Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill

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Mr. Barker: I should like to address a few comments to the Minister on clause 42.

The Chairman: Order. We are discussing clause 43.

Mr. Barker: I beg your pardon, Mr. Illsley.

Angela Eagle: My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) made some welcome comments about the powers in clause 43 and what they enable us to do. We have not made final decisions on the matter, and we are discussing how we can develop the resettlement programme with the UNHCR and other interested parties. The criteria for resettlement are that the refugee's life, liberty, safety, health or other fundamental human rights are at risk in the country where they sought refuge, and once the UNHCR believes that someone may be suitable for resettlement, they will put them forward for consideration by us. We have not yet decided in detail how we will deal with that and are consulting other countries that have more experience of resettlement than we do. They include the United States of America, Canada and Australia, which all have much larger resettlement programmes. We will examine potential specific criteria that could be applied in addition by the UK, which may include security screening.

The UNHCR will then sift applications that concern them and pass appropriate cases to us for consideration. Field officers will ensure that each resettlement candidate has a good understanding of what life in the UK will be like and what will happen to them on arrival. The UNHCR oversees all resettlement programmes and assesses global resettlement needs annually. At this stage, we do not want the UNHCR to be responsible for assessing whether individuals meet UK-specific sifting criteria. The final decision on whom to accept from will be for the UK. We are at the early stages of working out how the resettlement programme will come into effect, but I hope that that gives my hon. Friend some idea of how we see it working.

Mrs. Gillan: I thank the Minister for her assurances on both the secondment and the point raised by NACAB. Far be it from me to make any spending commitments for the official Opposition, but I am extremely pleased that she is taking a grip on the finances of the potential projects. There is no doubt that investing in advance will save both money in the long term and human misery by ensuring that, as she said earlier, people are taken out of the hands of traffickers.

Will she ensure that the Opposition are aware at an early stage of any discussions on the expansion of the projects? We all take a great deal of interest in the matters, irrespective of our political party. I am pleased with what the Minister had to say and hope that she is successful in her negotiations to get suitable investment.

Mr. Barker: I am particularly pleased to see arrangements that allow the Secretary of State to assist with the settlement of migrants both in the

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United Kingdom and elsewhere. Many people who come to the UK are in a winner-takes-all lottery. Either they are allowed to remain in the United Kingdom with the long-term potential to apply for citizenship and all the benefits that that brings, or they face the prospect of being turned out of the country and perhaps sent back to socially or economically unsettled parts of the world.

Despite the fact that we have spent most of our time in Committee discussing arrangements for the people who stay in the United Kingdom, the reality is that, according the latest figures, 78 per cent. of asylum seekers are not given leave to remain. We do a great injustice if we do not focus on the ultimate destination and fate of the vast majority of people who enter this country, which is not to remain here. We need to make far more provision for such asylum seekers, who are the vast majority of the total, to enjoy quality of life, even if they do not remain in the UK. We need to ensure that there are proper counselling facilities in accommodation centres, for example, to prepare people for returning to their country of origin or elsewhere and that proper welfare provision is made for them and their dependants to handle that transition properly, so that we do not just push them through a rough sorting process that allows the lucky ones to stay and turns everyone else out. A more equitable system that looks after the interests of all asylum seekers, whether they remain here or are returned elsewhere, may also prevent the current situation of so many people disappearing from accommodation centres or other places.

Mr. David Lammy (Tottenham): It is wonderful to hear a younger occupant of the Conservative Back Benches speak in such inclusive terms about asylum seekers and refugees. When the hon. Gentleman says that he would like greater provision for those asylum seekers, whether they stay here or leave the country, does he see the Government as sole providers of such help or is he thinking in terms of an EU initiative or another wider scheme?

Mr. Barker: I am sure that any international co-operation, whether through the EU, the Department for International Development or the United Nations, would have a greater chance of being more effective. However, international co-operation must not diminish our national responsibility to ensure that people coming into the country are resettledówe know that 78 per cent. of them will not stay here. Despite all the modifications to the system that we have discussed, no one anticipates that they will lead to a step change in the numbers ultimately able to stay in the country. The numbers included in a resettlement programme are tiny compared with the overall number of people trying to enter the country and a much broader, holistic solution that looks at the welfare and eventual destination of people coming here is to be welcomed. If the clause enhances a Secretary of State's ability to do that, whether through financial payments or provision of care through longer-term assessment of the needs of asylum seekers, that is also to be welcomed.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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Clause 44

Repeal of spent provisions

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Angela Eagle: I could not let the clause, which repeals sections of the 1999 Act that provide for the abolition of the voucher system of asylum support, to go by without simply acknowledging it.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 44 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 45

Detention by secretary of state

Ms Winterton: I beg to move amendment No. 120, in page 24, line 15, leave out subsections (3) and (4) and insertó

    '(3) A provision of Schedule 2 to that Act about a person who is detained or liable to detention under that Schedule shall apply to a person who is detained or liable to detention under this section: and for that purposeó

    (a) a reference to paragraph 16 of that Schedule shall be taken to include a reference to this section,

    (b) a reference in paragraph 21 of that Schedule to an immigration officer shall be taken to include a reference to the Secretary of State, and

    (c) a reference to detention under that Schedule or under a provision or Part of that Schedule shall be taken to include a reference to detention under this section.'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 291, in page 24, line 46, at end addó

    '( ) Section 53 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (c.33) (bail) shall be amended as followsó

    (a) at the end of subsection (1) add ''or under section 45 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002'', and

    (b) at the end of subsection (3)(a) add ''or under section 45 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002''.

    ( ) Section 23(2) of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (c.24) (detention of suspected international terrorist) shall be amended as followsó

    (a) omit ''and'' after paragraph (a), and

    (b) after paragraph (b) addó

    '', and

    (c) section 45 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (detention by Secretary of State).'' '.

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Ms Winterton: The clause gives the Secretary of State the power to authorise the detention of certain categories of person, currently liable to detention on the authority of an immigration officer. It does not mean that people who cannot currently be detained will be liable to detention in future and it does not affect the number of people who will be detained. It increases the number of people able to authorise detention.

Amendment No. 290 is primarily a drafting change and is a substitute for existing provisions. Without that consequential amendment, the relevant provisions of schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 would not apply to persons detained under the clause, including the ability to seek and be granted bail and the granting of temporary admission or temporary release. It merely puts those detained under the clause on the same footing as those detained under the powers of detention in the 1971 Act.

Without amendment No. 291, another consequential amendment, persons detained under the clause would fall outside the scope of the regulations relating to bail applications made under section 53 of the 1999 Act. The regulations to be made under that section have yet to be drafted but we intend that they should include a presumption to be granted bail in prescribed circumstances. Section 53 of the 1999 Act at present relates only to detention under the powers contained in the 1971 Act. Clause 45 gives a free-standing power to detain, and persons detained under that power would therefore be excluded. The amendment to section 53 of the 1999 Act rectifies that and ensures consistency of approach. A similar position applies in relation to the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

I hope that that explains the Government's position on the amendments and that the Committee will accept them.

Amendment agreed to.

It being One o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at half-past Four o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Illsley, Mr. Eric (Chairman)
Allan, Mr.
Barker, Mr.
Buck, Ms
Dhanda, Mr.
Eagle, Angela
Gapes, Mike
Gerrard, Mr.
Gillan, Mrs.
Lammy, Mr.
Lazarowicz, Mr.
McGuire, Mrs.
Malins, Mr.
Prosser, Mr.
Rooney, Mr.
Winterton, Ms Rosie

 
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