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Asylum Seekers

Volume 553: debated on Monday 19 November 2012

Swift action will be taken against all those who have no lawful permission to remain in the UK. That includes not only failed asylum seekers, but everyone who does not have permission to be here. We are not repeating the last Labour Government’s mistake of focusing only on one thing at a time and letting everything else get out of control, which resulted in the situation we inherited when we came to power.

Speaking as a member of the European Scrutiny Committee, I am extraordinarily grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. He will know that the issue of those who remain in this country illegally is of huge concern to all our constituents. Can he update the House on what action is being taken to deal with it specifically in the east midlands and my constituency?

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for that question, and I will enjoy being scrutinised by him, as a member of the European Scrutiny Committee, in due course. I can give him a couple of examples. Obviously, we have conducted enforcement operations in his constituency, and he might also be interested to know that this summer in London Operation Mayapple led to more than 2,000 individuals from the London area without permission to be in the UK leaving the country. The number of enforced overstayer removals is up 21% compared with April to September 2011, and arrests are up 16% this year compared with last year.

As the Minister will know, the report published last week by the Home Affairs Committee showed that the current backlog in the UKBA had reached one third of a million cases, which is equivalent to the population of Iceland. While I absolutely accept that this backlog began under the previous Government and was there under successive Governments, it has risen by 25,000 in the last three months. What steps is the Minister going to take to ensure this backlog is cleared, and will he commit to ensuring there are no more bonuses to senior UKBA officials until it is cleared?

The right hon. Gentleman—who, of course, chairs the Home Affairs Committee—will know that we inherited 500,000 cases on asylum alone from the previous Government, and we have been diligently working through them. He will also know that that will be the focus of a report in due course. Some of the cases will be closed because we see no evidence that the person concerned is in the country, but others will have to be worked through. I will make sure that there is a clear timetable to work through all of them, to ensure that all the people concerned are given a clear decision and matters are concluded on a timely basis so we can finally clear up the situation we inherited from the previous Government.