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19 Sept 2002 : Column 33W—continued

Accommodation Centres

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what child welfare frameworks and inspection regimes will apply to accommodation centres under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill; and to what extent it is his policy that the provisions of the (a) Children Act 1989, (b) Children (Scotland) Act 1995, (c) Care Standards Act 2000 and (d) Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 will apply. [55331]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 10 May 2002]: I will write to my hon. Friend.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answer of 3 July, on accommodation centres, when (a) he and (b) representatives of his Department have discussed the use of the former Royal Air Force Turnhouse site with BAA Lynton; and if he will place in the Library the minutes of the meetings. [69194]

Beverley Hughes: There has been dialogue over recent months between representatives of the Home Office officials and BAA Lynton.

The details of this dialogue cannot be placed in the Library for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

Dublin Convention

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the EU Committee on the system for comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention (Eurodac) is next due to meet; whether representatives of the Scottish Executive (a) have been and (b) are members of it; and if he will make a statement. [70928]

Beverley Hughes: The EURODAC system itself is not yet operational. There are no immediate plans for the Committee established by Article 23 of the EURODAC Regulation to meet. Immigration and asylum matters are reserved subjects and consequently officials from the

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Scottish Executive are not members of the Committee. A Home Office official and an official from the United Kingdom (UK) Permanent Representation in Brussels will represent the UK at meetings of the Committee.


Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people were (a) reported for and (b) convicted of offences related to paedophilia and how many of the latter were repeat offenders in Wales in the last five years; [71004]

Hilary Benn: There is no definitive list of offences relating to paedophilia. The information collected centrally relates to a range of offences (including those involving direct contact with the victims and others that do not) against victims of a variety of ages, some of which span the legal age of consent to sexual activity.

The government have announced that they will publish in the autumn its plans for comprehensive reform of the framework of sexual offences.

Marsham Street

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which consultant is advising on his new Department's building in Marsham Street; and for what reasons this consultant is tendering for hydrofluorocarbon air-conditioning. [71356]

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Beverley Hughes: As announced on 26 March, the contract for the Home Office's new Head Quarters building in Marsham Street has been signed with Annes Gate Property (AGP). Battle McCarthy is the consultant in the design team retained by AGP's design and build sub-contractor, Bouygues UK Ltd. The Home Office also retains an environmental specialist through its external surveyor monitoring the design development by AGP and their sub-contractor.

For AGP, Bouygues UK Ltd is tendering for the hydroflourocarbon (R407C) refrigerant in the air conditioning as this substance achieves environmental friendliness and gives best value for money. The substance has a positive rating in the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), which is the recognised evaluation process for measuring the environmental level of a building and it also meets all UK quality standards.


Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what schemes his Department (a) has in place and (b) plans to put in place to assist refugees living in Scotland find employment. [71724]

Beverley Hughes: The National Refugee Integration Forum, which consists of representatives from Government departments, local authorities, the voluntary sector and refugees themselves, oversees the development of the overall integration strategy for refugees across the United Kingdom (UK). Access to employment is a key to enabling refugees to achieve their full potential in the UK. The Forum has established an Employment sub group to look specifically at the barriers to work that refugees face, and how these barriers can be removed.

Amongst measures examined so far are the provision of appropriate English language training, provision of information about the UK labour market, and raising awareness amongst potential employers of the skills and qualifications that refugees bring with them to the UK.

The National Forum has also assisted in the establishment of a Scottish Refugee Integration Forum, chaired by the Minister of Social Justice Margaret Curran MSP, to look at the issues facing those refugees who have settled in Scotland. Mirroring the National Forum, the Scottish Forum has also established a satellite group to consider the barriers to employment from a Scottish perspective.

The Home Office also funds a number of refugee integration initiatives in Scotland through the Refugee Integration Challenge Fund and the European Refugee Fund. These are:

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Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many British passports have been issued to individuals previously citizens of the overseas territories broken down by (a) territory, (b) age and (c) sex; and what assessment he has made of the efficiency of the operation. [71653]

Beverley Hughes: There is no single system for issuing passports to people who are British citizens under the British Overseas Territories Act 2002. Those who are resident in the United Kingdom may apply to the usual Passport Office for their region. Those resident in territories where British passport issuing facilities are available locally or through a convenient British diplomatic post may apply in the territory. As a temporary measure until alternative arrangements are in place, applications in other territories are being sent to the Liverpool passport office for processing. Figures are available only for those applications dealt with at Liverpool and are given in the table. Applications from UK residents are being dealt with at the same speed as other first applications: 2 weeks for the standard service, 1 week for the fast track service at United Kingdom Passport Service counters. The total turnaround times for applications from overseas territories dealt with in Liverpool depend mainly on transport links between the territory and the UK; the Liverpool office handles the application within the 2 week standard service.

Applications dealt with 21 May to 18 July 2002

British Virgin Islands1091023830
Cayman Islands9977195
St Helena253057

* Includes 104 adults and 26 children registered as British citizens under Section 5 of the British Nationality Act 1981

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information will be held on the proposed passport card. [72547]

Beverley Hughes: The proposed passport card will hold the same personal data as currently contained in the United Kingdom passport. In addition biometric information is being considered for inclusion in both passport cards and passport books.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of the number of fraudulent UK passports in existence and circulation. [72107]

Beverley Hughes: It is not possible to say how many fraudulently issued United Kingdom passports there are in existence or in circulation. The UK Passport Service does not routinely collate comprehensive information on the number of passports which have been identified as having been issued on the basis of fraudulent applications. Also, the Passport Service is not always informed when such passports come to light.

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The Passport Service does measure detected fraud and has recently identified some 800 fraudulently obtained passports through its automated check on the death records of under 18 year olds in England and Wales. Details of these passports have been circulated to law enforcement agencies in the UK and to authorities abroad.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what examples of passport cards in other jurisdictions he studied in his proposals for a passport card. [72123]

Beverley Hughes: The concept of a card form of a passport has only recently been embodied into published International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) specifications (1999). Officials from the United Kingdom Passport Service have exchanged ideas about the development of passport cards with Canadian and Australian colleagues. Information has also been exchanged with Swedish, United States and New Zealand passport officials

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the US Government regarding the acceptability of his proposed passport card as a replacement for the traditional passport for UK citizens entering the US. [72122]

Beverley Hughes: The UK Passport Service's plans for a passport card are based on it not being a replacement for the passport book. Individuals will be issued with both documents.

The card is planned primarily as a convenient travel document for United Kingdom citizens to use in Europe. In addition an extension of its use, via bilateral agreements, to countries not requiring UK citizens to hold a visa will be pursued. Discussions between officials from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have indicated a secure passport card would be acceptable, but no formal approach has been made to gain acceptance from these countries.

The US is currently revising its border control strategy, including visa waiver arrangements. This may impact on the acceptability of a UK passport card in the US.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the (a) European Union and (b) international standards with which a passport card must comply. [72121]

Beverley Hughes: Standards for machine readable travel documents have been established by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This United Nations body publishes specifications in Document 9303 in three separate parts. Part 1 covers passports, Part 2 visas and Part 3 cards.

These standards have wide international acceptance. Part 1 of the document includes card forms of the passport within its scope but refers to Part 3 for the technical specifications that should apply. A United Kingdom passport card will comply with the specifications in Part 3.

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European Union member states comply with Doc 9303 for the design of their travel documents. In addition, member states of the European Union have agreed on a joint resolution on minimum security standards for travel documents. The UK passport card will comply with this resolution.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if a person may countersign a passport application if they themselves do not possess a passport. [72527]

Beverley Hughes: No. A requirement for countersignatories to be British or Irish passport holders was introduced at the same time as the definition of acceptable countersignatories was broadened. Applications may now be countersigned by any professional persons or persons of standing in the community, but they must hold a current United Kingdom or Irish passport. This gives applicants the widest choice of countersignatories at the same time as improving security by allowing a 100 per cent. check on the identity of countersignatories from the UK Passport Service records or by arrangement with the Irish authorities.

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