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Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 3rd May 2006.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister 11:30 am, 3rd May 2006

I do not believe that the Home Secretary has created the problems of this system. I believe that those problems have existed for a very long time, in the way in which I have described. I think that it is important that we take the measures necessary to sort out the existing system. That has been done and that is why, since 30 March, the cases have been considered prior to release. But I think that there is a far bigger question, which was raised by the shadow Home Secretary earlier. The fact is that even if all the cases are considered prior to release, we do not at the moment deport all those people convicted of a serious criminal offence. The truth is that even if we take those cases that have been considered, there are still a significant number that, having been considered under the existing system—which has, as I say, been in place for decades—do not result in deportation. Therefore, in my view, it is not just a question of the existing system; it is about making sure that that system is radically overhauled so that those who are convicted of a serious criminal offence are deported automatically. If we do not do that, we may consider all the cases in time, but we will not deport all the people who should be deported.