|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We recognise that conditions in Zimbabwe are such that there are individuals who will be able to demonstrate a need for international protection. Where it is found that they meet the definition of a refugee in the 1951 UN Refugee Covention, asylum is granted. There may also be individuals whose circumstances are such that they qualify for leave under our published policies on humanitarian protection or discretionary leave.
If an asylum or human rights application is refused, there will be a right of appeal to the independent appellate authorities against that decision. Should a claim be refused and any appeal be unsuccessful that means that, for that individual, return to Zimbabwe would be safe. Although we are not, in the wider context of the Government's position on Zimbabwe, generally enforcing returns of such individuals at this time, we consider it entirely reasonable to expect them to leave voluntarily. It would not be appropriate in those circumstances to grant them leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government's strategy for tackling specifically organised immigration crime is Reflex, the multi-agency forum established in May 2000 which brings together key law enforcement players under the chair of the National Crime Squad. Reflex has funded several successful initiatives since its inception that have contributed to the reduction of criminally-driven immigration to the UK and other EU states. In particular, two projects (Impact 1 and 2) developed the capacity of border guards in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia-Montenegro to identify forged documents, while a third project in Romania saw the establishment of a team focusing effectively on people trafficking and smuggling.
The National Criminal Intelligence Service manages an expanding network of Immigration Liaison Officers (currently 12) operating in key overseas posts to work closely with law enforcement agencies in the host country with the aim of tackling illegal migratory flows to the UK.
The UK has developed a network of liaison officers in key posts overseas to build our intelligence picture on organised crime originating outside the UK. We have developed sectoral strategies, for example on drugs and organised immigration crime, which work upstream to take operational action and to achieve disruption as close to source as possible. We continue to work with international partners, and with organisations such as Interpol, Europol and Eurojust to act against organised crime which crosses international borders. The establishment of the recently announced Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) will bring a new focus to bear on reducing the harm caused to the UK and its citizens by all organised crime.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The published estimates of numbers likely to travel to the United Kingdom from the new members of the European Union after 1 May do not distinguish between Roma and others.
The Government have not made contingency plans for the reception of Roma or any other migrants from those countries. We have made very clear, particularly through information campaigns in the countries concerned, that those coming to this country from the accession states must be able to support themselves. There will be no special assistance given to them.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: There is no charge levied by the UK Passport Service on people who report their passports lost or stolen other than the fee required to replace the passport. There is no element of penalty in the fee charged for the replacement passport. The Passport Service operates on a net running costs regime and all its costs are recovered through passport fees. Following the introduction, from 8 December 2003, of improved arrangements for reporting lost, stolen and recovered passport arrangements, the Passport Service has conducted an extensive publicity campaign, one of the key themes of which has been to highlight passport holders' responsibilities for the safekeeping of this important document. Also, as part of its annual fee review the Passport Service will be examining whether a differential and higher fee can be charged for replacing a lost and/or stolen document.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The UK Passport Service has been seeking to establish arrangements to receive routine notification of deaths from the Registar General in England and Wales to enable it to cancel any passport held by a deceased person.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Every passport contains a reminder that it should be returned for cancellation on the death of the holder. On receipt these passports are cancelled. The United Kingdom Passport Service is in discussion with the Office for National Statistics on arrangements to facilitate via local registrars of births, marriages and deaths the return of deceased persons' passports on notification of death.
The figures for passports of deceased persons cancelled in the last 12 months are not immediately available. The Passport Service is currently collating this information and I have asked the Director of Operations to write to the noble Lord with the information as soon as it is available.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: A draft regulation presented by the European Commission Document 2004/0039 on 18 February (Council Document 6406/04) will require passports issued by European Union member states to include at least one biometric identifier.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page