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Correspondence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many letters he has received in 2001 from residents of the Buckingham constituency on asylum policy. [16911]

Angela Eagle: No record is kept of the postal address of correspondents.

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Data Protection

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which public sector organisations have applied to him to be allowed to demand Communications Data under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Acts; and if he will make a statement. [17193]

Mr. Blunkett: We have been approached by a number of public authorities including local authorities, the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Services Authority. I will be considering shortly whether to seek the approval of Parliament to add them to the current list of public authorities who can access communications data under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many certificates he has signed with respect to Section 28 of the Data Protection Act 1998 since coming to office; if he has renewed certificates signed by his predecessors in office; what plans he has to review the form of the certificate; and if he will make a statement. [17191]

Mr. Blunkett: I have neither signed nor renewed any such certificates. I expect soon to have decided on a course of action in response to the determination of the National Security Panel of the Information Tribunal on the appeal by the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) against a Data Protection Act 1998 national security exemption certificate covering the Security Service.

Graduates (Work Permits)

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the immigration status is of persons who are graduates of UK universities and holders of non-EU passports who have been invited to take up employment in the UK within the field of their educational background. [16793]

Angela Eagle: A student graduating from a United Kingdom University who is subject to immigration control would require a prospective employer to obtain a work permit for them prior to them taking up that employment.

Such individuals are able to remain in the United Kingdom while the work permit application is being considered. The Immigration Rules will be changed formally next year to allow graduates, student nurses and postgraduate doctors and dentists to obtain work permits without first having to leave the country. In the meantime this announced policy is being applied as a concession outside the rules.

Drugs Strategy

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was (a) the budgeted amount and (b) the actual spend for the drugs misuse allocation for England for each of the last three years. [16831]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The information is not available in the form requested. Government ring-fenced funding for the 10-year National Drugs Strategy is set to rise from £700 million in 2000–01 to over £1 billion for proactive work alone by 2003–04.

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Funding for 2000–01—estimates of baseline spend in Department Expenditure limits—comprises:


In addition, funding awarded from the Budget 2001:


I refer my hon. Friend to the publication "United Kingdom Anti-Drugs Co-ordinators Annual Report 2000–01" which is available in the Library.

Visa Applications

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the handling of the visa application of Mrs. Grace Allen, Ref A1127781. [16908]

Angela Eagle: I understand that Mrs. Allen's appeal against the refusal of entry clearance is listed for hearing by the Immigration Appellate Authority on 17 December.

Asylum Seekers

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provisions are made for teaching English as a second language to asylum seekers in the UK. [16773]

Angela Eagle: Currently there is no provision to teach English to asylum seekers who are not of compulsory school age. In his statement on 29 October my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary set out his proposals for a radical reform of the asylum process, including the creation of accommodation centres. Accommodation centres will provide a range of services, including purposeful activity for adult asylum seekers, which could include English language lessons. Details of the services that will be available in accommodation centres will appear in the White Paper, which my right hon. Friend also announced on 29 October.

Immigration Detainees

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons are in detention under immigration legislation. [17304]

Angela Eagle: The latest available information on the number of persons detained under Immigration Act powers relates to 30 June 2001; 1,760 persons (to the nearest five) were detained as at this date, including 245 persons detained in prison establishments under dual Immigration Act and other powers.

The next set of statistics are currently planned for release on 30 November on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website http:// www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html, and will relate to persons detained as at 30 September.

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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons have been detained under the Immigration Act 1971 in each of the past five years; and in each year, how many detained persons have (a) been charged with a criminal offence, (b) been the subject of a deportation order, (c) appealed against such an order and (d) been deported to which countries. [17765]

Angela Eagle: Available information relates only to persons detained under Immigration Act powers as at 30 June 2001; 1,760 persons (to the nearest five) were detained as at this date. This includes 245 persons detained in prison establishments under dual Immigration Act and other powers who have been charged with a criminal offence.

I regret that the information requested on detainees who have been the subject of a deportation order, appealed against such an order and been deported to which countries is not held centrally and could be obtained only by examining individual case files at disproportionate cost.

Heroin Imports (Afghanistan)

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 20 November 2001, Official Report, column 237W, on imports of heroin to Britain, what is his estimate of the percentage of heroin imported into Britain since July 2000 that originated in (a) Taliban-controlled and (b) Northern Alliance- controlled Afghanistan. [17732]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Pre-existing stockpiles of opium and morphine base in the supply chain make it probable that the vast majority of heroin which has been imported to the United Kingdom since July 2000 originated from opium produced in Taliban controlled areas of Afghanistan. The opium crop planted in late 2000 will not have been ready until May 2001.

Estimates of production of opium in Afghanistan in recent years are as shown in the table.

Tonnes

YearTalibanNorthern Alliance
19982,592108
19994,510140
20003,139131
200121164

MI5

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what circumstances MI5 may decide that major decisions it takes need not be communicated to him; and what mechanism exists to ensure such decisions are in the public interests. [18537]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 27 November 2001]: The duties and powers of the Security Service are established by law, and the Service is under the authority of the Secretary of State. The operations of the Service are under the control of its Director-General. I am satisfied with the arrangements in place to ensure that I am properly consulted by the Service on significant issues.

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Cross-channel Illegal Immigration

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next intends to meet with French authorities to discuss the operation of checks conducted at French ports to prevent illegal immigrants entering the United Kingdom. [17653]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 27 November 2001]: The Home Secretary will next be meeting Interior Minister Vaillant at the United Kingdom-France summit on 29 November to discuss a range of bilateral issues, including cross-channel illegal immigration and the effectiveness of checks conducted on persons and vehicles.

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received in relation to the operation of checks conducted at French ports to prevent illegal immigrants entering the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [17647]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 27 November 2001]: A wide range of interested parties have been in contact with both the Home Secretary and officials on the issue of checks at French ports. These include transport operators, Members of Parliament, and the general public.

Ministers and officials have also discussed this matter with their French counterparts in the course of regular discussions about cross-channel issues.


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