Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence


Letter to the Chairman of the Committee, dated 21 February 2005, from Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department

  Further to my appearance before your Committee on 8 February I undertook to write to you with more details on several questions that were raised and this information is provided below.

TERRORISM CASES DUE TO COME BEFORE THE COURTS

  The following information has been provided to me by the police. As you will appreciate I cannot comment in detail on individual cases. However, a number of the cases listed below are due to come to court over the next few months.

Arrests

    —  Police records show that from 11 September 2001 until 31 December 2004, 701 people were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Charges

    —  119 of these were charged under the Act. Of these, 45 were also charged with offences under other legislation.

    —  135 were charged under other legislation. This includes charges for terrorist offences that are already covered in general criminal law such as murder, grievous bodily harm and use of firearms or explosives.

Convictions

    —  17 Individuals have been convicted of offences under the Terrorism Act.

  This information is provided on the Home Office website.

NUMBER OF FAILED ASYLUM SEEKER REMOVALS

  Information on the number of asylum applicants removed from the UK in the final quarter of 2004 (and hence for the whole of 2004) will be published on 22 February. This will be available from the Research, Development and Statistics website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1html.

  Between January and September 2004, inclusive, 11,315 asylum applicants (including their dependants) were removed from the UK, compared with 13,615 between January and September 2003.

IMPLEMENTATION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS ATTENDING IN PERSON TO RECEIVE THEIR APPEAL DECISION

  The new Civil Procedure Rules coming into force on 4 April 2005 will mean that asylum appeal determinations will be served on appellants by IND rather than by the Appellate Authority. We expect to handle some 3,000 such determinations a month over the next two years. Of these, we estimate that about 2,100 will be subject to restrictions requiring them to report regularly to the Immigration Service. By August 2005 we expect to serve 1,200 determinations every month at such reporting events, and will increase that level progressively to 2,000 by April 2007. We will also work to extend the scope of our reporting arrangements in order to increase further the potential for service in person, by increasing geographical coverage and reducing non-compliance and linking this work to the separate work we are taking forward on the New Asylum Model mentioned in the recently announced five-year Strategy on Asylum and Immigration.

  A much smaller proportion will be served by visiting home addresses, where immediate enforced removal is considered appropriate.

  Determinations not served in person will be posted by the Immigration and Nationality Department.

THE NUMBER OF ASYLUM SEEKERS WHO HAVE FAILED CLAIMS WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR REMOVAL

  Because many failed asylum seekers will have left the country without notifying the Home Office and because embarkation controls were abolished in all major ports in 1998 there is no central record of departing passengers and, consequently, no accurate management information exists on how many asylum seekers who have been refused permission to remain in the UK are awaiting removal. However, the E-borders programme which we are currently developing will help to provide more accurate data.

PROSECUTIONS CONCERNING ILLEGAL WORKING (TRAFFICKING)

  Between January 1997, when the legislation came into force, and April 2004, there were eight convictions for the offence of employing an illegal worker under section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. Since April 2004, there have been nine convictions for this offence. These figures do not include cases where charges for more serious criminal offences, such as facilitation, forgery or money laundering have been pursued.

THE INTRODUCTION OF LANGUAGE AND KNOWLEDGE TESTS FOR IMMIGRANTS

  Lastly, you asked what progress has been made on the introduction of language and knowledge tests for immigrants who were intending to settle here. Regulations came into force on 28 July last year specifying that all those applying for naturalisation had to demonstrate knowledge of English to the standard of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Entry 3. (Similar criteria will apply for anyone seeking to qualify by virtue of knowledge of Welsh or Scottish Gaelic). We are now working towards the next stages of the process, which will be the introduction later this year of the requirement that intending new citizens should demonstrate knowledge of life in the United Kingdom. We will be making a further announcement on this before long.

  The Department of Education and Skills is working with the Learning and Skills Council at national, regional and local level, to improve the planning, delivery and quality of ESOL provision with the aim of targeting it more effectively so that priority needs can be better met.

  Pilot programmes, in which people will learn about life in the United Kingdom at the same time as they learn English, are currently under way. These have been developed by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) in conjunction with the London Language Literacy Unit and are intended to enable a student to gain sufficient knowledge of the UK at the same time as developing their knowledge of the English language.

  The tests of knowledge of life in the United Kingdom for intending citizens will be based on the information contained in the handbook "Life in the United Kingdom: A journey to Citizenship" which was published on 15 December 2004 on behalf of the Life in the United Kingdom Advisory Group, an independent group chaired by Sir Bernard Crick.

  We have set up an Advisory Board for Naturalisation and Integration (ABNI) to help us with this work. Membership of the Board has been drawn from leading experts in the fields of English language testing, citizenship training, employment of migrants and community development and integration. The ABNI is an independent advisory board and will make recommendations on the further development of integration policies and programmes.

  Controlling Our Borders, the Government's Five Year Strategy for asylum and immigration, which was published on 7 February, made the further announcement that in future those applying for permanent settlement in the United Kingdom, as well as those applying for citizenship, would be expected to demonstrate knowledge of English and of knowledge of life in the United Kingdom. We look forward to working with the ABNI as we implement this further programme.

21 February 2005



 
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