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Asylum/Immigration

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the (a) opposition to and (b) potential impact of the extension of the voucher system for asylum seekers. (71888)

Vouchers are used to support failed asylum seekers under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 who would otherwise be destitute and for whom there is a temporary barrier to leaving the UK.

Officials, through the NASS Forum, National Consulting Group and Voluntary Sector Chief Executives’ group have discussed impacts. These have been considered carefully and taken into account. The Commons Clearance of Lords’ Amendments stage of the Bill also provided an opportunity to debate their use.

This is a rightly limited form of support, which should not act as an incentive for asylum seekers to remain in the UK once they have exhausted their appeal rights.

Section 43(7) of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 does not extend the voucher system, but ensures flexibility to meet additional needs of those supported under section 4. This is a new provision which should be welcomed.

My hon. Friend the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Mr. McNulty) asked officials to review longer term impacts, which they are currently in the process of doing with interested parties.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the use of luncheon vouchers for the purposes of support under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; how many such vouchers were issued to residents of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne in each of the last four quarters of 2005-06; and what the total value was of the vouchers so issued. (75212)

Where support under section 4 is provided in self-catering accommodation, vouchers to the value of £35 per week are issued to purchase food and essential toiletries. The type of voucher issued is not a matter of policy. The vouchers issued by accommodation providers are primarily luncheon vouchers, supermarket payment cards and supermarket vouchers.

Information on the number and types of voucher issued is not recorded centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers who have been given indefinite leave to remain in (a) the past 12 months and (b) the past five years have served a prison sentence in the UK while waiting for a decision on their application to stay in the UK. (75365)

The information requested is not collected centrally and would require an examination of individual case files at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers who have spent time in detention have been granted temporary release in each of the last five calendar years. (75787)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 8 May 2006, Official Report, column 71W, on asylum/immigration, how many of the applicants had their last known address in Northamptonshire. (73415)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the Answer of 18 April 2006, Official Report, column 282W, on asylum/immigration, what definition his Department uses of a particularly serious crime. (75349)

Article 33(2) of the Refugee Convention allows an asylum seeker or recognised refugee to be removed even if they have a well-founded fear of persecution, where they represent a threat to national security, or where, having been convicted of a particularly serious crime, they constitute a danger to the community.

Section 72 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 provides an interpretation of Article 33(2) of the 1951 Convention and defines the term ‘particularly serious crime’ for the purposes of Article 33(2) as one for which the person concerned has received a sentence of imprisonment of at least two years, or has been convicted of an offence specified by order of the Secretary of State, whatever the length of sentence imposed. An automatic presumption is made, which is rebuttable, that such a person poses a danger to the community.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 19 June 2006, Official Report, columns 1666-68W, on asylum/immigration, how many individuals were held in each immigration holding, reception and removal centre in each year since 2004-05. (82699)

Quarterly snapshots are published by the Immigration Nationality Directorate's (IND's) Research, Development and Statistics (RDS) Directorate in the quarterly asylum statistics bulletin showing the number of people detained on the last Saturday of each quarter under Immigration Act powers in immigration removal centres.