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Arranged Marriages

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if an entry clearance officer who has grounds to suspect that a proposed marriage is primarily for the purpose of evading immigration controls has the power to refuse the issue of an entry clearance certificate to either party on those grounds. [52767]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: The primary purpose rule, which required an applicant to prove that the primary purpose of the marriage was not to obtain admission to the United Kingdom, was abolished in June 1997. However, an entry clearance officer can refuse to issue an entry clearance if he is not satisfied that the marriage is genuine and that each of the parties intends to live permanently with the other as his or her spouse after the marriage.

Refugee Convention

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps would be necessary for Britain to withdraw from the 1951 Refugee Convention and from subsequent related commitments. [52763]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 30 April 2002]: Article 44 of the 1951 Convention states that any contracting state may denounce the Convention at any time by a notification addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations. The Convention would cease to extend to such territory one year after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary General. All relevant legislation would need to be amended to give effect to denunciation of the Convention.

However, the Government are committed to ensuring that this country adheres to its obligations under the Convention, and that those who are fleeing persecution are given the protection they need. Equally the Government are determined that those who attempt to abuse this country's immigration and asylum system are dealt with quickly and removed.

Resource Allocation

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he will use the additional resources allocated to his Department in the Budget statement. [53947]

Mr. Blunkett: Working in partnership with colleagues in Departments, agencies and services throughout the criminal justice system, I am taking forward a major programme of work to reduce crime and deal more effectively with offenders at every stage of the criminal justice process. The recent additional allocation of resources will enable us both to intensify and accelerate existing plans in key areas as well as to enhance our counter-terrorist response.

1 May 2002 : Column 822W

In his Budget statement, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the allocation of new resources to the Home Office of £180 million, including £110 million from the Reserve for 2002–03. He also announced that we would be drawing down on a further £100 million from the Criminal Justice Reserve. In addition, I will be re-prioritising £68 million from existing Home Office resources. This will make possible substantial new investment in key Home Office priorities as follows:

    £87 million to enhance our defences against terrorism including additional resources for police activity and technical and operational support for counter-terrorist activity.

    £ million
    Police activity63.0
    Technical and operational support24.0

Sentence Review

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to inform members of the public of their right to ask the Attorney- General to review unduly lenient sentences under the Criminal Justice Act 1998. [51991]

Mr. Keith Bradley [holding answer 23 April 2002]: Information about the power of the Attorney-General to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal for review has been incorporated in a number of Home Office publications, including the Victims Charter. This has been distributed widely throughout the criminal justice system and is publicly available through Libraries and on the Home Office website, and the 'Information for Families of Homicide Victims' pack.

If a person believes that the sentence passed is unduly lenient, they can discuss this with the local office of the Crown Prosecution Service, who have put in place systems by which potentially unduly lenient sentences can be brought to the attention of the Attorney-General.

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Young Prisoners

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what minimum daily calorie level is recommended for juveniles held in prisons and courts. [52138]

Beverley Hughes: The Youth Justice Board monitors the performance of secure training centres (STCs) and local authority secure children's homes against their respective contracts and service specifications. These specify that each service provider should provide three wholesome, nutritious, varied good quality meals per day to each young person. At least one meal should be hot and there should be a choice available for the main meal.

Prison Service establishments holding juveniles are subject to Prison Service Order 5000, Annexe 20, which states that the estimated average calorific requirement for the 15 to 18-year-old age group is 2,755 kcal for males and 2,110 kcal for females.

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Looked-after Children

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many juveniles in prisons are looked- after children. [52140]

Beverley Hughes: The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) is responsible for commissioning and purchasing secure accommodation for juveniles, and for setting and monitoring standards.

The information requested is not currently collected systematically. However, the YJB is now putting in place a system to do this. The YJB is also in the process of commissioning research into the numbers and needs of looked-after children in custody.

Antisocial Behaviour

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many antisocial behaviour orders have been issued since their inception in (a) Hampshire, (b) Fareham, (c) Gosport and (d) Portsmouth. [53434]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 30 April 2002]: Antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) were introduced from 1 April 1999. The data given in the table covers the period up to the end of December 2001.

Number of antisocial behaviour orders issued as from 1 April 1999 to 31 December 2001 within Hampshire by area

AreaFrom 1 April 1999 to 31 May 2000(25)From 1 June 2000 to 31 December 2000From 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2001Total
Police force area/MCC(26)
Local government authority
Fareham BC(27)
Gosport BC(27)
Portsmouth, City of(27)11
Southampton, City of(27)235

(25) Total figure only available for Hampshire police force area within this period. Local government authority not known.

(26) MCC—Magistrates courts committee area.

(27) Not available.

Firearms Certificates

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his target is for police forces to deal with applications for (a) new and for (b) variations of firearms certificates; and what the average time taken by each police force is. [53466]

Mr. Keith Bradley [holding answer 30 April 2002]: No central target is set by the Home Office. It is for each police force to establish its own targets for dealing with applications for new firearms certificates and for variations to existing ones. Under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1999 all forces are required to carry out a five year rolling programme of best value reviews of all areas of business, including firearms licensing.

The average times taken for each force to undertake these functions are not centrally recorded, but we understand that most forces would aim to deal with the majority of currently completed applications within four to eight weeks.

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