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Children: Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers

Volume 696: debated on Wednesday 14 November 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration they are giving to the appointment of legal guardians for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and for children identified as having been trafficked, given the effectiveness of similar schemes in other European Union countries. [HL40]

We are not considering creating a system of legal guardians for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The role of such a person is unclear and we consider that the children already receive sufficient assistance from the local authority social worker assigned to their care. The children are also referred to the Refugee Council children's panel, which provides additional advice and signposts the individuals to appropriate services. Legal assistance is of course available to assist with the asylum application.

The Government are also committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all trafficked children discovered in the UK. The protection of any child or young person in the UK should be given the highest and most immediate priority.

As we develop implementation options to comply with the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings we will consult with a range of stakeholders, including via our established non-governmental organisation (NGO) stakeholder group. This will include an assessment of all the options for improvement to the arrangements for children.