HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc963-4W
Mr. Caton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures his Department has taken to widen the NIA grants available to destitute asylum seekers in order to ease removal procedures. [124056]

Beverley Hughes

The Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP) is available to all nationalities throughout the asylum process including those who have received a negative decision on their asylum claim and are awaiting appeal. It is also open to those who have been granted time limited leave to enter or remain.

VARRP aims to secure the dignified, safe and sustainable return of those who wish to leave the United Kingdom voluntarily. The International Organization for Migration, which runs this programme on behalf of the Home Office, will assist the returnee prior to departure with counselling and independent advice. They will also help with travel arrangements, tickets etc.

On arrival to the returnees' country of origin they will receive reintegration assistance worth approximately £500 (not cash). This assistance includes help with initial housing and access to employment, training, education and health facilities.

Mr. Caton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to reinstate embarkation controls at UK borders in order to facilitate the assessment of members of failed asylum seekers who remain in the country. [124064]

Beverley Hughes

We are keeping the option for embarkation controls under review, taking into account cost, the move towards capturing details of arriving and embarking passengers electronically and our current capability to conduct random, short-term embarkation controls if necessary. Targeted embarkation exercises have already been undertaken and, subject to operational priorities, we plan to undertake further special exercises to help estimate the number of failed asylum seekers leaving the United Kingdom voluntarily.

Mr. Viggers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what enquiries he has made of local estate agents at Lee-on-the-Solent concerning the impact on house prices of the announcement that the Daedalus site was being considered as a possible location for an accommodation centre for asylum seekers. [124079]

Beverley Hughes


Mr. Malins

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will assess the impact of the implementation of section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 on his policy of dispersing asylum seekers throughout the UK; how many asylum seekers have been dispersed since section 55 was implemented; when he will publish his revised guidelines on the implementation of section 55; and if he will make a statement. [124116]

Beverley Hughes

The impact of section 55 on the dispersal of asylum seekers throughout the United Kingdom has been monitored since its implementation on 8 January 2003.

The number of dispersals per month/quarter is not available. However, the assumption can be made that the majority of cases applying for accommodation support will be dispersed. The number of applications for National Asylum Support Service (NASS) accommodation during the first quarter of 2003 was 7,990 and the corresponding number for the fourth quarter of 2002 was 10,410.

Information on applications for NASS support is published in the quarterly asylum statistics available from the Library, and from the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigrationl.html.

The next publication will be available at the end of August 2003.

The guidance for NASS caseworkers on section 55 was revised and reissued on 11 April 2003 following the Court of Appeal judgment on 18 March 2003 and is being kept under review.

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