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Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent estimate he has made of the average time taken to process an application for asylum. (295465)

[holding answer 26 October 2009]: In December we met our targets to conclude 60 per cent. of new asylum cases within six months. That means not only that decisions were taken early but that in a significant proportion of refusals, removal from the UK was affected within six months of application.

In 1997 it took on average 22 months merely to reach an initial decision. We can only speculate on how much longer than that it was taking to remove those who were refused at that time.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of applications for refugee status made over (a) 10 and (b) five years ago are still waiting to be resolved by the UK Border Agency. (296408)

The information requested is not reported on by the case resolution directorate and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost through the examination of individual case files. However, the UK Border Agency has made good progress in concluding the estimated 400,000 to 450,000 electronic and paper records in the asylum backlog. The total conclusions now stand at over 220,000 cases concluded to end of September 2009 as reported by Lin Homer to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 19 October 2009.