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Lord Hylton: My Lords, I am concerned about detention and about its present cost at its present level of use. Is the Minister in a position to say that in future detention will be reserved for those people who are awaiting deportation rather than being used, as happens at present, for asylum seekers whose cases have not yet been determined?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, one of the purposes of the streamlined appeal system will be that when the appeal mechanism is concluded, it is anticipated that part of the order will be directions for speedy removal.

I take up a point which I should have answered a little more fully, which is reflected in the noble Lord's question. Detention criteria are set out in Chapter 12.3. I shall read the words in order to be helpful:


Those are the aspects of the question which the noble Lord and the noble Baroness raised.

Lord Judd: My Lords, will my noble friend accept that for many of us who are deeply concerned about the issues covered by the White Paper, what has been said today and in the White Paper gives much ground for encouragement? We recognise the endeavours of Ministers to bring together humanity and effectiveness in ensuring an improvement in policy, and we applaud that.

Does my noble friend agree that underlying the administration of policy in this area is what can only be described as a philosophical dimension? It is this. The objective of Government may be to reassure the people of Britain that somehow they will be protected against hordes of people out there in the world trying get into Britain. It is an easy game to play with disastrous consequences, not least to race relations among those already within the United Kingdom. On the other hand, one of the greatest and most fundamental objectives of Government in this country should be to uphold the principles of asylum, to uphold the rights of refugees. That is the governing feature. But it has to be administered effectively. We cannot accept everyone. We have to recognise exploitation. We have to recognise that there are people who do not have a genuine case. However, the overriding consideration is to uphold the principle of the right of asylum and the protection of refugees.

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Those involved in the administration of policy in this area, not least those responsible for detention, should be imbued with that underlying spirit so that the dignity of people, wherever they are in the system, is given primacy at all times.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, there is indeed a philosophical dimension. Those who need asylum, those who are genuine refugees, are entitled morally and philosophically and as a matter of international treaty obligation to be properly, fairly and decently treated. We sought to demonstrate that. Since we have been in office and power, primary purpose has been done away with; appeals concerning visitors' visas will be allowed; written reasons for those who are detained will be absolutely critical; and there will be judicial involvement for those who are detained. There is an important chapter in the White Paper about citizenship. It may gather few headlines, but it has that great philosophical underpinning. And, not as a tangent but as part of the whole picture, there are the provisions by the Home Secretary in the Crime and Disorder Bill about racial harassment; and not least his approach towards the Stephen Lawrence case.

The Earl of Dartmouth: My Lords, as a chartered accountant and the holder of an MBA from Harvard, I am well used to analysing figures. The key point of the Statement is that the number of asylum-seekers has increased in the last 10 years from 4,000 to 32,000 in a not more notably unstable world. That suggests--it may even be said to demonstrate--a strong fraudulent element. Noble Lords should be aware, in particular those who have stood for election, that the phenomenon of bogus asylum-seekers, especially when kept here by legal aid, is of strong concern to the British elector and the British and UK taxpayer. I ask the Minster to bear in mind that strong concern when new rules are implemented.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Earl said that the numbers had increased from 4,000 to about 32,000. Those were the figures I gave. He is right. However, he said that the world has not become notably less stable. I would find it extremely uncomfortable to say that to anyone who lived in Rwanda, Burundi or in the former Yugoslavia, to take but a few areas at random.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, during the passage of the Asylum and Immigration Bill, there was much talk about the disparity between in-country applicants and port of entry applicants. Has that disparity now been removed?

I welcome what the Minister said about detention. I have only one point. Can the written reasons be specific rather than general?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, one needs to be as specific as one can bearing in mind that if one is to have a regime of written reasons there will be a degree of standardisation. However, written reasons impose serious duties on the person giving them. If they are not to the point, they would be subject to review.

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Business of the House: Scotland Bill

7.26 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, I beg to move that consideration of the Scotland Bill be adjourned until after the dinner break and consideration of the education regulations. In moving the Motion, I suggest that consideration of the Scotland Bill should not commence before 8.15 p.m.

Moved, That consideration of the Scotland Bill be postponed until after the two education regulations.--(Lord Carter.)

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I intervene to say a few words. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carter, for the Motion he moved. It is a sensible way to proceed with business at this time of the evening. However, the noble Lord will not be surprised at my rising to draw your Lordships' attention to the time of starting of the Committee stage of the Scotland Bill. It is now 26 minutes past seven; and this is a record. I did not think the previous record was capable of being beaten when on the third day in Committee we started at six minutes past seven, on the second day at 10 minutes past six, and on the fourth day at four minutes to six. Therefore, on only two of the six Committee days have we started at 3.00 or 3.30 and had any debate in what noble Lords would recognise as prime time.

Four days out of six with no debates significantly before six o'clock does not seem to me to be the proper way to conduct a Bill which involves the constitutional arrangements of this country which have lasted for 300 years. It is not just any old Bill. It is a significant Bill which will make a dramatic change to the way in which Scotland is governed within the United Kingdom. Frankly, I think that it deserves better than this.

When I agreed to eight days in Committee and to have the Bill finished in the Recess, I thought that we could do so comfortably and give proper consideration to the Bill, especially as many parts of the Bill had not been properly considered in another place. I do not consider eight days have been given to the Bill. This is the sixth day and up to now we have lost four half days. Four half days make two days lost. If we are to finish on Thursday, we shall have had only six days on this Bill which is totally inadequate for a constitutional Bill of this importance.

Having said that, and having made my point I hope briefly but as bluntly as I can, I am content with the Motion the Chief Whip has put.

Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, I echo what the noble Lord said. It is disgraceful, especially since the Bill was truncated by agreement in another place. It was expected that when it came here it would have line by line scrutiny in Committee and eight days were agreed.

As the noble Lord says, we have lost 25 per cent. of the time we should have had to discuss the Bill. I do not see how that can be made up unless we sit into the first week in August, which I assume most noble Lords do not wish. I am quite willing to volunteer. It is a scandal

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that we are losing so much of the proper legislative time. It is not doing the reputation of Parliament any good. If anything, it is increasing and hastening the advent of the parliament in Scotland to look after Scottish affairs.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I did not plan to take part in this debate, but I cannot resist it when I see the Government Chief Whip rising to his feet. My noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish has spelt out in some detail how much time has been lost. It must be clear to the whole House that something serious has gone wrong with the time that has been allocated to deal with the Bill. I am not looking for an answer now, and, as the noble Lord knows, I do not like conducting "usual channels" business across the Dispatch Boxes. However, we must have a statement soon as to when the Government believe we shall be able to make up the time so that, as the noble Lord, Lord Steel, said, we can give proper consideration to the Bill. Does the noble Lord agree that by the time we finish tonight the Government will have made known their intentions?


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