Welcome back to the Chair this afternoon, Mrs. Roe. When the Committee adjourned I was about to explain the purpose of new clause 21, and anxious enquiries were made over lunch as to whether I would keep the Committee sitting until 7 o'clock. I assure you, Mrs. Roe, that I am not paid by the word or the hour, so I intend to move on as quickly as possible.
New clause 21 is born of the assumption, which many of us made when we first heard about the Bill, that all benefits to failed asylum seekers would cease. When we listened to the Minister and read the Bill in more detail we discovered that that was not the case. Therefore, I tabled the new clause to seek an explanation from the Minister as to why some benefits will remain available.
Subsection (2) of the proposed new clause consists of a list of benefits. Subsection (2)(a) refers to benefits that are
''provided indiscriminately on a non-individual basis'', such as the police, coastguard services, refuse collection and road maintenance. I wondered whether prisons constitute a service ''provided indiscriminately''. It would be impossible to deprive someone of such services simply because fall under subsection (3) of the new clause.
It is essential to provide people with certain benefits and services, such as ''treatment of infectious disease'', for the benefit of the rest of the community. There are other benefits that it is humane to provide, such as
''treatment in response to a health emergency'', or
''care immediately before and after maternity''.
I am sure that no one would argue that those services should not be available to people covered by clause 7, which outlines those people that the Government feel should receive no benefit. Therefore, I have included a
catch-all phrase in subsection (2)(e) to allow the Secretary of State to make other services available to people whether or not they fall under clause 7.
The new clause covers two groups, both of which cause resentment when it is believed that they have better access to services than those who have lived in the country for a long time. I shall refer to an example from what I am sure is the Minister's preferred read: the Daily Mail. It refers to a person whose asylum claim was rejected in May 2002 and who suffered a road accident in November 2002. As a result of the accident, the North East Lincolnshire primary care trust spent £440,000, and ongoing treatment will cost £4,000 a week or £208,000 a year. I am sure that such examples are few and far between but they cause resentment. That it why I suggest that persons covered by clause 7 should be excluded from the provision of services that are not included in subsection (2) of the proposed new clause.