§ Mr. Wainwright
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the adequacy of the current staffing levels of translators based at Heathrow terminal 3 in relation to the demands imposed upon them by the numbers of visitors arriving from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh requiring interviews before entry permission is granted; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Waddington
I presume the hon. Member is referring to interpreters. The eight full-time interpreters employed by the immigration service, all of whom are based at Heathrow terminal 3 and of whom seven speak one or more of the various languages required For interviewing passengers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, are augmented at terminal 3 by a panel of 75 hourly-paid interpreters in the same languages. Additionally 17 immigration officers based at terminal 3 speak a variety of the same languages.
The full-time interpreters are rostered to be in attendance for the scheduled arrival of flights which are likely to require their services. There will inevitably be delays at times in providing adequate interpretative facilities when schedules are disrupted, when more passengers than anticipated are found to require the use of an interpreter and whilst hourly-paid interpreters are deployed. Their use is a more flexible and cost effective way of meeting the need for interpretative facilities than increasing the number of permanent staff who would not always be fully employed. A review of interpretative facilities throughout the immigration service is currently under way.