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Written Answers

Wednesday, 27th November 2002.


Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their assessment of the accuracy of reports by the United States global intelligence firm Straffor on 8 November that Russian intelligence services are working together with pro-Russian Iraqi generals in order to oust the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein. [HL56]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): We would not disclose any such assessment, as the work of the intelligence and security services is outside the scope of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (paragraph 6, part 1).


Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is illegal for cyclists to cycle at night with only flashing front and rear lights; and, if so, how many prosecutions were made last year. [HL3]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 do not permit cycles to be fitted with any lamp which automatically emits a flashing light. Cycles in use on the roads at night are required to have a front lamp which shows a steady white light, a red light to the rear and red rear retro reflector.

All offences relating to bicycle lights and reflectors are classified together and cannot be broken down. In England and Wales in 2000, 275 persons were proceeded against for all such offences, 230 of whom were convicted.

Child Curfews

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many child curfews have been imposed by the courts in England and Wales.[HL19]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Between February 2001, when curfew orders with electronic monitoring were extended to 10 to 15 year-olds, and 31 October 2002 the courts imposed 2,704 orders on young offenders of that age.

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Gap-year School Assistants: Visa Regulations

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will be able to reply to the representations made by the Independent Schools Council on the issue of changes in visa regulations for gap assistants. [HL44]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Citizenship, Immigration and Community Cohesion wrote to the General Secretary of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), Mr Cooke, on 21 November.

The Director General of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate had previously written to Mr Cooke on 28 October; and officials met Mr Cooke on 6 November. At that meeting the position in relation to gap-year students who wish to enter the United Kingdom to spend a year working in independent schools was discussed. Officials will keep in contact with the ISC about this matter.

Asylum Seekers

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What mechanism exists between the National Asylum Support Service and the Legal Services Commission as to notification of the location of dispersed asylum seekers, both those with support and accommodation and those with support only, so that the Legal Services Commission can ensure there are sufficient supplies of legal advice for the asylum seekers to access it. [HL84]

Lord Filkin: Reports are sent monthly to the Legal Services Commission which give information on the number of asylum seekers supported in National Asylum Support Service (NASS) accommodation in each cluster area and the number in receipt of financial support only, broken down by region.

Clandestine Entrants: Penalty Regime

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    At what point all cases that are similar to, but not included in, the Roth case, which concerned clandestine entrants and the civil penalty, will be concluded; and[HL108]

    What is the total sum of civil penalties collected in cases that are similar to, but not included in, the Roth case, which concerned clandestine entrants and the civil penalty.[HL109]

Lord Filkin: The Roth litigation, a legal challenge against the provisions contained in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 that allow penalties to be imposed on carriers for transporting clandestine entrants to the United Kingdom, was settled in October of this year. The settlement was between the

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Home Office and the litigants and sets no precedent for other cases where penalties have been imposed under the same regime.

The findings of the Court of Appeal in the Roth case have been addressed by amendments to the penalty regime in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. These will take effect from 8 December 2002.

Since the regime was introduced in April 2000, liability has been accepted by a number of those on whom penalties have been imposed. Excluding the Roth litigants, penalties totalling approximately £1.9 million have been paid.

In the light of the Court of Appeal findings, the Home Office is currently considering how to deal with outstanding penalties imposed under the current regime. When a final decision is reached those affected will be notified.

Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Harmondsworth detention removal centre contains asylum applicants whose cases have not been finally decided; if so, how many and why; whether there are still some 45 children under 18 in this centre; and what provision is made for their education.[HL178]

Lord Filkin: Detention is most usually appropriate to effect removal, initially to establish a person's identity or basis of claim, or where there is reason to believe that the person will fail to comply with any conditions attached to the grant of temporary admission or release. It necessarily follows therefore that there will be asylum applicants detained at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre whose cases have not been finally decided.

The most recent published statistics indicate that, as at 29 June 2002, there were 385 persons detained at Harmondsworth who were recorded as having claimed asylum at some stage. Information about which of these cases had not been finally decided is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by an examination of individual case files.

As at 21 November there were 10 children under 18 detained as part of family groups at Harmondsworth.

Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre is managed and operated on behalf of the Immigration Service by UK Detention Services Ltd. The contractor makes provision for education for school-aged children and employs suitably qualified staff as managers of education. The profile and numbers of children at the centre changes from day to day. Education provision needs therefore to be sufficiently flexible to cater for the needs of a variable number of children of variable ages and abilities. A programme of modular education concentrates on numeracy and literacy and the national curriculum, taking into account the diverse needs of the children who pass through the centre.

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Cabinet Office: Consultancy Costs

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money has been spent by the Cabinet Office on external consulting contracts in each of the years since 1996–97.[HL79]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): I refer the noble Baroness to the Answer given in another place to the Member for Buckingham by my honourable friend the Member for Shipley on 26 March 2002 (Official Report; col. 815W).

The total cost to the Cabinet Office and the Central Office of Information for the use of consultants in the financial year 2001–02 is £16,875,000.

This increase in expenditure in 2001–02 reflects work on such studies as broadband research, international e-economy benchmarking, and e-security and authentication. Other Cabinet Office consultancy spend is on research and IT developments.

Transport Accidents: Responsibility for Reinstatement of Infrastructure

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What role victims, or relatives of victims, of transport accidents have in preventing, delaying or authorising the reinstatement of infrastructure damaged in the accident in respect of (a) the road network; and (b) the rail network.[HL245]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: (a) Road network The reinstatement of infrastructure on the road network is a matter for the relevant highway authority. (b) Rail network The reinstatement of infrastructure on the rail network is an operational matter for Network Rail.

Fire Service Personnel

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the Fire Service in England and Wales are (a) women and (b) members of ethnic minorities.[HL76]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The following is the information as at 31 March 2002:

Operational Staff (Uniformed) (Wholetime and Retained)Control Staff (Uniformed)Total Uniformed StaffNon UniformedTotal
MinorityEthnic Staff1.5%0.85%1.4%4.6%1.8%

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