted directly prior to the publication of the report Refusal Factory in order to make any comments in relation to its content. The lack of consultation prior to the launch of the report left no room for investigation into the cases reported. However, the Detained Fast Track makes careful and considered decisions on claims based on objective material available and in line with all published guidance, including the gender guidelines.



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Immigration: Detention and Removal Centres

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency wrote to the Home Affairs Committee on 19 February providing the most accurate and robust information available on foreign national prisoners, including those in detention. A copy of this letter is available in the Library of the House.

Information relating to the number of persons detained solely under Immigration Act powers on 29 September 2007 will be published in the Asylum Statistics: 3rd Quarter 2007 bulletin, scheduled for 20 November. Copies of this publication will be available from the Library of the House and on the Home Office's research, development and statistics website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.

Immigration: Yarl's Wood

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): In the past six months, 57 complaints have been made by detainees regarding their treatment at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre. The Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) has received three and Serco, the operating contractor, has received 54. The complaints for Serco were regarding healthcare (18), catering (14) and staff conduct (22). The three received by BIA were confidential complaints which were sent directly to BIA as per the confidential complaint procedures.

If a detainee has difficulty in making a complaint, the contractor will use the Language Line telephone translation service to assist the individual and BIA uses interpreters to assist with interviewing detainees as part of the investigation into the complaint.

Isle of Man

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Isle of Man Passport Office records do not differentiate between those applicants residing on the Isle of Man and those residing in the UK. It is therefore not possible to provide this information.

The number of passports issued by the Isle of Man Passport Office in the past five years is as follows:

2002-03

7,900

2003-04

8,312

2004-05

8,848

2005-06

8,622

2006-07

8,297

2007-08—(to date)

5,681

The majority of these passports would have been issued to applicants residing on the Isle of Man.

Israel and Palestine: Energy Supplies

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government are deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the recent reports that the Israeli Government have restricted the supply of fuel and are considering electricity cuts. My right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development issued a statement on 30 October detailing our concerns. This statement is available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at: www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename =OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid =1007029391629&a=KArticle&aid=1193597605085& year=2007&month=2007-10-01.

We have also raised our concerns with the Israeli ambassador in London and our ambassador in Tel Aviv has raised the issue with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem.


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