HC Deb 22 March 2001 vol 365 cc316-7W
Mr. Ruffley

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many contacts the Minister for Europe and his office have had with the entry clearance unit regarding objections to refusals of visa applications in(a) New Delhi, (b) Calcutta, (c) Bombay, (d) Nairobi, (e) Auckland and (f) Sydney in the last 18 months; [154918]

(2) how many objections to and refusals of visa applications were overruled by Ministers in (a) 1996, (b) 1997, (c) 1998, (d) 1999, (e) 2000 and (f) 2001, broken down by applicants' country of origin; [154917]

(3) on what grounds the Minister for Europe overruled objections to and refusals of visa applications in the last 18 months; if he will list the names of the applicants; and if he will make a statement. [154916]

Mr. Vaz

Figures on ministerial overturns on visa cases were not kept centrally until I became Minister responsible for entry clearance in October 1999. Statistics were then kept at my request. I have overturned 49 decisions to date. In this period there have been over 2 million visa applications of which approximately 140,000 have been refused. I have therefore overturned decisions in 0.0025 per cent. of cases. I have done so on the basis that I am satisfied that the applicants qualified for entry clearance under the immigration rules. It would be inappropriate for me to divulge the names of applicants or details on individual cases on confidentiality grounds.

This is in accordance with the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. I can say however that the cases in which I intervened covered a wide range of nationalities. As well as cases from the sub-continent, I have overturned decisions made in a range of countries, from south America, to south-east Asia to north Africa.