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Halloween

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: There is no specific monitoring of acts in these circumstances centrally and there are no plans for this.

Asylum Seekers: Detention

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: There have been no changes in the statutory requirements relating to the provision of reasons for detention under Immigration Act powers. Under Rule 9(1) of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 every detained person must be provided with written reasons for his detention at the time of his initial detention, and thereafter monthly.

Failed Asylum Seekers: Support

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The published figures relating to the operation of the Nationality, Immigration & Asylum Act 2002 are given in the Asylum Statistics.

Section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration & Asylum Act 2002 is not incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, so no amendment is necessary. The convention does not require state support to be given automatically to all asylum seekers who have failed to make their asylum claims when required to do so.

Work Permits

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many work permits were issued in the United Kingdom in the last year for which figures are available; and what were the main countries of origin of the people who secured the permits.[HL5423]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: A total of 136,151 work permits, including extensions to existing work permits, in 2002 were issued. The top 10 nationalities for which work permits were issued are given below:

NationalityNumber of Work Permits Issued
1. India31,820
2. United States of America23,018
3. South Africa13,714
4. Philippines12,778
5. Australia8,490
6. Pakistan4,006
7. China Peoples Republic4,587
8. Zimbabwe4,024
9. Japan4,104
10. Canada3,780

Immigration Policy: ECJ Ruling in Akrich Case

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 16 October (WA 135), whether the United Kingdom remains sovereign in respect of its immigration policy.[HL5430]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The United Kingdom's sovereignty over its immigration policy remains unchanged following the European Court of Justice (ECJ) case of Akrich.

Following the European Court of Justice case of Surinder Singh, which was delivered in 1992, the non-EEA family member of a British national, who has worked in another member state, may claim a right to enter and remain in the UK under EC law instead of the UK's Immigration Rules. In the European Court of Justice case of Akrich, the court was asked to determine whether a member state could refuse to apply the Surinder Singh judgment to a British citizen

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who had deliberately moved to another member state with the express intention of creating an initial right of residence in the UK for their third country national spouse.

The European Court of Justice ruling in the case of Akrich supports the UK's view that third country nationals who are illegally in the UK, and marry British citizens, should not be able to use EC law to remain here. It will allow the UK to continue to be able to apply its national immigration legislation in such cases.

People Trafficking

Baroness Ludford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps are being taken both to combat trafficking in human beings and to protect the victims of trafficking; and how such measures will be strengthened following the agreement in the European Union Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers on 6 November on a Directive providing temporary residence permits for victims to co-operate with prosecutions and receive assistance.[HL5485]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government are committed to ensuring that stronger measures are in place to penalise people who traffic in human beings. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 introduced a new offence of trafficking for the purpose of controlling prostitution with a maximum penalty of 14 years. This offence came into force 10 February 2003. More comprehensive offences covering trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation are included in the new Sexual Offences Bill, and an offence covering trafficking for labour exploitation will be introduced when parliamentary time permits.

We are working to support the victims of human trafficking. A pilot scheme for adult victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation was launched in March this year. The scheme is being delivered in conjunction with Eaves Housing, and provides victims with an allocated support worker, access to short-term housing, counselling and health, translation and legal services. In addition, Project Reflex, set up in May 2000, brings together the key agencies to tackle organised immigration crime, including people trafficking. An example of the success of this initiative is Project Reflex Romania, which has identified 105 criminal organisations and arrested 67 persons, of whom 20 have faced charges.

While we are committed to combating the trafficking of human beings, we feel that the proposed European directive on the short-term residence permits for the victims of trafficking will be abused. This in turn would have a detrimental effect on the resources available to investigate and prosecute those who are involved in this abhorrent trade. It would also undermine our efforts to remove those that have entered illegally, and have no legitimate right to remain. It is for these reasons we did not opt in to this directive.

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Notwithstanding the decision not to opt in to this directive, every effort has been made to shape the progress of the directive to overcome our concerns. It is of course still open to the United Kingdom to opt in once the directive is implemented, and we intend to review our decision fully at that point. The directive is still subject to French and Dutch scrutiny reservations, and will need to be referred back to the European Parliament before implementation.

Public Schools: Charitable Status

Lord Lea of Crondall asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the extent of the charitable commitments required for continued charitable status for public schools.[HL5513]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: To qualify for charitable status an organisation must be for the public benefit. The Government intend that the Charities Bill we are preparing should make this explicit. Charging fees for services or facilities does not by itself bring a charity's public benefit into doubt. In most cases fees do not in practice restrict people's access to those services or facilities. But if a charity's services are only accessible to people able to afford high fees, its public benefit may come into question. The Strategy Unit's recent review of charity law recommended that the Charity Commission, as regulator, should look into charities charging high fees—including, but not limited to, charitable independent schools—to ensure that they meet the public benefit requirement. The Government have endorsed this recommendation.

Immigration Detainees: Language Support

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

    Following publication of the Harmondsworth report (An Inspection of Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre 16–18 September 2002), what measures have been taken to ensure that detainees have access to competent legal advice in a language they can understand.[HL5520]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Every detainee is provided with information at the time of detention and within individual removal centres on how to contact the Immigration Advisory Service and the Refugee Legal Centre for free advice and assistance. This information is explained to the detainee, using an interpreter if necessary. In addition, information on local solicitors and other bodies providing advice and representation is made available to all detainees at individual removal centres. Separately, the Legal Services Commission is considering the letting of contracts to solicitors in areas in which removal centres are located. Clearly, it is a matter for those providing legal advice in any particular case to ensure that the advice is understood by the detainee.

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