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John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I want to place on record the fact that many hon. Members on both sides of the House are concerned. We understand the Government's argument. We understand the way that the Minister has handled the issue and the concessions that have been made and we are grateful to the Government for them. The Minister has taken a thoughtful approach, but we are concerned about why the Government are closing down the option at this stage. To be honest, most of us have found from our surgeries that the minor things display dignity or the lack of dignity and humanity or the lack of humanity: the child who cannot take in 50p for the school trip, or the parent who cannot buy their child a cup of tea when they are out shopping, because they have not got the cash. Such things will not be covered by vouchers and the other means of support. I realise that the system may apply for a limited period before people leave the country, but we cannot understand the Government's attempt to end that expression of humanity to those people and not to offer them that opportunity.

Mr. McNulty: Again, I would reverse the argument. Under the NASS contracts, a substantive package of support is provided to those who find that they require section 4 support. Such support is supposed to be all-embracing—and to the extent that it can be, it is—for the duration of the time before people depart. The fact that that cannot always be so led to vouchers and some additional support for food or essential toiletries. Given not least the remarks made in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, a range of issues have been raised about such support being far too narrow, even in the context of the broad package of support under section 4. That is why we have moved to providing support in kind, as well as by vouchers, with goods and services, rather than using the narrow definition of food and accommodation. That basket of support is available. That is right and proper. Equally, underlying that—

Dr. Evan Harris: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. McNulty: I will give way in a moment. It would be useful to let me finish the sentence.

Equally, underlying that, we are trying—again, this is outwith the Lords amendment—with the new targeted contracts to get far more direct contact with individuals on section 4 support and to get them involved in the NASS contracts. It is no longer simply the case that someone can be sent a letter in the hope that they will receive it so that they will know exactly what they need
29 Mar 2006 : Column 930
to do and in what circumstances. The whole contact management operation is getting far more sophisticated within NASS, but all those support mechanisms and contact processes relate to the departure and removal of people who have exhausted all their claims and no longer have a right or any legal locus to remain in this country. I will now give way to the hon. Gentleman—and do not make me regret it, please.

Dr. Harris: I fear that I cannot guarantee the Minister that. We all appreciate the concession that has been made, but the hon. Members for Buckingham (John   Bercow) and for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) were asking what the justification was for the Government to rule out cash. The Minister said that it was not about a pull factor, but in his letter to The Guardian and The Times, he said:

If he is not saying that that is his view, why is he ruling out cash full stop?

Mr. McNulty: The hon. Gentleman has half made me regret giving way, but his intervention gives me a chance to look at the letter again. The letter goes to exactly what I was saying. It is perfectly right and proper that there should be distinct support mechanisms for those applying for asylum in the normal fashion and for those who have exhausted every element of the processes, legal and otherwise, and have absolutely no legitimate right to be in this country. They will not be people who fear torture following removal, otherwise they would not have section 4 support. The regime can and should be—taking into account the points that I made about its temporary nature to my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow—distinct from the process that everyone else is going through in the normal fashion.

That goes to the heart of the criticism and dispute about everybody being on vouchers in the first place. That was seen as penalising people who were applying for asylum in the normal way, because of the ineffectiveness and impracticalities of vouchers. We accept that point and I do not demur one ounce or jot from the reason that my right hon. Friend the then Home Secretary suggested for moving away from vouchers in the first place. However, it is not enough to pick up one little bit of an overall package for those on section 4 support. That is the point. There is an overall package—it is not just the vouchers. That package is temporary and it is about a prelude to a removal. With the extensions to the support mechanisms, for the critical reasons that hon. Members have suggested, it is right and proper to expand that provision to support in kind in goods and services. That gives us a broader sweep in relation to the gaps where a full support package of full board and accommodation cannot be provided. In that context, we will be in a far happier position in relation to the support mechanisms put in place under section 4 if we accept the Lords amendment. I offer that to the House and commend it.

For the reasons that I have suggested, we will resist amendment (a), which extends the support to cash, and we will certainly dismiss, or resist—I have dismissed it already—amendment (b) from the Conservatives about the report and so on. In substance, all those elements are
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being carried out in various ways by accepting the Lords amendment and by our regular reporting on the asylum statistics.

The matter is very sensitive. I concur with what people said about the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow. I was going to make a nice joke about Walthamstow market, but I will pass on that because we are too serious. I commend most of the other contributions, save that of the hon. Member for Hornchurch (James Brokenshire), who really should not have bothered, in what is a very serious debate. I commend the Lords amendment to the House and ask it to resist amendments (a) and (b).

Mr. Gerrard: I listened carefully to the Minister's reply, but I have to say that I do not understand his reasoning. I will withdraw the amendment purely on the grounds that I do not believe that parliamentary arithmetic suggests that it will be carried. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Hon. Members: No.

Question put, That the amendment to the Lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 89, Noes 308.

Division No. 205
[5.14 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Alexander, Danny
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bercow, John
Bottomley, Peter
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, Malcolm
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Cohen, Harry
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cruddas, Jon
Davey, Mr. Edward
Donaldson, Mr. Jeffrey M.
Drew, Mr. David
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Fisher, Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Galloway, Mr. George
George, Andrew
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hermon, Lady
Hoey, Kate
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Jackson, Glenda
Jones, Lynne
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
McDonnell, John
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mudie, Mr. George
Mulholland, Greg
Öpik, Lembit
Price, Adam
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Short, rh Clare
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Smith, Sir Robert
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Vaz, Keith
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Williams, Mark
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Ayes:

Andrew Stunell and
Mr. Roger Williams


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Mr. Gordon
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Mr. Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacDougall, Mr. John
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McCrea, Dr. William
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh Mr. John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh Mr. David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Norris, Dan
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, David
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Sammy
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ms Rosie
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Ian Cawsey and
Mr. Frank Roy

Question accordingly negatived.

29 Mar 2006 : Column 934

Lords amendment No. 18 agreed to [Special Entry].

Lords amendments Nos. 19 to 40 agreed to [One with Special Entry].

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