Immigration and Asylum

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th January 2001.

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Photo of Ann Widdecombe Ann Widdecombe Conservative, Maidstone and The Weald 12:00 am, 8th January 2001

Do we deduce from all that waffle that, although according to the Government's figures asylum applications fell by 40 per cent. when the Conservatives introduced the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, and although numbers have since doubled, the hon. Lady seriously thinks that she has introduced a deterrent? She told us that when the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 came fully into force, we would see a deterrent effect. However, most of the Act has been in force since April. Since then, however, the number of applications has risen; so applications have increased since vouchers were introduced. That is a fact, according to the hon. Lady's figures. Will she now have the grace to admit that the 1999 Act is no deterrent and that the Government's record is a 100 per cent. increase in applications, while that of the Conservatives was a 40 per cent. fall?

If the hon. Lady is embarrassed by the Prime Minister, is she embarrassed also by the Home Secretary? While speaking about the Afghan hijack, he said: I would wish to see removed from this country all those on the plane as soon as reasonably practicable.—[Official Report, 10 February 2000; Vol. 344, c. 418.] Can the hon. Lady tell the House how many of those who were refused asylum after the hijack are still in this country, how many of their dependants are here and how many have been removed?