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 Mark Oaten Mark Oaten Shadow Secretary of State for Home Affairs, Home Affairs 3:15 pm, 27th January 2004

There is some reassurance in what the Minister said on a number of the new clauses. We are just going to have to agree to differ on section 55, because I am fundamentally opposed to it. Despite the Minister's assurances about the appeal process, which I shall have to plough through, I am sure that a number of people were left with the impression that there would be a form of appeal system whereby there would not be a requirement to go to a higher court. If 45 per cent. of decisions are being overturned at the earlier stage of reconsideration, there are some issues around how the process is working. We can revisit that point at a later date.

The Minister was helpful on back payments. I am grateful for her responses. She shares my concern that some things are fundamentally wrong: for example, the single mother I mentioned who has lost £400 over a three-week period because the money has not been paid. The issue, as I understand it, is complex and the Minister will need to take legal briefing on it. We look forward to that happening in a couple of weeks' time. I hope that the Minister will be able to report on it at some point during the next stages of the Bill.

I would be concerned if Ministers judged that even if someone had missed their payment there would not be a natural assumption that they would be entitled to it. I am concerned that the individual in the example that I gave, who might have survived for a couple of weeks by borrowing money, should be able to pay that money back. The hon. Member for Walthamstow made a good point about direct payments going into public bodies. In that example the bodies concerned would not be able to recover that money. However, the Minister has given us assurances that she will consider the issues sympathetically and I am happy with that.

On new clause 11, I am comfortable with the pilots between the DWP and the Home Office and the attempt to ensure that the individual knows that the clock starts ticking when the decision is taken. Both are good ideas. However, I am less comfortable that as

much energy is being invested in ensuring that the information is made as clear to those who are unsuccessful.