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Earl Russell: My Lords, I am most grateful but I hope that, before the Minister sits down, I may ask him a further question that I should have asked. Roughly what sort of length of notice will be given to the applicant of the date the interview is arranged for? The Minister said that applicants would be given reasonable notice. How long roughly would that be?

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Lord Filkin: My Lords, I say from recollection that when an asylum seeker is in an induction centre and a determination has been made that he will be given support in an accommodation centre, he will be told at the induction centre the date of the proposed interview in an accommodation centre. He therefore then has to move to the accommodation centre. I would expect that there will be at least a week between the date on which they were notified in the induction centre of when they will have their initial interview, and the initial interview taking place. If I am wrong—I am slightly on my own on this point at the moment—I shall write to the noble Earl. In fact, that is right.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister, who answered with great care and considerable thought. I accept that many of these issues may well affect the amount of time that should be allowed rather than that they will necessarily so affect it. That is the real world. I also hope that he accepts that when an interview is held without the applicant having received advice, one would want to be very certain that that was due to the applicant's acts of omission rather than to any failure on the Government's part. That is the point that should be monitored. The Minister's intentions in this regard are benevolent. It is important to all of our objectives that this should be got right.

I believe that the Minister has made a sincere and genuine attempt to do his best, which is all that any of us can do. I thank him warmly. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 28C, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

38Leave out Clause 31 The Commons disagreed to this amendment but proposed the following amendments to the words so restored to the Bill—


38APage 16, line 7, at end insert "(subject to section 32)"
38BPage 16, line 20, at end insert "(subject to section 32)"
38CPage 16, line 25, leave out "316(3)" and insert "316(2) and (3)"
38DPage 16, line 32, at end insert "(subject to section 32)"
38EPage 17, line 14, leave out "person" and insert "body"

[Amendment No. 38F not moved.]

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I beg to move that this House do not insist on their Amendment No. 38 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 38A to 38E to the words so restored to the Bill. I spoke to these amendments on Amendment No. 20.

Moved, That this House do not insist on their Amendment No. 38 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 38A to 38E to the words so restored to the Bill.—(Lord Filkin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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LORDS AMENDMENT

39Clause 32, leave out Clause 32 The Commons disagreed to this amendment but proposed the following amendment to the words so restored to the Bill—


39APage 17, line 29, at end insert "on the grounds that his special circumstances call for provision that can only or best be arranged by the authority"

[Amendment No. 39B not moved.]

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I beg to move that this House do not insist on their Amendment No. 39 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 39A to the words so restored to the Bill. I spoke to these amendments with Amendment No. 20.

Moved, That this House do not insist on their Amendment No. 39 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 39A to the words so restored to the Bill.—(Lord Filkin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

41Clause 33, page 18, line 27, at end insert—
"( ) section (Length of stay: family with children)," The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason—


41ABecause the amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 25 to which the Commons have disagreed.

LORDS AMENDMENT

42Page 18, leave out line 28 The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason—


42ABecause the amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 25 to which the Commons have disagreed.

LORDS AMENDMENT

44Page 18, line 35, after "section" insert "(Length of stay: family with children), (Length of stay: general) or" The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason—


44ABecause the amendment is consequential on Amendments Nos. 25 and 26 to which the Commons have disagreed.

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I beg to move that this House do not insist on their Amendments Nos. 41, 42 and 44 en bloc to which the Commons have disagreed for their reasons numbered 41A, 42A and 44A. I spoke to these amendments with Amendment No. 19.

Moved, That this House do not insist on their Amendments Nos. 41, 42 and 44 en bloc to which the Commons have disagreed for their reasons numbered 41A, 42A and 44A.—(Lord Filkin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

45After Clause 36, insert the following new clause—
"Disapplication of section (Consequential and incidental provision) in relation to Part 2
Section (Consequential and incidental provision) shall not apply to this Part."

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The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason—


45ABecause the power to make consequential and incidental provision should not be restricted in the manner proposed.

LORDS AMENDMENT

88After Clause 51, insert the following new clause—
"Disapplication of section (Consequential and incidental provision) in relation to Part 3
Section (Consequential and incidental provision) shall not apply to this Part." The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason—


88ABecause the power to make consequential and incidental provision should not be restricted in the manner proposed.

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I beg to move that this House do not insist on their Amendments Nos. 45 and 88 en bloc to which the Commons have disagreed for their reasons numbered 45A and 88A. I spoke to these amendments with Amendment No. 16.

Moved, That this House do not insist on their Amendments Nos. 45 and 88 en bloc to which the Commons have disagreed for their reasons numbered 45A and 88A.—(Lord Filkin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

99Clause 58, page 32, line 19, leave out "may" and insert "shall" The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason—


99ABecause it would alter the financial arrangements made by the Commons, and the Commons do not offer any further reason, trusting that this reason may be deemed sufficient.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that this House do not insist on their Amendment No. 99 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 99A.

It may be helpful if I explain the reasons for the Government's resistance to your Lordships' amendment; namely, the travel expenses incurred by those complying with a reporting restriction shall, as opposed to "may", as it was in the original power, be met. A duty to pay travelling costs in all cases would add unnecessarily to the overall costs to the taxpayer because there would be no control over whether it was reasonable to pay the costs in the first place or whether the travel cost claimed was at a reasonable level.

A duty to pay in all circumstances could lead to absurd results. For example, we would have a duty to pay the travel expenses of a person who lived within walking distance, even if he travelled by taxi or some other, perhaps more expensive, means of transport. Also, if there were a duty to pay in all circumstances, we would have to pay even if someone clearly had their own means to pay; for example, if a person was in employment.

Until recently, those required to report had to attend their local police station. That meant that the distance from a person's home to the place of reporting was reasonable and that the costs of travel, if any, were low. However, as a consequence of the Government's

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commitment to a more managed asylum process, asylum seekers are now more likely to be required to report to an immigration officer—perhaps at a reporting centre. We believe that that is more efficient. Immigration officers are clearly better placed to perform that service; they can make decisions based on the most up-to-date information; and they can give asylum seekers information about their claim.

The change also has the beneficial effect of allowing police officers to concentrate more on their core tasks of policing and catching criminals. In our view, police officers cannot and should not be expected to be able to provide the same service as immigration officers.

To allow for this provision, a number of reporting centres have been established and it is planned that more may open in the future. That is certainly our thinking. It is reasonable to expect asylum seekers who are seeking protection in the United Kingdom to comply with the asylum process, including a requirement to report. But we accept that for some—particularly asylum seekers in receipt of support—the costs of travel to comply with a reporting restriction may be prohibitive. It is in those cases that we intend to meet the costs of travel.

We have not previously provided for travel costs. Therefore, this is a new approach from the Government. If we were to go with the amendment and if this House were to insist on its original position, essentially we should be obliged to sign up to a very open-ended commitment. No government should do that; it is not the way that government should work. It would be a blank cheque. We believe that it would be very costly and we do not believe that that is the right approach.

Therefore, we cannot accept the amendment. We believe that we have put in place a reasonable, fair and flexible provision. The amendment is inflexible. It would place an absolute duty in all circumstances and we should be obliged to conform to that. We do not consider the amendment to be reasonable and we suggest to your Lordships that we should not support it.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 99 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 99A.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)


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