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Asylum Claims

Volume 401: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2003

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A new fast track pilot scheme to be introduced in April will radically reduce the time taken to process asylum claims from arrival to removal.The pilot will operate at the Harmondsworth Removal Centre and will build upon the reforms in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and the success of the Oakington fast track process. This new pilot will enable us to deal rapidly with straightforward asylum claimants and to remove those with unfounded claims within four weeks of their arrival.The new Fast Track Procedure Rules to be laid before Parliament later this week will enable us to pilot fast-track decisions and appeals based upon co-location of key elements of the asylum process. For this to work effectively, we will be detaining at Harmondsworth Removal Centre asylum seekers whose claims appear to be straightforward, pending a decision on their claim. Detention will initially be for about two to five days to enable claimants to be interviewed and an initial decision made. This new process will have bulletin access to legal advice. Detention of asylum seekers for a short period of time for the purposes of making a speedy decision on their claim was upheld last October as lawful by the House of Lords. If the claim is refused or for any reason cannot be dealt with in accordance with the pilot timescales, a decision about further detention will be made in accordance with existing detention criteria. Detention in this category of cases will therefore normally be where it has become apparent that the person would be likely to fail to keep in contact with the Immigration Service or to effect removal.