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Further to the answer by Lord West of Spithead on 28 February (Official Report, col. 751), whether they will publish in full the most recent information available on queues at passport control at London's major airports. [HL2512]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The UK Border Agency recognises that it has a responsibility to process genuine passengers without delay but the safety and security of the public remains a priority.
There are arrangements in place at most ports to benchmark performance. Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City are among those airports that are currently using a 45-minutes (non-EEA) and 25-minutes (EEA) queuing time as such a benchmark. This is the maximum wait time in which we aim to process passengers and, in turn, it informs staff deployment as well as informing considerations on further investment.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations, the Department for Transport applied exemptions regarding the formulation of government policy and ministerial communications as grounds for not releasing the information in question. Following a decision notice from the Information Commissioner, this information will be released to the complainant and simultaneously published on the departments website by Friday 4 July.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The two individuals named as perpetrators of acts of racially motivated bullying against Private Kerry Hylton were both non-commissioned officers.
One of those individuals has left the Army, so is beyond military jurisdiction. The evidence against the other will be considered and an investigation conducted under Army General and Administrative Instruction 67 with a view to taking administrative action against him. Consideration will also be given to taking administrative action against a third individual, who, although not named as a perpetrator, was criticised by the tribunal.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Capability for authority to carry will be available over a phased period from October 2008, with a manual response process to inform carriers. Once the first manual phase has been implemented, there will be an opportunity to assess the impact and costs before fully automating responses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): It is the general policy of the UK Border Agency not to disclose to a third party personal information about another person, including information concerning their immigration status, as well as personal details, mainly for reasons of privacy and data protection.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): e-Borders will collect data from carriers in advance of travel and provide the functionality to pre-screen and risk-assess passengers before they arrive at the ports. It will also assist in the identification of higher risk passengers, enabling local management to target their resources more effectively.
In developing its impact assessment of the provision of passenger, service and crew data by carriers to the UK border agencies, the Border and Immigration Agency (now the UKBA) considered the potential for
3 July 2008 : Column WA49
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 28 February (Official Report, WA 135), how the level of NHS fertility provision has increased since publication of the February 2004 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines; and how that compares with the level of government financial support for abortion services in the NHS and privately over the same period. [HL4381]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Copies of the primary care trust survey on the provision of IVF in England 2007 carried out by the department are available in the Library. It shows that 30 per cent of primary care trusts (PCTs) are offering one fresh cycle of IVF for eligible patients, 36 per cent are offering one full cycle, 27 per cent are offering two cycles and 5 per cent three cycles. Current information is that three PCTs are not providing IVF. We have no direct comparison with provision in each PCT in previous years, although a survey in 2006 indicated that 14 PCTs were providing no IVF.
In 2004, 82 per cent of abortions were funded by the National Health Service; of these, 51 per cent took place in the independent sector under NHS contract. In 2007, 89 per cent of abortions were funded by the NHS; of these, 57 per cent took place in the independent sector under NHS contract.
What effect their proposals to remove the right of migrant domestic workers to change employers would have on the likelihood of their being subjected to forced labour and other forms of exploitation; and [HL4178]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): On 25 June we published the Governments response to the consultation on short-term visit visas. In this we set out our commitment to ensuring that future arrangements concerning overseas
3 July 2008 : Column WA50
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): In 2005, the UK Border Agency developed the national operations database to enable it to monitor its enforcement operations, including detection rates. This information is used by the agency as internal management information only and there are currently no plans formally to publish data from it.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Foreign Secretary recently received a letter from the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government regarding visa facilities in Iraq. Home Office Minister Meg Hillier replied on 23 June, explaining that, given the current security situation, there was limited prospect of expanding the limited visa service currently available in Iraq in the foreseeable future (see my reply to PQ HL4448).
Ministers and officials have also recently met representatives of the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Governments, have taken careful note of their representations on this issue and will consider these further.
Lord West of Spithead: Our embassies in Amman and Beirut have been designated as the visa-issuing posts for Iraqi nationals (although visit visa applications may be lodged at any UK visa-issuing post around the
3 July 2008 : Column WA51
What measures are being implemented by the European Union to discourage economic migrants travelling through Mauritania to the Canary Islands; and how many economic migrants are estimated to be along the Mauritanian coast waiting for passage to the Canary Islands. [HL4411]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): In response to the growing number of economic migrants leaving Mauritania for the Canary Islands, the European Commission (EC) allocated €2.4 million in 2006-07 to establish and implement a rapid reaction mechanism to tackle illegal migration. This programme assisted migrants stranded at sea and increased the number of coastal patrols made. It largely focused on Mauritania's second city, Nouadhibou, and the surrounding waters. Spain has also provided assistance to the Mauritanian authorities through the EU's border security agency, FRONTEX. Bilateral agreements between Spain and Mauritania include measures to assist repatriation and legal organised migration.
The EC's activities in Mauritania have until now largely focused on development work. However, €8 million has been allocated from the 10th European Development Fund, which covers the period 2008-13, specifically to tackle migration issues. In addition, the Commission has recently allocated €1.2 million to the International Organisation for Migration to assist it in its valuable work to tackle illegal migration and protect economic migrants and refugees.
Estimates for the number of economic migrants in Mauritania vary considerably from 150,000 up to 700,000. Several hundred people, at any one time, are thought to be along the coast waiting for passage to the Canary Islands.
In addition to those EU programmes that I have described, a delegation from EU external relations visited Mauritania in June 2008 to examine the possibility of enhancing co-operation between Mauritania and the EU on a range of issues, including migration and integrated border management.
On what dates, beyond any accreditation process, Her Majestys ambassador to Mauritania has visited the country on official business over the past four years; whom he visited; and what was the agenda of any meetings held. [HL4414]
Charles Gray, our present ambassador, accredited to Mauritania and resident in Rabat, visited Mauritania in 2006 to present his credentials to the then President. He also called on the then Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Interior Minister, Finance Minister and the governor of the Central Bank. During these calls, he covered the full range of international, regional and bilateral political and economic issues and expressed the Government's strong support for a rapid return to democratic civilian government.
He returned in April 2007 to attend the inauguration of President Abdellahi, and called on the new Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. The agenda was similar except that, on this occasion, the ambassador congratulated Mauritania on the successful holding of free and fair elections.
In May 2008, our deputy head of mission, accredited to Mauritania and resident in Rabat, visited Mauritania and called on the Foreign Minister, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and the Presidential Palace and held meetings with the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the European Commission and several foreign embassies. The aim of this visit was to foster greater co-operation between Mauritania and the UK in a range of areas of mutual importance.
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