Enforced Removal (Families with Young Children)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 10th January 2006.

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Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin Labour, Sunderland South 11:00 am, 10th January 2006

Yes, that was the case, and I am about to refer to one or two other exceptions. Perhaps they should form a model for what should be done in other cases. Is it really too much to ask that we should take some responsibility for the consequences of our actions, at least when young children are involved? It always strikes me as disingenuous that we go to enormous lengths to ensure that children are well treated in the distressing circumstances of immigration detention centres, yet do not take the slightest interest in what happens to them immediately afterwards.

In any case, it would be misleading to suggest that we never help returned asylum seekers. We do when it suits us. My hon. Friend Mr. Gerrard gave one example, and I am sure that the Minister will confirm that the first batch of failed asylum seekers returned to Afghanistan received help with reintegration—and rightly so. Those were all single males. The same was true of the first batch of failed asylum seekers returned to northern Iraq; again, they were all single males.

Let no one say that the Government have no powers: they do have powers. I draw the attention of the House to sections 58 and 59 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, which were inserted partly at my suggestion—at least, that is what the then Home Secretary told me in those far-off days when I had influence in the Home Office. Section 58 gives the Secretary of State power to provide assistance to those who leave voluntarily after they have exhausted their rights. Section 59 gives him power to provide funding to non-governmental organisations that assist with or ensure the return of migrants. In other words, there is no reason why the Home Office could not come to an arrangement with an NGO to help reintegrate families that are returned to countries such as Congo or Angola, whether or not they go back voluntarily. So far as I am aware, however, it has not done so, except in a handful of cases of failed asylum seekers—all single males—who were returned to Iraq and Afghanistan. Why is that?