To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many unaccompanied minors sought asylum in the UK in each of the last three years. 
The information requested is given in the table. The data relate to applicants aged 17 or under. The data for 2002 are from new, more reliable, electronic sources, and are not fully comparable with data for previous years obtained from manual counts.
|Unaccompanied children1,2,3aged 17 or under, applying for asylum in the United Kingdom, 2000 to 2002|
|Total||Applied at Port||Applied in Country|
|1 Figures are rounded to the nearest 5.|
|2 Unaccompanied at point of arrival, aged (or if no proof) determined to be 17 or under and not known to be joining a relative or a guardian in the UK|
|3Figures exclude age dispute cases.|
|4May exclude some cases fodged at Local Enforcement Office and postal applications.|
|5Figures not comparable with manual counts data prior to 2002.|
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what support and advice he is giving to refugee and asylum support organisations to assist asylum seekers with travel to Croydon to lodge an asylum application; 
(2) what support he is giving to asylum seekers to enable them to travel to Croydon to lodge an asylum application. 
Those seeking asylum should claim on arrival in the United Kingdom or as soon as practicable thereafter. If their claim is post arrival it should be made at an Asylum Screening Unit (ASU). The three ASUs are in Croydon, Liverpool and Solihull.There is no provision to fund the travel of those seeking to lodge an application for asylum.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the operation of section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. 
Section 55, which came into force on 8 January 2003, is one of a package of robust Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act measures to restore credibility to the UK asylum system. Since February 2003, a number of test cases have been before the Courts. The most recent Court of Appeal hearing was on 27 August and the judgement is expected shortly. Statistics on the operation of section 55 have been published in the Home Office Asylum Statistics for the first and second quarters of 2003. We will continue to monitor its impact closely.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on how the European legislation on immigration will affect the amount of money the Government spends on financial aid for asylum seekers. 
As part of the package of measures designed to establish minimum standards on asylum foreseen by the 1999 Tampere European Council, the Council Directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (2003/9/EC) contains provisions for financial aid for asylum seekers. This lays down minimum standards for the material reception conditions of asylum seekers and their dependants.Member states are required to transpose the Directive by the 6 February 2005 and work to take this forward is continuing. This will have a limited effect as the UK already meets the directives' provisions relating to financial allowances for asylum seekers.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure that asylum seekers who come to the United Kingdom as children do not stay for a period longer than that to which they are permitted once they turn 18 years of age. 
Unaccompanied asylum seeking children who are permitted to stay solely because of a lack of reception and accommodation arrangements in their country are not granted leave beyond their 18th birthday. Once they turn 18 they must leave or apply for an extension of their leave. If that application is refused, or they do not submit any such application, their details are passed to the relevant local enforcement office for removal action. Removal action in these cases is undertaken as a matter of priority.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum applications were (a) accepted and (b) rejected in (i) 2002 and (ii) 1997. (2) what percentage of asylum applications were rejected in each year since 1997. 
The table shows the outcomes of initial decisions made by the Home Office since 1997. These statistics relate to initial decisions only and exclude the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions. Initial decisions in any given year may relate to applications made in earlier years.
|Initial decisions1,2on applications received for asylum in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, 1997 to 2002|
|Cases considered under normal procedures||Backlog clearance exercise|
|Year||Total decisions||Recognised as refugee and granted asylum||Not recognised as refugee but granted exceptional leave||Total Refused||Granted asylum or exceptional leave under backlog criteria5,6||Refused under backlog criteria5,7|
|1 Decisions do not necessarily relate to applications received in the same period.|
|2 Figures (other than percentages) rounded to the nearest 5.|
|3Information is of initial decisions, excluding the outcome of appeals or other subsequent decisions.|
|4Percentages for cases considered under normal procedures and those within the backlog clearance exercise are calculated separately.|
|5Cases decided under measures aimed at reducing the pre 1996 asylum application backlog.|
|6Includes cases where asylum or exceptional leave has been granted under the backlog criteria.|
|7Includes some cases where the application has been refused on substantive grounds.|
|(P) Provisional figures.|
|(R) Revised figures,|
|n/a Not available.|
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will outline the procedure used in deciding where to place asylum seekers. 
The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) is responsible for accommodating and supporting destitute asylum seekers and their dependants. Asylum seekers who request that accommodation be provided to them will be dispersed on a "no-choice" basis to one of the cluster areas around the UK. Cluster areas are ideally based in towns and cities where suitable accommodation is available and where there is potential to provide a link with existing multi-cultural communities and where the support of local voluntary and community groups is available.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much individual asylum cases cost (a) central and (b) local government in each year from 1997 to 2002. 
The Immigration and Nationality Directorate within the Home Office assumed responsibility for the direct costs of supporting asylum seekers from April 1999. The average costs per week for the years 1999–2000 to 2001–02 are as follows.
Overall, it is estimated that 42 per cent. of the applications in 2002 resulted in grants of asylum (10 per cent.) or of exceptional leave to remain (23 per cent.), or in allowed appeals (10 per cent.). Comparable data are not available for 1997, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case files. Exceptional leave to remain has now been replaced by Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave with a much tighter set of criteria.
Information on the number of asylum applications and initial decisions is published quarterly on the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/ immigrationl.html.
The costs include payments made to local authorities for accommodation, as well as those made to the private sector. Further information on any other costs to local or central government, specifically related to asylum seekers, is not currently available.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans to provide transport to allow asylum seekers held at the proposed Bicester centre to travel to Aylesbury and other towns; and what his estimate is of the cost of such a service to public funds. 
As a requirement of planning approval the operating contractor of the accommodation centre at Bicester will run a minibus service, principally for the use of staff and visitors, to provide an alternative means of travel to the private car. The service will operate between the accommodation centre and the towns from which it is anticipated that the centre's employees will be drawn; these are expected to be Bicester, Oxford, Aylesbury and Banbury. Asylum seekers supported at the accommodation centre will be allowed to use the minibus service subject to capacity, as well as compliance with reporting and residence requirements.We are in the process of appointing a contractor to design, build and operate the accommodation centre. Therefore the estimated cost of the minibus service is commercially confidential.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers are detained under immigration law; and of these how many are awaiting removal from the UK. 
As at 28 June 2003 (the latest date for which information is available) there were 1,355 asylum seekers detained solely under the Immigration Act. Information on the number of these who were awaiting removal would be available only by examination of individual case-files at disproportionate cost.Information on the number of asylum applicants detained solely under the Immigration Act is published quarterly on the Home Office website: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigrationl.html. Data for those detained at the end of September 2003 will be published at the end of November.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children of asylum seekers have been held in detention in each of the last 12 months; and what the average length of time is for which each child is held. 
Information on the number of children of asylum seekers detained in each of the last 12 months and the length of time for which they were held could be collated only at disproportionate cost. However, we are reviewing the quality of data on all immigration detainees to assess whether more data can appropriately be published and, if so, how.