asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether European Union harmonisation could result in the system of processing asylum applications in the United Kingdom being assimilated to that in other European Union Member States and becoming less open; and whether harmonisation will be used as a reason for cutting the cost of processing asylum applications. [HL 3192]
The Council of the European Union has identified work on harmonisation of national procedures for granting the right to asylum as one of a number of priority areas pending the coming into force of the Amsterdam Treaty. There are no proposals presently before the Council for any substantive measures of this sort. The Amsterdam Treaty provides for measures to be adopted which would establish minimum standards in relation to the reception of asylum seekers, the qualification of asylum seekers as refugees and procedures for the grant or withdrawal of refugee status. The United Kingdom will be in a position to decide whether or not to participate in any such measures. There is no reason to believe that any
|Table A: Percentage of offenders sentenced at all courts for indictable offences by sex and type of sentence or order, England and Wales, 1996 and 1997 (p)|
|Year & Sex||Total sentenced||Immediate custody1||Fine||Community service order||Probation order||Combination order||Discharge2||Other|
|(p) = provisional.|
|1 Immediate custody = detention in a Young Offender Institution and unsuspended sentence of imprisonment.|
|2 Discharge = absolute and conditional discharges.|
minimum standards so established would require national asylum procedures to be less open. Member states will, of course, be alert to the resource implications of any proposals in this area, but their primary motivation is likely to be the need to ensure that those in genuine need of international protection receive it quickly and to prevent, as far as possible, abuse of asylum procedures.