§ Lady Saltoun of Abernethy
asked Her Majesty's Government:
When they will introduce their centrally organised scheme for DNA testing in immigration cases; and whether any changes are proposed to entry clearance fees.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (The Earl of Caithness)
We have for some time now accepted that DNA profiling appears to be the most accurate method available for determining parentage in immigration cases. Several thousand cases have been satisfactorily determined on that basis56WA through tests commissioned and paid for by the applicants themselves. My right honourable friend the then Secretary of State for the Home Department announced on 14th June 1989 our intention to introduce a government scheme for DNA testing as a means of resolving first time settlement applications where the relationship could not otherwise be established.
The necessary arrangements have now been completed and contracts awarded to two British companies, Cellmark Diagnostics Ltd. and University Diagnostics Ltd., to carry out DNA tests. In suitable cases entry clearance officers (ECOs) at British diplomatic posts overseas will now be able to offer to arrange tests which will be carried out by these independent scientific experts on a commercial basis. As my right honourable friend indicated in June 1989, DNA testing will not be offered as a matter of routine and will not be compulsory. ECOs will offer to arrange tests with the consent of the applicant and sponsor in cases where the relevant relationships cannot be demonstrated easily by other means. If an applicant or his sponsor declines to undergo a test, that would not of itself be a ground for refusing the application. But if an ECO is not satisfied about the relationship on the basis of the evidence before him, the applicant will now have the option of taking a DNA test to resolve the matter. We believe that this will go a long way towards making disputes about family relationships a thing of the past.
In considering how to finance the scheme, we have sought to avoid imposing a significant burden either upon individual applicants who are invited to take a DNA test or upon the taxpayer. The cost of such tests will therefore be covered by an increase in the fee charged for lodging all settlement applications. This increase will also cover the rise in administrative costs.
Revised fees are to be introduced with effect from 14th January 1991. These were approved by the Privy Council on 19th December. The principal fees will be as follows:
Single Entry Clearance £20 (no change) Single Entry Clearance for those applicants under 25 years of age £10 (new category) Double Entry Clearance £30 (no change) Multiple Entry Clearance —for two years' validity £40 (reduction of £4) —for five years' validity £85 (new category) Application for settlement or marriage £80 (increase of £20) Other long term entry clearances £60 (no change)