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17 Oct 2002 : Column 933Wcontinued
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list external (a) public relations/communications companies, (b) advertising and marketing companies, (c) management consultancies, (d) accountancy companies, (e) banking firms, (f) individual consultants and (g) other specialist consultancies used by his Department since June 2001; what actions those consultancies/companies have performed within his Department; and what costs have been incurred through use of these consultancies/companies. 
Beverley Hughes: The Home Department is unable to provide a full answer with the level of detailed information sought on external consultants and companies that provide public relations, communications advertising, marketing, accountancy, and banking services for the period in question. Records are not held centrally and therefore to provide a full response for the Home Office and its Agencies would incur disproportionate costs. We are, however able to provide a total expenditure figure for external consultants and other companies listed from June 2001 to date which is #41,671,404.94.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of those convicted for murder since 1972 have subsequently reoffended on release; and if he will make a statement on the nature of the crimes committed on reoffending. 
Hilary Benn: Since 1972, eight per cent. of persons released from prison following a conviction for murder were reconvicted for a standard list offence within two years of release. The most common offences on reconviction were theft and handling (45 per cent. of those reconvicted), violence against the person (22 per cent.) and burglary (13 per cent.). Around one per cent. of those released were reconvicted within two years for an indictable crime with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; these crimes include homicide, serious wounding, rape, robbery, and arson endangering life.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 23 July, Ref 56636, if there is a backlog in the National Asylum Support Agency dealing with correspondence; and what the average deviation is from the last three and ten working day targets. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 15 October 2002]: The Operations Section of the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) is currently receiving an average of 1,800 letters per week which have a target of three days for completion. These are requests for payment of the additional single payment and replacement certificates to enable supported asylum seekers to receive free prescriptions etc. Officials are meeting the three day target for processing these applications.
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Currently there are 2,000 cases which have not been finally resolved. But all have received action within the 10 day target and cannot be finally resolved because of the need to obtain additional information.
Beverley Hughes: A Tripartite Agreement by the Government, the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was signed on Saturday 12 October 2002 in Kabul following the successful conclusion of negotiations. The Agreement provides for return to Afghanistan in a managed and phased manner of those who have been established to have no protection needs. The United Kingdom is fully committed to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. As part of this it is important that return to Afghanistan is sustainable and the Agreement commits the United Kingdom Government to providing support to those returning, in Afghanistan, to ensure they are able to reestablish themselves in their homeland.
Jonathan Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how pregnant women who are seeking asylum are informed of their eligibilty for the maternity grant; and how many claimed the grant in the last 12 months; 
Beverley Hughes: Information on eligibility for all support payments including the #50 additional single payment and the #300 maternity payment is given to asylum seekers by voluntary organisations grant funded by the Home Office. This information will also form an integral part of the briefing given to all asylum seekers whilst they are going through the Induction Centre process.
Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 12 August from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Sard Aram Aziz. 
Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 22 July from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mrs. Ifra Raja. 
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Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 25 July from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. Kourosh Jahanshahi. 
Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many clandestine entrants into the United Kingdom were detected (a) on entry and (b) in the country in each month since March 2001. 
Beverley Hughes [holding answer 15 October 2002]: Provisional information on the number of clandestine entrants detected and served with illegal entry papers in the period April to December 2001 is given in the table.
Provisional data, subject to possible change.
Figures rounded to the nearest five, and may not sum due to rounding.
It should be noted that the figures relate to the date on which the illegal entry notice was served. In-country detections could relate to an individual who entered the United Kingdom in an earlier period.
More recent information is not yet available. Figures on illegal entry papers served are published annually in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin ''Control of Immigration: Statistics United Kingdom'', the 2001 edition of which was published on 26 September 2002. Figures for 2002 will be published in the second half of 2003. Early indications are, however, that the use of technology to detect claudestine entrants is increasing detection rates.
Mr. Blunkett: It is not yet possible to estimate how much it would cost the Home Office to change to the euro. The department is taking action to ensure that it would be ready to implement any decision by the Government. The cost would depend on a number of decisions yet to be taken including timing and the details of conversion policies.
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Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the proposals for charter airline operators to provide mass data on all passengers carried on their planes. 
Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 15 October 2002]: Paragraph 17 of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 (as amended by section 119 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001) gives the power to an examining officer to make a written request to an air or sea carrier for information relating to passengers and goods on all air and sea journey to and from within the United Kingdom. This is an important measure to help us fight terrorism.
Discussions are continuing, which include carriers from all sectors of the industry, including charter airline operators, on the detailed implementation of the Order, and I have assured the industry that the powers will not be used, except in an emergency, until our consultation is complete.
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