This Government believe strongly in the values of responsibility, freedom and fairness. It is these values which inform all our judgments as we face up to the exceptionally tough fiscal situation we have inherited, and it is with these values in mind that I am launching a consultation on the mechanisms for introducing fees to the immigration and asylum appeals system.
I believe that it is reasonable to ask non-UK citizens appealing against some categories of immigration and asylum decisions to contribute to the costs of the administration of that appeal, where they are able to. This is particularly the case given that some two thirds of appeal cases are declined each year.
The current situation is that the Tribunals Service Immigration and Asylum system (TSIA) demands no appeal fee. Costs are met by the Ministry of Justice through funds provided by the UK taxpayer and in part from fees levied on visa applicants by UKBA.
For this reason I am today launching a public consultation on the mechanisms for introducing fee charges as I have outlined here. The consultation will be available from today on the Ministry of Justice’s website and will run for 12 weeks, concluding on 21 January 2011.
I welcome feedback from all interested parties.
This Department is currently undertaking an internal review of legal aid and will be seeking views on reform shortly. If the proposals taken forward in the future, as a result of that consultation, affect the availability of legal aid in immigration appeals and consequently our assumptions about the impact of charging appeal fees to appellants of limited means, we will consult again as necessary on an alternative remissions and exemptions policy in respect of the fees to ensure that access to justice in immigration appeals is appropriately maintained.
Copies of the consultation paper will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.