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Country Policy And Information Unit

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the (a) content and (b) use made of the country information produced by the Country Policy and Information Unit. [129766]

The Home Office published research "Country of Origin Information: A User and Content Evaluation" on 1 September 2003. The full text of the research is available at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/r211.pdf.The research was commissioned by the Country Information and Policy Unit and conducted by the Research Development and Statistics Directorate (RDS) in 2001. The findings of the research relate to the position at that time and many of the report's recommendations have since been addressed.In particular, the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 provided for an independent Advisory Panel on Country Information to be established to provide recommendations on the content of Home Office country information, to help ensure the content of Home Office country information, to help ensure that it is as objective as possible. The advisory panel will also meet the report's recommendations that an expert panel of topic and country specialists should be set up to review CIPU's material and that steps should be taken to improve consultation with external stakeholders.The Home Secretary is satisfied that the country of origin information produced by the Home Office is accurate and objective and the expert input of the advisory panel can only serve to enhance the quality of CIPU's material.The advisory panel is chaired by Professor Stephen Castles, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford and held its first meeting on 2 September 2003. The minutes of the panel's meetings will be published in due course.