Clause 16

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 13th March 2007.

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Photo of Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:30 pm, 13th March 2007

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a yes or no answer for every possible circumstance, but I can, I think, give an assurance that we intend to be, as the law indeed requires, reasonable. We intend to be flexible and we do not intend to create huge disruption and difficulty in the life of a child in the circumstances in question. We would seek to work closely with a social worker and with social services and the local authority, to ensure that we could achieve as smoothly as possible, with the minimum possible disruption and maximum possible protection for the child, our aims of protecting the child and subsequently preparing them for removal, on their becoming an adult. I hope that that reassures the hon. Gentleman. As to the notion of 25 miles, although I understand that the amendment is probably a probing one, we would never put something so precise in the Bill, as I am sure hon. Members realise.

We believe that it is right to maintain closer contact with older children whose leave is about to expire. That will allow us to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for their removal from the UK, or for further applications for leave. We make no apology for seeking to return young people who no longer qualify for leave when they reach the age of 18. Sending children  without genuine asylum claims to the United Kingdom in the hope that they will establish a footing for the rest of the family in this country is an abuse of the asylum system, and is exploitative of the child. Returning those who have been sent in that way, when they reach adulthood, will discourage that unacceptable practice.

We also intend to apply the new powers to foreign criminals, of whom we have said less in debating this clause. They are an important category. I think that monitoring foreign criminals who cannot be removed at present because of legal barriers, with a view to their eventual removal, is clearly in the national interest.