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UK Border Agency Guidance (Welfare of Children)

Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

Together with the Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families, Baroness Delyth Morgan, I have today issued statutory guidance to the UK Border Agency under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.

Section 55 comes into force today. It places a duty on the Secretary of State to make arrangements for ensuring that immigration, asylum, nationality and customs functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. A similar duty is placed on the Director of Border Revenue in respect of the director’s functions. Subsections 55(3) and (5) require any person exercising any of these functions to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State for this purpose.

Section 55 is intended to have the same effect as section 11 of the Children Act 2004 which places a similar duty on a range of key public bodies. This guidance is an important step in the process of bringing the UK Border Agency within the family of agencies who, together, have statutory responsibilities to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when carrying out their duties. The guidance is supported by a programme of reform to improve the way in which children are treated in the immigration system, led by the agency’s senior management, and which includes an extensive training programme for UK Border Agency staff. The UK Border Agency will be held to account by its new, independent Chief Inspector who will inspect and challenge us on our progress.

Copies of the guidance have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.