Asylum Seekers — 12 Apr 2000

Oliver Letwin MP, West Dorset voted in the minority (Aye).

I beg to move,

That this House believes that the United Kingdom should continue to offer a safe haven to genuine refugees in fear of persecution; is concerned that the right to claim asylum in the United Kingdom is at present subject to widespread abuse; believes that the large proportion of unfounded asylum claims harms the interests of genuine refugees who are fleeing from persecution; notes that in 1999 there were over 71,000 claims for asylum in the United Kingdom, compared with fewer than 30,000 in 1996; further notes that the backlog of unprocessed applications stands at over 103,000, double the levels of 1997; further notes that the vast majority of asylum applicants are refused and are neither granted asylum nor exceptional leave to remain; further notes that fewer than 8,000 failed asylum seekers leave the United Kingdom annually as a result of Government action; deplores the 'soft touch' message sent out by the Government and condemns the Government for its failure to address the root causes of the present crisis; supports the abolition of cash benefits for asylum seekers but deplores the Government's incoherent and ineffective attempts to implement new arrangements for their support and the continued burden on local authorities; and calls on the Government to implement common sense solutions, including the increased use of detention and more removals of failed asylum seekers, to discourage bogus applications and address the current crisis, which is causing great concern to the people of the United Kingdom.

New support arrangements have always been due to come into force in April 2000.--[ Official Report , 9 November 1999; Vol. 337, c. 982.]

The full scheme will come into force from April 2000 . . . Dispersal will be on a no-choice basis as regards location.--[ Official Report , 2 February 2000; Vol. 343, c. 1065.]

The new asylum support provisions, and the limitations of the appellate system set up to deal with them, are likely to increase substantially the number of applications for judicial review.

Illegal working is a growing global problem.

only one prosecution, which was very recent . . . The reason that we have not prosecuted more is that we were considering the issue carefully.--[ Official Report , 16 June 1999; Vol. 333, c. 490-91.]

One prosecution has been brought thus far, in 1999.--[ Official Report , 23 March 2000; Vol. 346, c. 676W.]

I beg to move, To leave out from 'House' to end and add

'approves the Government's comprehensive, integrated strategy to modernise the immigration and asylum system to make it fairer, faster and firmer; welcomes the provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 which will overhaul the inadequate legislative framework created by the previous Government and will replace the chaotic asylum support arrangements introduced in 1996 which have imposed an intolerable burden on local authorities; is astonished that the Official Opposition voted in the other place to restore cash benefits to asylum seekers at a cost of £500 million per year; approves the measures being taken to tackle the smugglers and traffickers who profit from illegal immigration; approves the new civil penalty for drivers and others who bring illegal immigrants to this country concealed in their vehicles; welcomes the substantial additional investment that the Government is making to increase the volume and speed of asylum decisions; congratulates the staff of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate on achieving record numbers of asylum decisions; and supports the Government's commitment to protecting genuine refugees while dealing firmly with those who seek to evade the control.'.

This case underlines in a very acute way the necessity for the implementation at the first possible opportunity of the provisions contained in the Immigration and Asylum Act . . . in relation to one stop appeals.

it is very unlikely that--

this claim for asylum, which took many years to investigate and try, would ever have got off the ground at all.

Immigration, an issue we raised successfully in 1992, and again in the 1994 Euro election, played particularly well in the tabloids and has more potential to hurt.

not . . . use problems in the immigration and asylum systems in ways which could damage community and race relations.

at no point can it be fairly said . . . that the system was really "out of control". In proportion to population, Britain ranks but ninth in Europe in terms of asylum-seekers . . . There is some evidence that the backlog is at last shrinking. The time taken to decide whether to award asylum has been reduced by seven months and record numbers of claims are being processed. A vast expansion in the provision of full-time adjudicators . . . and the creation of a new tribunal centre with 12 courts should further cut the backlog.

The deterrent effect of our measures, by reducing the number of people who will try to take advantage of our system, should lower the number of persons who are lawfully resident and who also have to be looked after while applying for asylum.--[ Official Report , 11 December 1995; Vol. 268, c. 793.]

strengthen our immigration control and . . . greatly reduce the incentives for those seeking to enter or remain unlawfully in the United Kingdom . . . The Government believe that it is wrong that people who are admitted to this country on the basis that they can provide for themselves or who are here illegally should receive benefits paid for by the taxes of lawful residents. The measures we have now taken and the work currently in hand will see that they do not.--[ Official Report , 24 October 1996; Vol. 284, c. 1W.]

People are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture.

bogus asylum seekers . . . flooding into Britain.

The Tory party think giving a few cocktail parties for Asian millionaires is race relations.

alienate ethnic minorities by pandering to xenophobic voters with promises of crackdowns on immigration.

What's black and blue and rejected all over? A Tory for 20 years, Mohammed Khamisa wants to be an MP, but the party does not seem to want him. Is race the reason, he asks.

Having applied for the position of Conservative candidate for 13 safe and marginal seats . . . I have not even been offered an interview by any of the local Tory associations.

The proposed measures are an acknowledgement by the Home Office that it has abandoned the struggle to prevent illegal immigration--[ Official Report, Special Standing Committee , 22 March 1999; c. 455.]

the criminals who are making vast amounts of money out of bringing people here to make applications are adapting their procedures to meet what we do.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 134, Noes 351.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 134 (+2 tell)085.0%
Independent1 0033.3%
Lab308 (+2 tell) 0074.7%
LDem36 0078.3%
PC3 0075.0%
UUP3 0030.0%
Total:351 134076.6%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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NameConstituencyPartyVote
no rebellions

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