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15 Oct 2002 : Column 734Wcontinued
David Davis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will list external (a) public relations/communications companies, (b) advertising and marketing companies, (c) management consultancies, (d) accountancy companies, (e) banking firms, (f) individual consultants and (g) other specialist consultancies used by his Office since June 2001; what actions those consultancies/companies have performed within his Department; and what costs have been incurred through use of these consultancies/companies. 
Mr. Alexander: Special advisers are temporary civil servants appointed under Article 3 of the Civil Service Order in Council 1995. The Government's view is that they cannot be employed on a permanent basis on the grounds that they have been recruited outside the Civil Service rules of fair and open competition, and they are not required to be politically impartial or serve a future Administration of a different political party. Special advisers are employed on fixed term contracts for the purposes of the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 but the Government believes that special advisers' contracts cannot be converted to permanent ones by virtue of Regulation 8. Employing special advisers on a temporary basis is justified on objective grounds due to the special nature of their employment.
15 Oct 2002 : Column 735W
Beverley Hughes: Asylum seekers apply to be granted refugee status in the United Kingdom (UK) rather than specifically in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Asylum applications data are not available at regional level except by port (for those applications made at portthese accounted for 33 per cent. of applications in the period July 2001 to June 2002, inclusive). Corresponding information on initial decision outcomes relating to persons in particular areas of the UK is also not available, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.
John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what support will be made available from public funds for asylum seekers whose applications have taken more than six months to determine and who are unable to take up employment as a result of the recent withdrawal of the employment concession; 
Beverley Hughes: Asylum seekers who are destitute can apply for support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). Support can include the provision of accommodation and financial support. The amount of financial support varies according to the person's circumstances but the rates of support applicable from 8 April this year are as follows:
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|Person aged 1824||#29.89|
|Person aged 25 or over||#37.77|
|Child under 16||#33.50|
|Child aged 16 or 17||#32.50|
Where accommodation is provided the costs of this, together with any associated utility bills and council tax is met centrally. Asylum seekers are also eligible for NHS treatment and may be eligible for free prescriptions, dental and optical services.
Children of compulsory school age here as part of an asylum seeking family are also entitled to attend school.
Information is not held centrally on the number of asylum seekers who were granted permission to work under the terms of the employment concession and this could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines he has set in terms of numbers for the level of pressure on local authorities' housing for those authorities not to be considered suitable locations for an asylum accommodation centre; and what the level of pressure on local authorities' housing is in each of (a) the proposed accommodation centre sites and (b) the other sites short-listed but not chosen. 
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Scottish Executive will have the final decision in the consideration of planning permission for an asylum seeker accommodation centre at RAF Turnhouse. 
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If such a proposal for the Turnhouse site were to be pursued, it would be a matter for consideration by the City of Edinburgh Council in the first instance. If the Council were to object then the Home Office, as developer, would consider whether to refer the proposal to the Scottish Ministers for a final decision.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government are taking to identify potential sites for asylum seeker accommodation centres other than those already announced as under consideration. 
Beverley Hughes: Site searching has continued since we made our initial announcement, as we said it would. We will not be putting into the public domain details of such sites unless and until they are considered to be a serious prospect for the siting of an accommodation centre.
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Beverley Hughes: I refer the hon Member to the reply my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Angela Eagle) gave to the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) on 19 April 2002, Official Report, column 1262W.
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for asylum have been (a) approved and (b) rejected in respect of Zimbabwean nationals since 1 January 2000. 
|Total Initial Decisions 3||Cases considered under normal procedures 4||Backlog clearance exercise 5|
|Granted asylum||Granted ELR 7||Refused||Granted Asylum or ELR 7 under backlog criteria||Refused under backlog criteria 6|
|January to June 2002(p)||2,310||645||55||1,610||-||-|
1 Figures rounded to the nearest 5, with * = 1 or 2.
2 Decision figures do not necessarily relate to applications received in the same period.
3 Information is of initial decisions, excluding the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions.
4 Cases considered under normal procedures may include some cases decided under the backlog criteria.
5 Cases decided under measures aimed at reducing the pre 1996 asylum application backlog.
6 Includes some cases where the application has been refused on substantive grounds.
7 ELR = exceptional leave to remain.
(p) Figures for 2001 and 2002 are provisional and subject to change.
Information on asylum applications and decisions is published quarterly. The next publication will be available from 29 November 2002 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate web site at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.
Rounded to nearest 100
(p) provisional data
Information on the number of asylum cases awaiting an initial decision is published quarterly. The next publication will be available from 29 November 2002 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate web site at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.htm.
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