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9.45 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Angela Eagle): This matter presents all of us with uniquely difficult and complex challenges, as we face the ever-greater effects of globalisation. Although globalisation creates enormous benefits in the world, we have to acknowledge that it places

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unprecedented strains of rapid development and change on often fragile economies. Millions of people aspire to better their economic circumstances and, understandably, want to migrate in order to do so. At the same time, modern transport systems have facilitated mass movement across the world. In Britain last year, our ports and airports dealt with 90 million visitors, the overwhelming majority of whom were completely legal.

Alongside that, we face the challenge of failing states such as Somalia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan which generate large numbers of refugees, the vast majority of whom are looked after close to their borders by some of the poorest countries in the world. However, that produces large numbers of asylum seekers who travel much further, seeking protection, shelter and a new life. All European countries—indeed, all developed countries—face big increases in the numbers of illegal arrivals who want to fulfil their dreams of economic betterment or who are fleeing oppression.

We have also seen the growth of a far more sinister phenomenon that was mentioned by the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins): the worldwide criminal, yet hugely profitable, trade in people. People are smuggled by international gangs, sometimes for sexual or labour exploitation and sometimes simply so that they can gain illegal entry and work in the informal economy, where their lack of status can make them extremely vulnerable to all kinds of abuse. Safety considerations rarely apply, as we saw all too tragically at Dover when 57 people suffocated in the back of a lorry.

The spectre of a revival of fascism and the policies of race hatred now loom over Europe. We underestimate at our peril the uncertainty and resentment caused by illegal arrivals among our existing populations—the evidence is there for all to see in recent European election results. However, most of that uncertainty and resentment is not racism, but a genuine concern that needs to be addressed fairly, openly and transparently. We need to be inclusive and open about our anti-racist stance, but we need to acknowledge people's worries and concerns. For that reason I welcome the tone of the debate, which has differed from that of any other debate on this sensitive subject.

How can we be sure that we fulfil our international obligations to protect and shelter refugees while ensuring that our economy benefits positively from economic migration and reassuring people that our systems for dealing with those challenges are fair and firm, thus minimising the scope for the advance of the far right?

The Bill does all those things. It deals in a holistic and forward-looking way with those complex issues. However, I shall not stand at the Dispatch Box and claim that it is perfect. If I did so, no one would believe me. Furthermore, the four immigration Acts that preceded it provide plenty of evidence to show that I should be a bit more humble tonight.

The issues are complex and difficult and we must battle constantly to solve them. We all know that there are no easy or simple answers. We must combine legislative change with sensible administrative change to achieve the improvements that we all seek.

Of course one of the key issues is to improve decision making to ensure that it is speedy, expeditious and balanced with fairness and control. That is what we seek

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to do with the induction centres, the accommodation centres and the reporting and removal requirements contained in the Bill. We seek to streamline that process, which is inherently complex, as well as the appeals process, which is currently far too complex.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) that ending delay is one of the keys to getting the system right. We have to end the delays, but that is a lot harder to achieve than some may think. We have to do more than simply saying that it is an aim of ours. It has been the aim of many of the legislative changes that the House has considered, but so far it has been more elusive than all hon. Members would wish.

I should like to answer the question about immigration appeal rights asked by the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr. Lilley). If he looks at clause 60, he will see that we have combined the separate provisions. I hope that he will admit that the single provision will deal with the problem that he first saw when at the then Department for Social Security and with which we have been struggling ever since. I hope that clause 60 will provide an answer to that issue.

Many Members on both sides of the House have made impassioned speeches, mainly about a few issues, and I hope that I can reassure them. I shall first deal with the size and location of accommodation centres, what should be going on in them and how we anticipate that they will work. We have announced that, initially, we shall run trial accommodation centres alongside the dispersal system to find out whether they work, before deciding whether to use that system more exclusively to deal with people's asylum claims.

Although we have used illustrative figures on size, nothing in the Bill limits the size or states that we must have four centres. We shall certainly be open to considering more flexible approaches, but any suggestion has to be consistent with a reasonable size to provide training, education and legal advice at an appropriate and economic level. Those services have to be good, as well as providing value for money. We shall consider those issues in deciding how to proceed.

There has been a lot of worry about education, but the situation has been misunderstood. The Bill makes it clear that any children who live in accommodation centres during the trials will be educated to the standard that applies in mainstream schools, that the legal duty to provide education remains effectively with the local education authority and that the standards of that education can be checked by Ofsted and independently audited. After all, this is a trial and if we decide that it does not work, we will not proceed with it, so right hon. and hon. Members are wrong to dismiss the proposal before we have even tried it. We will be open and transparent about the results of the trial.

I need to make the point that we shall table amendments on asylum shopping, which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary did not get around to mentioning in his opening speech. We will include measures to put a stop to a new trade in people who have been accepted for protection in European Union states arriving in the United Kingdom and seeking support under the National Assistance Act 1948, although they fail the habitual residence test. We shall table amendments to try to close what we perceive to be a loophole.

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Hon. Members mentioned issues relating to bail, as set out in part 3, and the repeal of requirements of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 which have never been brought into effect. We are not removing the individual right to appeal for bail either under habeas corpus or to an adjudicator if there is an appeal pending. Those rights have always existed and are exercised. We are repealing what are increasingly regarded as cumbersome and difficult automatic bail hearings for everyone in detention. They interfere with our attempts to achieve a fast and efficient process and, as they have to be before the same people, are simply another cause of delay. We do not think that they are practicable. However, I emphasise that repeal of those hearings does not remove an individual's right to appeal for habeas corpus or a bail hearing.

On detention, only a small number of asylum seekers are detained. They are detained for a reason, either because we cannot prove who they are and are trying to find out, or because we believe that they are likely to abscond pending removal. That is why people are held in detention. They can apply for bail.

I hope that I reassured hon. Members when I told my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sarwar) that high-quality legal advice will be available in accommodation centres. It is not available in induction centres, and we can deal with that issue more effectively in Committee. The Legal Services Commission will make that facility available, and as an independent service it does not need to be included in the Bill. I assure hon. Members that we are not involved in a manoeuvre to deny people their legal rights.

The Bill is a big step forward in the reform of our entire nationality, immigration and asylum system to meet the new challenges that lie ahead. It encourages legitimate primary immigration to Britain for the first time in many years and celebrates the acquisition of citizenship in a positive way while equipping new citizens more effectively for life in Britain. Those fleeing persecution have nothing to fear from the measures because the Bill upholds and strengthens our commitment to the systems of international protection. It creates the power to introduce a resettlement programme to take refugees from abroad, which will get them out of the hands of the people traffickers and will honour our international humanitarian obligations.

All asylum seekers will go through what we hope will be a well-managed and faster end-to-end asylum process that uses induction and accommodation centres. There will be effective integration for those who are successful and removal for the unsuccessful. It is no good building up a panoply of courts and centres to administer an asylum system if there is no distinction between an individual who is granted asylum and integrated as a refugee into our society, and one who fails and is granted no other protection. There must be a difference between those outcomes. That is why it is important for the integrity of our system that we improve the number of removals. It is also why we will create the 4,000 spaces in detention centres, as we said we would, and will continue to push for more effective removal of those who fail.

New penalties will be introduced to fight people traffickers, including the new offence of trafficking for

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the purpose of prostitution. Increased penalties will apply to those who are caught. We will also crack down on illegal working. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

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