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Asylum Seekers

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department takes to ensure that protection and assistance is given to children separated from their parents who are seeking asylum. [100314]

I have been asked to reply.Unaccompanied, asylum-seeking children as supported by councils with social services responsibilities, in accordance with the duties laid on them by the Children Act 1989. The Act draws no distinction between such children and other children in need.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seeker applications by country of origin are awaiting first interview after a period of (a) three months or less, (b) six months or less, (c) 12 months or less, (d) two years or less and (e) more than two years after lodging their case. [99095]

The available data for the number of applications are based on the total number awaiting initial decision, rather than the number awaiting an interview. The number of cases awaiting an initial decision has been at a lower level during 2002 than for 10 years. There were 40,800 applications awaiting an initial decision at the end of December 2002.The Government's emphasis has been on delivering the challenging targets set for deciding the majority of new substantive asylum applications within two months. Older cases are progressed as resources allow. 76 per cent. of new substantive applications (excluding withdrawals and third country cases) received in the period April to September 2002 had initial decisions made and served within two months. The Home Office's Public Service Agreement target for 2002–03 is 65 per cent.Information on the number of asylum applications awaiting an initial decision is published quarterly on the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uki rds/immigration 1.html. The next publication will be available from 30 May and will cover the first quarter of 2003 (January to March).

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many dispersal areas there are in England and Wales to which asylum seekers are sent. [99409]

There are currently 71 cluster areas in England and Wales to which asylum seekers may be dispersed. Asylum seekers have been dispersed to 62 of these areas.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of asylum seekers have failed to comply with reporting requirements while awaiting (a) an initial decision and (b) removal. [997121]

Information on the number of people who fail to comply with reporting requirements while awaiting initial decision, appeal decision or removal is not available and could be obtained by examination of individual case-files only at disproportionate cost.