§ Mr. Malins
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to improve(a) the quality and (b) the speed of initial decisions in asylum applications. 
§ Beverley Hughes
Action to maintain and improve the quality of initial decisions on asylum applications is a continuous process. Recent initiatives include extra training on human rights and seminars by the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture to better equip caseworkers to interview asylum applicants. Guidance to caseworkers and training needs are informed by, and updated in the light of, random sampling of initial decisions, emerging case law, policy changes, and feedback from internal and external stakeholders.
Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) achieved the 2001–02 target of deciding 60 per cent. of new substantive asylum applications within two months. Provisional, internal data indicate that IND is on track to meet this year's target of 65 per cent. and well placed to achieve next year's target of 75 per cent. within two months. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill contains a number of provisions to support faster asylum processes, particularly for clearly unfounded claims.