|Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill
Mr. Barker: I should like to address a few comments to the Minister on clause 42.
The Chairman: Order. We are discussing clause 43.
Mr. Barker: I beg your pardon, Mr. Illsley.
Angela Eagle: My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) made some welcome comments about the powers in clause 43 and what they enable us to do. We have not made final decisions on the matter, and we are discussing how we can develop the resettlement programme with the UNHCR and other interested parties. The criteria for resettlement are that the refugee's life, liberty, safety, health or other fundamental human rights are at risk in the country where they sought refuge, and once the UNHCR believes that someone may be suitable for resettlement, they will put them forward for consideration by us. We have not yet decided in detail how we will deal with that and are consulting other countries that have more experience of resettlement than we do. They include the United States of America, Canada and Australia, which all have much larger resettlement programmes. We will examine potential specific criteria that could be applied in addition by the UK, which may include security screening.
The UNHCR will then sift applications that concern them and pass appropriate cases to us for consideration. Field officers will ensure that each resettlement candidate has a good understanding of what life in the UK will be like and what will happen to them on arrival. The UNHCR oversees all resettlement programmes and assesses global resettlement needs annually. At this stage, we do not want the UNHCR to be responsible for assessing whether individuals meet UK-specific sifting criteria. The final decision on whom to accept from will be for the UK. We are at the early stages of working out how the resettlement programme will come into effect, but I hope that that gives my hon. Friend some idea of how we see it working.
Mrs. Gillan: I thank the Minister for her assurances on both the secondment and the point raised by NACAB. Far be it from me to make any spending commitments for the official Opposition, but I am extremely pleased that she is taking a grip on the finances of the potential projects. There is no doubt that investing in advance will save both money in the long term and human misery by ensuring that, as she said earlier, people are taken out of the hands of traffickers.
Will she ensure that the Opposition are aware at an early stage of any discussions on the expansion of the projects? We all take a great deal of interest in the matters, irrespective of our political party. I am pleased with what the Minister had to say and hope that she is successful in her negotiations to get suitable investment.
Mr. Barker: I am particularly pleased to see arrangements that allow the Secretary of State to assist with the settlement of migrants both in the
Column Number: 230United Kingdom and elsewhere. Many people who come to the UK are in a winner-takes-all lottery. Either they are allowed to remain in the United Kingdom with the long-term potential to apply for citizenship and all the benefits that that brings, or they face the prospect of being turned out of the country and perhaps sent back to socially or economically unsettled parts of the world.
Despite the fact that we have spent most of our time in Committee discussing arrangements for the people who stay in the United Kingdom, the reality is that, according the latest figures, 78 per cent. of asylum seekers are not given leave to remain. We do a great injustice if we do not focus on the ultimate destination and fate of the vast majority of people who enter this country, which is not to remain here. We need to make far more provision for such asylum seekers, who are the vast majority of the total, to enjoy quality of life, even if they do not remain in the UK. We need to ensure that there are proper counselling facilities in accommodation centres, for example, to prepare people for returning to their country of origin or elsewhere and that proper welfare provision is made for them and their dependants to handle that transition properly, so that we do not just push them through a rough sorting process that allows the lucky ones to stay and turns everyone else out. A more equitable system that looks after the interests of all asylum seekers, whether they remain here or are returned elsewhere, may also prevent the current situation of so many people disappearing from accommodation centres or other places.
Mr. David Lammy (Tottenham): It is wonderful to hear a younger occupant of the Conservative Back Benches speak in such inclusive terms about asylum seekers and refugees. When the hon. Gentleman says that he would like greater provision for those asylum seekers, whether they stay here or leave the country, does he see the Government as sole providers of such help or is he thinking in terms of an EU initiative or another wider scheme?
Mr. Barker: I am sure that any international co-operation, whether through the EU, the Department for International Development or the United Nations, would have a greater chance of being more effective. However, international co-operation must not diminish our national responsibility to ensure that people coming into the country are resettledówe know that 78 per cent. of them will not stay here. Despite all the modifications to the system that we have discussed, no one anticipates that they will lead to a step change in the numbers ultimately able to stay in the country. The numbers included in a resettlement programme are tiny compared with the overall number of people trying to enter the country and a much broader, holistic solution that looks at the welfare and eventual destination of people coming here is to be welcomed. If the clause enhances a Secretary of State's ability to do that, whether through financial payments or provision of care through longer-term assessment of the needs of asylum seekers, that is also to be welcomed.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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