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Asylum Backlog

Volume 515: debated on Monday 6 September 2010

15. What progress her Department is making in processing the backlog of asylum applications made prior to 2010. (13097)

In 2006 a backlog of approximately 450,000 older paper and electronic asylum cases were identified—widely known as the legacy caseload. I informed the House during oral questions in June 2010 that the case resolution directorate had concluded 277,000 legacy cases up to the end of May 2010. The chief executive of the UK Border Agency, Lin Homer, updates the Home Affairs Committee on a regular basis regarding the progress made in resolving these cases. She is, I believe, due to report again to the Committee this autumn.

During a busy summer of casework in my constituency, I was astounded to meet asylum seekers who have been waiting since 2002 and 2003 to have their cases decided. Does the Minister agree that the whole system that we have inherited is a complete shambles? What will we do to get a grip of it?

It is indeed a shambles, and my hon. Friend need not take my word for it. Famously, it was this particular disaster that caused the former Home Secretary, John Reid, to describe the whole Department as “not fit for purpose”—a judgment with which it was impossible to disagree at the time. The answer to my hon. Friend is that we are getting through the backlog as fast as possible, and I am confident that we will conclude it by summer 2011.