Easter Adjournment

Part of Deferred Division No. 85 – in the House of Commons at 1:31 pm on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Labour, Leicester East 1:31 pm, 29th March 2007

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should have been making the response to the statement, but at least I am now clear about the Liberal Democrat stance.

I am in favour of a ministry for justice, which should have been introduced four years ago, but my right hon. Friend Mr. Blunkett put a stop to it because he felt that it would cut into his empire. I give the Home Secretary full marks for giving up part of his empire without squealing—he has said, "Here is my portfolio; please have it."

I want the Home Office to concentrate on sorting out the immigration and nationality directorate, because it is still a complete mess, as will be shown by the number of people who come to my surgery tomorrow. Letters go unanswered, passports go missing and decisions are not made. Asylum seekers are told that the reply is in the post. Four years later, they are settled with families. That is what happens sometimes—people come to this country, fall in love and get married, and even the Government cannot legislate against that yet—and as a result, they are settled people. After four years, however, they are told that it is time to go, and that is why they come to see us as MPs—the Government have cut legal aid, so they cannot go to see solicitors. The focus on that area deserves a hooray.

I am concerned, however, about the position of the Attorney-General. We have a good Attorney-General, and some of the burden placed on other Departments—relating to human rights and others issues—should be transferred to his Department. The Select Committee on Constitutional Affairs, under the chairmanship of Mr. Beith, is considering that point. If we come up with a better solution to the carve-up of the Home Office, I hope that Ministers will consider it carefully. The issue will not go away and I hope that we will have an early statement from a Constitutional Affairs Minister about the effects. I realise that the Lord Chancellor has made a statement in the other place, but we want to ask questions on the matter here.

I wish right hon. and hon. Members a happy Easter and Mr. Amess a happy birthday for last Monday.