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Magistrates Courts

Tim Loughton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many court cases in magistrates courts have been abandoned in each of the last five years owing to non-appearance of (a) witnesses and (b) police witnesses. [12604]

Mr. Wills: Information has not been collected nationally on cases which have been abandoned. From 1 January 2002, a joint scheme will be implemented in England and Wales to collect data on the reasons for Cracked, Ineffective and Vacated trials in the magistrates courts.

Working Group on Gender Allocation

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a further statement on progress of the Home Office Working Group on Gender Allocation. [11802]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: This subject was transferred from the Home Office to the Lord Chancellor's Department in the recent machinery of Government changes. The Report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Transsexual People was presented to Parliament in July 2002. The report has been carefully considered within Government and by other interested groups. The Government are sympathetic to the issues raised in the report and are considering further how to take the matter forward.

Induction and Accommodation Centres

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what advice and representation will be available to asylum seekers in induction and accommodation centres. [11910]

Angela Eagle: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 29 October 2001, Official Report, column 642.

Details of the services that will be available in induction and accommodation centres will appear in the White Paper, which my right hon. Friend announced on 29 October 2001.


Category A Prisoners

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women were classified as category A prisoners in prisons in England and Wales as at 1 July. [4782]

Beverley Hughes: Provisional information shows that on 1 July 2001 there were four female category A prisoners in prisons in England and Wales, all of which were adults, compared with 955 category A adult males, and 14 category A male young offenders.

Personal Identity Documents

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance the Government give to Departments in cases involving the loss of personal identity documents (a) when they are being held by Departments and (b) in other circumstances. [10073]

Angela Eagle: Staff in Home Office departments handling documents of identity are instructed to treat them with proper regard to security.

Where it is confirmed after a thorough search that a document has been lost in the department, the document is replaced at the expense of the department. The circumstances are investigated and the situation monitored.

Losses in other circumstances are investigated wherever possible and the situation monitored to identify trends. Where appropriate, information to help prevent fraudulent use of documents is shared with other Departments. No general guidance to other Departments is issued.

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Road Traffic Offences (Fines)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much revenue was generated from fines for road traffic offences in the last 12 months. [11563]

Mr. Denham: Available information taken from the 1999 Home Office Motoring Offences (Court Proceedings) Database shows that the amount (£) of fines imposed at all courts for road traffic offences within England and Wales, was £57 million.

3.1 million fixed penalty notices were issued for road traffic offences in 1999 amounting to £80 million.

Religious Discrimination

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 19 October 2001, Official Report, column 1399W, on religious discrimination, if he will list the research participants who have been consulted; and if he will put copies of their evidence in the Library. [11066]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 October 2001]: The research participants in question took part in a research project commissioned by the Home Office into religious discrimination. They included representatives of religious organisations and representatives of secular agencies in the public, private and voluntary sectors throughout England and Wales.

I am not able to disclose their personal details as the organisations and participants were assured their responses would be confidential, as is standard practice in social surveys. In fact, researchers at the University of Derby (who conducted the research) removed all names and addresses before they sent us a copy of the survey data, which again is proper procedure.

This research produced two reports published in the Home Office Research Study series in February 2001;

As with all our publications in the Home Office Research Study series, these reports are available in the Library.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what security profile is carried out on refugees arriving in the UK. [8150]

Angela Eagle: All arriving passengers are presented to the United Kingdom immigration controls where they are examined by an immigration officer before being allowed into the UK.

That examination includes checking personal details against the Immigration Service Warnings Index. The Warnings Index computer system is the primary tool for providing information to staff operating the immigration entry control. It maintains records of passengers who

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have, for example, previously been refused entry or been deported, and also contains information for the purposes of national security and the detection and prevention of crime. All Immigration Service staff at control points have access to the Warnings Index and portable equipment is available for use elsewhere when needed. All arriving asylum applicants are checked against the system.

Foreign Armed Forces (UK Citizens)

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking concerning British citizens who serve with the Taliban forces. [11981]

Mr. Keith Bradley [holding answer 2 November 2001]: It is wrong to take up arms against British soldiers and their allies.

Generally British citizens are free to travel abroad and it would not be practical to investigate every individual's intentions. However, anyone considering fighting with the Taliban will know it is wrong to take up arms against British soldiers and their allies, and should be aware that they may be laying themselves open to criminal sanctions, including for treason.

In addition, individuals who are committing offences here under the Terrorism Act 2000 can be detained by the police for investigation.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on dealing with British citizens apprehended in Afghanistan taking arms against British military personnel, on their return to the UK. [12602]

Mr. Keith Bradley: I refer the hon. Member to the replies given to the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire (Mr. Page) on 2 November 2001, Official Report, column 862W.

Victims of Torture

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assistance is offered to asylum seekers who make an application to enter the UK on the basis of providing evidence that they are the victims of torture. [11663]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 1 November 2001]: A person making an application for asylum may be issued with a Statement of Evidence Form (SEF). This has an accompanying explanatory note about the role of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

Those who are not given a SEF will be interviewed shortly after having made an asylum claim and if they raise the issue of torture during the course of their interview, the interviewing officer may advise them to get a medical report. The interviewing officer may also refer them to specialist organisations that might be able to assist them, such as the medical foundation.

All interviewing officers are trained to deal with victims of torture and have access to guidelines setting out how to interview such people.

All asylum seekers who are supported by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) are provided with guidance notes explaining that they have access to the national health service (NHS).

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