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8 July 2010 : Column 5P


Thursday 8 July 2010


Home Department

Asylum Screening (Croydon)

The Petition of the people of Croydon,

Declares that the decision to make Croydon's Asylum Screening Unit the only such in-land unit could result in an additional 3,650 asylum seekers coming to Croydon each year, and that this will take a financial toll on local services.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to bring in a Bill to ensure that the costs of implementing and running this policy are met from central funds.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. -[Presented by Mr Andrew Pelling , Official Report, 30 March 2010; Vol. 508, c. 788 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for the Home Department:

On 14 October 2009, the Asylum Screening Unit (ASU) in Croydon became the national site for anyone wishing to make an in-country application for asylum in the United Kingdom. The UK Border Agency planned for this change and took steps to lessen the initial impact on Croydon including arranging for unaccompanied children presenting at Liverpool to continue to be screened there and be the responsibility of Liverpool City Council until April 2010. Unaccompanied children can still be screened outside of Croydon as vulnerable groups can be dealt with in the regions under UKBA policy.

Since 14 October, the UK Border Agency has continued to monitor the number of people submitting an initial asylum application in Croydon to ensure that the levels remain consistent with those anticipated and to ensure that there has been no adverse impact on the area and local services. In fact, asylum intake remains low and there has been no sustained increase in the number of adult or unaccompanied asylum seeking children wishing to make an asylum application in Croydon. The average monthly intake remains steady and Croydon ASU is functioning well in its new role.

An appointment system has been introduced to ensure that the flow of people into the ASU, and so into
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Croydon itself, is managed effectively and with a minimum of disruption for applicant and resident alike. Most importantly, the existing policy of dispersal remains a key part of the process. This means that all those who make their application in Croydon, and who do not already have an address in the UK, are dispersed away from Croydon to areas of the UK where there is accommodation for them.

The Government do not, therefore, consider it necessary to introduce funding changes based on Croydon becoming the single site screening centre. The UK Border Agency will, of course, continue to monitor the number of initial asylum applications being made at the ASU in Croydon.

Student Visas

The Petition of residents of Cambridge (English UK & EFL Organisations),

Declares that the current review of the Tier 4 points based system for Student Visas may result in many fewer legitimate students travelling to the UK to learn English. Further declares that this will lead to the closure of many language schools and reduce the number of foreign students that go into higher education in the United Kingdom.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government whilst recognising the importance of Immigration Control to proceed in a way that does not disadvantage English language schools

And the Petitioners remain, etc. -[Official Report, 8 April 2010; Vol. 508, c. 48P.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for the Home Department:

As set out in "The Coalition: our programme for government", we will introduce new measures to minimise abuse of the immigration system, including via student routes. This Government are committed to attracting the brightest and the best students to the United Kingdom and we are determined to encourage legitimate students to come to here to study, whether under Tier 4, the student tier of the Points Based System (PBS), or via the student visitor category.

We cannot ignore the fact the English language industry contributes millions of pounds to Britain's economy every year, but nor can we ignore the risk posed by those economic migrants who seek to exploit Tier 4.

We are, however, making it a priority to strengthen the student tier of the PBS to ensure that it is not open to abuse and we will make sure that any future changes address the risk of abuse in a balanced and targeted manner.

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