Enforced Removal (Families with Young Children)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 12:04 pm on 10th January 2006.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 12:04 pm, 10th January 2006

There is an old expression about visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children, and that is perhaps the situation here. However, I am not in as direct a conflict with the hon. Gentleman as he might have thought from my introductory remarks, because I think that the fault lies with the system. That system was graphically described by Jeremy Corbyn. It seems not only to produce delays, but actively to encourage them, and there are often significant delays.

I remember an earlier Westminster Hall debate when the present Chief Secretary to the Treasury was the Minister of State responsible for asylum matters; it took place back in the good old days when Ministers of State used to attend such debates. He said that delay was the asylum seekers' best friend. In many ways he is right, because that can leave asylum applicants in a situation where they have an expanding family, with children who have never lived anywhere else, who feel themselves to be British in every respect, and who are well integrated with their local communities. Tackling that delay must be at the heart of addressing the problems that have been highlighted. We have so-called dawn raids, the enforced removal process and delays, and they are all products of a system that is dysfunctional and requires to be fundamentally examined.

The hon. Member for Sunderland, South made a telling point about the need for what might be loosely called "after care" for those who have been returned, especially to highly dysfunctional countries such as Congo. That is an exceptionally sound suggestion; we have substantial overseas business even in those very different dysfunctional countries, and there should be no reason why the Government should not be prepared to provide that. If they have confidence in their decision-making process that has returned a person in the first place, they should be prepared to back that up by offering some sort of after care and review to ensure—for quality control, if for no other reason—that the correct decision has been taken.

Several Members have spoken about their experiences as MPs, and I shall leave the Minister with a final matter that has caused me some difficulty. My hon. Friend Paul Rowen brought to my attention a case that came up in his constituency in the course of the general election campaign. Neither he nor Lorna Fitzsimons, his predecessor, was allowed to make representations, because neither of them was a Member of Parliament at the time; during the period of Dissolution there is no such thing. Can the Minister tell me that that was a one-off aberration, and that that sort of nicety will not be used routinely by the Home Office and the immigration and nationality directorate to ensure that representations are not heard?