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Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 11 July, Official Report, column 1068W, on immigration, how long it takes on average to perform the checks to which he refers. [128518]

When the decision is taken by an immigration officer to release a person on temporary admission the number of checks undertaken depend upon the individual circumstances of the case.The average time taken to perform the checks varies in view of this. However, given that some checks, such as the computerised Warnings Index, involve using information readily to hand to the Immigration Service they can be carried out immediately. Where the information has to be obtained from an outside agency, such as the police national computer or electoral registrar, the checks can take longer, but should still ordinarily be completed within a matter of hours.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce British citizenship tests for immigrants; how long they would take to complete; who will oversee the testing; and if those who fail will be deported. [129106]

The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act received Royal Assent on 7 November 2002. Section One, which relates to these requirements, will come into force by Commencement Order once its new requirements have been finalised.The "Life in the UK" advisory group, appointed by my right hon. friend the Home Secretary to look at the content, conduct and implementation of programmes of study, published its final report on 3 September. A copy has been placed in the Library. The Government are considering their recommendations and no firm conclusions have yet been made about the nature of tests and who will oversee them.Naturalisation applicants must have indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. They will not therefore be liable to removal solely on the basis of their lack of language skills or knowledge of life in the UK. As now, naturalisation applicants will be able to re-apply if they are unsuccessful.