Immigration Rules: Supported Accommodation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 16th December 2020.

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Photo of Holly Lynch Holly Lynch Shadow Minister (Home Office) 12:45 pm, 16th December 2020

I thank Caroline Nokes for securing this urgent question and for the incredibly important points she made, not least in relation to asylum accommodation.

As we have heard, these changes will allow a claim to be found inadmissible if someone has had the opportunity to claim asylum in another safe third country prior to claiming asylum in the UK. That is not dissimilar to the current arrangements under the Dublin III regulations that we have in place with our European neighbours, but which will cease at the end of this month. We are leaving the Dublin III regulations, so this change allows the Government to deem a claim inadmissible without any co-operation or agreement in place to facilitate returning the person concerned to a third country. This is an unworkable half-plan, being introduced by the back door as changes to the immigration rules, with no opportunity for proper parliamentary scrutiny.

On Monday, the Minister outlined that it is this Government’s intention to open discussions with those countries as soon as we are able to do so. Can he confirm that those talks are yet to start and that there will be no such arrangements in place by 1 January, when these changes come into effect? Will he clarify what a person’s rights will therefore be in the period between their claim being found inadmissible and a returns agreement being reached?

The changes also suggest that an asylum claim can be reinstated after a reasonable period of time, if another safe country is unable to admit that person. How long is “a reasonable period”? Further still, as the Minister has confirmed, these changes will allow someone to be removed to any safe third country, including countries that the person has never been to and has no connection with. How does he envisage that that could possibly work in practice?

The changes before us come into effect in less than a month’s time. The Minister must realise the widespread concern about leaving some incredibly vulnerable people in limbo, at risk of homelessness and destitution.