Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:47 pm on 12th December 2011.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Immigration 6:47 pm, 12th December 2011

I am pleased to hear from my hon. Friend, who has a long history of campaigning on the issue on behalf of his constituency, that he has seen signs of the success of that activity in Peterborough. As he knows, the problem to which he refers is concentrated in particular areas, so we are not planning to roll the scheme out nationally. That would not be the best use of resources. We want to concentrate on the two or three areas in which that problem is most acute.

Apart from the successful arrests and prosecutions that I have talked about, we are also working to remove people more quickly to more countries. Between May 2010 and October this year, we completed a total of 68 special charter flights of people being removed who had no right to be here, which resulted in 2,542 removals. We are also tackling the problems of the past as they relate to foreign national prisoners. We are starting the deportation process earlier and removing foreign criminals quicker than ever.

Finally, being selective is also about protecting the most vulnerable. Britain should always be open to those genuinely seeking asylum from persecution. As I have said, the asylum system is demonstrably better than it was a few years ago. Over the past 15 months, we have reduced by a quarter the number of asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their application.