§ Mr. Rooker
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current length of time applicants wishing to join spouses in the United Kingdom are having to wait for interview by British high commission staff in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; and what action is in hand to reduce waiting times.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) on 20 February, at column175. During the past two years we have considerably reduced waiting times in the Indian sub-continent. No first-time applicant for settlement now waits longer than nine months for interview. We have increased staffing levels in Bombay and New Delhi. The construction of new premises in Islamabad, Dhaka and New Delhi and the move to new premises in Bombay will improve administrative procedures and are expected to reduce waiting times.