Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Hancock: I appreciate the Minister's clarification that she expects removal centres to contain a mix of people. What will happen if a removal centre is full of people awaiting determination of their asylum application or appeals, and others who are about to be removed cannot get in to the centres? Many people fear that everyone will end up in a removal centre, based on the premise that the result of their application is removal.

Ms Winterton: I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman is right. When removal directions are made, removal will often be quick. Sometimes it will be almost immediate. There will, however, be a fairly fast turnaround of those who have had their removal directions set, as the hon. Gentleman's figures showed. We are seeking to expand the present system. The whole idea of these plans is to make the process speedier, so that people and appeals can be dealt with more quickly. We need, therefore, to ensure that the estate—removal centres, accommodation centres and so on—is adequate to provide the places that are needed.

Simon Hughes: I have two factual questions. First, will the Minister tell us the projected numbers of those who will have finished all their processes and who are being detained, but with their removal planned, compared with

12 Jun 2002 : Column 890

the percentage of people who will not have reached that stage, and who will therefore not be guaranteed removal because that may not be the outcome of their appeal? What will be the balance between the two? Secondly, on the name question, are not the Minister and her colleagues giving the game away? This is all about image, about looking tougher, and about sending messages—it does not matter if they are wrong or misleading. This is simply about trying to make the Government sound more and more right wing, hard-line and unsympathetic. That must be what it is about; otherwise the change would not be necessary.

Ms Winterton: No, it is not about that. This is about establishing a better system, which the hon. Gentleman knows we have to do. He is only too aware that these measures need to be taken to make the system more efficient. Refugees who have been waiting a long time for their status to be confirmed come to my surgeries. They have been through very difficult circumstances, and it is incumbent on us to ensure that we have a system that allows those with genuine claims to get through it quickly. I do not accept that this is simply about window dressing. It is about establishing a proper system and ensuring that we can speed up the process.

Mr. Hancock: Unfortunately, I am losing the Minister. I would like to know why the change of name from "detention centre" to "removal centre" will speed the process up. She has said nothing to convince me that simply changing the name will make the process any quicker.

Ms Winterton: Obviously the hon. Gentleman and the Government will have to differ on this matter.

I hope that I have been able to give some reassurance in some of my answers, particularly those on children in these situations. The provisions in this part of the Bill do not change the situation for the people in removal centres; they change the people who make the decisions in these circumstances. That is the extent of the provisions. I believe that there are adequate safeguards to address the concerns that hon. Members have raised, and I hope, therefore, that they will consider not pressing their amendments to a vote.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 10

Withholding and withdrawal of support

'Schedule (Withholding and withdrawal of support) (which makes provision for support to be withheld or withdrawn in certain circumstances) shall have effect.'.—[Beverley Hughes.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

5.15 pm

The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration (Beverley Hughes): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

12 Jun 2002 : Column 891

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 4—Accommodation: adequacy

'(1) After section 97(1) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (c. 33) (Supplemental) there is added:

"(1A) Accommodation provided under section 95 will only be regarded as adequate provided:

(a) it is fit for human habitation as defined by section 604 of the Housing Act 1985 (as amended);

(b) occupation of the accommodation by the asylum seekers and their dependants (if any) will not constitute overcrowding as defined by sections 324, 325 and 326 of the Housing Act 1985;

(c) it does not constitute a statutory nuisance as defined by section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990;

(d) the Secretary of State is satisfied that, if occupied by them, the asylum seekers and their dependants (if any) would be reasonably safe from personal injury or from damage to their property caused by a relevant defect, as defined by section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972.".

(2) After section 100(1) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (c. 33) (local authority and other assistance for Secretary of State) there is added—

"(1A) The Secretary of State may ask a local housing authority to take such steps as they are allowed by law to ensure accommodation provided under section 95 is adequate as defined by section 97(1A).".'.

New clause 17—Accommodation of unaccompanied asylum–seeking children

'(1) All unaccompanied asylum–seeking children shall be offered the opportunity to be accommodated under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.

(2) Such children may be accommodated by any local authority.'.

Government new schedule 1—'Withholding and Withdrawal of Support

Ineligibility for support

1 (1) A person to whom this paragraph applies shall not be eligible for support or assistance under—

(a) section 21 or 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948 (c. 29) (local authority: accommodation and welfare),

(b) section 45 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 (c. 46) (local authority: welfare of elderly),

(c) section 12 or 13A of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 (c. 49) (social welfare services),

(d) Article 15 of the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order (S.I. 1972/1265 (N.I. 14)) (general social welfare),

(e) section 21 of and Schedule 8 to the National Health Service Act 1977 (c. 49) (social services),

(f) section 17, 23C, 24A or 24B of the Children Act 1989 (c. 41) (welfare and other powers which can be exercised in relation to adults),

(g) section 29 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (c. 36) (after-care),

(h) section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000 (c. 22) (promotion of well-being),

(i) a provision of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (c. 33), or

(j) a provision of this Act.

(2) A power or duty under a provision referred to in sub-paragraph (1) may not be exercised or performed in respect of a person to whom this paragraph applies (whether or not the person has previously been in receipt of support or assistance under the provision).

12 Jun 2002 : Column 892

(3) An approval or directions given under or in relation to a provision referred to in sub-paragraph (1) shall be taken to be subject to sub-paragraph (2).


2 (1) Paragraph 1 does not prevent the provision of support or assistance—

(a) to a child, or

(b) under or by virtue of regulations made under paragraph 8, 9 or 10 below, or

(c) in a case in respect of which, and to the extent to which, regulations made by the Secretary of State disapply paragraph 1.

(2) Regulations under sub-paragraph (1)(c) may confer a discretion on the Secretary of State.

(3) A reference in this Schedule to a person to whom paragraph 1 applies includes a reference to a person in respect of whom that paragraph is disapplied to a limited extent by regulations under sub-paragraph (1)(c), except in a case for which the regulations provide otherwise.

3 Paragraph 1 does not prevent the exercise of a power or the performance of a duty if, and to the extent that, its exercise or performance is necessary for the purpose of avoiding a breach of—

Next Section

IndexHome Page