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Lord Avebury: I am interested in knowing about the 55 per cent of people who spend less than two months in detention. Quite a proportion of those would therefore spend less than 28 days in detention. The Minister earlier referred to the number of places occupied by people who are detained for less than a week, so from a number which is much smaller than 4,000 how does he arrive at the vast figure of 36,000 bail applications? Many of those people in detention will not have time to apply for one of the automatic bail hearings, let alone for both of them.
Lord Filkin: I shall enjoy exploring and debating the statistics with the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, in detail subsequently rather than at this point in time. However, the position stands that an expansion of a detention estate to 4,000 would very considerably expand the number of hearings. Currently, we are dealing with a smaller number, but I shall be pleased to exchange correspondence with the noble Lord on that matter if it would be of interest to him.
The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, gave examples of cases which had gone wrong, perhaps even seriously wrong. I invite noble Lords to bring such cases to my attention. I do not say that by doing so they will for one second reverse a wrong that may have happened, but it will inform me and add weight to their challenge about the importance of ensuring that people should know that they have a right to apply for bail in law. I should therefore be grateful if both noble Lords would provide me with that information. I give an undertaking to examine it and investigate such cases and to reflect on any implications for the Bill.
The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, mentioned the ECHR. Article 5.4 does not require a right to apply for bail. The requirements of Article 5 are satisfied by the ability of a detainee to apply for judicial review, or habeas corpus, to challenge the lawfulness of his detention. Notwithstanding that, I do not dilute in any way what I have been saying about the importance of allowing people to have access to bail if they so wish.
I hope that that is helpful to the Committee in terms of setting out the Government's thinking. We recognise the challenge of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, that at times governments have to make changes in policy or process because their perception or scale of the problem changes. This is one such example.
Lord Dholakia: I welcome the idea of producing a leaflet to be given to people setting out their rights in terms of bail. However, perhaps I may make a plea. Will the Minister ensure that all the non-governmental organisations working in the immigration field are consulted on that leaflet and that it will be in simple language which people can understand? Many people coming to this country will not understand the bail provisions in their own home country, and ours must be explained in simple language rather than in the legal jargon which often accompanies such statements.
Lord Filkin: Yes, I am happy to agree to both suggestions and will so do.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I thank all Members of the Committee who have spoken on this complex issue and I welcome the Minister's statement that the Government are planning to publish a leaflet giving proper information. We hope that we may be able to see that before we come to later stages of the Bill.
This is a complex issue. I shall look carefully at what the Minister said in Hansard. I believe that he has taken us further forward than his colleague in another place. However, I bear in mind what my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour said. It is important that people who come to this country seeking asylum gain the right impression of our justice system. At this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
[Amendments Nos. 173ZZA and 173ZA not moved.]
Clause 58 [Reporting restrictions: travel expenses]:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 173A:
The noble Baroness said: In rising to move Amendment No. 173A, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 174 standing in my name. Clause 58 provides that the Secretary of State may meet the reasonable travelling costs of those supported asylum seekers who are required to travel as directed under the power given to the Secretary of State in Clause 44. That clause provides a power for the Secretary of State to link the provision of support with the requirement to report to the police or to an immigration officer.
If the power were not given to the Secretary of State, the asylum seeker would have to meet the travel expenses out of his existing subsistence payments.
My amendment will ensure that the Secretary of State "shall" meet the reasonable travelling expenses in those circumstances. That appears to be common sense. If the Government say that the requirement is too harsh on the Secretary of State, they must reflect upon the fact that we are talking about only reasonable travelling expenses. That will be for the Secretary of State to determine, so the asylum seeker is hardly likely to have a chance to exploit those expenses for his own purposes.
Amendment No. 174 is a probing amendment. Its purpose is to require the Secretary of State to pay the travelling expenses of an asylum seeker within a reasonable period. I have tabled the amendment to ask the Government what they believe good practice will be. How long do they expect asylum seekers to wait before the payments are made? I beg to move.
Lord Dholakia: We on these Benches support the amendment. I am delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has identified the need to meet some of the costs incurred by people making applications.
Lord Hylton: I support both amendments. The so-called probing amendment appears to be just as important as the amendment moved. The amendments relate to reporting restrictions and therefore may provide the Minister with an opportunity to respond to my earlier suggestion that daily reporting by parents, who with their children would otherwise be detained, needs urgent consideration.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I understand the concerns of the noble Baroness and those noble Lords who have added their names to the amendment. Until recently, those required to report were in the main expected to attend their local police station butand I am sure that all noble Lords involved in the Bill will acknowledge thisit was recognised that such reporting does not come within the core work expected of police officers. The Government felt it appropriate to put in place alternative arrangements so that the reporting obligation could be taken away from the police and focused on the Immigration Service. It makes more sense for those required to report to be seen by an immigration official rather than a police officer. That is why we are establishing a network of reporting centres.
The opening of reporting centres has meant that, in some cases, people have to travel a far longer distance in order to reportthere are fewer reporting centres than police stations. To address the concerns that some of those required to report, such as supported asylum seekers, would be unable to meet the costs of
We see no reason to meet the costs of travel in every case where a person is required to report. Perhaps it is that which separates the two sides of the argument. However, we have argued on previous occasions that some asylum seekersnot all by any meanswill be able to fund the cost of travel themselves, while others will be required to report to a centre within reasonable walking distance of their home. Thus it will not be the case that in every instance an asylum seeker will incur costs or be without the means to pay the reasonable costs of travel.
For that reason, the term "may" has been used in the Bill. We wish to retain a measure of flexibility so that we do not have to refund every claim for travel costs. Not in every case will costs be incurred.
I hope that I shall also be able to reassure the Committee that Amendment No. 174 is unnecessary, although I accept that it is a probing amendment. While the Immigration and Nationality Directorate has yet to issue precise instructions, it seems likely that when asylum seekers leave the induction centre, they will be issued with a warrant to enable them to travel to the reporting centre when required. When asylum seekers comply with this requirement, they will be given a further date for attendance and at the same time issued with a warrant to enable them to travel to the centre.
I accept that some of those required to report will not have been required to go through the induction process. In those cases I am sure that arrangements can be put in place to enable the costs of travel to be reimbursed. Once the first visit has been made, they will be given a further date for attendance and at that stage can be given a warrant to enable them to travel.
For those reasons I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
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