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Asylum Seekers

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 1 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes he intends to make to his Department's procedures for determining applications for NASS support by asylum seekers who have been refused as a result of not having applied for asylum as soon as is reasonably practicable. [109569]

Following the judgment of Mr. Justice Collins of 19 February on the application of Section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, we anticipated all of the main points of the Court of Appeal judgment of 18 March. Changes to the procedure have been made. For example:

The interviewer and decision-maker are now one and the same person;
The purpose of the interview is clearly spelled out to the applicant at the outset;
The account given by the applicant about the circumstances in which entry to the UK was achieved is thoroughly probed and warnings are given when the story is not believed; and
Article 3 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) issues are considered in all cases to ensure that a negative section 55 decision would not result in a breach of Convention rights.
The Government's appeals against the Collins judgement in the six test cases were dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 18 March 2003. However, the judgment found in favour of the Secretary of State on all key points of law, including that section 55 is not incompatible with the ECHR in any respect. The judgment therefore gave renewed legal backing for the Government's policy.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many unaccompanied asylum seeking children were deported in (a) 2001 and (b) 2002. [109574]

The information requested is not available. Although statistics on the removal of failed asylum seekers include unaccompanied minors; they are not separately identified. The information would therefore only be available by examination of individual case-files; this would be at disproportionate cost.However, under current policy, unaccompanied children are not removed under Immigration Act powers unless we are satisfied that suitable arrangements have been made for their reception and care in the destination country.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children of asylum-seeking families are detained. [110066]

Dungavel, Harmondsworth, Oakington and Tinsley House are the only Immigration Service Removal Centres (IRCs) that deal with family cases. A one-off exercise was carried out on 2 April 2003 to assess the number of children under the age of 18 detained in these IRCs, the results of which are contained in the table.

Immigration Service Removal CentreChildren under 18 years of age in detention at 2 April 2003
Minors are detained only in two limited circumstances: first, as part of a family group whose detention is considered appropriate; second, when unaccompanied, while alternative care arrangements are made and normally just overnight.More detailed information on those in detention at 29 March 2003 is due to be published on 30 May on the Home Office website:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action is being taken to keep track of the whereabouts of failed asylum seekers who cannot be deported and who no longer receive support from NASS. [110484]

As part of the initial screening process asylum-seekers are required to provide proof of residence at a particular address. The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) maintains databases containing the information supplied, which is also recorded in the individual Home Office file. All applicants, and their representatives, are told of their obligation to notify the Home Office of any subsequent change of address. For those subject to a reporting regime, their place of residence is verified during the reporting event.The Immigration Service has eight designated reporting centres to assist in managing reporting regimes and, in addition, a person may be required to report to a police station near their address. Alongside these measures systems are in place to track and monitor all failed asylum seekers.