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LORDS AMENDMENTS

25After Clause 22, insert the following new clause—
"Length of stay: family with children (1) The Secretary of State may make regulations requiring him to consider whether accommodation should be provided for a person and his dependants outside an accommodation centre under a provision of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (c. 33) where—


(a) they have been residents of an accommodation centre for a continuous period of time specified in the regulations, and
(b) at least one of the dependants is under 17. (2)The Secretary of State may make regulations requiring him to provide accommodation for a person and his dependants outside an accommodation centre under a provision of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (c. 33) where—


(a) they have been residents of an accommodation centre for a continuous period of time specified in the regulations,
(b) at least one of the dependants is under 17, and
(c) the person requests that he and his dependants be provided with accommodation outside an accommodation centre. (3) Regulations under subsection (1) must provide that where paragraphs (a) and (b) of that subsection apply to a person and his dependants, the Secretary of State must consult the person in the course of the consideration required by that subsection.


    (4) Regulations under subsection (2) must provide that where paragraphs (a) and (b) of that subsection apply to a person and his dependants, the Secretary of State must give the person an opportunity to make a request of the kind referred to in paragraph (c).


    (5) Where the Secretary of State provides accommodation outside an accommodation centre in pursuance of regulations under this section he shall take any necessary steps to ensure that residence in the accommodation provided does not breach a residence restriction within the meaning of section 21.


    (6) The Secretary of State may inquire into and decide a person's age for the purpose of regulations under this section.


    (7) Section 45 is subject to regulations under this section."


    The Commons disagreed to Lords Amendment No. 25 but propose Amendments Nos. 19A and 19B in lieu thereof.

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26Insert the following new clause—
"Length of stay: general (1) The Secretary of State may make regulations requiring him to provide accommodation for a person outside an accommodation centre under a provision of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (c. 33) where the person—


(a) has been a resident of an accommodation centre for a continuous period of time specified in the regulations, and
(b) requests the provision of accommodation outside an accommodation centre. (2) Regulations under subsection (1) must provide that where paragraph (a) of that subsection applies to a person the Secretary of State must give him an opportunity to make a request of the kind referred to in paragraph (b).


    (3) Where the Secretary of State provides accommodation outside an accommodation centre in pursuance of regulations under subsection (1) he shall take any necessary steps to ensure that residence in the accommodation provided does not breach a residence restriction within the meaning of section 21.


    (4) Section 45 is subject to regulations under this section."


    The Commons disagreed to Lords Amendment No. 26 but propose Amendments Nos. 19A and 19B in lieu thereof.

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on their Amendments Nos. 25 and 26 to which the Commons have disagreed. I spoke to these amendments when dealing with Amendment No. 19.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendments Nos. 25 and 26 to which the Commons have disagreed—(Lord Filkin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

28Clause 26, page 13, line 28, at end insert—

"( ) The Secretary of State may arrange for the provision of facilities in an accommodation centre for the use of a person in providing legal advice to a resident of the centre; and must provide a resident of an accommodation centre with access to legal advice from suitably qualified advisors."


    The Commons agreed to this amendment with the following amendments—


28ALine 4, leave out from "centre;" to end of line 5
28BLine 5, at end insert— "( ) The Secretary of State shall take reasonable steps to ensure that a resident of an accommodation centre has an opportunity to obtain legal advice before any appointment made by an immigration officer or an official of the Secretary of State for the purpose of obtaining information from the resident to be used in determining his claim for asylum."

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 28A and 28B to Lords Amendment No. 28.

Debates during the passage of the Bill have focused strongly on access to early legal advice as an important part of a swift and fair initial decision-making system that would reduce the scope for delay. During debate we have also made clear that residents would have access to legal advice and that, as part of the managed process that we will bring to accommodation centres, residents would be able to see a legal adviser prior to their initial asylum interview. Our commitment to this has always been clear.

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To confirm and deliver on this commitment, the amendment, in response to representations made at the previous stage of the Bill, requires the Secretary of State to take reasonable steps to ensure that a resident has an opportunity to obtain legal advice before the initial substantive asylum interview. This addresses clearly the points made by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, when the amendment was introduced; it focuses clearly on the initial stage. The asylum seeker will arrive at the accommodation centre knowing the date of the substantive asylum interview and will be able to see the legal adviser at the accommodation centre before this, assuming that he or she wishes to do so.

Let me explain what we mean by "reasonable steps". We are all agreed that we want to cut out opportunities for delay, so we need to ensure that an amendment does not inadvertently allow a person to disrupt the system by failing to turn up for interview. We spoke about this on a number of occasions. I do not believe that noble Lords want to create opportunities for delay. The amendment as introduced in this House would, we believe, lead to the risk of challenge by persons who deliberately missed their interview with the legal adviser and then sought to delay their substantive asylum interview as a result. Because we do not want that to happen, what we have introduced makes our obligations clear—the Secretary of State must take reasonable steps to ensure that a resident has an opportunity to obtain legal advice.

Oliver Letwin accepted in another place that it was the best he could persuade the Government to provide. Half a crumb is better than none, and it was accepted and received with gratitude.

The amendment to the Motion that the House do agree with the Commons tabled today by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, seeks to add to the amendments. In particular, it seeks to require the Secretary of State to ensure that a resident has a reasonable opportunity to obtain and consider legal advice and has a reasonable opportunity to have an adviser present at the appointment. Genuinely, I do not believe that takes us any further. It is not clear to me what,


    "a reasonable opportunity to . . . consider legal advice",

might mean in practice. Again, I would have concerns that a resident would be able to use that to delay the substantive interview—if, for example, he claimed to need more time to consider the advice. It will of course be open to advisers not to attend the interview with the resident. We do not want to discourage this, but nor would we want to insist on this in case it caused further delay.

The second part of the amendment deals with the quality of advisers. We are also agreed that the quality of legal advice must be guaranteed. All solicitors and advice agencies holding contracts with the Legal Services Commission are checked to ensure that they meet certain standards and provide a quality service. The Community Legal Service logo is a special mark of quality to affirm that. To provide advice on

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immigration and asylum matters, solicitors and advice agencies must have a contract in that specific category. The legal advice available must be independent; otherwise the quality mark will not be awarded. So we do not believe that there is any need for that part of the amendment.

I hope that the House recognises that we have made substantial movement towards acknowledging the representations made by noble Lords—particularly the noble Earl, Lord Russell—at previous stages. For those reasons, we do not think that further amendments are necessary, but we have accepted the thrust of the noble Earl's previous representations and have been pleased to do so.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 28A and 28B to Lords Amendment No. 28.—(Lord Filkin.)

Earl Russell rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 28A and 28B to Lords Amendment No. 28, leave out "Amendments Nos. 28A and 28B to Lords Amendment No. 28" and insert "Amendment No. 28A but do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 28B and do propose the following amendment in lieu thereof:


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