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Volume 473: debated on Monday 17 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to her letter to the Home Affairs Committee of 17 December 2007, how many of the cases closed under the legacy exercise were due to (a) erroneous and (b) duplicate records; how such errors and duplications arose; how many of the individuals concerned have been traced; how many of the cases were closed because the individual concerned could not be traced; and what estimate she has made of the number of people dealt with by the legacy exercise who remain in the UK without leave to remain. (177360)

[holding answer 10 January 2008]: On 17 December 2007 Lin Homer provided a written update to the Home Affairs Select Committee stating that 52,000 older asylum cases had been concluded and of these 17,000 were closed due to previously erroneous or duplicate errors. Of this 17,000, approximately 2,000 were duplicates; 9,500 were errors and 5,500 were EU nationals where the individual originally applied for asylum, but their country of origin has since acceded to the EU.

These errors and duplications arose as part of the backlog of unresolved cases that the previous Home Secretary informed the House of in July 2006.

Where a case has been closed because it is a duplicate or an error, the individuals involved will already have been granted status or removed.

The previous Home Secretary also referred to the fact that some in some cases the individuals may have died or left the country since they had claimed asylum. We often do not have this information recorded. In future, when we introduce electronic embarkation checks, the situation should improve. In the meantime there are some individuals we are struggling to trace.

It is not possible to accurately forecast the number of people remaining in the UK without leave to remain under the legacy exercise, as each case is decided on its merits and there are an unknown, and significant number of data errors in the case records. We are prioritising cases using the following criteria: those who may pose a risk to the public, those who can more easily be removed, those receiving support, and those who may be granted leave.