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Lord Filkin: My Lords, I will give an illustration of where that might be possible using one of the two clauses we are seeking to introduce into the Bill; that relating to families with children. It would allow us in future, if we thought it possible, to reduce the six-month and the three-month period. It would be good if that were possible.

The amendment we have tabled today would allow us, for example, to recognise that were there to be an accommodation centre for young single men we could bring in a time limit of six months if it appeared that most cases could be dealt with through the two appeal processes in that time period. In such a circumstance, if that were possible it might be sensible to do that.

A third way might be to try to put pressure on a particular accommodation centre which appeared to be slower than we thought necessary. Those are different kinds of circumstances in which time limits could be used. I am not saying at this point how and when we would use them, but it is right to have the power in the Bill to do so in order to respond to the good arguments made by Members in other parts of the House during earlier stages of the Bill.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. The fundamental difference of opinion remains on this matter. I do not want to rehearse all the arguments which have been made at every stage of the Bill but I want to draw his attention to our amendment. It clearly states,

There could be circumstances, identified from time to time, in which the period could be longer.

It is reasonable to release people after four months in accommodation centres and for them then to appear wherever the hearings are taking place. I see no problem or difficulty with that. We debated similar issues—for instance, the size and location of accommodation centres—and at every stage of the Government's argument they have been talking about firmer—

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. The amendment as tabled by the Opposition parties would mean that someone in an accommodation centre who appealed to the IAA—it is the first stage of the appeal process and its current practice rules would not be able to hear the case within four months—would have to leave the accommodation centre whether he wished to or not. Our interpretation of the amendment is that that would not be an exceptional circumstance of someone

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whose hearing had not been held in that period: that would be an extremely common circumstance. Therefore, under that provision we would not be able to give the discretion even to allow him to stay in the centre, even though he wished to do so. That appears to us to be harsh and punitive.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. Perhaps I may say that if I were the one in the accommodation centre, I would much rather leave at the end of four months and deal with my application from outside rather than in six months or whatever time limit he has in mind.

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I am sorry, I might feel the same but we are not legislating for ourselves; we are legislating for a great variety of individuals whose tastes and values may differ.

Earl Russell: My Lords, is the Minister really telling the House that it is in exceptional circumstances that the Government keep their own time limits?

Lord Filkin: My Lords, no, I was not, and I am sure that if the noble Earl had given his customary attention to what I had said he would know I was not saying that.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: My Lords, the Minister, with his normal courtesy, has explained the Government's situation. I accept that our aim is the same on both sides; that is, to reduce the period of time taken in the hearing of applications for asylum and that the situation in the hearing centre should reduce that period. However, is he now saying that regrettably anyone who makes an application to an appeal of first decision will inevitably be unable to have an answer to his appeal within that four-month period?

Lord Filkin: My Lords, yes, I am because the Government, rightly, do not determine the practice rules of the courts. They are determined by the judiciary. Under those practice rules it is not possible, except in few circumstances, for that first appeal to be heard, let alone any subsequent appeal that he might wish to make.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I was trying to assist the Government because throughout the debate on immigration and asylum they have spoken of a firmer, faster and fairer service. I thought that this was a faster way of dealing with the matter but I do not believe that we shall agree on it. In the light of that, I wish to test the opinion of the House.

5.36 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?

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Their Lordships divided: Contents, 144; Not-Contents, 121.

Division No. 2


Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Butterworth, L.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chorley, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Dahrendorf, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dundee, E.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Falkland, V.
Fearn, L.
Feldman, L.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Fowler, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Geraint, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goschen, V.
Greaves, L.
Guildford, Bp.
Hambro, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Richmond, B. [Teller]
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hooper, B.
Hooson, L.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Jacobs, L.
Jellicoe, E.
Jopling, L.
Kingsland, L.
Laird, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lichfield, Bp.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Liverpool, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Luke, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Methuen, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newby, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Onslow, E.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Parkinson, L.
Patten, L.
Peel, E.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Portsmouth, Bp.
Rawlings, B.
Razzall, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Saatchi, L.
Sandberg, L.
Sandwich, E.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tope, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walker of Worcester, L.
Walmsley, B.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wigoder, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Wolfson, L.


Acton, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fitt, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hylton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
Kilclooney, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Marsh, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Huyton, B.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Parekh, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Weatherill, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

31 Oct 2002 : Column 327

5.47 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 5:

    Page 10, line 38, at end insert "(which provision may, in particular, provide for an application not to be considered where the Secretary of State is not satisfied that the information provided is complete or accurate or that the applicant is co-operating with enquiries under paragraph (e))"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, these are minor technical amendments. Amendment No. 5 is consequential on Clause 56. It allows the Secretary of State, in deciding whether a person is eligible for support in an accommodation centre, to provide in regulations for an application for support not to be considered where he is not satisfied that the information provided is complete or accurate or that the applicant is co-operating with inquiries.

Amendments Nos. 6, 7, 12, 10, 11 and 13 are drafting amendments. They do not alter the effect of the provisions to which they relate; they merely ensure consistency and legal clarity.

Amendment No. 17 extends the definition of "local authority" in Clause 37 to make clear that Northern Ireland education and library boards are able to contract with the Home Office in respect of accommodation centres. We have no plans currently to site an accommodation centre in Northern Ireland, but the Bill aims to ensure that the provisions in Part 2 are workable across the United Kingdom for the sake of legislative coherence and completeness. I beg to move.

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