I am sympathetic on that point, and I had considered making a decision on that question today. However, because the legal advice from counsel is imminent—it is due in the next two weeks—and because I should be able to make a decision on the matter in the round by the end of February, I do not want to prejudice other options that might be available to me in relation to different circumstances in which asylum seekers themselves may be responsible. I do not want to go further than that today, but I am very sympathetic to the hon. Gentleman's point.
In the case of an NASS mistake, it is unreasonable not to make back payments, but I would rather get the complete legal advice before making my decision, which I hope to do in the next four to six weeks. We have developed operational plans to resolve the backlog of back payments within four months; those
payments have been stopped during the last few months because we have been seeking clarification on the legal position.