HC Deb 24 July 2000 vol 354 cc760-1
17. Mr. Paul Clark (Gillingham)

How many applicants for asylum have permission to work under the terms of the employment concession. [130338]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mrs. Barbara Roche)

We estimate that about 30,000 port asylum applicants at present have permission to work. In the case of in-country applicants, the available information indicates that about 14,000 applicants have been given permission to work in the past 12 months.

Mr. Clark

I thank my hon. Friend for that response. As a new Member, I was appalled by the time that was taken before decisions were made. Many families lived their lives in suspension, being unable to make any plans. I recognise that the time taken for initial decisions has been reduced, but what further steps are being taken to increase the speed of decisions?

Mrs. Roche

My hon. Friend highlights an important point. We are recruiting many more asylum case workers to quicken decision making. We are working hard with the Lord Chancellor's Department to ensure that we are quickening the appeal process as well.