Clause 128

Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 24th January 2008.

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General and supplementary

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health)

I wonder whether the Minister would give some explanation about subsection (2), given that it relates to the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. I assume that it disallows illegal immigrants from claiming  the health in pregnancy grant. Does that stand also for those who have claimed asylum but not yet heard the outcome of their application? This is an important issue because so many of those women who come in either as illegal immigrants or as asylum seekers are of child-bearing age.

In a connected issue, on 26 November last year, my hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) asked the Chancellor whether A8 nationals resident in the UK will be eligible for the proposed health in pregnancy grant. As the Committee will know, the A8 countries are the new EU entrants: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The ministerial response was, as I have come to expect from the Treasury, somewhat equivocal:

“The Government are introducing from April 2009 a one-off payment to expectant mothers, known as the Health in Pregnancy Grant, to help them during the important last weeks of pregnancy. Only women ordinarily resident in the UK will be able to claim the payment”.—[Official Report, 26 November 2007; Vol. 468, c. 51W.]

Could the Minister tell the Committee what “ordinarily resident” means, in practical rather than legislative terms, and under what circumstances nationals of the A8 countries will be classed as being “ordinarily resident”? Consequently, is the answer to the question yes, or no?

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (South West), The Minister of State, Department of Health

Under subsection (2), the health in pregnancy grant will follow the long-standing Government policy that those who have not established their right to remain permanently in the UK, should not have welfare provision on the same basis as those whose citizenship or status here entitles them to benefits and assistance when in need. To ensure that people who are subject to immigration control and who are in the UK illegally are not entitled to the health in pregnancy grant, subsections (2) and (3) apply section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to the health in pregnancy grant. Section 115(9) of that Act defines

“a person subject to immigration control” as

“someone who is in the United Kingdom unlawfully (either an illegal entrant, or someone who has overstayed his leave); someone who is here on limited leave with a condition that he will have no recourse to public funds (e.g. a visitor or a student); someone who is here under a maintenance undertaking; or someone whose leave has been extended to allow him to pursue an appeal. These classes embrace asylum seekers if they are subject to immigration control in this sense (an application for asylum does not itself confer an entry status or leave to remain), and a number of other persons subject to immigration control.”

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 128 ordered to stand part of the Bill.