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

That point came up in the evidence sessions. I said that we expect the numbers for foreign national prisoners to be small—possibly tens rather than hundreds. I cannot give an exact figure for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, because we are not suggesting that every unaccompanied asylum-seeking child will be subject to the conditions, but around 1,960 grants of discretionary leave at initial decision were made for that category in 2005, so the number would be somewhat less than that. I hope that that acts as a guide to the hon. Gentleman.

In terms of reporting residency, it is clearly not in our interests to force individuals to live in an area where they could not report to the IND or where it would be impossible for them to find work. If an individual wanted to find work in another location, the residency condition would ensure that they kept us informed of where they were moving and, in some  cases, our approval of the new address would be required. Once they had moved, reporting conditions would be modified accordingly, so that they could report to a reporting centre nearer to their new home.

As to the terms of residency—I am dealing with amendment No. 129 now—we will grant leave with residency conditions only where that is justified by a need for close monitoring of an individual. We have no intention of applying residency conditions to refugees, students or work permit holders, as some non-governmental organisations have alleged. We have already discussed that in relation to students. In the first instance we may apply the residency conditions, as I said, to certain asylum-seeking children, with a view to improving child protection, as well as facilitating their removal at the age of 18.

There is evidence that children go missing from care, and we want not to take on but to complement the valuable work done by social services. Granting leave with reporting and, where needed, residency conditions, should mean that a child’s absence is noted at an early stage. I think that what I have said covers some points that the hon. Member for Hertsmere made about unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. We should be able to notice an absence early, and establish the reason for it, in which case all reasonable steps to locate the child could be taken.