Schedule 6 - Support for certain categories of migrant

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 10th November 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 10:15 am, 10th November 2015

We have obviously had a wide-ranging debate on the amendments. In many respects, it has repeated some of the in-principle issues Opposition Members highlighted in respect of schedule 6. I therefore do not intend to spend a huge amount of time repeating the arguments we debated last week.

Amendment 226 seeks, in essence, to maintain the pre-existing arrangements. Under the current provisions in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, failed asylum seeker families continue to receive Home Office support as though their asylum claim and any appeal had not failed, with the onus on the Home Office to demonstrate non-compliance with return arrangements before support can be ceased. The amendment would maintain that position. We believe that is wrong in principle and would send entirely the wrong message to those who do not require our protection. It would also continue to undermine public confidence in the asylum system.

The current position needs to change. Failed asylum seekers are illegal migrants. Our focus should be on supporting those who have not yet had a decision on their asylum claim and who may need our protection, rather than on those who the courts have agreed do not need our protection and should leave the UK. Instead of indefinitely supporting failed asylum seekers because they have children, we need a better basis of incentives and possible sanctions. We, together with local authorities, can then work with these families in a process that secures their departure from the UK, and schedule 6 to the Bill will deliver that.

Home Office support will, of course, remain available if there is a genuine obstacle to the family leaving the UK. Opposition Members sought again to highlight the 2005 pilot, but I have already indicated the differences between these arrangements and the pre-existing arrangements. We have reflected carefully on those experiences and taken account of them, in order to provide a different approach. If failed asylum seekers decide to remain here unlawfully rather than leaving voluntarily, they should not automatically continue to receive Home Office support simply because they have made a failed asylum claim. We need a better basis of incentives, and we believe the Bill will deliver that.