New Clause 9 - Late claim for asylum: refusal of support: appeals

Part of Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 27th January 2004.

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Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Citizenship and Immigration), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism) 3:15 pm, 27th January 2004

That is a related, but rather broader, issue. When talking about eligibility for a wider range of public services than just income support of various kinds, access to health services, and so on, we would be talking not only about people who are here illegally, but about those who might have entered legally on visitors' visas with the express intention of trying to get some expensive health treatment at an NHS hospital.

The Government are considering eligibility across the board as it is already defined. This is not my area and I have to be careful, but I understand that although the NHS has been able for a long time to check people's eligibility, it is not common practice.

One of the reasons it is not common practice is that it is difficult to prove somebody's identity and ineligibility at the point they receive the service.

It is well known that one of the reasons why the Home Secretary is concerned that we should move to a national identity card is that in addition to having an impact on illegal entry and working, there will be a benefit in its being used as a check on a person's eligibility to receive a broader range of public services—such as health services—and it will provide the health service with an easy way to check somebody's eligibility at the point of referral. We are with the hon. Gentleman on that point, but it is broader than the question of asylum seekers and illegal entrants; it would include other people who are entitled to be here, although not necessarily entitled to access services. The Government are working on that.

I am sorry that I cannot willingly accept any new clause in this large group. However, I hope I have assured hon. Members that we are with them in spirit on some of them. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the motion.