§ Mr. Lidington
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many immigration and asylum appeal hearings in(a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99 and (c) 1999–2000 his Department did not present its case. 
§ Mrs. Roche
In 1997–98 the Presenting Officer Unit (POU) piloted new working procedures designed to increase flexibility and productivity which included identifying non-complex cases in which the absence of a Presenting Officer would not affect the outcome of the appeal. A total of 126 appeal cases were heard without a Home Office representative being present. In 1998–99 the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA) significantly210W increased its throughput of appeals and by introducing the new working practices the POU was able to target resources with some precision. The IAA was informed in 6,230 cases, 11 per cent. of the total listed for hearing, that there would be no Home Office representative: no information is available as to how many of these cases proceeded to a hearing. In the current financial year the IAA has been informed in 610 cases, 3 per cent. of total listed, that there would be no Home Office representative.