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 Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:45 pm, 13th March 2007

I am happy to provide that clarification, although we have been discussing the matter for a considerable time so I am slightly concerned that Members still are not clear. As we said, one group to whom the limited leave applies consists of foreign national prisoners whom we want to remove—the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about that—but cannot, owing to legal barriers, usually in relation to the situation in their country of origin. As he said, another group consists of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, who, for the most part, we cannot return to  their country of origin because we cannot establish good reception arrangements. We must put their care and safety first.

Students and a number of other groups also have leave, but not asylum seekers—because they are asylum seekers! Those granted limited leave might well have gone through the asylum process and been rejected or found not to have a founded application. However, for whatever reason, we might not be able to remove them, but must grant them limited leave according to their human rights, and under the convention and other such legislation. However, we want to place restrictions on that leave; and we want to ensure that that limited leave does not count towards settlement. For instance, national prisoners will get six months limited leave if they make a claim under the European convention on human rights. On that basis, they would achieve limited leave, although others would need to satisfy or challenge a number of other legal conditions in order to achieve it.

When moving the amendment, the hon. Member for Rochdale referred only to asylum seekers. As a matter of policy, the Government do not consider that asylum seekers should normally have a right to work. We believe that it is important to maintain a distinction between legal migration for employment, and asylum—the latter being for people who seek protection.

I have already said how the amendment would apply if we were to allow people granted limited leave to remain to seek employment after two months. First, two months seems a rather arbitrary time. I am not sure why it was selected. However, it would undermine immigration control by narrowing the circumstances in which limited leave to remain could be granted, subject to employment conditions. The hon. Gentleman mentioned benefit entitlement. Suffice it to say that that, too, is not really a matter for us but for the Department for Work and Pensions.