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Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire): On that point, will the hon. Lady give an assurance that a light touch will be used? It is possible that an asylum seeker will be in a remote rural location far from the accommodation centre and physically unable to return to it because of a lack of public transport, which would be no fault of theirs. Will sympathetic discretion be used such circumstances?
I hope that hon. Members agree that amendment No. 131 is unnecessary. I understand entirely the concern to ensure that asylum seekers have a right of appeal against any decision to withdraw support by requiring someone to leave a centre. We agree with that. As we explained in Committee, a right of appeal already exists by virtue of clause 45, which inserts new section 103 into the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. It gives a right of appeal to the asylum support adjudicator against any decision to stop providing support under clause 15 or section 95 of the 1999 Act, or both.
Mr. Malins: I am grateful to the Minister for her kind response on visiting committees. That is most encouraging. I shall not seek to press my other amendments to a Division. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
'Compensation shall be paid to owners and landlords of dwelling houses for any depreciation in the value of such property caused by the establishment under section 14 of accommodation centres, in accordance with the provisions of Part 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1973.'.[Tony Baldry.]
'in locations suitable to the cultural and other needs of those to be accommodated.'.
'(3) No accommodation centre established under this section shall hold more than 200 persons.'.
'(4) An accommodation centre shall only be established after the Secretary of State is satisfied that the proposed location is suitable to the needs of the persons to be accommodated therein'.
'( ) Each accommodation centre shall hold a maximum of 250 people at any one time, except where expressly agreed between the Secretary of State and the relevant local authority.'.
Tony Baldry: I hope to have the support of my hon. Friends so that I can press the new clause to a Division. I also hope that it will be possible to have a separate vote on amendments Nos. 6 and 1. I know that my hon. Friends on the Front Bench would welcome that.
I note that amendment No. 6 was tabled by the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson), who intervened on me earlier to accuse my constituents of being nimbyist. The amendment stipulates that no accommodation centre should hold more than 200 persons. I hope that when we vote on it, the hon. Gentleman will have the courage to support his decision to table it.
Ahead of a trial, I have no idea about the answers. The Bill will give us the power to trial . . . The trial will allow us to find out what works, and we can proceed from that point."[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 7 May 2002; c. 7475.]
Mike Gapes (Ilford, South): I have been listening at length to the hon. Gentleman's speeches, and they all come down to one point. He seems to think that urban areas, where services and facilities are already under pressure, and boroughs such as mine, which has more than 5,000 refugees, rather than the 750 that he is talking about, should continue to bear all the costs and pressures of the asylum system. As an MP representing an urban constituency, I think that his whole approach is one of nimbyism.
Tony Baldry: I do not think that the hon. Gentleman was in his place when an earlier intervention on that point was made. If that is his reaction to my remarks, he clearly has not been listening to them. Furthermore, such interventions display considerable intolerance on the part of Labour Members. My first contribution to these proceedings lasted no longer than six minutes, but the hon. Gentleman seeks to give the impression that Conservative Members have been speaking at great length. I speak as a Member of Parliament who faces the prospect of an accommodation centre being sited in his constituency, and I believe that all my comments have been sensible and proportionate.
I am conscious that there is not much time for this debate, so I hope that I can continue without further such interventions from Labour Members, who seem to feel that any sensible, constructive opposition or comment on the Bill can simply be dismissed as nimbyism. The experiment by the Government is having an impact on my constituents. That impact is not hypothetical or possible; it is immediate. In the days following the Government's announcement that the outskirts of Bicester may be the site of an accommodation centre for asylum seekers, I was visited in my surgery by constituents who had seen the sale of their home fall through.
These were people coming up to the exchange of contracts who now found their property unsaleable. [Hon. Members: "Why?"] Because the prospective purchasers had withdrawn. That situation is not hypothetical, but real.
Mr. Luff: Labour Members are demonstrating rather appalling intolerance and an ignorance of reality. As my hon. Friend knows, in my constituency, where there is a foot and mouth disease burial site 300 yd from the proposed site of an accommodation centre for asylum centres, every one of the small number of houses affected is completely unsaleable. They are all on the market and there are no takers for any of them. Some of those people desperately need to get on with their lives, and they cannot do so because of the Government. Would not it be right for the Government to buy those properties and then sell them when the market recovers?
The state has decided, for whatever reason, that it wants to take action because it believes that there will be a greater good for the state as a whole, but in doing so it is having a direct impact on the lives of individuals and on the value of their property. In those circumstances, it must be right, in natural justice and in equity, for the state to compensate those individuals.
When the M40 was built through my constituency, those affected by motorway noise were granted compensation. When, as a consequence of the change of flight paths from USAF Upper Heyford, aircraft noise increased substantially over a number of villages in my constituency, and it could be demonstrated that the value of people's properties had fallen as a consequence, the Ministry of Defence gave an ex gratia payment based on
That depreciation in property value was not fictional, notional or imagined; any loss had to be determined and quantified by professional chartered surveyors acting on behalf of the claimants and by surveyors acting for the MOD. However, when a loss could be shown and agreed, compensation was made. I am not going as far as that in my new clause. The Land Compensation Act 1973 does not go so far as to say that there should be total compensation for any depreciation in the value of a property; it says that if the state decides to carry out certain works, householders should be compensated for the impact of those works on their property.