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Asylum Seekers

Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans the Government has to cease the support-only benefit for asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement. [113892]

Section 43 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (the 2002 Act) provides for the withdrawal of financial support only to asylum seekers. Use of this provision is by way of an order subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. We have no current plans to make any order under this provision.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many National Asylum Support Service private rented landlord houses there are in (a) Leeds and (b) the Leeds, West constituency; and what his estimate is of the total number of asylum seekers housed in (i) Leeds and (ii) Leeds West. [116009]

The number of properties supplied to the National Asylum Support Service (NASS), as at 3 June 2003, by private contractors is (a) 468 in Leeds; (b) 25 in Leeds West. NASS also has a contract with the Yorkshire and Humberside Consortium of Local Authorities. The consortium may contract with private landlords.The information for parts (i) and (ii) is not available in the form requested.The availability of information on the location of asylum seekers in the United Kingdom is currently linked to the support the asylum seeker receives. Asylum seekers in the United Kingdom either receive support from NASS, local authorities or the Department From 1 June 2000 official statistics on the number of ASBO applications within England and Wales are based on quarterly returns from Magistrates' Courts Committees (MCCs). From copies of the orders we have been able to identify the type of applicant and local authority areas involved. Information is given in the table on the number of applications made to the magistrates courts (acting in their civil capacity), and the number issued, by type of applicant up to 30 November 2002 (latest available).We are aware that the numbers of ASBOs made nationally have been consistently under reported in returns made by magistrates courts and are considering how reporting can be improved.for Work and Pensions (DWP), or are supporting themselves. There is no information available at constituency level.At the end of March 2003, 1,785 asylum seekers

1 (including dependents) were being supported in NASS accommodation and 280 asylum seekers (including dependents) were in receipt of subsistence only support in Leeds.

From the grant claims sent to the Home Office by local authorities, as at the end of March 2003, there were 40 asylum cases (comprising 30 individuals and 10 families) being supported by Leeds local authority1 . (Asylum seekers are not necessarily resident in the local authority that supports them due to the voluntary dispersal programme which operated prior to NASS).

No information is held centrally on the location or residence of asylum seekers supported by DWP or who support themselves.

1 Figures have been rounded to the nearest five. These figures exclude cases where support has been ceased.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on asylum seekers from Afghanistan. [116886]

The Home Office determines asylum applications from Afghan nationals on their merits according to United Kingdom's obligations under the terms of the 1951 Convention for the Status of Refugees.

In July 2002, in response to the improving situation in Afghanistan, we revised our blanket policy of granting exceptional leave to remain to all Afghans who do not qualify for refugee status.

The Government's preferred option for repatriating Afghan asylum applicants whose asylum claims have been rejected is assisted voluntary return, in line with the Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding on Voluntary Return between the United Kingdom, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Afghan Transitional Administration.

On 28 April 2003 in line with our stated intentions and as agreed with the Afghan authorities we commenced enforced returns to Afghanistan. We are returning those not found to be in need of international protection or granted any other form of leave to remain who do not depart voluntarily.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many jailed asylum seekers from Somalia have been deported in each of the past six months [113893]

Pursuant to her reply, 20 May 2003, 753W. I regret that due to an administrative error the information given in the text was not wholly complete. The complete answer should have been that the nationality of people who are removed from the UK after being detained under Immigration Act powers or on completion of a prison sentence is not available and could only be obtained by examining individual cases files, this would be at disproportionate cost.Furthermore statistics showing the total number of persons removed, by nationality, in the period January to March 2002 are due to be published at the end of August 2003 on the Home Office web-site:

www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/whatsnew.1.html.