Clause 28

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 20th March 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality) 10:30 am, 20th March 2007

Those are extremely helpful points, which I can clarify. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his sympathetic hearing and I wish to make two points in response. The first is that there is already a process whereby the Secretary of State can certify claims as clearly unfounded, and it operates for asylum claims. We can get a sense of the number of decisions being taken from statistics that are available: for example, between November 2002 and early 2006 something like 5,500 claims were certified by the Secretary of State as clearly unfounded.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that there is the prospect of judicial review. Parliament has some history of debating whether there should be procedures for ousting the process of judicial review. We have had that debate and we have no ambition to return to it. Judicial review is with us, and there are no plans in the Bill to oust, diminish or in any way undermine it. The hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that something like 9 per cent. of the asylum claims that the Secretary of State certified as unfounded in the period that I mentioned were subject to judicial review. He is right to say that there is the potential for judicial review of some decisions, but on the basis of our experience that potential is reasonably low. Only 358 judicial review claims were upheld, as a result of which only 63 certificates were withdrawn. That is a relatively small number given the number of claims certified.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the grounds on which certification may be appropriate. They include cases in which no fear of mistreatment has been expressed, in which the fear of mistreatment is not objective, in which the feared mistreatment clearly does not amount to persecution or in which sufficient protection or internal relocation is available. The hon. Gentleman asked important questions, and we have four or five years of experience of ensuring that the system works well enough in a reasonably complex area. That is why we intend to extend its scope.