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Mr. Denham: The Government's strategy for reforming the criminal justice system is set out in "Criminal Justice: The Way Ahead", presented to Parliament in February by my right hon. Friend the then Home Secretary. This makes reference to possible changes to police working conditions.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons are employed in his Department's press office; at what grades; and what the equivalent numbers were on 1 May 1997. 
Mr. Blunkett: There are currently 25 Press Officers in the Home Office Press Office--five Senior Information Officers, 18 Information Officers, two Assistant Information Officers. In addition there is one Chief Immigration Officer on secondment and support staff comprising one Higher Executive Officer, one Administrative Officer and one Administrative Assistant.
On 1 May 1997 there were three Senior Information Officers, 10 Information Officers (two part-time), one Assistant Information Officer, a Higher Executive Officer on secondment, one Executive Officer, one Administrative Officer and two Administrative Assistants.
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accessibility in providing accountability to the public for the work of the Home Office and to the provision of the services of the Department's press office.
While some responsibilities have transferred from the Home Office to a number of other Departments, the Home Office has taken on responsibility for work permits, driving forward the agenda on the United Kingdom Anti-drugs Co-ordinating Unit and for extending the work of citizenship and active communities.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he expects the review of the voucher system of asylum support to be completed; and when he will report its conclusions to the House; 
Angela Eagle: My noble Friend Lord Rooker and I have taken over responsibility for the review of the operation of the voucher scheme. We are considering the evidence and will announce our conclusions in due course.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints have been received by NASS in respect of sub-standard accommodation provided for asylum seekers since April 2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela Eagle: The Housing Management Team of the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) has received 253 complaints regarding a range of issues in relation to both housing conditions and management. The complaints are from a range of sources including asylum seekers themselves or their legal representatives as well as voluntary and public sector organisations acting on their behalf.
All complaints received by the Housing Management Team are registered, investigated and monitored. The team liaises as necessary with other agencies such as local authorities and refugee organisations in dealing with complaints.
Angela Eagle: Failed asylum seekers whose appeals have been rejected may be detained under the Immigration Act 1971 pending their removal from the United Kingdom. The decision as to whether or not detention should be authorised in such circumstances will be based on the individual merits of the case concerned. Reasonable alternatives to detention will be considered before it is authorised.
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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list for the period since 1 January (a) the number of asylum cases in which an appeal was lodged with the Home Office and (b) the number of asylum cases in which the Home Office passed appeal papers to the Independent Appellate Authority. 
|Appeals received by the Home Office(10),(11)||Appeals sent to the IAA(10)|
(10) Provisional figures rounded to the nearest five. Numbers might not add up due to rounding.
(11) Based on manual counts of data received in Appeals Support Section of the Home Office. Some cases are received elsewhere in the Home Office before being forwarded to ASS and so may be counted in a later month than when they arrived in the Home Office. These data also include a number of duplicates.
(12) Based on electronic sources.
(13) Estimate. Figures rounded to the nearest 100, and subject to later revision.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many unaccompanied minors who are classified as asylum seekers are under the protection of local authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action has been taken by NASS in response to complaints about the quality of sub- contracted accommodation provided for asylum seekers in Liverpool; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela Eagle: The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) investigates all complaints about the quality of sub-standard accommodation. Where faults with the accommodation have been identified the accommodation provider has been required to rectify them.
As a result of its inspection programme NASS has required providers in Liverpool to remove approximately 60 bedspaces from use due to failure to meet the requirements of the NASS contract specification.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his target is for the removal of failed asylum applicants from the United Kingdom; and what measures he plans to implement to secure that objective. 
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We are taking a range of measures, including a substantial increase in the number of caseworkers and Immigration Officers engaged on removal work, expansion of the detention estate, increased use of charter flights, creation of additional immigration arrest teams and development of a network of reporting centres, to support delivery of the target.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of failed asylum seekers at large in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the procedure is governing the inspection of properties provided by private landlords to NASS for the accommodation of asylum seekers. 
Angela Eagle: The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) has adopted a twin track approach towards the inspection of property. The main reason for this is to ensure a focus on housing management and support in addition to technical housing conditions.
Firstly, NASS has developed a Housing Management inspection function that aims to monitor the performance of accommodation providers and act upon any problems that inspections highlight in relation to management and support.
In terms of the condition of accommodation and, in particular, health and safety issues, NASS has appointed Contract managers to work in tandem with the Housing Management function to ensure a comprehensive approach towards both housing conditions and management.
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