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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 17 June 1992

HOME DEPARTMENT

Narayan Shankar

Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to make a decision on the application by Narayan Shankar for political asylum, August 1989, ref. S670769.

Mr. Charles Wardle : I expect the decision to be taken soon and I will inform the hon. Member at that time.

Wheel Clamps

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what instructions are issued to private companies authorised to clamp vehicles regarding any decision to fit a wheel clamp ;

(2) what information he has on the degree of liaison between the Metropolitan police and private companies authorised to clamp vehicles in respect of prioritising illegally parked vehicles.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Under section 104 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, the decision to fit a wheel clamp to a vehicle may only be authorised by a police officer. Private companies are employed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to carry out the physical task of applying wheel clamps and their operatives act on the instructions of a police officer.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish a list of those private companies authorised by the Metropolitan police to clamp vehicles on public roads.

Mr. Charles Wardle : I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that the information requested is as follows : Parking Protection Limited

Highway Maintenance Service Limited

United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will next meet the general council of UKIAS.

Mr. Charles Wardle : I hope to meet members of the executive committee of UKIAS soon to discuss the organisation's future.

Crime, North Yorkshire

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report the text of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State's letter of 5 June to the hon. Member for York about recorded crimes in North Yorkshire.

Mr. Charles Wardle : I have placed a copy of the letter in the Library.


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Police Cells

Mr. Jopling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will give the average number of remand prisoners held in police cells in Cumbria over the last convenient period for each police station ; how many police hours were spent looking after them ; and at what cost to public funds.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : From 27 October 1991 to 25 January 1992, a daily average of 20 prisoners who normally would be held in prison were held in the following police stations in Cumbria :

Barrow-in-Furness

Carlisle

Kendal

Penrith

Whitehaven

Workington

Information is not available centrally on the numbers held in individual police stations over this period. The available information does not separately identify the number of prisoners held on remand.

During the same period, a total of 17,598 police hours were taken up with tasks relating to the custody and transport of prisoners who would normally be held in prison. The cost to the Prison Service of the police cells operation in Cumbria was £309,433.48.

Feltham Remand Centre (Suicides)

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to prevent suicides at Feltham remand centre ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : There is already an active suicide prevention management group at Feltham. In addition, the governor recognises the widespread concern about recent deaths at the establishment and has chaired a special group to identify what more could be done. The group is taking forward a range of initiatives, including a review of induction procedures and of measures to curb the incidence of bullying. Staff have been given refresher training in suicide prevention and a training pack has been produced for future use. Case conferences are held each week to manage prisoners identified as being at risk. A prison visitor scheme has been set up to support those who do not receive regular visits. Links have been made with the local branch of the Samaritans. The establishment is also continuing to develop its policy of encouraging regular contact between prisoners and their families, particularly where there is concern about the prisoner's welfare. In addition, a new unit is to open on 22 June with specially trained staff whose role will be to work to modify the behaviour of known bullies. Video cameras are also being installed in trouble spots to help staff to identify bullies.

Abortion

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to amend the law to bring the provisions concerning manslaughter into line with the protection given to the pre born against abortion after 24 weeks and the Still-Birth (Definition) Act 1992.

Mr. Jack : Although no suitable legislative vehicle is, at present, in prospect, we shall seek to amend the presumption in that Act to bring it into line with the


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24-week limit now in the Abortion Act 1967 and with the Still-Birth (Definition) Act 1992 when a suitable opportunity arises.

Animal Experiments

Mr. Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give further consideration to the points made in the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection report on the London hospital medical college in October 1991 ; and if he will publish a full detailed response to each point.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The allegations in the BUAV's report were thoroughly investigated by the Home Office scientific procedures inspectorate and considered in detail by Home Office officials. A reply was sent to the general secretary of the BUAV on 17 March, and he has been invited to put any further specific questions to the Home Office in writing.

Turkish Refugees

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the outcome of his recent meetings about the hunger strike by the Turkish/Kurdish/Aleri refugees in London ; what evidence he has of the after-effects of torture of former Turkish refugees living in London ; what information he has about the treatment of their wives and children ; what

representations he has received about this matter ; and what representations he has made to the Turkish authorities.

Mr. Charles Wardle : On 1 June we were informed that 54 of the original 62 hunger strikers had abandoned their protest. On 5 June we were informed that the remaining eight had taken the same step. Representations have been made in individual cases about the circumstances of Turkish refugees and asylum applicants with exceptional leave living in London and about their families remaining in Turkey. Applications for family reunion are considered in the light of the immigration rules and other published guidelines. My right hon. and learned Friend has had no contacts with the Turkish authorities on these matters.

Asylum

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will reduce the time before an asylum seeker given exceptional leave to remain may apply to bring in his family and immediate dependants from four years to three years.

Mr. Charles Wardle : No. The period of four years reflects the view that family reunion for someone with exceptional leave should not normally be allowed until it is apparent that his stay in the United Kingdom is likely to be permanent.

Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the number of asylum seekers for each month from January 1990 until the present date.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The information available is given in the table.


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Applications received for asylum in the United Kingdom, 

excluding dependants                                    

<1>Number of principal applicants                       

                       |<2><3>1990|<4>1991              

--------------------------------------------------------

January   }            |4,455     |2,165                

February  } |3,360     |3,445     |1,420                

March     }            |3,885     |1,595                

April     }            |5,275     |1,440                

May       } |3,665     |3,805     |1,370                

June      }            |3,000     |<5>-                 

July      }            |3,725     |<5>-                 

August    } |6,980     |3,340     |<5>-                 

September }            |3,525     |<5>-                 

October   }            |4,375     |<5>-                 

November  } |8,005     |3,790     |<5>-                 

December  }            |2,210     |<5>-                 

                                                        

            |22,000    |44,840    |<5>-                 

<1>Provisional figures, rounded to the nearest 5.       

<2>1990 figures may understate because of delays in     

recording. Reliable monthly estimates are not yet       

available.                                              

<3>In addition, about 55 applications by nationals of   

Afghanistan to the British High Commission in New Delhi 

were processed locally.                                 

<4>In addition, about 15 applications by nationals of   

Afghanistan to the British High Commission in New Delhi 

and 40 applications by nationals of Liberia to the      

British High Commission in Lagos were processed         

locally.                                                

<5>Not yet available.                                   

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure greater uniformity in practice about what constitutes urgent and compassionate grounds for family reunion in the cases of asylum seekers seeking exceptional leave to remain.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Compelling and compassionate grounds are considered in the light of the circumstances in each individual case. I am satisfied that decisions in such cases are properly taken.

Vandalism

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his policy to lessen vandalism in Wales.

Mr. Jack [holding answer 15 June 1992] : Vandalism in Wales is being most effectively addressed when organisations such as the Police, local authorities and other local agencies combine their efforts to develop practical preventive policies. It is such approaches which our policies seek to support.

Squatting

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he plans to introduce legislation on the squatting of residential property before the end of the current year ;

(2) how many responses he has received to his consultation paper on squatting ; whether he will list the name of each respondent ; and whether he will state the number of respondents who were in favour or opposed to each of the four options consulted on.

Mr. Jack [holding answer 16 June 1992] : The Government are committed to strengthening the law against squatting and last year a consultation paper was published setting out various proposals. The responses to


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this exercise raised a number of issues which require and are receiving careful consideration. It is not possible at this stage to say when legislative proposals will be brought forward. The Government wish to ensure that any new measure should be fair, easy to administer and be effective.

In all, we received 216 responses to the consultation paper. Analysis of the results shows that 133 responses--62 per cent.--were in favour of strengthening the law, 58--27 per cent.--were opposed, and 25--11 per cent. --came to no clear conclusion. However, those respondents opposed to strengthening the law can generally be taken to have supported option A-- leaving the criminal law unchanged ; six respondents favoured option B--a limited extension of the law to certain types of squatting ; 17 favoured option C--extending the criminal law to all squatting in residential premises ; and 56 supported option D--a general extension of the criminal law to cover squatting in any premises.

Eighty four of the responses were from private individuals or companies, and we also received responses from the following public bodies, local authorities and organisation :

The Association of District Councils

The Association of Metropolitan Authorities

The London Boroughs Association

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

The London Borough of Brent

The London Borough of Croydon

The London Borough of Greenwich

The London Borough of Hackney

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Newham Borough Council

Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Wandsworth Borough Council

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council

City of Bristol

City of Carlisle

Chester City Council

Exeter City Council

Swansea City Council

Cheshire County Council

Cumbria County Council

Gwent County Council

Oxfordshire County Council

Ashford Borough Council

Bournemouth Borough Council

Borough of Broxborne

Borough of Crewe and Nantwich

Dacorum Borough Council

Darlington Borough Council

Daventry Borough Council

Gillingham Borough Council

Guildford Borough Council

Hastings Borough Council

Borough of Luton

Medina Borough Council

Newport Borough Council

Scarborough Borough Council

Spelthorne Borough Council

Test Valley Borough Council

Wallingford Borough Council

Bridgenorth District Council

Carrick District Council

Fenland District Council

Hinkley and Bosworth District Council

Mid-Bedfordshire District Council

North Dorset District Council

North Kesteven District Council

North Norfolk District Council

North West Leicestershire District Council

Penwith District Council

Purbeck District Council

Rother District Council

South Cambridgeshire District Council


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