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Immigration: Monitor for Entry Clearance Refusals

Volume 711: debated on Thursday 4 June 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today placed in the Library a copy of the report by Mrs Linda Costelloe Baker, the independent monitor for entry clearance refusals with limited rights of appeal, covering the period 1 April to 30 September 2008. A copy is also being made available on the UKBA website at monitor/imparliamentaryreports together with UK Border Agency’s response to the independent monitor's recommendations.

I am most grateful to Mrs Costelloe Baker for this report based on the 904 sample cases which she has reviewed for the period 1 April to 30 September 2008, and the 578 cases reviewed during her monitoring visits to visa issuing posts during the period April to September 2008.

In the covering letter to this her final report, Mrs Costelloe Baker notes that the Visa Services Directorate recognises the need to “spend the next year concentrating on the basics … and paying attention to feedback”. This will be UKBA’s main focus for 2009-10. Mrs Costelloe Baker describes the overseas visa operation as “the most constructive organisation” she has ever worked alongside, with “enthusiastic, energetic staff whose commitment to doing a good job means that they have sought, welcomed and thrived on straight talking and external scrutiny”.

Mrs Costelloe Baker makes a number of constructive recommendations as to how the UK Border Agency can continue to improve. Key themes to pursue are:

the accuracy of data capture;

the attention to evidence in the decision-making process;

promotion of consistency in the application of the new Immigration Rules relating to deception (paragraphs 3207 A and B);

the appearance and quality of refusal notices;

complaint and correspondence handling procedures;

global implementation of IM recommendations; and

the development of a constructive working relationship with the chief inspector of the UK Border Agency.

The UK Border Agency welcomes these comments and is keen to use these recommendations to drive up the quality of its service to customers while maintaining a high level of immigration control.

I wish to record our thanks to Mrs Costelloe Baker for the work and effort she has put into producing this her sixth and final report as independent monitor for entry clearance refusals with limited rights of appeal.