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Onshore Licences

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Todd) on 20 July 2001, Official Report, column 609W, on petroleum licensing, what decisions she has made on onshore licence awards. [36754]

Mr. Wilson: I have decided to offer 22 Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences. In addition, I will offer another two licences provided that I am satisfied by further information yet to be supplied by the applicants.

These licences cover areas the length and breadth of the country, and include acreage never previously considered for oil and gas exploration. It is encouraging to see licences going to new applicants from both the UK and overseas—there are British, Italian, Canadian and Australian companies here, as operators or as partners. The high level of interest in this Round shows that the UK's onshore oil and gas industry has a strong future.

It is particularly good to be able to offer 14 licences to companies concentrating on gas from coal mines, offering the potential for new activity in former mining communities and helping to bring new activity and jobs to former mining areas, while contributing to the UK's energy supply, and helping to meet the Government's Kyoto targets by preventing unnecessary emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The other 10 licences show that conventional oil and gas is not being overlooked and continues to attract a high level of interest itself.

The operators on each licence, with the blocks to be covered and a brief resume of the drilling portion of the Work Programme are as follows:

OperatorBlocksWork programme (drilling only)
Alkane Energy UK Ltd.NX92, NX93, NY02, NY03One firm well
Alkane Energy UK Ltd.NT26, NT36One firm well
Alkane Energy UK Ltd.NS65, NS75One firm well
Alkane Energy UK Ltd.SK21, SK22One firm well
Alkane Energy UK Ltd.SJ94One drill-or-drop well
Alkane Energy UK Ltd.SJ18One drill-or-drop well
Alkane Energy UK Ltd.SE22One drill-or-drop well
Alkane Energy UK Ltd.S078, S079One drill-or-drop well
Sterling Resources (UK) Ltd.SU42One drill-or-drop well
Sonorex Oil and Gas Ltd.ST47, ST48One drill-or-drop well
Northern Petroleum (GB) Ltd.TQ75, TQ85, TQ95, TR05One drill-or-drop well
Black Rock Resources (UK) Ltd.SZ49, SZ59One drill-or-drop well
Stratagas plcSE74Three drill-or-drop CBM wells
Stratagas plcSJ82, SJ91, SJ92, SK11, SK02, SK12, SK21Three drill-or-drop CBM wells and a drill-or-drop Gob Gas well
Stratagas plcSJ48Three drill-or-drop CBM wells
Stratagas plcSN40Three drill-or-drop CBM wells
Stag Energy Ltd.SK65, SK66One drill-or-drop well
Warwick Energy Exploration and Production Ltd.SU40, SU30One drill-or-drop well
Warwick Energy Exploration and Production Ltd.SE68, SE78, SE88, SE98Two drill-or-drop wells
Archean Energy (UK) Ltd.TQ22, TQ32One drill-or-drop well
Archean Energy (UK) Ltd.SJ28, SJ29, SJ38, SJ39One drill-or-drop well
Coalbed Methane Ltd.NS76, NS77One drill-or-drop well

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Fire Sprinklers

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what regulations exist to limit the use of fire sprinklers in listed buildings. [33509]

Ms Keeble: I have been asked to reply.

Listed building consent is required to alter a listed building in any way that would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. Listed building controls extend to all works, both external and internal, that would affect a building's special interest.

It is for local planning authorities in the first instance to decide whether consent is required in any particular case, including for works involving the installation of fire sprinklers. In appropriate cases, conditions may be attached to the grant of listed building consent requiring the preservation of particular features.


Family Visitor Appeals

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the (a) costs of and (b) income from fees charged for family visitor appeals. [27872]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have been asked to reply.

The information is as follows:

(a) The cost to the Immigration Appellate authorities of family visitor appeals in the first six months of this financial year was £883,000.

(b) The net income from fees charged for family visitor appeals in the first six months of this financial year was £73,500.

Police Response Times

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provision exists to inspect the standards on telephone response times in the Metropolitan police. [12539]

Mr. Denham: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that the service level for answering 999 emergency calls is measured at 15 minute intervals throughout the day. This is used to identify patterns and establish the Metropolitan Police Service's (MPS) call handling requirements.

Supervising officers dip-sample telephone calls so that quality is assured and to ensure adherence to the MPS' policies, practices and procedures. This also ensures that calls are answered within a reasonable time.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total external spend by his Department was on Private Finance Initiative consultants in each of the last four years; how many full-time equivalent consultants were employed over this period; how many billed consultancy days there were per year; what the implied average cost of each PFI consultant was;

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how many consultancy firms were used by his Department over this period; and if he will make a statement. [31046]

Mr. Keith Bradley: The information requested is not available in the format requested. To provide the hon. Member with a full answer will incur disproportionate cost. I can however provide information detailing total spend on Private Finance Initiative consultants in each of the last four years and also the number of consultancy firms used by my Department over this period. The aforementioned information is as follows:

Total spend on private finance initiative (PFI) consultants


Number of consultancy firms used by the Home Department on PFI projects


The increase in expenditure is largely due to two projects, firstly the setting up of the Criminal Records Bureau and secondly various business change services relating to the Immigration and Nationality Department's Casework Programme to enable the improvement of case management.

Immigration Statistics

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion and number of immigration applications for (a) work permit holders, (b) people with UK ancestry, (c) EEA nationals and their families, (d) spouses, (e) fiancés and fianceés and (f) asylum seekers were decided upon in under (i) one month, (ii) two months, (iii) four months, (iv) six months, (v) 12 months and (vi) 18 months in each of the last five years; and what figures he predicts for the next two years. [30996]

Angela Eagle: The information requested is not readily available.

There are currently no published data for the individual categories of immigration applications. However, our aim is to decide all straightforward applications within three weeks. Owing to the exceptionally high number of applications received in 2001, especially in recent months, and process changes which are being introduced to improve our longer term performance, it is at present taking up to eight weeks to decide an application. We are working to reduce this to three weeks as soon as possible. Information on expected processing times for straightforward cases is provided to applicants on the Immigration Nationality Directorate (IND) website at

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The requested information on asylum applications is also not readily available; however the tables show the average time taken from an asylum application to an initial decision, for initial decisions made in each year.

Corresponding calendar year information for 2000 and for 2001 is not available.

Average time (in months) to initial decision(16),(17),(19)

Year of decisionMonths
October 2000 to September 2001(21),(22)14

(16) Excluding dependants

(17) Figures are estimates based on cases for which information is recorded

(18) Based on data from Refugee Index

(19) The average length of time (in months) is calculated from date application is lodged to the date of initial decision, and relates to the year in which the decisions were made

(20) As at the end of December 1999, excluding cases waiting an initial decision

(21) Based on data from A-CID (Asylum Cases Information Database)

(22) Provisional figures

I regret that information on predicted processing times for the next two years is not available.

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