Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-73)|
CBE, MR IAIN
WEDNESDAY 14 MAY 2003
60. I just wonder whether it is intended as
that. The serious step of taking away a refugee status of, let
us say, Mazzini or Garibaldi, or one of the 19th century terrorists
or freedom fighters living in this country, is the position we
would interpret that, in us taking away their refugee status,
because they robbed a bank? It does not seem to me that is what
was intended by Article 14B(4), which is why I ask the question.
(Lord Filkin) It is a good question. I think the most
sensible answer I can make is that we should look at the intersect
between those two and see if we think there is any discontinuity
and whether that was for a good reason, or worse, whether it was
61. I am very much obliged.
(Lord Filkin) We will write back to you, bearing in
mind Mazzini and Garibaldi when we do so.
62. Yes. I doubt whether either gentleman was
in the category, but they are just names I remember.
(Lord Filkin) We could have had one or two others,
could we not.
63. Lord Filkin, is there not a case for trying
to get consistency of language between Article 14(2), which sets
out a number of serious reasons which will lead to the exclusion
of somebody from being a refugee, on the one hand, and Article
14B(4), which sets out circumstances which will lead to revocation
of status already granted, on the other hand? Should not the two
be in the same terms so that the same criteria apply?
(Lord Filkin) In principle, you are absolutely
64. Lawyers would love these distinctions. They
would argue that different results were intended.
(Lord Filkin) Indeed. What I would like to suggestno
doubt to the horror of my officialsis that we will look
at that issue and any others that either you draw our attention
to, or we spot, and in what may be the limited time we have got,
seek to try to suggest some legislative timing because it would
be desirable to do so if there is no good reason that underpins
65. Yes, thank you. I want, if I may, to ask
you a question in relation to the level of benefits that are to
be accorded to refugees and those who have been accepted. This
is presumably protection. Refugees do rather better. There are
a number of Articles which lead to that conclusion, but there
is somehow a lack of logic about that. Once you have accepted
the person for subsidiary protectionthe answer may that
this is just how it was negotiatedthere does not seem to
be any logical reason why the benefits should be different.
(Lord Filkin) I think we would differ on that. We
do think that there is a difference in the two statuses. The existence
of the 1951 Convention is evidence of the special status of refugees
and I think we are clear on the primacy of that status and of
its importance and, as you know, once granted it is effectively
a permanent grant of status and of residence. In terms of subsidiary
protection, or humanitarian protection in our context, it is different
in nature. It is where a person has not been found to meet the
terms of the 1951 Convention, and yet there are good reasons why
a return to their country of origin is not possible at this particular
point in time. In our case, and I think it would be true of many
other member cases, the issue of timeliness is relevant. In other
words, it is seen as something that may well change in a period
of time. One can think, for example, of the people who came from
Kosovo who were not found to qualify under the 1951 Convention
and were not found reasonable to return, but events changed and
it was then reasonable to do so. Therefore, that, I think, is
at heart why we and Member States do not feel that the status
is identical and that it is reasonable for Member States to have
discretion to make alternative levels of benefits pursuant to
66. Thank you. What is the timetable that is
anticipated? Are there any major negotiating difficulties that
remain to be overcome, or perhaps not be overcome? I understand
that the Greek Presidency wants to be able to tick this off as
an achievement before the end of the term, which is the end of
June, is that realistic?
(Lord Filkin) It is slightly worse than that because
it is the beginning of June. If memory serves me right, it is
6 and 7 of June, is it not?
(Mr Douglas) That is when the Justice and the Home
Affairs Council is here.
67. They want to consider this on 6 and 7 June?
(Lord Filkin) They would be pleased if it were possible
to do so and, therefore, there is one final Council of Ministers'
meeting in Luxembourg to do so.
68. What is the Government's estimate of the
chances of that succeeding?
(Lord Filkin) I would not have thought any better
than evens, without wanting to set myself up as a betting man.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill: Can I ask a very
quick question, my Lord Chairman?
Lord Lester of Herne Hill
69. I have one further question. Under the Human
Rights Convention, there does not seem to be any protection for
someone so far as minimum benefits, food and so on are concerned
while their application is being considered. In an extreme case
that would seem to me to violate Article 3 of the Convention.
What is the position of the UK Government about that the absence
of any protection while the claim is being considered?
(Lord Filkin) The whole Article I think
is locked back into ECHR, is it not?
(Mr Douglas) I think that is reception.
70. I think that is reception, is it not?
(Mr Douglas) Yes.
71. I think that is a matter of reception conditions
and, in that case, has actually been finally agreed.
(Mr Douglas) That is correct.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill: In that case I am
sorry to have asked the question. Thank you. It has already been
72. Do any other members of the Committee have
any other questions for Lord Filkin? Lord Filkin, thank you very
much indeed. You have taken rather longer than I expected to answer
the very important issues and also you have been very helpful.
(Lord Filkin) Clearly, progress as well.
73. I am grateful to you and your colleagues
(Lord Filkin) Thank you, Chairman.