|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Filkin: My Lords, I am open to correction, but I am not aware that there is such a distinction. I shall take that question away to consider most carefully and write to the noble Baroness shortly. If the distinction that she advances exists, there is clearly an issue to which we must respond.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I am most grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken in support of my amendment. In response to the interesting point rightly advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, that some accommodation centres may not contain children, the problem is that the Government have decided to choose this "one size" policy for all accommodation centres and are not at present able to tell us exactly how many children there will be or whereor, indeed, whether there will be further accommodation centres and whether children will be in them. So we must adopt the same method as have the Government in approaching a "one size" policy.
Perhaps I may start with the good news for the Minister, which is that I am grateful to him for his comments on what are in fact my later amendments, commencing with those grouped with Amendment No. 28, when he referred to child protection policy within the centres. I hope that we shall soon reach Amendment No. 28; I am most grateful to him for his response, because that will enable me to be extremely brief indeed on those matters.
I must say that I am most disappointed with the Minister's response to Amendment No. 24. Perhaps there is still a straightforward difference of opinion between us. I respect his view, but I feel strongly and I wish to test the opinion of the House.
Lord Filkin: My Lords, before the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, sits down, perhaps I may respond to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, with further detail. Accommodation centres will mirror the protection available in the community. Teachers in accommodation centres will be subject to checks in exactly the same way as they would in a village school outside.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
The noble Earl said: My Lords, I thank the Minister for a remark that he made almost entirely without thinking and from which I drew considerable encouragement. He said that he wanted decision-making to be speeded up as fast as it properly may. I found the addition of the adverb extremely welcome. The quality of the first decision-making is crucial to the speeding up of the process, and legal advice is crucial to the speeding up of first decision-making.
I should explain that the wording of the amendment has been slightly altered in deference to a point made in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, whose advice on matters of drafting is practically always worth taking and always worth taking seriously.
Legal advice enables the courts or the adjudicator to address their mind properly to the questions under discussion and it may enable them to avoid some of the grosser errors which creep into the early stages of the process, leading to appeals, judicial review, re-hearings and letters to the Minister which I think the Minister will agree it is better to keep to a minimum if possible.
When, on 24th September, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, repeated the Prime Minister's Statement on Iraq, he asked us to read with great care the section of the report that dealt with human rights in Iraq. I have done so. It made my blood run cold. But the Home Office is still returning Kurds to northern Iraq on the grounds that it is safe. Any competent lawyer or legal adviser should be able to prevent that sort of thing from happening. It will save the Home Office as well as the applicant a great deal of trouble if it does. The poor quality of first decision-making is the first thing that must be addressed if the process is to be speeded up.
Perhaps I may quote from another adjudication, in June 2001, in the case of an applicant from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is quoted in the current newsletter of the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, of which I have the honour to be a patron. The adjudicator said:
One of my friends in another place told me recently that he observed my honourable friend Mr Hughes come into the Library carrying a pile of correspondence so big he could hardly lift it. When my friend asked Mr Hughes whether he was carrying his entire week's correspondence, he replied that it was half his weekly correspondence on asylum. That is the sort of situation that results for Members of all parties from there not being proper legal advice before the first decision. If we get the first decision right, we can get on with it and we will all be saved much trouble. I beg to move.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page