Clause 17

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 13th March 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul Rowen Paul Rowen Shadow Minister, Transport 6:00 pm, 13th March 2007

I listened very carefully to the Minister and in particular to her last point about the provision of health care. Nevertheless, we believe that a clear principle is at stake here. The remarks of the hon. Member for Bristol, East are pertinent to the argument. Failed asylum seekers might face a choice between homelessness and destitution, and going back home to face uncertain circumstances that might be life-threatening. In my experience, getting them to agree to go home voluntarily is difficult. I dealt with a case last year in which we persuaded someone to go back to south America—not directly, but via another country, because they were concerned about arriving at the main airport and then being arrested by the police of that country. Through support from the organisations that the Minister mentioned, we managed to get an agreement for the family to return by a circuitous route. That illustrates the point that the hon. Member for Bristol, East, made: one can enable that outcome if one gives appropriate support.

The new clause makes it clear that we are not seeking an open-ended commitment; we want support to be provided until removal. That allows time for the administrative process to sort out the matter. At the moment, there is no incentive for the IND to sort out the process for the huge numbers that will remain in the country, even under the new policy. New proposals are needed, along the lines described by the hon. Member for Bristol, East, to provide that support. I am pleased that more people are using the process, but 5,500 or 5,600 is a small proportion of failed asylum seekers. On that note, I give notice that at the appropriate time, we will want to press an amendment regarding the new clause.