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Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, HIV and AIDS organisations are greatly concerned that people

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may be moved to parts of the country where there is inadequate support. Perhaps the Minister has received notification of that concern. I should be grateful to receive some assurance from the noble and learned Lord. Further, in the light of the increase in cases of tuberculosis, particularly among refugees, it is important that these people are given adequate and correct treatment.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I believe that the concerns expressed go to the fairness of the procedure and its appropriate flexibility. I do not believe Amendment No. 171 to be the correct way forward because it goes to those cases where people have applied for support, have been assessed as entitled to it and have been offered specific support, and the only quarrel is about the amount being offered. To deal with that situation we are establishing a full and formal review process within the asylum support directorate. The amendment proposes that there should be a right of appeal on the amount of support. I am bound to say that I believe adjudicators' time would be better spent directing attention to those who have been refused support and will get nothing and whose appeal is on the basis that they are in serious danger of being left utterly destitute. That kind of error could be extremely serious. However, I take the points that have been raised. I assure noble Lords that the review procedure will be rigorous.

I turn the point raised by the right reverend Prelate. I respectfully agree with him that circumstances can change, even within a period of six months. There will be scope for application to be made to vary the support that is offered where there is evidence that the support is inadequate, which I hope chimes in with his thoughts. We intend to keep the review procedure itself under review, and if there are any shortcomings they can be corrected as quickly as possible. I believe that that is why the interests of the asylum seeker are better served by what I have outlined than the formalistic remedy offered in Amendment No. 171.

I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, about geographic location. In Amendment No. 175 we are empowered to provide by regulations to be laid before Parliament for appeals to be heard against decisions on location. We cannot be certain of the adjudicators' workload and do not propose to exercise the power immediately, but we do not want to leave the Bill so inflexible that the remedy to which the noble Baroness spoke cannot be achieved. I hope that I have been able to satisfy her.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I ask the Minister to give way in order to ask a question. One of the points made was that there is a likelihood of increased reliance on the process of appeal, which could make it more difficult for the Government as well as asylum seekers. Within the considerations of the review to which the Minister referred, will he bear that point in mind too?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, what my noble friend says is very much to the point. I am grateful

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because he has jogged my mind. With his experience, he knows the nature of judicial review. Judicial review goes essentially to procedure not merit, as he implies. If we find that the mechanism is not working properly and that judicial review becomes even more over-burdened, his point is well made and I am happy to take it on board.

Amendments Nos. 172, 173 and 174 are drafting amendments. Amendments Nos. 292 and 313 are technical amendments to update the disqualification reference--as I am sure noble Lords will have recognised--in the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 and the Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975. I commend them.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, during the course of his remarks in reply to the debate, the Minister assured the House that the process will be kept under review. As the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, remarked, there is a danger that we shall see an increase in the number of challenges, resort to judicial review and the appeal processes. Therefore the whole process may come under some strain.

If that were to occur, we now have the Minister's assurance that the position can be re-examined in the future. Amendment No. 175 deals with location, and I am grateful for that. With reference to the old adage that half a loaf is better than none, and considering the lateness of the hour, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 172 to 175:


Page 66, line 26, at end insert (“; or
(c) dismiss the appeal.").
Page 66, line 29, leave out (“determined against the appellant") and insert (“dismissed").
Page 66, line 30, leave out (“from him") and insert (“by the appellant").
Page 66, line 32, at end insert--
(“(6A) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide for decisions as to where support provided under section 90 is to be provided to be appealable to an adjudicator under this Part.
(6B) Regulations under subsection (6A) may provide for any provision of this section to have effect, in relation to an appeal brought by virtue of the regulations, subject to such modifications as may be prescribed.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 106 [Payments to local authorities]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 176 to 180:


Page 69, line 13, after (“authority") insert (“or Northern Ireland authority").
Page 69, line 16, at end insert--
(“(1A) The Secretary of State may from time to time pay to any--
(a) local authority,
(b) local authority association, or

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(c) Northern Ireland authority,
such sums as he considers appropriate in respect of services provided by the authority or association in connection with the discharge of functions under this Part.").
Page 69, line 22, at end insert--
(“(3A) The Secretary of State must pay to a directed body sums determined to be payable in relation to accommodation made available by that body under section 97(3)(a).
(3B) The Secretary of State may pay to a directed body sums determined to be payable in relation to accommodation made available by that body under section 97(3)(b).
(3C) In subsections (3A) and (3B)--
“determined" means determined in accordance with regulations made by virtue of subsection (8)(a) of section 97, and
“directed body" means a body to which a direction under subsection (3) of section 97 is given.").
Page 69, line 23, after (“(1)") insert (“, (1A)").
Page 69, line 24, at end insert--
(“( ) “Northern Ireland authority" means--
(a) the Executive; or
(b) a Health and Social Services Board established under Article 16 of the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1972.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 110 [Overpayments]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 181:


Page 71, line 3, at end insert (“or 94").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 111 [Exclusion from benefits]:

10.45 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 182:


Page 71, line 27, leave out (“subject to immigration control") and insert (“to whom this section applies").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the ninth group is a quite substantial group in terms of number. Perhaps I should go through a number of the amendments to indicate which of them should not be moved because of the agreement to which we have come.

If I have the numbers correctly, I shall not move Amendments Nos. 187, 188, 191, 194, 195, 196, 198, 199, 200, 202, 203, 205, 207 and 208. The reason that I have sought to honour the bargain (as it were) is that they all contain references to government Amendment No. 124, which was not moved. I refer to the short dialogue the noble Baroness and I had, which I think met with general agreement. We need to retable for Third Reading.

I believe that I gave the wrong reference by saying that I would not move Amendment No. 199. Amendment No. 199 is one of those curious little beasts that is capable of being moved in this group. Therefore, group nine of the amendments has become a little shorter. I daresay that I shall have to correct myself as I go along. Amendments Nos. 182 and 185 are essentially drafting amendments. The phrase,


    “person subject to immigration control".

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is defined in subsection (4) of Clause 111, applied in subsection (3) and not needed in subsections (1) and (2). It should be replaced by the revised phrase,


    “A person to whom this section applies".

It will be an occasion of lasting distress that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, is not here. If he had a hat, he would have thrown it into the air on realising that the Government were at last coming round to the correct way of thinking as regards drafting.

I shall be moving Amendment No. 186, which is a tidying up amendment. Family credits are giving way to working families' tax credit, disability working allowances and the disabled person's tax credit. Amendment No. 186 therefore brings in the Treasury as the relevant department.

Amendments Nos. 187 and 188 are in purdah. Amendments Nos. 190 to 194 are necessary to ensure that Clause 113 has the effect which we intend it should have, applying only to those who should have no entitlement to the benefit of these arrangement. Amendments Nos. 190 and 193 are purely technical clarifying phraseology. Amendment No. 192 refines the exclusion we have made so that it affects only those whose recourse to these provisions comes about solely on account of destitution. I am omitting Amendment No. 194.

The next series of amendments includes Amendment No. 197. I am omitting Amendments Nos. 198, 200, 202 and 203, which are drafting improvements. When one looks at them they tend to speak for themselves. I believe that I have already explained the Government's general thinking to your Lordships as regards the amendments to Clause 113. The group of amendments takes account of amendments tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Cope of Berkeley, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, at Committee stage as regards arrangements made under the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984. Therefore, if a person is destitute, but there is an additional factor like mental illness or mental handicap, the person will still be eligible for the full range of services which a local authority is authorised to provide under Sections 7 and 8 of that Act.

Amendment No. 204 achieves in the Northern Ireland context what earlier amendments did for England, Wales and Scotland. I do not deal with Amendment No. 205 for the reasons I have given. Amendment No. 206 is a minor change extending the application of Clause 90(4).

I omit Amendments Nos. 207 and 208 for the reasons given. Amendments Nos. 209 to 217 have been drafted to ensure that the relevant provisions associated with the welfare of children will apply properly in Northern Ireland. The amendments themselves are relatively technical. Amendment No. 211 is consequential. Amendment No. 212 encompasses Northern Ireland authorities within the relevant authority. Amendment No. 213 paves the way for Amendments Nos. 214 to 217. It sets out whether the Secretary of State or the Department of Health and Social Services for Northern Ireland makes the relevant regulations.

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Amendments Nos. 294 and 296 to 300 inclusive make minor technical drafting changes. Amendment No. 305A extends the provision of free school meals under the Education Act 1996 to the children of asylum seekers who are being supported under Part VI of the Bill. I hope that that meets with the approval of the right reverend Prelate who introduced the very important observation that we want the children of asylum seekers to be in mainstream education and therefore will need to benefit in appropriate cases by what I have just said. Amendment No. 310 has been drafted to cope with the possibility that certain clauses may be brought into force earlier than others although there may be definitions in the clauses which technically refer to clauses not yet in force. The amendment deems that Clause 111 shall be for the purposes of Clauses 112 and 116, where those definitions are cross-referred, treated as though it were in force even if it has not formally been commenced.

Within the group we find Amendment No. 189, which has given us a deal of cause for thought. Having listened to all the arguments, we have inserted the limitations in Amendments Nos. 191 and 194. I indicated that because I remind your Lordships and myself that I said I would not move those amendments and I believe that your Lordships are entitled to that explanation.

Amendment No. 200A would have the effect of restoring the access to support under the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984. Your Lordships will have seen Amendments Nos. 198 to 200 which restrict the exclusions to those cases where the sole basis for recourse to relief is on the grounds of destitution. Where there are other genuine reasons for need, the exclusions will not apply and access to these provisions will continue to apply.

Finally, I turn to Amendment No. 212A, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. I am obliged to the noble Lord, and not for the first time, for raising the matter. We have looked at it and are satisfied that there may well be a role for the inspectorate to play in monitoring the operation of our provisions relating to support for children under the Bill. We intend to pursue this, probably by way of establishing an informal bilateral arrangement. This would be very much along the lines of that which exists between the inspectorate and the Prison Service Agency, for instance, with regard to mother and baby units in women's prisons. I am told--and my recent experience as Prisons Minister underlined it--that the arrangement is seen as being very successful in practical application. We therefore hope to be able to achieve a similar mutually supportive exercise.

I repeat that I am genuinely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, for raising the issue. It enabled us to focus on it and I hope that what I have said will reassure him that his amendment will not be needed, but it had value. I beg to move.


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