Failed Asylum Seekers

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 11 July 2007.

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Photo of Anthony Steen Anthony Steen Conservative, Totnes 11:30, 11 July 2007

If he will increase UK aid to countries to which children and young people have been returned after their asylum claim in the UK has failed.

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander The Secretary of State for International Development

The Department's overall aim is to reduce poverty, and we have made a commitment to channel aid to the poorest countries. [Interruption.]

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

Order. The noise level is very high, which is unfair to Members who are present in the Chamber to hear and contribute to questions on international development.

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander The Secretary of State for International Development

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have the disconcerting sense that the Chamber is filling up; I usually have the opposite effect.

Aid is distributed on the basis of need and the likelihood of its effectiveness in reducing poverty. Many of the countries to which the Government return failed asylum seekers receive considerable amounts of aid, including programmes to improve the lives and opportunities of children and young people.

Photo of Anthony Steen Anthony Steen Conservative, Totnes

Is the Minister aware that increased numbers of Vietnamese boys and girls are being trafficked into Britain and are illegally working in cannabis factories in our home towns in England, Wales and Scotland? Is he also aware that when they are returned to their country of origin they will be retrafficked to Britain unless the Government do more in those countries to stop that happening? Will the Secretary of State do that?

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander The Secretary of State for International Development

First, let me pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman's work as chairman of the all-party group on trafficking of women and children. The House is united on this matter, and we are determined to do all we can to stop this abhorrent practice. DFID has spent £14 million specifically on addressing trafficking, but we are also determined through our poverty reduction work to attempt to address the push factors that lead to people being trafficked from countries such as the one mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Labour, Brent South

I welcome my right hon. Friend to his new position. Will he make it clear that we will work with non-governmental organisations in those countries to ensure that the push factors that lead to such children being trafficked into our country are addressed and that trafficking is not repeated or continued?

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander The Secretary of State for International Development

I am happy to give the House the assurance that my hon. Friend seeks. We will continue to work with NGOs, and to target the specific problem of trafficking of women and children. That is why, for example, in China, we are working with the International Labour Organisation to support projects addressing directly the challenge of trafficking from that region.