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Mr. Beggs: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated loss to the Treasury was in unpaid duty arising from fuel smuggling from the Irish Republic into Northern Ireland; and if he will publish the tonnage of legitimate fuel deliveries on which duty has been paid in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 1 May 2001]: For an estimate of the revenue lost through oils fraud and legitimate cross-border shopping in Northern Ireland, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Donaldson) on 21 March 2001, Official Report, column 233W.
For the tonnage of fuel deliveries in Northern Ireland I refer the hon. Member to "Digest of UK Energy Statistics", table 3.9, published annually by the Department of Trade and Industry, which sets out these estimates.
Mr. Timms: The Government have already introduced an R&D tax credit for smaller firms, in order to address the particular difficulty that these firms face in accessing capital to invest in innovation and R&D. In order to complement this measure and further to improve the UK's innovation performance, the Government have published a consultative document, "Increasing Innovation", which sets out the Government's proposals for a new tax credit to encourage R&D among larger firms and consults on the design of such a measure.
Mr. Timms: The Government have in place a range of measures aimed at enhancing the innovative capacity of the UK through investing in, facilitating and regulating innovation and R&D, as set out in the 2001 White Paper on enterprise, skills and innovation, "Opportunity for all in a world of change".
An R&D tax credit for small firms was introduced in April of last year, and all companies are entitled to an immediate 100 per cent. tax allowance for capital investment in R&D. In addition, the Government published a consultation document in March 2001, entitled "Increasing Innovation", which sets out the Government's proposals for a new tax credit to encourage R&D and innovation among larger firms and consults on the design of such a measure.
2 May 2001 : Column: 674W
Dawn Primarolo: The amount of excise duty raised from petrol and diesel for each of the financial years from 1997 to 1999-2000 is published on the HM Customs and Excise webside www.hmce.gov.uk/general/about/ ann-report-conts.htm.
Dawn Primarolo: The Government keep all taxes under review, and changes are considered as part of the Budget process. New measures to build opportunity and prosperity for all were set out in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy report and Financial Statement and Budget report March 2001, which can be found in the Library.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his measures to increase investment in (a) infrastructure, (b) lifelong learning and (c) research and development. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government's plans for investment in infrastructure, lifelong learning and research and development are detailed in "Spending Review 2000--Prudent for a Purpose: Building Opportunity and Security for All", published in July 2000, as Command Paper 4807.
Miss Melanie Johnson: Information concerning the number of pensioners aged 75 or over by parliamentary constituency, given in written answers by Treasury Ministers between 14 December 2000 and 2 April, was derived from estimates published by the Department of Social Security. These estimates were incorrect. The Department of Social Security has corrected the error and published revised and updated statistics in "Retirement
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Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the hon. Member for Putney will receive a reply to his series of letters on behalf of his constituent Mrs. Truong (Ref. P402281). 
Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many suspected sham marriages reported under section 24 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 he has accepted as sham marriages; 
Mrs. Roche: Since 1 January this year, superintendent registrars have reported a total of 201 marriages which they suspect to have been contracted solely for immigration purposes. These figures cannot be broken down into registration districts. However, of the total number reported, 115 were from the London metropolitan district, 20 from the midlands, 14 from the south-west, 12 from the north-west, 11 from the south-east, 10 from the south and seven from Wales. Figures are not available for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, (1) pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Taunton (Jackie Ballard), of 27 March 2001, Official Report, column 594W, what the nature of the work undertaken by Lord Birt was; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) pursuant to his answer of 25 April 2010, Official Report, column 285W, what were the conclusions of Lord Birt's analysis of existing data on offenders, offences, victims and crime reduction; and if he will place them in the Library; 
(4) what work Lord Birt has undertaken in his role as the Government's adviser on crime other than that which contributed to "Criminal Justice: The Way Ahead" (Cm 5074); and if he will make a statement on work being undertaken by Lord Birt. 
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Mr. Straw [holding answer 1 May 2001]: Lord Birt's work has ranged widely over the criminal justice field. His advice, research and analysis are reflected in the Government's strategy document, "Criminal Justice: The Way Ahead" (Cm 5074). Lord Birt continues to provide advice on issues as requested by the Prime Minister.
Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers have been issued by the National Asylum Support Service with a Department of Health certificate HC2 entitling them to free NHS services in the last 12 months; and what services are available with an HC2 certificate. 
Mrs. Roche: 33,000 1 asylum seekers have been provided with National Asylum Support Service (NASS) support during the period 3 April 2000 to 28 February 2001. All principal NASS applicants are issued with a HC2 on successful application to NASS for support. Details of dependants, if any, are included on the certificate. The HC2 lists the services available. This includes free NHS prescriptions, free NHS dental treatment and free NHS sight tests.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what opportunities for appeal (a) local authorities and (b) local electors have against the designation of their areas as a cluster for asylum seekers; 
Mrs. Roche: The National Asylum Support Service consults regional consortiums which are local authority- led about the identification of cluster areas. Any evidence put forward about the suitability of the area for the accommodation of asylum seekers received as part of this consultation process will be taken into account. Once an area has been identified as a cluster area there is no formal appeal process against its use for accommodating asylum seekers, but any evidence put forward as to why a particular area should no longer be a cluster would be given due consideration. No area has had their designation as a cluster area removed.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether North-East Lincolnshire council was consulted about the suitability of Springfield hostel, Grimsby for asylum seekers; and to whom it can now make representations on the suitability of that location. 
Mrs. Roche: The Springfield hostel Grimsby has not been presented to the national asylum support service (NASS) as possible accommodation for asylum seekers by any of its providers. In the event that it is presented to NASS it will, if it contains more than six bed-spaces, be subject to a 28-day consultation period with the local authority.
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If North-East Lincolnshire council wishes to make representations to NASS about the potential use of this property in advance of its possible future presentation it should contact the NASS regional manager for Yorkshire and Humberside.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many places have been designated as cluster areas for asylum seekers; and if he will list them, giving the area covered by each. 
|East of England||Ipswich|
|South Central and East||Brighton and Hove|
|Hastings and St. Leonards|
|Redcar and Cleveland|
|Stockton on Tees|
|North West||Manchester (Greater Manchester)|
|Bolton (Greater Manchester)|
|Bury (Greater Manchester)|
|Oldham (Greater Manchester)|
|Rochdale (Greater Manchester)|
|Salford (Greater Manchester)|
|Stockport (Greater Manchester)|
|Tameside (Greater Manchester)|
|Trafford (Greater Manchester)|
|Wigan (Greater Manchester)|
|Taunton and Bridgewater|
|Bridgend and Porthcawl|
|Stoke on Trent|
|Bradford and Keighley|
2 May 2001 : Column: 678W
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the membership and location are of each regional consortium for the dispersal of asylum seekers; and how the members were appointed. 
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what account is taken of local (a) unemployment rates, (b) health services and (c) education provision in the designation of cluster areas and the allocation of asylum seekers to them; 
(3) what control (a) the local authority, (b) the Health Service and (c) the education authority have on the number of asylum seekers allocated to a cluster area; and how their views are taken into account; 
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(4) if the Commission for Racial Equality is consulted about the dispersal of asylum seekers, the designation of cluster areas for their reception and the numbers sent to each area. 
Mrs. Roche: The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) conducts research to identify cluster areas. Information is received from the local authority led regional consortiums, voluntary groups and other organisations with an interest in asylum. There is a consultation process in place to seek advice from local health and education authorities. Any information received will be taken into account, and this can include information about unemployment rates, health services and education provision. The Commission for Racial Equality is consulted on specific issues.
Ideally, NASS aims to establish cluster areas where there is suitable and available accommodation and where it would be possible to link with existing communities and to develop the support of voluntary and community groups. In some cases not all of the above criteria will be in place before asylum seekers are dispersed and it is recognised that some support structures are unlikely to develop until asylum seekers are actually located in an area.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the (a) total population and (b) ethnic minority percentage are of each cluster area for dispersal of asylum seekers; 
(3) what weighting is given to the size of the ethnic minority population as a factor designating cluster areas for asylum seekers; and what racial or ethnic affinities are taken into account; 
(4) in taking account of the size of the local ethnic minority population in designating cluster areas for the reception of asylum seekers, whether asylum seekers already there are included; and what part the numbers of the latter play in the decision to locate further asylum seekers there. 
Mrs. Roche: The identification of cluster areas follows research conducted centrally by the National Asylum Support Service and on information fed through by the local authority led regional consortiums, voluntary groups and other organisations with an interest. When considering if an area is suitable for accommodating asylum seekers a number of factors are taken into account. These include the make up of the local population, the number of asylum seekers already present in the area and the effect on the local area of placing additional asylum seekers there. The weight given to actual numbers will vary between areas. Information on the total population and percentage from ethnic minorities in individual cluster areas is not recorded centrally.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what grounds and when Grimsby was designated a cluster area for the reception of asylum seekers; and if he will set out the consequences of this designation. 
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Mrs. Roche: The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) consulted all regional consortiums to identify suitable cluster areas for the accommodation of asylum seekers before Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 came into force. As part of this consultation process NASS sought the views of the Yorkshire and Humberside regional consortium, of which Grimsby is part. The consortiums provided a list of towns and cities that were considered suitable to accommodate asylum seekers and the list from the Yorkshire and Humberside regional consortium included Grimsby. Grimsby has been designated as a cluster area since 3 April 2000, when the new support arrangements came into force.
Designation as a cluster area means that an area is deemed suitable to send asylum seekers under the dispersal arrangements operated by the National Asylum Support Service. Further, schools with asylum seeking children dispersed to the area by NASS on their registers were able in the last financial year 2000-01 to apply for additional grant of up to £500 per pupil. This grant could be used to assist the child to settle quickly into school. In addition the grant to the local authority is based on the standard spending assessment which takes account of rises in the local population.
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