§ Miss Widdecombe
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the people aboard the Afghan airliner hijacked to Stansted in February 2000 are still in the United Kingdom; what is the status of each of their asylum claims; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mrs. Roche
[holding answer 13 March 2001]: Of the 170 passengers who arrived on the aircraft, 81 returned to Afghanistan.
Fifty-one passengers claimed asylum (plus 26 dependants). Because of the exceptional circumstances of the hijack and the wider issues surrounding it, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary personally decided each of the asylum claims.
Of the cases which have been considered to date, four (plus 13 dependants) have been granted asylum. A total of 34 (plus five dependants) have been refused asylum, not 35 as was stated in my answer to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 5 February 2001, Official Report, column 439W. Thirty of the subsequent appeals to the independent appellate authority have been dismissed, confirming my right hon. Friend's original decision.
The appellants whose appeals were dismissed are entitled to remain in the United Kingdom pending the outcome of their appeals to the tribunal.
Twenty-four applications are yet to be considered. Twelve of the applicants are the alleged hijackers, whose trials began in January this year, and 12 are their family members. No decision will be taken on their cases until the outcome of the trial is known.