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20 Jan 2003 : Column 170Wcontinued
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many representations he has received from electors living in (a) the south-east region, (b) Hampshire and (c) the New Forest East constituency in favour of the establishment of an elected regional assembly for the south-east. 
Mr. Raynsford: "Your Region, Your Choice", the White Paper on Regional Governance, was not a consultation exercise, except on the issue of stakeholder involvement with elected regional assemblies. It therefore did not invite views either for or against the principle of establishing assemblies. Representations in response to the White Paper have been received by letter and by e-mail. It is not possible to identify the region, county or constituency of origin of many of the e-mailed responses. However, between the dates of 9 May 2002, when the White Paper was published, and 30 November 2002, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister recorded 18 respondents from the south-east who were in favour of an elected regional assembly in the region, of whom two were from Hampshire. Our analysis of responses did not record respondents' parliamentary constituencies.
Gareth Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with housing associations about developing solar heating and photovoltaic applications for social housing; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty: Responsibility for photovoltaic solar heating development and deployment programmes for which housing associations can apply are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
The Housing Corporation promotes the sustainability of social housing owned by housing associations through its Regulatory Code. Housing associations are expected to demonstrate a commitment to effective protection of the environment and the prudent use of natural resources. The Housing Corporation is funding a "Generating Solar Homes" project, through its Innovation and Good Practice programme, to encourage housing associations' active involvement in the Government's photovoltaic programme.
Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the advantages of sub-dividing the south-east region so that Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey comprise one new region. 
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Mr. Leslie: The current regional boundaries are now the most widely accepted and used regional boundaries. A large number of regional bodies, including the Government Offices, Regional Development Agencies and other parts of Central Government, operate to these boundaries, and all regions now have recognised voluntary regional chambers. The current regions are of a sufficient spatial and demographic size to support the work of these organisations.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of incidents of minors purchasing alcoholic beverages (a) in Lancashire and (b) in the UK in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Denham: The number of incidents of minors purchasing alcoholic beverages in Lancaster, or in the UK as a whole, is not collected centrally. However, some information is available from the Department of Health's annual, nationally representative school survey looking at smoking, drinking and drug use among young people aged 11 to 15 years old in England. Questions were last asked about purchasing alcohol in the 2000 survey. The results are shown in the table. All information relates to England. Estimates for Lancashire are not available.
|Percentages||11 to 15 year olds|
|In a pub or bar||9|
|In a club or disco||7|
|From an off-licence||17|
|From a shop or supermarket||9|
|From a friend or relative||17|
|From someone else||8|
|I never by alcohol||46|
|Base N (all pupils who drink now)||3,952|
Percentages total more than 100 because pupils could give more than one answer.
Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England in 2000.
The Home Office Court Proceedings Database does contain statistics on the number of prosecutions and convictions for offences of buying and selling intoxicating liquor to underage. However, due to the small numbers of incidents proceeded against, it would not give an accurate picture of minors purchasing alcoholic beverages.
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implement the recommendations of the House of Lords report on the use of animals in scientific procedures. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government's response to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on animals in scientific procedures was published on 20 January 2003 (Cm 5729). Copies have been placed in the Library.
The Government welcome the Select Committee's report and notes in particular, and endorses, its finding that animal experiments are currently necessary to develop human and veterinary medicines and to protect humans and the environment. We have reaffirmed our commitment to the fullest possible application of the 3Rsthe refinement of scientific procedures, the reduction in numbers of animals used and their replacement wherever possibleand to greater openness regarding the use of animals in scientific procedures, subject to safeguards for personal and confidential information. We have also accepted that the administrative burden imposed by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 must be kept to a minimum without compromising the welfare of the animals used. We will pursue these issues and a number of other actions arising from our response to the Select Committee's report over the coming months.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy that a welfare assessment of new strains of animals, including genetically modified ones, must be made as a matter of course. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: It has long been policy to assess and satisfy the welfare needs of animals bred and used under the licensing controls of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. All such animals have to be housed and cared for according to standards set out in published codes of practice. There is not at present a practical and universally accepted assessment system as regards genetically modified animals, but discussions are progressing with funding bodies to try to develop one that can be widely applied.
Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for (a) asylum and (b) naturalisation were received by the Home Office in each year since 1997; and how many are still outstanding for each year. 
|Year||Applications received (25),(26)|
(25) Figures rounded to the nearest five.
(26) May exclude some cases lodged at Local Enforcement Offices between January
1999 and March 2000.
(27) Provisional figures.
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Information on the number of asylum applications lodged in each year since 1997 which are still outstanding is unavailable and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.
At the end of September 2002, there were a total of 37,200 asylum cases awaiting an initial decision, including work in progress. This figure relates to the number of cases i.e. the number of principal applicants. On the same date, there were an estimated 47,000 appeals lodged with the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) that had not yet been sent to the Immigration Appellate Authority. This figure includes non-asylum appeals.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers, broken down by year of initial application, are in each stage of the process towards admission or deportation. 
Beverley Hughes: Information on the number of asylum applications outstanding by year of application is unavailable and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by examination of individual case records.
The number of asylum cases awaiting an initial decision has been reduced from a peak of 120,000 to 37,200 at the end of September 2002. This includes work in progress and relates to the number of cases i.e. the number of principal applicants. On the same date, there were an estimated 47,000 appeals lodged with the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) that had not yet been sent to the Immigration Appellate Authority. This figure includes non-asylum appeals.
Information on the number of cases outstanding in other divisions of IND is not available. Information on the number of asylum cases awaiting an initial decision is published quarterly on the Home Office website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html
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