Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill
The Earl of Listowel (Crossbench)
My Lords, I support both amendments, Amendment No. 7 being particularly desirable. I should like the Minister to say more about the consultation prior to the implementation of the clause—if it is implemented—on
A specific concern has been expressed by the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture that vulnerable families would be caught by these provisions. A reassurance that there will be thorough consultation would be very helpful.
The timing of the clause seems very strange. Given what the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said earlier, it is admirable that there has been such a reduction in the number of applications for asylum. In a period of months, 80 per cent of asylum claims are processed within two months. That is a grand achievement on the part of the Government. Twice as many failed asylum claimants are now returned to their home country. Good progress is clearly being made. So is this the right time to introduce such a draconian measure, because draconian it certainly is? The clause envisages a situation in which children and families will be put into the street. The Government have made it quite clear that they are also prepared to accept children being taken into care as a result of the clause. This is a very serious matter for these families.
We still do not know how many children are likely to be affected by this. Any further clarification about the numbers involved would be very welcome.
I emphasise again that it would be so helpful to have from the Minister some reassurance that there will be thorough consultation before the implementation of the clause, if it is to be implemented. It has been made very clear in discussions on the Bill that the consultation prior to its being brought before Parliament was not adequate. One understands this—the Home Office has very serious responsibilities. It is often the case with Home Office Bills that there has not been the time to consult properly.
When we are dealing with children and families, no matter how irresponsible the parents may be, we have a special duty to consult and think very carefully about what guidance and regulations will determine the behaviour of immigration officers. I look forward to the Minister's response.