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Asylum Seekers

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will announce the sites on which he will seek planning permission for accommodation centres. [56903]

Angela Eagle: We will be submitting planning notifications in respect of DSDC Bicester, RAF Newton and QinetiQ Pershore as soon as possible. The notifications will be submitted using the ordinary procedure of Circular 18/84. Consultation with the relevant local authorities will continue, including public meetings.

Further work is required on the sites at AirWest Edinburgh, Sully Hospital (Glamorgan) and Hemswell Cliff (Lincolnshire) before a decision can be taken on whether to proceed to planning notifications.

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The sites at Hooton Park (Ellesmere Port) and Killingholme (North Lincolnshire) are considered to be unsuitable for the siting of accommodation centres. No planning notifications will be submitted in respect of those sites.

Site searching has continued since we made our initial announcement, as we said it would. In addition to the sites we have identified ourselves, a number have been put forward by potential bidders. We shall not be putting into the public domain details of such sites unless and until they are considered to be serious prospect for the siting of an accommodation centre.

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will provide milk tokens to asylum seekers with young children; [45473]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Asylum seekers in receipt of support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) who have a baby are eligible to apply for a one-off maternity payment of £300 to meet the costs associated with the arrival of a baby. In addition the family's level of subsistence is re-calculated. For each child under the age of 16 the family receives £33.50 per week. Children of asylum seekers receive the same level of financial support as those of parents on job seeker's allowance or income support.

I am aware that the issue of milk tokens to asylum seeking mothers is a concern to many members of this House. In addition, Ministers and officials in NASS have received representations from various groups including Milk for Schools, Save the Children, the Child Poverty Action Group and Bill Morris of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU). We have also received petitions from voluntary agencies such as Refugee Council and Migrant Helpline. We will continue to monitor the level of support provided to asylum seekers and their families.

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether children and their families will be accommodated in separate units within accommodation centres. [51745]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 23 April 2002]: Children and their families will be accommodated within family units in accommodation centres, separate from those units accommodating single asylum seekers.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the factors which led to the decision to grant asylum seekers 70 per cent. of the basic income support to meet their living costs. [55330]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 10 May 2002]: The levels of asylum support for adults are set at 70 per cent. of income support levels because, unlike those in receipt of income support, National Asylum Support Service (NASS)-supported asylum seekers receive free, furnished accommodation, equipped with all necessary utensils, bedding, towels, etc. and with all their utility bills paid by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) on top of their cash subsistence payments. In addition, after six months in receipt of NASS support, asylum seekers are

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eligible for an additional single payment of £50. Taken as a package, the value of NASS support is broadly equal to the support that was provided to asylum seekers under the previous, cash-based system. The asylum support levels for children are 100 per cent. of the income support levels.

Mohammed Umer

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make inquiries into the passport of Mr. Mohammed Umer of Southend, which is with the IND office in Croydon. [55312]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 10 May 2002]: Mr. Umer's documents were sent to his home address by recorded delivery on 9 May 2002.

Dungavel Prison (Visitors)

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is practice to fingerprint (a) charity workers, (b) teachers and (c) official visitors who may be visiting Dungavel prison. [28806]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 21 January 2002]: Charity workers, teachers and official visitors who visit Dungavel removal centre on official business are not fingerprinted. They are instead required to sign in and out.

Visitors to individual detainees are fingerprinted on arrival as part of Dungavel's standard security procedures. The record is checked on the departure of the visitor and is then automatically deleted.

Belmarsh Prison

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) national origin and (b) first language is of each (i) convicted and (ii) remand prisoner held in the special secure unit at HMP Belmarsh; what translation facilities are available for prisoners for (A) routine prison administrative and matters connected with good order in the prison, (B) medical examinations, (C) legal visits and (D) family visits; and how many non-English language books (1) are held by HMP Belmarsh and (2) have been borrowed in the past six months by prisoners held in the special secure unit. [52463]

Beverley Hughes: The facility at Belmarsh prison is designated as a high secure unit. The number of prisoners currently held in the high secure unit is 34. The national origin of those convicted is Colombian (one); United Kingdom (seven). The national origin of those unconvicted is Algerian (two); Belgium (one): Spanish (one); Egyptian (two); Irish (six); Jamaican (one); Turkish (two); United Kingdom (10). One person has declined to declare a national origin.

All prisoners in the high secure unit are able to speak English. Translation facilities are currently available in Arabic, Spanish and Turkish to enable prisoners to communicate via the telephone or, where security issues arise, during visits. Belmarsh has continuous translation facilities for attendance at the prison to carry out

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simultaneous translation of visits and telephone calls. These facilities are also available where there is a need for staff to communicate with a prisoner on a medical or induction interview.

Belmarsh also has the use of telephone translation facilities. Where circumstances arise, Belmarsh would also use other prisoners speaking the same language to assist in translation, or use staff who are able to speak foreign languages. There is also a contract translation service for use with mail and other written material. No translation service is provided for legal visits, on the grounds that the visiting legal representative would make such arrangements. Induction packs for newly arrived prisoners are available in a limited number of foreign languages.

Belmarsh has approximately 700 non-English books in the library. Records are not kept to show the number of such books that have been borrowed by prisoners held in the high secure unit. All prisoners have access to the library and may borrow books.

Prisons (Fire Precautions)

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the fire precautions that will be required in the contract to build the new women's prison at Ashford, Middlesex. [54323]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 7 May 2002]: The draft contract for the new prison at Ashford, Middlesex states that:

The construction work at Ashford will be in line with existing Prison Service protocols and standards for fire precautions. The contractor is subject to the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 (as amended in 1999). In addition, a review into fire safety in prisons is almost complete. As the construction of the prison has not yet started it would be possible to change the specification to incorporate any changes required by the review, including the fitting of sprinklers.

Prisoner Location

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many young people were moved from local authority secure accommodation to Prison Service establishments in each month since January 2001, broken down by (a) age and (b) gender. [55040]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 9 May 2002]: The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales commission and purchase secure accommodation for remanded and sentenced young people. They have provided the information in the table: the number of young people transferred from local authority accommodation to Prison Service establishments in each month since January 2001, broken down by age and gender.

Age 15 Age 16 Age 17

(13) First week

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