HC Deb 14 October 1991 vol 196 c16
34. Mr. Fraser

To ask the Attorney-General if it is still intended to remove the provision of legal advice and assistance from seekers of political asylum and from immigration cases.

The Solicitor-General

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the statement of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 2 July. Home Office Ministers are arranging discussions with the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service at the moment. My right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor has made it quite clear that there will be no change to the present arrangements unless and until satisfactory alternative arrangements are in place.

Mr. Fraser

Does it strike the Solicitor-General as very odd that a Government who pretend to the virtues of individuality and freedom should be proposing a state-funded monopoly of advice to refugees which is run by an organisation which does not want the job and to the universal condemnation of those who have commented on the matter and with the purpose of avoiding Britain's international obligations under an international convention? In view of statements by the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service, will the Government now drop that disgraceful proposal?

The Solicitor-General

The hon. Gentleman heavily overstates his case and therefore spoils it. As up to 50,000 possible cases have to be dealt with in a year, it is widely recognised—and it is certainly recognised by UK IAS—that there is a strong case for a specialist agency in the area, whether or not it has a monopoly. Constructive discussions are in process which will help to show the way forward. To deal with such a large number of cases without building up a specialist service is unlikely to provide the best results for those who need that service.