Clause 16

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 13th March 2007.

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Photo of Paul Rowen Paul Rowen Shadow Minister, Transport 4:45 pm, 13th March 2007

I beg to move amendment No. 130, in clause 16, page 9, line 16, at end add—

‘(2) Any person granted limited leave to remain shall be allowed to seek employment from two months after an appeal has been lodged.

(3) Any benefits received by a person granted limited leave to remain shall take account of earned income.’.

So far we have been talking about increasing the restrictions that are placed on people who are granted limited leave to remain. The amendment seeks to improve the situation of asylum seekers who have limited leave to remain. At the moment, an asylum seeker who is granted leave to remain while their appeal is considered is prevented from seeking employment and must rely totally on benefits. It is an important principle that people should have the dignity of being able to support themselves. Engaging them in gainful employment would also offset some of the cost of keeping them.

The amendment would have a number of benefits. We discussed underground employment and people being exploited by unscrupulous employers. That would not happen were asylum seekers able to work legally. Furthermore, it will be much easier to keep tabs on such people if they were in employment—their biometric visas would ensure that details of that employment and other information was recorded properly on the system. That would be far better than having them work unofficially for unscrupulous employers and subject to no control, or not working at all and burdening the state.

We are seeking to ensure that a person could seek employment within two months of their asylum appeal being lodged. That would be welcomed by taxpayers who support them at the moment and by asylum seekers themselves.