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Pharmaceutical Labelling (Warning of cognitive Function Impairment)

Mr. Andrew Dismore accordingly presented a Bill to make provision for a warning symbol to be prominently displayed on the packaging of pharmaceuticals which act on the brain and central nervous system so as to impair dangerously the consumer's ability to carry out certain activities; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 12 May 2006, and to be printed [Bill 39].

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Orders of the Day

Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill

[Relevant documents: Fifth Report from the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Session 2004–05, HC 276-I, on Legal aid: asylum appeals, and the Government reply thereto, Cm 6597, and Second Report from the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Session 2003–04,HC 211-I, on Asylum and Immigration Appeals, and the Government reply thereto, Cm 6236.]

Order for Second Reading read.

4.25 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill covers the aspects of the Government's five-year strategy on asylum and immigration, which was published last February, that require primary legislation. The purpose of the strategy is to make migration work for Britain. It includes measures to make our immigration system simpler, clearer and more robust. The reformed system will explain publicly and clearly who we will admit to the UK and why, and who we will allow to stay in the UK and why. It will also show that we enforce the rules rigorously in every respect.

The UK needs economic migration. We welcome people who migrate here to work and study—they are an essential part of our society and economy. Anyone who looks back over the recent years and decades will be able to give testimony to the major contribution that they have made to the life of this country. We need migration to fill the gaps in our labour market that cannot be filled from the domestic work force. Of course, the Government will continue to welcome people who are genuinely fleeing persecution. However, as we do so we will not—and cannot—tolerate abuse of the system. That explains why the five-year strategy contains four major work streams, in each of which we work with a range of other countries to improve the effectiveness of our system.

Mr. Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): Has the Secretary of State considered carefully the interaction of the Bill with legal aid provisions and the warning of the Select Committee on Constitutional Affairs that lawyers deciding whether applicants face possible human rights concerns if deported should not have to gamble on funding decisions? Bearing in mind that the Government are sending people back to Zimbabwe and have been subject to challenge in the High Court on these matters, does he not realise what a chill that message sends through those who are concerned about the safety of those people?

Mr. Clarke: Yes, we have considered those relationships. The Bill deals with some of those matters and the Lord Chancellor has made proposals in the other place on legal aid. He will continue to examine carefully the general aspects that the right hon. Gentleman raises. However, I hope that he agrees that it is important for legal aid resources to be focused on the people who most need them—the very people whom he described in his example. That is the purpose and intention of the Lord Chancellor's proposals.
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Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): May I ask my right hon. Friend about another aspect of legal intervention, namely, the way in which solicitors batten on to immigrants in this country who have legal problems? They charge money even for applications and then botch cases. I heard of a case this very afternoon involving the appalling Thornhills company in Manchester, which has botched cases so that they have to come to Members of Parliament anyway. Will my   right hon. Friend make solicitors involved in immigration matters registrable in the same way in which advisers are?

Mr. Clarke: My right hon. Friend is completely correct, so perhaps I can take this opportunity publicly to urge Members to let the Home Office know if they are aware of people who behave in the way in which he describes so that those cases can be dealt with. We set out in our five-year strategy specific proposals to deal with the problem because the sad fact is that a number of decent people are essentially taken in by fraudulent practitioners. That process is misleading and causes despair—it is simply a money scam in a wide variety of different ways. I take what my right hon. Friend says seriously and invite colleagues to communicate to us cases that need to be addressed, as he did in his intervention.

Mr. Jim Cunningham (Coventry, South) (Lab): As my right hon. Friend progresses through his speech, will he address the problem of foreign students and the right of appeal? I am sure that he is well aware that universities are worried about that.

Mr. Clarke: My hon. Friend is correct that there are concerns. I hope that he will forgive me if I address that matter later in my speech.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): The Home Secretary should be aware that the proposed replacement of indefinite leave to remain with the right to remain for a period of five years, subject to revocation by his Department at any time, is of considerable concern. Further to the pertinent intervention of the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), may I put it to the Home Secretary that the Aegis Trust, which is properly concerned with the genocide in Darfur, is horrified by the number of cases of asylum seekers from Darfur whom the Home Office judges it safe to return to Khartoum? That displays a truly staggering ignorance of the sinister character of the state apparatus in Sudan.

Mr. Clarke: With great respect, the fact is that these are difficult issues. The Home Office is advised, as we rightly should be, by the Foreign Office about the conditions in any given country, whether it is Sudan, as the hon. Gentleman describes, or Zimbabwe, to which the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) referred. The principle, which must be right, is that we look at the circumstances of the individual and take those into account in the judgment process. I acknowledge that they are difficult judgments. I also pay tribute to the work of various non-governmental organisations that work in those areas. We talk to them—not all of which agree with us on every point, of course—about the right way to deal with the problem.
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Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon) (LD): I listened to what the Home Secretary said about the need to consider individual circumstances. He will remember that recently he said in response to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Steve McCabe) that all Members' representations in asylum cases will be looked at carefully. Yet as I understand it, Mr. Absolom Mashamba, featured in The Times this morning, has been moved from Campsfield house to Heathrow for deportation to Harare tonight, despite the fact that his case has appeared in a British national newspaper and that I gave detailed representation to the Home Secretary's ministerial colleague last Friday. I have heard nothing back. Even if I receive something this afternoon, there is no opportunity for me to make further representations on the basis of that. Will the Home Secretary assure me that he will stop the removal tonight so that further legal action can be taken by that man, who has been on hunger strike for 10 days?

Mr. Clarke rose—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, I remind the House that we are talking about the Bill. We should not use it as a peg to deal with individual cases that are under consideration.

Mr. Clarke: I hear your injunction, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and will proceed with what I have to say about the Bill. However, the hon. Gentleman's representations were considered, as was my commitment to the House. I am not going to comment in detail on individual cases, but the issues are as I set out. Every individual case, including representations from Members, will be carefully considered.

The approach taken in the five-year strategy was to identify four major streams of work. First, we wanted to establish a single points system for those coming to the UK to work or study. That would be designed to ensure that we target those workers that the UK most needs, that we simplify the current system so that it is easier for employers and applicants to use and for the public to understand, and that we make it more robust against abuse. That will be accompanied by measures to tighten our rules for permanent settlement and to simplify the appeals system. We will consult before the summer on what the new system might look like, but the legal measures needed in primary legislation to deal with that are covered in clauses 1 to 10 and 42 to 44.

The second aspect to the strategy is that the Government are introducing a new asylum process, building on the major successes that we have had in reducing abuse of the system and speeding up the treatment of applications. The reduced asylum intake will enable us to fast-track almost all new cases and to maintain contact with asylum seekers at key points in the process, so that we are in a better position to remove individuals whose claims are not justified. The new process will be simpler and more effective for genuine refugees and it is complemented by a new strategy of refugee integration, which we published in March this year. Most of this part of our proposals will be dealt with by changes to administrative processes and by changes to the immigration rules through secondary legislation. Clause 38 develops our strategy of refugee integration effectively.
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The third part of our proposals establishes a fully integrated immigration control that is intelligence-led and uses new technology to check people before they depart for the UK, on arrival, while they are here and on departure from the UK. By 2008, we will fingerprint all visa applicants, who will have their details checked before they can board aircraft for the UK under the e-borders programme. Identity cards will help us to ensure that people do not work illegally or fraudulently claim access to services and benefits. We will check people out of the UK so that we know who has overstayed. Those checks will be supported by measures to crack down on employers of illegal workers and by closer working with the airlines to deal with individuals who use forged documents or who destroy them en route. Those measures are a major part of the Bill and are dealt with in clauses 11 to 36.

Finally, we want to make a major new effort to increase the removal of failed asylum seekers. We will use £30 million of savings from the asylum budget to recruit 500 new front-line staff and we will continue our efforts to reach more agreements with major source countries on returns, building on the considerable successes that we have already achieved. That will help us, by the end of the year, to return more failed asylum seekers than there are new unsuccessful claims. We will achieve all of that through international co-operation—not through fortress Britain—with our European Union partners during the UK presidency by working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and by developing partnerships with major source and transit countries for immigration. Clauses 39 to 40 cover those measures.

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