Asylum Seekers (Heathrow)

Prayers – in the House of Commons at 9:37 am on 15th May 1987.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North 9:37 am, 15th May 1987

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether you could help me.

Earlier this week I made an application under Standing Order No. 20 for a special debate about the group of Kurdish people from Iraq who had arrived in this country and sought political asylum. For understandable reasons, you were not able to grant that debate. However, is there any way that we can receive a statement or undertaking from the Home Office in these last moments of this Parliament about the plight of these 24 people? A stop on their removal was refused by the Home Secretary after consultation with the Prime Minister on the ground that they would not be returned to Iraq from Syria if they were removed from this country. After that, their barrister then sought and obtained leave to seek judicial review, which was granted.

My concern is that these families have now been held in custody at the airport and other places for upwards of 10 days. Two of them have attempted suicide, and twice they have all been put on a plane, but the pilot has refused to take them out of the country. Now the Government seem determined to remove them to Syria where, quite clearly, there is some danger that, at a later stage, they could be removed to Iraq to face a certain death penalty.

May we receive an undertaking from the Home Office that it is prepared to accept stops on removals from retiring Members of the House between now and the bringing together of the new Parliament? Secondly, will it be prepared to abide by the terms and wording of the Geneva convention on refugees so that the people arriving in this country and seeking political asylum and fearing a return to certain death are not rejected by immigration officers without reference to Ministers?

Quite clearly, the implication is that the Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Bill is being operated, although it is not yet law, and that Ministers are not involving themselves in decisions but are leaving them to the low-level immigration officers who are making decisions that have life and death implications for these people.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I understand and appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern for the unfortunate refugees, but the hon. Gentleman will know that the matter that he raises is not a question of order. I am sure that what he has said today will have been heard by the Government Front Bench. It is possible that a statement could be made on the matter at 11 o'clock, but I am afraid that I cannot help the hon. Gentleman further than that.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Brent South

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps you could give us some guidance as to the position on immigration cases between now and 11 June for Members who will not be returning to the House. As you will know, I have many such cases every week. Am I still entitled until 11 June to raise with the Home Office the possibility of intervention on behalf of a person being held at Heathrow or Gatwick?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

First, I should say how warmly we welcome the hon. Gentleman back today. After Parliament is dissolved, there are no Members of Parliament, but in the period between Dissolution and the new Parliament it is, of course, possible for the hon. Gentleman to make representations to the Home Office in his private capacity as an ex-Member of Parliament.