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Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I have listened carefully to what the noble Lord said. Will he consider further the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs? In the experience of many of us over the years, it is precisely the person who gets here through having been able to pay a substantial sum to somebody who can bring him who is most likely to be able to get people to put up a surety. It is the absolutely genuine asylum seeker, sometimes fleeing for his life and liberty, who will have neither money nor, in many cases, associates in this country. Indeed, in many ways, this is an instance in which he can show how genuine a refugee he is.

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I take that point and I understand it. However, there is a problem. If, in the judgment of the adjudicator—who, as the House well knows, is well distanced from and no part of the Home Office—there is a risk that the person, if bailed, would not present himself at the appropriate time, the adjudicator is entitled to require sureties and recognisances. If those cannot be provided and it is considered that there is a risk of non-presentation, the adjudicator will make the judgment in the light of those circumstances. I cannot see that the adjudicator can do much else in that situation.

I shall give a few figures that may help. On average, 84 per cent of bail grants were subject to surety conditions. It is not without conjecture that people are granted bail without any surety conditions.

In the light of what I have said and the discussions that I have had with the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, I hope that he feels able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, I was hoping to get on the record precisely what the Minister has said, which, as he mentioned, he embodied in a letter to me, which may have been placed in the Library of your Lordships' House, but which might not have reached a wider audience if he had not made the speech to which we have just listened.

The noble Lord, Lord Borrie, may be interested to know that on one occasion when I offered to stand bail for an asylum seeker—he happened to be one of those who sought refuge here after the Afghan aircraft hijack—the adjudicator asked for £11,000. He also

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wanted it in cash; he did not like the cheque that I sent in. I do not think that that was reasonable. Some adjudicators have laid it on pretty thick.

The Minister has made it clear that there are planned changes to the procedure rules. I hope that they can be carried out as quickly as possible. It was clear from the note that I read out that in the minds of some practitioners and adjudicators there was still a requirement that two sureties should be imposed and that that was what Rule 34 said. Perhaps if there was wider knowledge of the freedom of adjudicators not to ask for any sureties, the percentage would go up from the current 16 per cent mentioned by the Minister to something much higher. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, that adjudicators ought to be able to decide on the merits of the case whether a person is likely to comply with reporting conditions.

I can see that we are not going to make any further progress on the subject this evening. I should like the Minister to confirm—as he has done in conversations with me—that when he uses the word "any" it means that the adjudicator can refrain from asking for any sureties. He can ask for no sureties or one or two. The Minister is nodding. I mention that as a means of getting on the record the fact that he agrees with what I have just said. I hope this will encourage adjudicators not to demand sureties in many more cases and that we can get on with the changes in the procedure rules. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 62 [Induction]:

Lord Dholakia moved Amendment No. 48:

    Page 35, line 21, at end insert ", which programme shall include full access to independent advice"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of the amendment is to ensure that induction centres have access to independent advice. The matter was debated in Committee, when the Opposition tabled an amendment with the same words, except that it referred to legal advice. The Government argued that no steps would be taken in an asylum case that required legal advice at that stage. The noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, was rightly dissatisfied with that answer, because early access to legal advice can only facilitate the subsequent stages of the process. The amendment went to a vote and was lost.

This is a modest amendment. It is an attempt to find a position that would be in accord with what the Minister said in Committee. It also picks up on a suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, in a debate on access to legal advice in accommodation centres that people would also benefit from other types of advice.

The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, claimed at that stage:

    "The induction programme is not, however, part of the decision-making process".

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He said that how the decision-making process will work would be properly explained to people,

    "so that they can get access to good-quality legal advice before decisions are made. The induction programme opens up the system for them so that legal advice is available to them before a decision is made".

He also said:

    "I am sure that the induction process will be properly thought through and carefully designed and that people who are part of that process will be properly trained. Of course, it is not a question of applying pressure on people; it is about helping them through a process and ensuring that they understand it".—[Official Report, 17/7/02; cols. 1281-90.]

Those objectives can best be achieved by ensuring access to independent advice. The amendment would ensure that the induction process was fair. The independent advisor could advise on children's needs, make health referrals, explain the system, discuss doubts and fears and help the person find legal advice. The independent advice could be provided in the centre or near enough in the locality.

I hope the Minister will accept that this is a modest amendment. It is compatible with what the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, said in Committee. I hope that he has not changed his mind. The amendment is not much to ask. I beg to move.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, the amendment gives me the opportunity to ask the Government how many induction centres they foresee having and where they will be located. Will they be in accommodation centres? If they are not on the same site, will they at least be quite close? I look forward to the Minister's reply.

Lord Judd: My Lords, I support the amendment. If these unfortunate people are denied independent advice at any stage while they are in the United Kingdom before they are granted asylum—if they are to be granted asylum—we must ask why. I am sure that the Minister intends that everything should be above board—I genuinely mean that. If that is the case, it is logical that at any point in the proceedings, wherever they are and whatever is happening, they should be able to have access to that advice. For that reason it is very important that my noble friend the Minister takes the point seriously.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I support the idea in principle, but I do not think that it ought to be included in the Bill. I do not know what the Minister has in mind in this regard. I hope that in practice, where it is suitable, such independent legal advice will be given. However, I cannot see that it has any part to play in the Bill.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I shall briefly but firmly support the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, has described it as modest. He is being modest. It is certainly practical, pragmatic and important. I echo the noble Lord, Lord Judd, in asking

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what on earth would be gained by refusing a requirement that people must have access to independent advice.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, it is pleasant to have one's words quoted back at one. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, for rehearsing part of my argument from Committee. I want to make it plain that the Government have no intention of frustrating or preventing those seeking asylum from seeking independent legal advice. I pointed out in Committee that that is made clear in the White Paper in paragraph 4.36, which says:

    "While access to legal advice is not a pre-requisite to initial decision making, and should not hold up the decision-making process, the Government is committed to ensuring access to quality legal advice at that, and all later stages, for all asylum seekers whether or not they are in an Accommodation Centre".

I remind the House what happens in the induction programme. It is not part of the decision-making process. Let us be clear about that. At that stage no consideration will be given to the merits of an individual's asylum claim. The induction programme and process is aimed at giving asylum seekers information about the overall process and about their rights and responsibilities within that process. Our case is that at that stage there will be no need for legal advisers to be present when such information is being provided.

Information about legal advice will form an important part of the induction programme. Those seeking asylum will be advised on how they can best access legal advice and where it will be available. Before a person leaves the induction centre they will, for example, be given information about how they can access legal advice in the area in which they are likely to be living. They will also be given a date for when the interview on the substance of their asylum claim will be held. That will normally be two to three weeks from the date on which they leave the induction programme.

All asylum seekers will have the opportunity to discuss their claim before that interview if they wish. Applicants who spend longer in the induction centre will not be at a disadvantage compared with others since the timing of the substantive interview depends on when the person leaves the centre, not on when he or she arrives.

I entirely agree with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, that there is little point in imposing a requirement that legal advice be provided at that stage.

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7 p.m.

Earl Russell: My Lords, when the Minister talks about legal advice being a cause of delay, will he remember that the desire to avoid delay—

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