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Written Answers

Volume 707: debated on Monday 2 February 2009

Written Answers

Monday 2 February 2009

Afghanistan: Security

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what their criteria are for achieving sustainable security in (a) Sangin, and (b) Afghanistan. [HL407]

Sustainable security in Afghanistan can only be provided through the co-ordinated delivery of military and civil effect. UK and Afghan forces provide security to allow reconstruction, development, reconciliation and political engagement to take place. In Helmand the UK-led Civilian Military Mission works with Task Force Helmand and the Afghan National Security Forces to provide a secure environment to allow stabilisation activity to take place. The UK focuses stabilisation activity on five district centres in Helmand—Lashkar Gah, Sangin, Gereskh, Garmsir and Musa Qala.

BNFL: Sale of Assets

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the full terms on which British Nuclear Fuels Ltd agreed on 17 December 2008 to sell its one-third share in the management company of the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston, to Jacobs Engineering Group of Pasadena, California, were considered and approved by HM Treasury. [HL769]

HM Treasury was involved in the development of BNFL’s strategy. This strategy involved transferring the management of decommissioning sites to NDA-appointed contractors through competitive processes, ceasing to carry out any non-commercial activities and seeking to realise value from other assets, including the sale of the BNFL stake in the management company for the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

Implementation of the sale of the AWE stake was led by BERR and approved by BERR's Secretary of State and accounting officer. Treasury officials provided advice on the interpretation of rules relating to parliamentary notification as covered in Managing Public Money. (ISBN 9780115601262).

Common Travel Area

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the common travel area; how extensive it is; what its origin is; whether it has any status in domestic or international law; when the term was first used; whether it is codified in any way; and what assessment they have made of its future. [HL676]

The common travel area (CTA) comprises the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies (the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and the Republic of Ireland. The CTA came into being in the 1920s and was enshrined in legislation in the Immigration Act 1971. The CTA was a purely administrative arrangement until it was given full statutory recognition in the UK under Section 1(3) of the Immigration Act 1971, and the Immigration (Control of Entry through the Republic of Ireland) Order 1972. There is no formal agreement between the constituent territories which underpin the CTA.

The Government held a public Strengthening the Common Travel Area consultation between 24 July and 16 October 2008. This document outlined a number of proposed reforms of the CTA and the government response to this consultation and a full impact assessment were published on 15 January.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they are seeking to reform the common travel area; which departments are responsible for developing the reforms; and whether their proposed reform will significantly affect the Republic of Ireland. [HL677]

The common travel area (CTA) came into being in the 1920s and was enshrined in legislation in the Immigration Act 1971. The principle of free movement for nationals of the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies has delivered important economic and social benefits over the years.

It is recognised that the privileges bestowed on CTA nationals may be abused by others, thus increasing immigration risks within the area.

The UK Border Agency has been responsible for developing reforms in close partnership with the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies.

The Government will require all EEA nationals, including those that are British and Irish, to prove their identity and nationality with a passport or national identity card. Other nationals, including visa nationals, will be required to carry their passport on routes between the Republic of Ireland and the UK as with all other international routes to/from the UK.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Government of the Republic of Ireland regarding the common travel area; which Ministers and officials represented the United Kingdom in those discussions; what views were expressed by the Irish Ministers and officials; and what assessment they have made as to whether the Republic of Ireland favours the continuation, reform or abolition of the common travel area. [HL678]

The Government have developed the proposal for reform in close partnership with the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies. In addition to regular engagement at ministerial level, we have biannual senior official level meetings with the Irish to discuss immigration (and counterterrorism) issues in addition to ad hoc expert level meetings as required. We will continue to liaise closely with Irish counterparts on the development of our separate border management programmes and are committed to work together to optimise benefits for the common travel area (CTA).

The CTA is not being abolished and both countries are committed to preserving the common travel area and its benefits for legitimate travellers

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have for reform of the common travel area; when consultations on their proposals will take place; and when they propose to legislate. [HL744]

The Government published a public Strengthening the Common Travel Area consultation between 24 July and 16 October. These proposals for reform were developed in close partnership with the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies.

A number of industry-specific and regional stakeholder events took place over the 12-week consultation period. A total of 44 written responses (some of which were collective responses representing the views of a number of related organisations) were received. The respondents included airlines, ferry companies, port operators and associations, travel companies, public sector organisations, human rights groups and other interested parties as well as members of the public. The government response to the consultation feedback and the full impact assessment were published on 15 January.

The changes to the operation of the common travel area (CTA) arrangements will bring together the work of the former Border and Immigration Agency and HM Revenue and Customs' frontier responsibilities on CTA routes.

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill, introduced to Parliament on 14 January 2009, will provide the power to routinely control all persons arriving in or departing from the UK, from or to another part of the CTA by air or sea. The commencement provisions enable this power to be brought in by order on a date to be determined.

Counterterrorism

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the £6 million funding announced on 15 December 2008 as part of the United Kingdom's counter-terrorism assistance programme with Pakistan is exclusively for de-radicalisation efforts, or will fund other measures such as bomb disposal capability, scanning devices and airport security; and from which department's budgets the funding will come. [HL613]

The UK's counterterrorism co-operation with Pakistan is the most important and comprehensive government programme of its kind. The £6 million announced by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister during his recent visit is the approximate value of projects currently planned or under way in Pakistan to counter the causes of violent extremism. This includes projects aimed at empowering young people and women, strengthening democratic institutions, the media and the justice system, and building awareness and understanding of the causes of radicalisation. These projects are funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office-administered Counter-Terrorism and Radicalisation Programme (CTRP).

In addition to this my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced that we are enhancing our counterterrorism co-operation with Pakistan, including by:

Strengthening our co-operation with the Pakistani police through information-sharing and capacity-building projects at federal and provincial level, including on forensic science, crime scene management, and crisis response;

Developing Pakistani military and police capabilities on detection of improvised explosive devices and bomb disposal;

Working in partnership to improve civil aviation security through liaison, inward visits and training of aviation security officials; and

Helping the Government of Pakistan develop their crisis and consequence-management capability.

Overall we plan to spend in excess of £10 million this year on projects that impact directly on Pakistani capacity to address terrorism.

In addition, the British Council's substantial Pakistan Programme seeks to promote intercultural dialogue, community cohesion and positive social change.

Crime: Offender Behaviour Programmes

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will promote offender behaviour programmes in the community and prisons in order to reduce re-offending. [HL867]

The National Offender Management Service will continue to provide information and advice to stakeholders about offender behaviour programmes. There is regular liaison between senior members of the judiciary and of the Ministry of Justice, including through the National Sentencer Probation Forum, which promotes communication between sentencers and offender managers and at which there is an open exchange of knowledge, views and experience of what is effective and practical in helping to reduce crime.

A lot of work is also undertaken at a local level where liaison can prove particularly effective.

EU: Israel Association Agreement

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had in the European Union regarding the review of the conditionality clauses in the European Union-Israel Association Agreement. [HL916]

EU-Israel relations are an important part of our engagement with Israel which has at its core the goal of achieving lasting peace in the Middle East. We use the EU-Israel dialogue under the Association Agreement to further this goal.

Finance: Economic Regulation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the current economic circumstances require comprehensive economic regulation, in addition to market mechanisms. [HL843]

Government recognise the need for effective regulation. Across the economy government will continue to apply the better regulation principles of ensuring that regulation is targeted and proportionate. Effective and well focused regulation can play a vital role in correcting market failures, promoting fairness and increasing competition. But inefficient regulation or blanket enforcement imposes a significant and unnecessary burden on business, which should be minimised to help keep the UK competitive.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their non-ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families is compatible with their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. [HL642]

The Human Rights Act 1998 enshrines in national law the human rights established under the European Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights treaties.

The Human Rights Act provides protection to the human rights of everyone in the UK, including migrants. There is no incompatibility between having these rights in national law and not ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. No EU member state has ratified the convention.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the obligations of the United Kingdom under Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights where the European Court of Human Rights issues an interim measure under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. [HL782]

The Government have undertaken, in Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights, not to hinder in any way the effective exercise of the right of individual application to the court. The failure of a contracting state to comply with a measure indicated under Rule 39 may entail a breach of Article 34 of the convention. It is the Government's policy to comply with Rule 39 measures indicated by the European Court of Human Rights as a matter of course where they are able to do so.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government on how many occasions they have not complied with a decision on interim measures handed down by the European Court of Human Rights. [HL784]

It is the Government’s policy to comply with Rule 39 measures indicated by the European Court of Human Rights as a matter of course where they are able to do so.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is aware of two occasions since February 2005 on which the UK has failed to comply with Rule 39 measures indicated by the court. On the first occasion, in May 2008, the measure (requiring the Government not to remove an individual to China) was communicated to the Government less than half an hour before the plane upon which the applicant was to be removed was due to take off and there was insufficient time to give effect to the measure.

The second occasion occurred on 31 December 2008, when the Government took the view that, exceptionally, they could not comply with the measure indicated by the court (not to remove or transfer two individuals in Iraq from the custody of the UK Government). In the wholly exceptional circumstances of that case, and in particular given that continued detention of the individuals would have been unlawful, the Government took the view there was no lawful option other than transfer to the Iraqi authorities.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have taken account of the decisions of the South African Constitutional Court in Minister of Home Affairs v NICRO (2005 (3) SA 280 (CC)) and the High Court of Australia in Roach v Electoral Commissioner and Commonwealth of Australia (2007 HCA 43) in considering how to comply with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst v UK. [HL978]

Her Majesty’s Government are mindful of the judgments in South Africa and Australia, as well as legal challenges which have been brought in other jurisdictions on the issue of prisoners’ voting rights. However, we must arrive at a solution that is best for the UK, and, to that end, the Government remain committed to carrying out a second public consultation.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998 protect United Kingdom residents and British National (Overseas) passport holders who are not British citizens; whether there are exceptions to any protections given; and, if so, what they are. [HL1078]

The European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act apply to all people within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, but only when they are within its jurisdiction. If they are, there are no exceptions to the protections they give.

Immigration: Deportation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many charter flights were used to remove persons from the United Kingdom under immigration statutes in 2008; and what was the total number of passengers removed on such flights. [HL799]

Charter flights used to remove persons from the United Kingdom have routinely operated since March 2001. For the period January to December 2008, there were 66 charter flights made for this purpose; and a total number of 1,529 passengers were removed on those flights. This includes both enforced and voluntary returns.

These figures do not constitute part of national statistics as they are based on internal management information. The information has not been quality assured under national statistics protocols and should be treated as provisional and subject to change.

Iraq

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the relevant authorities concerning persons detained without trial in Iraq by the Government of Iraq and United States forces; and whether timetables have been established for reviewing and releasing all detainees. [HL858]

The Government of Iraq took a significant step in 2008 to address the slow processing of cases by implementing the Iraqi Amnesty Law which has since helped enable around 12,700 releases. Iraqi security operations throughout 2008 meant an understandable increase in numbers held and it is estimated that approximately 26,000 remain in Iraqi detention awaiting processing or trial.

The Ministry of Justice has pledged to make detention centres more efficient by speeding up paperwork, introducing rehabilitation and vocational training and addressing overcrowding. Arrangements for US-held detainees are covered separately under the Iraqi/US Status of Forces Agreement under which the relevant Iraqi authorities may request assistance from the US forces in detaining or arresting wanted individuals. There are currently around 15,000 in US detention but it is expected that the number of US-held detainees should be reduced under this agreement.

The Government recognise that the current levels of detainees needs to be greatly reduced and we will continue to closely monitor the situation, making representations as necessary. We shall also continue to assist the Iraqi authorities where possible to implement effectively the amnesty law and required judicial processes.

Israel and Palestine: Gaza

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will bring to the attention of the Government of Israel comments made by leading members of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom about the military action in Gaza. [HL777]

In our discussions with the Israeli Government and others, we will continue to make clear the Government's position. In line with UN Security Council Resolution 1860, we are pressing to ensure the ceasefire in Gaza is durable.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will work with the United Nations to establish a multinational inquiry into alleged war crimes committed in Gaza. [HL842]

As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said on 19 January 2009, Official Report, Col. 501: “allegations must be closely and speedily investigated. Obviously, the three key parties to that investigation are the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Government of Israel, and we are in touch with all of them”.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will propose the prosecution before the International Criminal Court of Israelis who may have committed war crimes in Lebanon in 2006 and subsequently in Gaza and the West Bank. [HL774]

As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said on 19 January 2009, Official Report, Col. 501: “allegations must be closely and speedily investigated. Obviously, the three key parties to that investigation are the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Government of Israel, and we are in touch with all of them”.

Legal Profession

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the proportions of men and women entering the legal profession in the United Kingdom in each of the years 2003–07. [HL907]

The information in the table below sets out the number and percentage of men and women entering the legal profession in 2003-07 (where available). It shows that for each year, a greater percentage of women than men entered the legal profession during that period. The figures used in the table are based on information provided by: the Bar Council of England and Wales; the Law Society of England and Wales; the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen; the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys; the Council for Licensed Conveyancers; the Institute of Legal Executives; the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys; the Law Society and Bar of Northern Ireland; the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates.

Year

Female Entrants

Male Entrants

Total

2003

5,808 (57.8%)

4,249 (42.2%)

10,057

2004

5,884 (57.6%)

4,324 (42.4%)

10,208

2005

6,238 (60%)

4,156 (40%)

10,394

2006

6,156 (59.3%)

4,219 (40.7%)

10,375

2007

6,346 (59.4%)

4,346 (40.6%)

10,692

Total

30,432 (58.8%)

21,294 (41.2%)

51,726

A more detailed breakdown of the figures received is also provided below.

Solicitors and Barristers Figures in the UK

Year

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Total

Barristers in England & Wales

Female - called to Bar

765

666

722

846

870

3,869

Male - called to Bar

737

702

754

794

906

3,893

Solicitors in England & Wales

Female - admitted

3,933

4,110

4,438

4,206

4,323

21,010

Male - admitted

2,991

3,137

2,918

2,869

2,900

14,815

Faculty of Advocates - Scotland

Female - entrants

10

6

9

6

7

38

Male - entrants

16

11

12

15

11

65

Solicitors in Scotland

Female - new

375

309

271

353

401

1,709

Male - new

183

171

141

199

210

904

Barristers in Northern Ireland

Female - called to Bar

12

20

12

13

17

74

Male - called to Bar

16

8

18

13

12

67

Solicitors in Northern Ireland

Female - admitted

88

92

96

105

95

476

Male - admitted

62

58

47

65

62

294

Other Legal Professionals

Year

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Total

Law Costs Draftsmen

Female - new entrants

55

91

37

28

15

226

Male - new entrants

48

52

43

48

32

223

Legal Executives

Female - new fellows

469

479

507

473

481

2409

Male - new fellows

127

108

122

116

105

578

Licensed Conveyancers

Female - newly qualified

51

64

93

74

76

358

Male- newly qualified

16

10

10

13

15

64

Patent Attorneys

Female - new registrants

31

33

39

30

46

179

Male - new registrants

40

58

76

72

86

332

Trade Mark Attorneys

Female - new registrants

19

14

14

22

15

84

Male - new registrants

13

9

15

15

7

59

Libya

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what Libyan assets are currently frozen in the United Kingdom; and what is their estimated value. [HL875]

No Libyan assets are frozen in the United Kingdom. United Nations financial sanctions in relation to Libya were lifted on 12 September 2003.

National Offender Management Strategy

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish the Offender Management Strategy 2008; and what are the predicted re-offending rates for the future. [HL868]

Punishment and Reform: Our Approach to Managing Offenders was published on 17 December 2008 and is available on the Ministry of Justice website. It explains how the principles of punishment and reform underpin our approach to offender management.

A strategic review of offender management took place in 2007. A summary report was made available to probation services in January 2008. A copy of the summary has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The purpose of the Offender Management Strategic Review was to set the direction for the implementation of future phases of offender management within the National Offender Management Service. The review drew on an extensive programme of consultation with practitioners and other interested parties including the findings from Offender Management Inspection reports by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation which are public documents.

The Ministry has an ambitious target to reduce the frequency of reoffending by 10 per cent between 2005 and 2011. Research by our analysis teams on future reoffending rates indicates that we are on course to achieve this target The most recent reoffending statistics, published in September 2008, demonstrated that between 2005 and 2006 reoffending was reduced by 13 per cent. This is on top of a reduction in reoffending of 11.4 per cent between 2000 and 2005.

The excellent progress made in reducing reoffending over the first year of the target period is very encouraging and demonstrates the success of the Government’s approach. Working with partners in the police, local authorities, across the criminal justice system and in local communities, more effective responses to reoffending have been developed. We know that our policies have been successful in bringing reoffending down over the past eight years but we are not complacent. We are working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our programmes of activity to deliver further reductions.

Passports

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which categories of British nationals currently enjoy a right to a United Kingdom passport; and what are the circumstances in which that right may be revoked. [HL940]

All categories of British nationals, i.e. British citizens, British Overseas Territories citizens, British Overseas citizens, British subjects, British Nationals (Overseas) and British Protected Persons, are eligible for United Kingdom passports. Passports are currently issued at the discretion of the Secretary of State in exercise of the royal prerogative, but in practice once nationality and identity have been established, passports may be refused or withdrawn only in the limited circumstances that have been notified to Parliament.

In addition eligibility for a United Kingdom passport could be revoked in certain circumstances by deprivation of citizenship. Section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981 enables the Secretary of State to deprive a person of their citizenship status, if acquired as a result of naturalisation or registration, if that status was obtained by fraud, false representation or concealment of material fact The Secretary of State may also deprive of citizenship status on conduciveness grounds—for example, in cases where an individual has committed serious criminality following their acquisition of that British citizenship status. Deprivation of citizenship status would mean the UK passport held by the individual would subsequently be revoked by the Secretary of State under the royal prerogative powers

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many valid United Kingdom passports are in circulation; and how many United Kingdom passports have been revoked in each of the past five years. [HL974]

The latest estimate for the total number of currently valid United Kingdom passports in circulation is 51,803,000.This total number includes an estimate of 4,521,000 for United Kingdom passport holders overseas. An exact figure for the total number of passports in circulation cannot be given because lost and stolen passports may not be replaced immediately.

The number of passports revoked in 2008 was 152. Figures for earlier years could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Pensions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in light of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund's sale of NZ$37 million-worth of shares in companies associated with manufacturing cluster munitions and manufacturing or testing nuclear explosive devices, what steps they will take to ensure that public pension funds are not invested in corporations manufacturing cluster munitions. [HL456]

The majority of public service pension schemes are pay-as-you-go schemes, which means that they do not have pension funds to invest. Investment decisions of funded schemes such as the Local Government Pension Scheme are a matter for those local authorities. In the case of other funded schemes in the public sector, investment decisions will generally be a matter for trustees.

Prisoners: Women

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the new duty to promote gender equality or existing sex discrimination legislation or both allow differential treatment for women prisoners. [HL902]

The Government are satisfied that the gender equality duty and other existing legislation allows differential treatment for women to ensure equal outcomes for both genders. It was on this basis that the National Offender Management Service issued Gender Specific Standards for women prisoners in April 2008 with a view of their implementation in all women's prisons by 1 April 2009. HM Prison Service is now carrying out gender equality impact assessments of new policies affecting both genders.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide additional financial resources to women's penal policy; and, if so, whether they will publish the amount to be provided (or the date when this will be published) and details of how those additional financial resources will be used. [HL903]

The Government committed in December to provide additional resourcing to divert vulnerable women, who are not serious or dangerous offenders, from custody. The resources will be used to build capacity of one-stop-shop services and to further develop bail support services to better meet the needs of women. A further announcement will be made once final arrangements have been agreed.

Schengen Area

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have considered joining the Schengen area; whether they have discussed doing so with the Government of the Republic of Ireland; and whether the Republic of Ireland joining the Schengen area would affect the United Kingdom. [HL680]

The UK’s position in Schengen is kept under review and any decision to participate as a full member of Schengen would be taken on its merits and in consultation with the Irish authorities in view of the shared common travel area.

Currently there are no plans for the UK to apply the Schengen acquis in full as we believe that maintaining our frontier controls is the most effective way to combat international and organised crime and to prevent immigration abuse. Similarly the Republic of Ireland has not agreed to participate in the border control aspects of the Schengen agreement.

If the Republic of Ireland were to decide to apply the Schengen acquis in full we would need to assess the impact on our border security. We continue to work with our EU partners to ensure that we play as full a part as possible in the management of migration into and within the EU.

War Crimes

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask the United Nations General Assembly to establish a special tribunal, with the ability to hear individual cases, if impartial investigations conclude that war crimes have occurred in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon in recent years. [HL883]

We are gravely concerned at the allegations made during the Gaza conflict by such credible organisations as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN. We have been clear that such allegations must be investigated. We expect, and urge, Israel to investigate allegations of abuses by its forces.

Zimbabwe

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the recommendation of the Independent Asylum Commission that destitute Zimbabweans should be allowed a temporary and revocable permit to work in the United Kingdom. [HL737]

Our asylum system provides protection to individuals where it is needed in the form of leave to remain in the United Kingdom. Asylum seekers who need support to avoid destitution are given it from the time they arrive in the UK until their claim is fully determined. Any failed asylum seeker who is unable to return home through no fault of their own can apply for support. It is not government policy to grant failed asylum seekers permission to work.

As the UK Border Agency noted in response to the commissioners’ findings, the Government believe that managed economic migration is a valuable source of skills and labour for the UK economy, and maintains recognised routes into the UK for those seeking to work. It is important to maintain the distinction between economic migration and asylum.

Allowing failed asylum seekers to work would be likely to encourage asylum applications from those without a well founded fear of persecution, thus slowing down the processing of applications made by genuine refugees and compromising the integrity of our asylum system.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they are deporting Zimbabwe citizens to Malawi, in view of the possibility that they may be immediately sent on to Zimbabwe; and [HL772]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Government of Malawi concerning Zimbabwean asylum applicants whom they wish to send to Malawi; and whether they have received any assurances from Malawi. [HL773]

Unsuccessful asylum claimants are returned to Malawi only if they are entitled to reside there, and only when the decision-making and independent appeals system have found that this would be consistent with our obligations under the refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. Among many other factors, decision-makers and the courts take full account of any risk that the claimant would be removed from Malawi to another country where they could be at risk.

The nationality or entitlement of an applicant to reside in a country is determined by looking at and weighing up all of the available documentary and oral evidence. Where a person holds a genuine and legally obtained Malawian passport or other identity document issued by the Malawian authorities, that would normally be enough to show that the holder is entitled to reside in Malawi.

As an additional safeguard in the case of those who claim connections to Zimbabwe, the British High Commission in Lilongwe has obtained from the Malawian immigration authorities confirmation that they would not deport an individual who has Malawian nationality or the right to reside in Malawi, regardless of ancestral nationality or previous residence in a third country.