HC Deb 09 November 1999 vol 337 cc1004-35

Lords amendment: No. 1, after clause 3, to insert the following new clause—Accommodation for those temporarily admitted or released from detention—

(". The Secretary of State may provide, or arrange for the provision of, facilities for the accommodation of persons—

  1. (a) temporarily admitted to the United Kingdom under paragraph 21 of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act;
  2. (b) released from detention under that paragraph; or
  3. (c) released on bail from detention under any provision of the Immigration Acts. ")

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.—[Mr. Jamieson.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to take amendment (a) and Lords amendment No. 329.

Mr. Simon Hughes

I support amendment (a), which relates to an amendment first introduced in the House of Lords. I ask the House to pay attention to the debate as this issue was never raised when the Bill was on the Floor of this House.

The issue was not raised during the Bill's passage through the House and was mentioned for the first time when the legislation was on Report in the other place. To put it bluntly, the issue is whether we should introduce a new power of house arrest specifically for people who come to this country seeking asylum. Such people would have no convictions for any offence. They would be detained through no actions of their own. They would have no record of absconding. They would do nothing more than arrive on our shores. Should people who come to Britain thinking that we are the home of liberty be told that they may stay, but only on the condition that their liberty is restricted immediately?

There are two hugely important interrelated issues surrounding this new clause and the amendment that my hon. Friend and I have tabled. First, how do we justify detaining people in this country and how will we add new powers of detention? Secondly, how do we treat people who come to this country as refugees? How do we treat those who have decided that this is the place where they will seek sanctuary? What signals should we send? What is Britain's reputation in this area?

It is no coincidence that I can commend to hon. Members an article that appears on page 19 of today's edition of The Guardian—I shall refer to it only briefly. The article, entitled "Welcome them", is written by the director of the King's Fund, Rabbi Julia Neuberger, and is about refugees. She begins the article by relating her family's experience, and states: My mother, my uncle, one set of grandparents, and innumerable other relations, came to the UK as refugees from Hitler's Germany in the 1930s… That childhood made me realise something of what it is to be a refugee, to be torn from your home, to feel grateful for asylum, to think of 'home' as more than one place, to yearn for one's country of birth, despite one's resentment and anger at it, as one grows old. She continues: The devil is in the detail"— of the Bill that we are debating tonight— but refugees and asylum seekers have not always been a popular group. That is why it is essential that parliament takes a very close look at this bill, and distinguishes between measures designed to deter false asylum seekers and those which will have a harmful effect on genuine refugees, who have surely suffered enough already. Rabbi Neuberger concludes by making the point—which was mentioned across the House, in Committee and in another place—that Britain has gained hugely from people who have come here as refugees. Many of our great academic talents were refugees; many innovators in the field of science this century were refugees from Europe and from further afield. If we agree to the new clause introduced by the Government in the Lords without the amendment that my hon. Friend and I suggest, we risk putting off other refugees who may come to this country from the former Yugoslavia, the horn of Africa or elsewhere.

Current immigration laws are technical—and I hope that hon. Members will bear with me. In the other place, Ministers got into a terrible muddle describing what they were seeking to achieve. They introduced amendments on Report and agreed that it would be better to take amendment No. 1 first and to consider the consequential amendment to it in a later debate. Ministers then withdrew the second amendment and reintroduced it on Third Reading, pushing it through against the strong advice of a House of Lords Select Committee.

I turn now to what the Bill proposes. It adds to the existing powers in the Immigration Act 1971 which allow people to be detained. Paragraph 21 of schedule 2 of that Act says: A person liable to detention or detained under paragraph 16 above may, under the written authority of an immigration officer, be temporarily admitted to the United Kingdom without being detained or be released from detention; but this shall not prejudice a later exercise of the power to detain him. However, the paragraph continues: So long as a person is at large in the United Kingdom by virtue of this paragraph, he shall be subject to such restrictions as to residence"— and to employment or occupation— and as to reporting to the police or an immigration officer as may from time to time be notified to him in writing by an immigration officer. There are, therefore, existing powers under the 1971 Act.

The Government advise us that all that the Act allows by way of detention is that which is necessary to maintain contact and prevent absconding". However, that is never made clear in the Act or anywhere else. The Government have introduced a new clause in amendment No. 1, which says: The Secretary of State may provide, or arrange for the provision of, facilities for the— this is rather disingenuously put— accommodation of persons…temporarily admitted to the United Kingdom under paragraph 21…released from detention under that paragraph; or…released on bail from detention under any provision of the Immigration Acts. That clause does not reveal what is behind the proposal. One must look to Lords amendment No. 329, which amends schedule 13 of the Bill. It says: The provisions that may be included in restrictions as to residence imposed under sub-paragraph (2) include provisions of such a description as may be prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State. That points towards regulations to be laid in the future.

The amendment continues: The regulations may"— it does not say that they must— among other things, provide for the inclusion of provisions". That means that the regulations are not limited to those provisions, but they may include them. They may be provisions prohibiting residence in one or more particular areas", or requiring the person concerned to reside in accommodation provided under the relevant section of the Bill, and prohibiting him from being absent from that accommodation except in accordance with the restrictions imposed on him.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Paul Boateng)

It seems reasonable.

Mr. Hughes

The Minister says that it seems reasonable, but if Ministers are saying that it is reasonable to put newly arrived asylum seekers under house arrest for no reason other than that they have arrived here, the Government stand condemned by their own definition of what is reasonable. We cannot argue that the provisions are reasonable, and the Government should not argue that they are reasonable. The Select Committee in the House of Lords which considered the Bill certainly did not believe that the provisions were reasonable. Why, then, are they before us?

The Minister said that the aim of the provisions is to prevent potential public order problems". So we are going to lock up or put under house arrest asylum seekers to prevent public order problems. But who is likely to cause such problems? As I understand it, public order problems this summer have not, by and large, been caused by asylum seekers, but have stemmed from the reaction of others to asylum seekers. Public order problems are not often caused by people who arrive with their children from a country far away, with no money but with the hope that they will be received. They are caused by people who think that there may be an invasion behind asylum seekers. That is dangerous enough, but the Government say that the measure is necessary to allow full and rapid consideration of asylum seekers' claims and to enable rapid decisions to be taken, in days rather than weeks. For that, flexible provisions are needed.

10. 45 p My colleagues and I have tabled a simple amendment. We do not like the original amendment. We simply tried to get the House to recognise that if we are to introduce the measure, there should be a limit on the time for which it applies. All we are asking is that while his application is looked into, an asylum seeker with no previous record of offending and no previous visits to the United Kingdom should not be required, by regulations that we have not seen, to be under house arrest for more than 10 days. That should be long enough for someone to decide his status and how to deal with him.

Ministers were put on the defensive by peers in many corners of their lordships' House. I pay tribute to those from the Liberal Democrat Benches, including the Baroness Williams, the Lords Avebury and Goodhart—Lord Goodhart particularly, with his legal experience—and the Earl Russell. The Government said that the asylum seekers would be free to come and go, but on further exploration it turns out that that means free to come and go only during the day. At night they will be back at base, wherever base is, and in whatever form of detention will be decided for them.

Not only could asylum seekers be under detention at night, but—this is the real criticism—the power can continue indefinitely. The contributions of the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) and others in the previous debate are relevant. If we pass the amendment unaltered by our amendment, we shall give a power allowing people to be detained indefinitely, placed under house arrest indefinitely and restricted indefinitely, while their claims are processed. The hon. Lady knows, as do I and anyone who deals every day with immigration cases, that the promise that a claim will be dealt with quickly, even if the promise is made in a letter or a telephone call and sometimes even if it is made by a Minister, does not necessarily mean that the claim is dealt with quickly.

Colleagues in the other place tried to explore ways in which the amendment might be restricted. The Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation, which considered the proposal, said that it was a form of house arrest. That is the Select Committee's phrase; it is not a party political phrase. The Select Committee suggested that various amendments should be made by the Government. First, it suggested that the purpose of the restriction should be specified in the Bill—for example, that it is in the interests of public order. No purpose is specified in the Bill, which makes it a dangerously wide provision. Secondly, the Select Committee suggested that if the amendment is justified, it should be for a single purpose. There is no such restriction in the Bill. Thirdly, the Select Committee argued that the restrictions must be reasonable, and that that should be specifically stated. Nothing in the Bill provides that natural justice qualification.

The Government did make two concessions. They conceded that the measure would have to be compatible with article 3 of the European convention on human rights, and that a Minister would have to certify that it was compatible. However, imagine if someone is placed, we know not where, and told that he cannot go out at night and that he must stay there. Even after next autumn, when the European convention on human rights is part of English law, as my colleagues and I have wanted for many years, is it reasonable that it should be up to an asylum seeker to apply to the courts to rule whether he should be held?

Should that be the way in which we conduct our business? Should the assumption be that a newly arrived refugee should have to go to court to establish his rights? My colleagues and I think not. Although the Government have made concessions, enforcing the provision's human rights compatibility may be much more difficult than envisaged. It is sometimes difficult enough for hon. Members to enforce their rights. If we think that that will be easy for people arriving with no English, no money and no knowledge of British systems, we are deceiving ourselves.

Lords amendment No. 329 asks for regulations to be made by affirmative resolution. The Government have agreed and we welcome that.

Tonight, for the first time, we are being asked to consider a new clause and a new schedule. For the first time, we will introduce into British law a new form of specialised detention, different from the 1971 Act and different from all the other provisions

Mr. Bob Russell (Colchester)

A curfew.

Mr. Hughes

As my hon. Friend says, it will effectively be a curfew; a curfew for asylum seekers. It could be more than a curfew; it could restrict a person to specific accommodation for an indefinite period. I hope that the House will support the amendment to ensure that that period, if we have to have it, should be limited to a maximum of 10 days. I hope that the House will say that it is not enough for the Government to resist the amendment on the basis of what will happen if a person leaves the country after 10 days, only to return. The answer to that is that the 10 days will begin to run again.

I also hope that the House will say that it is not enough to trust the Government on legislation that has been introduced at the last moment and criticised by Select Committees, and which lacks adequate definition. The job of Parliament is to make sure that we get the law right rather than trust the Government. It will be too late when people discover that, as from tomorrow, Britain has new detention powers, new curfews and new powers of house arrest. I hope that the Government accept the amendment.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mrs. Barbara Roche)

It might be for the convenience of the House if I say that I shall accept the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) to Lords amendment No. 139, to which we shall come later.

I start on a note of agreement with the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). Much of what he said was completely wrong, and I shall seek to convince him and the House of the error of his ways, but he is right to talk of Britain's proud history of accepting genuine asylum seekers; of granting refugees that status. He is also right to talk about the enormous contribution, not only over the years but over a vast period, that refugees have made to Britain's public, social and economic life.

But nothing is more devaluing than the rise in the number of applications that are completely ill-founded. Like me, the hon. Gentleman is a London Member of Parliament, and we are well aware of the situation. The greatest enemy of the genuine asylum seeker is the unfounded application.

The purpose of their lordship's amendments, taken together, is to provide a power to extend by regulation the residence conditions which may be imposed when those seeking leave to enter or remain in Britain are given temporary admission. As the House will be aware—we discussed this at length earlier today—there has been a substantial increase in asylum applications at our ports and in-country. The average number of applications each month from July to September was nearly 7,000, about 60 per cent. higher than for the same period in 1998. The majority of those applications—about two thirds—will not qualify for refugee status or exceptional leave to remain. A number of those refused will have made claims that are manifestly unfounded. We believe that, subject to providing full opportunity to examine the individual circumstances of each case, action is needed to ensure that such claims are resolved more quickly. If there is a point on which every Member of the House is absolutely agreed this evening, it is that we have to speed up the system. We have to take that challenge on board.

Mr. Gerrard

If facilities are to be used by people whose asylum claims are manifestly unfounded, and if they may be expected to live at such facilities from the moment that they make an application, who will judge whether a claim is manifestly unfounded and on what basis will such a judgment be made?

Mrs. Roche

I think that my hon. Friend is talking about the reception centre that we shall establish in the new year. I shall come on to that. Since taking on my new ministerial responsibilities, I have spent a long time at our ports listening to some of the claims and it is quite clear fairly early on which applications can be dealt with speedily and which will clearly take longer to process.

My hon. Friend has brought me on to my next point—our recently announced plans to establish a reception centre at Oakington, near Cambridge, to help to deal with those claims on which it appears that a rapid decision can be taken. Such applicants will be required to stay at the centre for a short period—about seven days—while their claim is decided. However, I want to impress on the House that the arrangements at Oakington do not depend on or reflect the provision of the amendments. Applicants will be required to stay at Oakington under existing immigration powers to detain. A purpose of the amendments is to enable us to develop a wider range of options and, if necessary, different reception arrangements to deal with a range of circumstances.

Mr. Simon Hughes

The Minister has made it clear that the Oakington proposals are different. I understand that, which is why I did not refer to them. If the Government plan to use present law and will use Oakington or anywhere else for reception purposes, why do they not at least consider whether present law may be sufficient before—to use her words—they extend the arrangements to provide a wider range of powers? The danger is that the powers will be so wide that they will be a threat to liberty rather than helpful to the Government.

Mrs. Roche

I disagree; the proposed powers are not a threat to liberty and, if the hon. Gentleman contains his impatience a little longer, I shall describe them. Given the situation that we face, he will appreciate that the Bill must provide a range of options so that we can deal with different circumstances. I shall explain to him exactly why we need the amendments.

Lords amendment No. 1 does not deal with the question whether additional powers to impose such residence conditions should be available. It simply provides a clear statutory basis for the provision of accommodation by the Secretary of State to persons on temporary admission. In that sense, it is consequential on Lords amendment No. 329, which the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) discussed in his opening remarks. On that amendment, there is already power under the Immigration Act 1971 to impose residence conditions on those granted temporary admission, but our legal advice is that, as currently framed, those restrictions should be the ones necessary to maintain contact and prevent absconding. That is exactly what the hon. Gentleman said.

The objectives are important, but too narrow. The problems created by the large influx of asylum seekers over the summer months suggest that we might need wider powers to impose residence conditions, which are necessary not just to maintain contact but to prevent potential public order problems. That applies not to just one section of applicants but to everybody. It is rightly a role for Government to relieve pressure on local services or to ensure full and rapid consideration of claims.

11 pm

Mr. Gapes

I seek clarification. Is my hon. Friend saying that, in order to make a dispersal policy work, it is necessary to implement the new provision, and that it is not possible to implement a dispersal policy on the basis of existing regulations?

Mrs. Roche

The matters are different. The dispersal policy clearly fits the asylum support arrangements that we are implementing. The power is designed for particular circumstances, so that there is some flexibility. I shall expand on my remarks.

Lords amendment No. 329 would enable regulations to prohibit residence in one or more areas by those on temporary admission. I should make it absolutely clear to the House and to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey—if I may have his attention—that we do not envisage using the power routinely. We envisage using it only to relieve extreme pressures on certain areas in extreme circumstances.

Fiona Mactaggart

I am concerned that the reception centres envisaged, especially Oakington, which is not near any expert immigration advice centre, might have high concentrations of asylum seekers who do not necessarily have access to either appropriate health care facilities or qualified expert legal advice. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that, if there are to be such facilities, she will guarantee that the residents in them have access to legal advice from properly qualified people, and to health care?

Mrs. Roche

I am happy to give my hon. Friend, who I know takes a very close interest and has great expertise in these matters, my full assurance. We shall certainly provide such services and we are already in discussion about them. It is very important that both services are available.

Mr. Clappison

I apologise for not being present for the beginning of the debate. Has the Minister consulted the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, and if so, what did it say?

Mrs. Roche

We have certainly spoken to the Refugee Council and the Refugee Legal Centre. We hope to get the centre up and running by the new year. We shall certainly ensure that we consult all voluntary organisations that have an interest.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West)

I should like to put two points to the Minister; one follows the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison). First, if the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture has not yet been consulted, will she assure the House that it will be? That was one of the issues that came up in the Special Standing Committee; I know that there is a fund of Government good will on it. Secondly, will she confirm that she and her advisers had not thought of the new provisions, particularly those in Lords amendment No. 329, when the Bill was previously before the House of Commons, and that they are not trying to ambush the Bill? How much of the proposal is designed to he a deterrent, how much is designed to prevent absconding and how much is to do with what one might call public order?

Mrs. Roche

We are of course very anxious to consult. As the hon. Gentleman will know, we have very good relationships with the voluntary sector, which has been very helpful on the voluntary arrangements. Of course we want to ensure that we keep in close touch with it. In fact, I have made it perfectly clear to representatives of the Refugee Legal Centre and the Refugee Council that they are very welcome to visit Oakington. We shall allow that visit to be made as soon as we are able.

We have seen a change in the process of asylum seeking since the Bill began its passage. It is right that when a complex Bill of this nature is under consideration, the Government should keep under constant review exactly what is going on, and what flexibility we need to build in.

I was talking to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey about the power that we are discussing in connection with the Lords amendment that he seeks to amend. That power applies to people who have been granted temporary admission to this country. Temporary admission is not a form of leave to enter, and that is an important legal factor to keep in mind.

In law, temporary admission is an alternative to detention while someone's application to stay is being considered, or pending their return abroad. It is not unreasonable, therefore, that where the maintenance of public order or viable public services requires, we should be able to prohibit such people from residing in certain areas.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)

The hon. Lady is normally very direct in her speech, and explains clearly what she has in mind. Why is she talking so elliptically tonight, and speaking in riddles about threats to public order? What are those threats to which she keeps referring as if they were self-evident? My hon. Friend the Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) has made it plain that refugees, whether individually or even in the numbers that she has mentioned as having arrived this summer, do not constitute a threat to public order. Wherein is the mischief that she seeks to remedy?

Mrs. Roche

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks, which I will treat as a compliment. Usually people do not say that I speak directly, they simply say that I am the opposite of subtle—in other words, that I am blunt. That apart, the right hon. Gentleman knows full well what the situation has been this summer. One does not seek to blame any group, but it is undeniable that there has been tension in some parts of the country. It is wrong for him to deny that. It is no good for asylum seekers themselves to enter a situation in which there could be difficulties.

We are talking about use in certain circumstances, not routine use, of a power that could be very useful. Clearly this is a sensitive area; I do not pretend that it is not. The right hon. Gentleman must be realistic about the situation.

Mr. Simon Hughes

The Lords amendment was introduced after the summer recess—presumably as a reaction to a perception that there were public order problems in Kent. We have no evidence that that was the reason, but it must be the presumption. Whom is the amendment intended to protect? The asylum seekers? The residents? If either of those, the idea that we need to take people who would otherwise be admitted, and have the power to put them collectively and indefinitely under house arrest, has never been justified by any argument either before or after the summer.

Mrs. Roche

The hon. Gentleman is not doing himself justice. We are not talking about house arrest. When we talk about public order and public protection, we are talking about protecting everybody. [Interruption.] One of the Liberal Democrats repeats, "Everybody?" Of course I mean everybody. We want to maintain good public order, but it is not for public order reasons alone that we need the flexibility; it is also to relieve the pressure on social services, which in some areas has been intense.

Mr. Hilton Dawson (Lancaster and Wyre)

Does my hon. Friend envisage circumstances in which children will be accommodated in any of the facilities referred to in this debate?

Mrs. Roche

Yes, and I shall explain our plans for Oakington. It will be a reception centre for which we shall use our present powers under immigration legislation. It will provide accommodation for single people and for families. I can assure my hon. Friend that the accommodation for families will be separate. I have already told my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) that health services will be available, as well as appropriate facilities for families and access to legal advice. We have no wish to divide families and we envisage that people will stay at the centre for only short periods—in their interest and in ours.

Mr. Corbyn

Can my hon. Friend confirm that Oakington will, in effect, be a detention centre, with all the powers that that implies, as well as security and guards? Although legal advice, social services and health care may be available, it will still be a detention centre, like Campsfield and the others.

Mrs. Roche

Yes, it will be a detention centre in terms of its designation. We have said that from the beginning and I have made it clear that we will use existing powers to run it. There will be security, but it will be very relaxed and, in certain circumstances, people will be able to leave. In any event, people will stay for only short periods so that their applications can be processed.

I share a constituency boundary with my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and we probably have similar casework, so he will know that the most important thing that we can do is speed up the application process. If people come here with manifestly unfounded claims, the worst thing that we could do is to keep them in the system for a long time. That is why it is important to deal with the claims speedily, and to deal with the people humanely. That is why we are providing Oakington on the basis I have outlined. Because it will be categorised as a detention centre, it will be subject to organised inspection visits under the new arrangements.

Dr. Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

If my hon. Friend accepts that stays at Oakington will be short, why are the Government not prepared to accept the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes)? Can she also assure us that if any children are kept in such facilities for more than seven days, they will be allowed access to local schools and education?

Mrs. Roche

I shall deal later with amendment (a), but it is our aim to keep people at the centre for short periods only. If we want to use Oakington as a processing centre in terms of applications made by claimants, it is in our interests that people are there for a short time.

Lords amendment No. 329 would enable conditions to be imposed requiring a person to reside in accommodation provided by the Secretary of State. Those provisions do not relate in any way to the use of detention or what is proposed at Oakington. On the contrary, the aim of the amendment is to provide greater flexibility in the use of temporary admission. It would be possible, with the new powers that we seek, to develop reception facilities in which persons granted temporary admission would be required to reside, but where they would be free to come and go during the day as they wished. Applicants would be required to remain at the accommodation overnight and to be present at certain times for interview or other purposes, to enable prompt consideration of their claims. Residence would therefore be for short periods.

11. 15 pm

We believe that it is necessary to proceed with a power to make regulations. That is what the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey was talking about. The use of those powers would depend on changing events and pressures. One of the problems with the current system of control is that we cannot respond to the pace of events quickly or flexibly enough. The Bill is intended to provide a more modern, flexible system. The regulations will ensure that additional residence requirements are proportionate and relevant to the circumstances that may arise.

I want to mention again an important matter raised earlier by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey. Under the Human Rights Act 1998, any regulations made must comply with the European convention on human rights, which would authorise the imposition of additional descriptions of the conditions only so far as they could be justified.

As I have said before, the Government recognise that this is a sensitive area. That is why we accept the recommendation of the House of Lords Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation that the regulations should be made subject to the affirmative procedure. It is absolutely right that they should be, as that will ensure that there is full and careful scrutiny of the use of the powers. Parliament will have to be satisfied that, wherever the powers are used, they are proportionate and necessary to achieve the stated objective.

As the Government announced in another place, Ministers moving regulations subject to the affirmative procedure will always inform the House about whether they are satisfied that the instrument is compatible with rights under the European convention.

I shall deal briefly with amendment (a), tabled by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey, which would limit single periods of residence at accommodation provided by the Secretary of State to a maximum of 10 days. It would not prevent someone from being required to reside at such accommodation for additional periods of up to 10 days, provided that those periods were not consecutive.

The whole purpose of the new provisions is to provide greater flexibility in the use of temporary admission. We must keep it in mind that we are talking about a requirement to reside in a particular place, but with a minimum of restrictions on a person's ability to come and go during the day. I do not believe that such requirements are onerous or unfair. Any restriction could be imposed only after approval by Parliament.

Mr. Simon Hughes

With respect, the Minister is saying nothing new. I have two questions for her. Why have the Government taken some of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation, but not the others? Above all, why is she arguing for flexibility in the law——in the Act of Parliament that this Bill will become——when the purpose of legislation is to be clear so that people know where they stand? Never before has it been argued that we should have flexible legislation as opposed to flexible policy.

Mrs. Roche

I understand the point, but the Government will examine the recommendations from another place carefully to determine what we agree with. Given that this is such a sensitive area, we think that approach is the right one.

Mr. Paul Keetch (Hereford)

Is that the Minister's response?

Mrs. Roche

It is the only response that I shall give.

Mr. Keetch

It is not a very good one.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Roche

No. I apologise for having detained the House at some length, but I hope that I have dealt——

Mr. Heath

This is important.

Mrs. Roche

Okay, I will take one more intervention.

Mr. Heath

I am grateful to the hon. Lady, who has been patient given the number of interventions. Her argument for the amendment is that it will in some way prevent public disorder. Is she saying that the state of expectation of such disorder will extend beyond a 10-day period? In which case, I am sorry but I do not follow her argument.

Mrs. Roche

I do not want to be critical, but I think that the hon. Gentleman is muddled. We are talking about two different things. I appreciate that these are sensitive areas and that it is a difficult subject.

In conclusion, I must reinforce the fact that Oakington will be very different. There will be minimal physical security and a very relaxed regime. Case workers will be on the site to deal with applications. Clearly, that does not happen at detention centres at the moment.

To end as I began, it is in all our interests——the public, the House and claimants alike——to speed up the process, which is what the amendments are about.

Mr. Lidington

I share the Minister's concern about the need to reduce the backlogs as rapidly as possible and speed up decision taking. Given the number of applicants coming into the country at present, I sympathise with Ministers' desire to have additional powers to help them cope with the practical problems. Will the hon. Lady spell out in a little more detail the Government's approach to two matters that have not been adequately covered? If she is unable to explain that in her reply, perhaps she could do so later in correspondence. The first matter is the level of safeguards that the law would provide for people sent to particular places under the terms of the schedule. Secondly, will she throw a little more light on how the Government intend people to be selected to become subject to the new powers?

On safeguards, the Minister rightly drew a distinction between powers of detention under the Immigration Act 1971 and the new powers that would be introduced by the amendments. The powers in the 1971 Act are subject to various safeguards——inspections, a monitoring system, committees of visitors and statutory arrangements for disciplinary rules. The Bill provides that someone who is detained would have the right to bail hearings at appropriate times during detention.

While the Government have said consistently that the powers that they propose to introduce by regulation under Lords amendment No. 329 envisage a limited period of residence by an asylum seeker in a place designated by the Secretary of State, as I read the text of the schedule, it sets out no limit to the period of time that the right hon. Gentleman could require someone to live at a particular place. No minimum time seems to be provided for, other than that which the Minister chooses to include in regulations.

Also, it seems that someone could be detained for quite a long time without any sort of judicial oversight. On the face of things, that puts an asylum seeker held subject to those conditions, which the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) described as a curfew, in an inferior position to that of someone held in formal detention.

Mr. Allan

The hon. Gentleman mentioned curfew, but one of our major concerns is that Lords amendment No. 329 talks about being prohibited from being absent. It says nothing about night time or day time. As we read it, it could mean any time at all. Our concern goes much wider than simply having a night time curfew.

Mr. Lidington

One problem is that the powers that Lords amendment No. 329 gives the Secretary of State are wide. We have had to rely on informal assurances from Ministers in both Houses for safeguards that are written into the law for people held in detention.

The Minister said that the Government would apply their obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 carefully in drafting the regulations to be introduced. I took her to mean that in place of safeguards being provided in the legislation, we are being invited tonight to trust to the Government's interpretation of their obligations under the European convention on human rights, that the Government will not introduce restrictions on personal liberty that would bring them into conflict with the convention and that that is what will give legal weight to the assurances of Ministers in another place. There are still questions that the Government need to answer on appropriate safeguards for people held in such circumstances.

I shall deal briefly with how people are to be selected for this procedure. In reply to the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard), I thought that the Minister implied that the decision would greatly depend on the assessment made at the port of entry by members of the immigration service of the ease with which a case could be determined. Can she confirm whether the Government intend that people should be selected on a case-by-case basis or whether they plan to put applicants from particular countries through the procedure?

Mrs. Roche

To elaborate on what I said, it will depend on the initial assessment of the immigration officer. If it appears that the case requires more detailed examination, we will ensure that that happens. Clearly, the ability to make such an initial assessment is incredibly helpful at the beginning of the process.

Mr. Lidington

I am grateful for that advice.

I refer the Minister to a comment made by the Attorney-General in another place that would again benefit from elucidation here. In discussing the powers, he said: In the short term, some asylum seekers who may congregate in specific areas may still be on social security benefit. We want to have this power available. We do not envisage using the power on a routine basis, but only to relieve extreme pressures on specific areas in extreme circumstances. "——[Official Report, House of Lords, 2 November 1999; Vol. 606, c. 736.] As those who will be on social security benefit will be people who will have been admitted at a port at any time up to 31 March 2000, is it right to interpret the Attorney-General's remarks as meaning that the Government intend that the powers should be used to require people currently in receipt of social security living in one part of this country to move to a particular location in another area, and that this power should therefore be seen as an adjunct to the dispersal scheme that will come into force after 31 March next year?

11.30 pm
Mr. McDonnell

There has been confusion in the debate in the House of Lords and even in this Chamber, to a certain extent, about the relationship of Oakington to the legislation. The Government need to take responsibility for that confusion. Lord Falconer said on 18 October: We are examining the possibility of establishing a reception facility at which asylum seekers would reside while their claim was examined and a rapid decision taken…As such residences have a wider purpose, we believe that we need the wider power that amendment No. 289 and now amendment No. 329 provides. "——[Official Report, House of Lords, 18 October 1999; Vol. 605, c. 752.] He confirmed that that was a power separate from the one to award bail on conditions. However, by 2 November Lord Williams of Mostyn said: I stress that the facility at Oakington is based on existing detention powers…it is designed to deal with claims where it appears that a rapid decision can be made…I repeat…that applicants will be required to stay at Oakington under existing immigration powers to detain. "——[Official Report, House of Lords, 2 November 1999; Vol. 606, c. 733.] We accept that Oakington is based on existing powers, but we should have had a statement to the House about its development. That would have avoided the confusion around the Bill and enabled us to have a thorough debate about Oakington. I am sure that, timing permitting, it would have given us the opportunity to air some of our concerns.

I have Harmondsworth detention centre in my constituency, and we all know some of the problems at Harmondsworth and Campsfield in terms of quality of life, possible abuses of human rights and physical abuse. Much good work has gone on in recent years to introduce procedures to protect the internees.

The problem with not having a debate specifically about Oakington on the basis of a statement is that we have not been able to question Ministers more thoroughly on safeguards. I would welcome the Minister's reconfirmation tonight of the safeguards that will be introduced at Oakington. For example, there should be similarity of treatment at all detention centres in terms of committees of visitors and access to legal advice——some assurances have been given on that tonight. It is vital that the voluntary organisations and others who provide legal advice be fully and adequately funded.

Mrs. Roche

I can give my hon. Friend an assurance on committees of visitors. I repeat the assurance about legal advice. People will be in the centre for very short periods so that we can process their applications. The facilities that I mentioned will be there. We are actively consulting the voluntary sector.

Mr. McDonnell

I welcome those assurances and I understand the commitment of my hon. Friend the Minister and her team to ensuring that the period of detention is short. I accept that and I appreciate the Minister's record. I know it both in local and central Government to be one of success and adherence to her commitments. However, Ministers come and go. I am sure that there is a long career in other Departments and elsewhere for her, but we need further assurances in more detailed regulations about the nature of the detention in Oakington and similar detention centres that may be developed.

We are entering a new phase of development which is neither the old detention centre nor some voluntary arrangement: it is something in between. It is an ill-defined ground. We need to define it more closely, admittedly, perhaps, in regulations. For example, a contract will be issued for the management of Oakington, most probably to a private company. We need assurances about the nature of that contract; that the Race Relations Act 1976 will be applied to the staff involved; that the staff will have defined duties; and that they will be subject to disciplinary procedures if they act against those defined duties. Again, because the new process falls between existing arrangements, we need to examine them more closely.

The provision of medical, psychiatric and educational facilities has already been raised. The right to freedom of worship and access to religious advisers is important to many detainees in the existing detention centres.

Mrs. Roche

I apologise to my hon. Friend for intervening yet again, but he raises the extremely important issue of access to religious worship. I assure him that we are actively planning to deal with that matter, and am grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to make that point.

Mr. McDonnell

I respond with equal gratitude to my hon. Friend for that assurance.

As the Oakington proposal has not been thoroughly debated in this place, and has not been reported on in detail, there is a danger——if not under the Labour Government, then under other Governments——of the development of internment camps if migration to this country increases, for whatever reason. It thus behoves the Government to issue an early——possibly in the new Session——and thorough statement on the development of Oakington; to repeat the assurances that we have been given today; and to set out some more detailed regulations that we can debate at length. We could then be assured that this one-off scheme——as it is now described, although there could be further developments if we are not careful——is under rigorous public control and accountability.

It would have been helpful if we could have debated amendments such as these at an earlier point in the Bill's progress. I regret that the debate is occurring so late in the process, because of the great scale of the powers under the measures. There is an element of confusion. The most important issue is not the potential for house arrest; I am concerned as to the potential for hostel arrest. As we have seen in Europe, asylum seekers and refugees have been required to reside in a particular hostel, and such hostels have degenerated into what are almost internment camps. They have also become targets for racists and others.

Faced with problems in a specific area, it would be easy to go down that slippery slope. Heathrow is in my constituency, and I have problems that are similar in scale to those in Dover——especially with regard to unaccompanied children. I encounter all the racist backlash. We have all had our windows broken. In the early 1980s, when we had similar problems, broken glass was put into my child's sandpit. We have all had such experiences. However, the reaction should be to stand firm and to argue our case——it should be to punish not the innocent but the perpetrators. That is what our policies on racial and domestic violence are designed to do.

If we accept the proposal in the amendment, we could go down the slippery slope of the establishment of a system in this country in which asylum seekers are placed in hostels by law, and that would undermine their ability to integrate in the longer term. I do not believe that all the cases are bogus——the figure of two thirds has been mentioned. However, in my constituency surgery, like many hon. Members, I have dealt with a large number of asylum seekers, many of whom tell horrendous and honest stories of the suffering that they have endured. After long and tortuous processing in this country, many of them have been given the right to remain here. The measure will make such people vulnerable, if we are not careful. It will lead to a diminution of people's basic human right to decide on where they live and on the community in which they feel secure.

At the moment, we need to stand back. I accept the Minister's assurance that the power will not be used routinely. However, the problem is that although I inherently trust this Minister, we need something more than the oral assurance that we received tonight. It is critical that the regulations be drafted soon and laid before the House, so that we can define the criteria on which the powers are to be used. We must define them in such a way as to ensure that their use does not become routine, but remains exceptional. The powers have been introduced to deal with a problem, but we should look at other powers to tackle the perpetrators of the problem.

The Bill has thrown up a range of issues. Some of us have watched recent television programmes about the debates surrounding the immigration legislation of the 1960s and 1970s. To be honest, that legislation was a cover to make racism respectable. Now, if we are not careful, we risk making respectable the targeting of asylum seekers and refugees. It is appropriate to debate measures such as the one before us, but in doing so we do not confront the perpetrators of racism. As long as we couch our debate in terms of large numbers of bogus asylum seekers swamping——to use the Thatcherite word——this country, we give in to the racists.

We should be arguing the case, as I know my hon. Friend the Minister of State does, for abiding by our commitments to human rights under the European convention and other international conventions, and for treating people who come to this country fairly and with respect. I do not believe that the Bill will do that. It introduces powers that undermine the fairness of our current system and reduce the respect we pay to asylum seekers and refugees. For that reason, I wish the House could agree with the Lords amendment, which would at least place some limitations, within the time scale set out by the Government, on the exercise of those powers. I hope that, when we debate the regulations, we will define the non-routine use of those powers.

Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East)

1 do not want to embarrass the Minister of State, but I should like to express my full support for her position. Although it would be a great threat to public safety, it might be a good idea to invite the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) to become Home Secretary for one week, so that we could see how he coped with a vast increase in the number of asylum seekers——individuals who, on coming here, are not treated with dignity or respect, but are dumped by some filthy London borough in seaside towns like Southend-on-Sea. If hon. Members think that I am wrong to say that, I invite them to come and see Southend. In Southend, the local council, officials and the local Member of Parliament are all concerned about promoting good race relations, but, believe me, if nothing is done about the problems, race relations will be undermined in a borough where such problems have never occurred previously.

It is reasonable to ask how many asylum seekers there are in Southend. The answer is that our excellent director of social services, a lady of great sympathy and understanding who is greatly concerned about maintaining good race relations, has not the slightest idea how many there are. We know how many cases have been directly referred to us, but we have no knowledge of the total number because other authorities, especially London authorities, have a habit of simply putting such persons in bed-and-breakfast establishments in Southend-on-Sea.

On the other hand, we do have figures for those attending local schools. I invite the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey to visit the splendid Porters Grange school in Southend-on-Sea. The school serves an area of great social deprivation, lying in a ward with 20 per cent. unemployment. When I was at the school last week, I learned that children who could not speak a word of English were constantly being dumped there. Four more arrived last week: they were gypsy refugees from the former Czechoslovakia who face great violence in their home country. The schools in my constituency that have been landed with lots of children who speak no English have to start with basics, such as "This is a pen, " and then try to make progress.

Nothing is filthier than hearing the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) claim that the current crisis is all the fault of the previous Government. Those who try to blame any particular Government are kidding themselves. We have had a huge influx of political refugees, which has created problems not for the leafy London boroughs, but for the places where the asylum seekers land.

Mr. Simon Hughes

I may have to wait a week or two to become the Home Secretary, but in the meantime I am happy to take up the hon. Gentleman's invitation to visit Southend. I hope that he had understood that the crucial point is not that London boroughs or other boroughs are dumping people on Southend, but that it is for Parliament to deal with people who come to our shores. Some of us are trying to get the legislation right, so that his community, my community and all others are able to integrate and deal with people who come here, in a way that means that people who are here before them do not feel that they are being dumped on them.

11.45 pm
Sir Teddy Taylor

Quite frankly, I have not heard such rubbish in the House for a long time. I have been in this place for 35 years. I do not think that I have ever been so insulted in my life. I ask the hon. Gentleman——if thousands of people are coming in as political refugees, what do we do? Is it not normal to say that we should try to find a way to spread them around, and not have them concentrated in particular areas, because that will not help good race relations? Apart from anything else, such concentrations are not good for schools, which are already having great difficulty in coping with a very difficult situation, if lots of children who do not speak a word of English are landed on them.

I hope that the Minister will advise me what is happening on the issue of immigration law relating to asylum seekers. I understand that the law in Britain differs from that in the other countries of the European Union, in that we have a law that a person can claim political asylum, first, if they are being persecuted by their Government and their safety is at risk; or secondly, if they are being persecuted by individuals within that country.

I understand that the law in France, Germany and other such countries is different, and that it refers only to a nation and not to the people. That has considerable implications, as we understand that, at a very recent meeting of the European nations, it was agreed that they would seek to harmonise legislation on political asylum. Will that mean that those who are persecuted as individuals will thereby lose their entitlement to political asylum? That could have a very substantial impact on people who come here from, for example, the former Czechoslovakia. They are not being persecuted by their Government, but are being subjected to appalling persecution because they are gypsies and because people there have a low regard for them.

The Minister's proposal for special accommodation is sensible. First, I wish that those who are uneasy about that proposal would ask themselves what the alternative is. The alternative is not that, as the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) said, people are looking for a place where they feel safe and happy; they are simply dumped in seaside towns.

Secondly, we have to ask, "What are the consequences of the present policy for good race relations?" I would ask anyone who is in doubt to telephone Miss Jane Held, who is not a right winger——at present, the council in Southend happens to be controlled by Labour and Liberals, with a majority of one over the Conservatives. Miss Held is in no sense looking for trouble, but she rightly says that, when asylum seekers are concentrated in one area, groups of young men congregate, which, unfortunately, leads to trouble. It has led to trouble in Southend-on-Sea. Those who try to pretend that there is no problem are kidding themselves.

If we want to preserve good race relations in this country and protect asylum seekers, the most obvious thing to do, as the Minister said, is to speed up decision making. The second thing to do is to ensure that we spread the people around as far as is reasonably possible, and do not have concentrations in certain areas in seaside towns. It does not help the individuals.

I have had the pleasure of meeting quite a few asylum seekers at my weekly surgeries in Southend. Some of them are rather unusual people, some seem very pathetic and some seem very sad. Obviously, the crucial thing for them is for a decision to be reached on their case as quickly as possible, but if there is not some organisation——some control of the situation——all that will happen is that, in places such as Southend, where, happily, we have good, harmonious race relations, trouble may well start. Any move by the Government to give the impression that they are trying to speed up decision making and trying to take control of the situation will be good, not only for Southend, but for the asylum seekers.

Our liberal, pleasant and gracious asylum laws were designed in times when only a small number of people applied for asylum. Now, we are faced with thousands of applicants. If we do nothing, both those who are genuine and those who are not will continue to be concentrated in particular places. Unless something is done, we shall not help asylum seekers in any way. I do not favour having a single place, but special accommodation would be a worthwhile and positive response that would help both asylum seekers and the promotion of good race relations in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Maclennan

My case has already been eloquently made by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell). I disagreed only with his thinking that this obnoxious new clause should be allowed on to the statute book. I would not rely on the possibility of enlightenment ever dawning on the Government's Front-Bench team before the subordinate legislation is introduced. If Ministers will not listen to the hon. Gentleman's appeal tonight, why should we expect them to change their minds in the weeks or months ahead?

The Minister of State's refusal or failure to answer questions about what mischief she seeks to remedy——she evaded giving answers by talking repeatedly about the sensitivity of the situation——was dealt with by the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) with his usual eloquent directness. He displayed, in all its ugliness, what the new clause is really about. It is a response to pressures, which ought to be resisted, of the type identified by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington, who lives in a far more explosive situation than does the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East. Such a response can be effective only if people are prepared to stand up to those who threaten communities with illegal actions.

It is unacceptable that a statute should be justified by the fear that its absence would encourage illegality. That stands logic on its head. We cannot rely on assurances by Ministers about how legislation might be used. Nor can we rely on their present intentions. Successive Home Secretaries have intended to speed up consideration of applications by refugees and asylum seekers, but those intentions have not been realised. There is no reason to believe that the Minister or her colleagues can wave a wand that will solve the problems overnight.

Mr. Gapes

I am not clear whether the right hon. Gentleman favours or opposes a dispersal policy, and should be grateful if he would clarify his position. Does he favour an attempt to take pressure off my borough and others in London, and off council areas in Kent and elsewhere? Those areas have serious housing shortages and other problems. That is a fact, and I am not making any racist or inflammatory remark, but I should be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would clarify his position.

Mr. Maclennan

Of course I favour taking the pressure off, but it must be done by devoting the necessary resources to processing applications speedily, not by sweeping problems under the carpet with this new clause. The Minister's case has gone by default. She has not deigned to answer a single question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) about the reasons for the new clause. She spoke about sensitivity, using the word, I think, seven times as a verbal evasion of reality. She has absolutely refused to describe the situation that the new clause is supposed to cover.

I repeat the appeal of the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington: do not punish the innocent; stand firm against illegality. I thought that the hon. Lady would be particularly sensitive to that appeal as she has a record of concern about such matters. The change in her position should not change her attitude. It sounded tonight as though the hon. Lady was resiling from the kind of commitment that she has shown in the past to tackling effectively the problems of refugees.

Mrs. Roche

I hesitate to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I think he is doing the House a disservice. I said that, as far as public order is concerned, we are seeking to protect everybody. That is clearly what one does in public order situations. The right hon. Gentleman has closed his eyes to the real situation: he is making assertions that are completely unrealistic and have nothing to do with the debate.

Mr. Maclennan

With respect, those who oppose the Government's measures should not have to justify them using their arguments. 1 believe it lies with the Minister to explain the mischief that she apprehends. However, she has not done that. She evaded the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey, she did not reply to my intervention and she has not intervened during the debate to explain the public order concerns.

If there is a threat of public disorder, the law should be turned not against innocent refugees or asylum seekers in this country, but against those who threaten it. The hon. Lady may shake her head, but, if she cannot understand that, she should stop posing as the friend of those who seek protection under the laws of this country from oppression and tyranny elsewhere.

Mr. Gerrard

I will be brief. I had not intended to speak in this debate, but the contributions of my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) and other hon. Members have left me more confused about exactly what is proposed by the amendment and for Oakington than I was at the beginning of the evening.

There is some confusion regarding Oakington and the proposed new clause. It would help if we could have a clear statement to the House about Oakington in the near future in order to separate it from the new clause. Even the regulations covered by Lords amendment No. 329 to schedule 13 will not tell us anything about Oakington, which will be run under existing detention powers. I repeat the plea for an urgent, clear statement about Oakington and how it will function. We have received some assurances in that regard, which I welcome.

Mr. Simon Hughes

The hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly good point. I hope that he accepts that, through our specific amendment to the Bill, the Liberal Democrats are trying to put to one side the Oakington proposal, which comes under existing legislation. We are seeking to make the case that, unless someone can show why we need different legislation for different arrangements, we should not go further down that road until we know what Oakington will deliver.

Mr. Gerrard

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. I suspect that some people listening to the debate may think that the 10-day limit proposed in the hon. Gentleman's amendment would apply to Oakington, even though it would not. The issue of how long people remain in Oakington will be determined by the administration of Oakington, and that decision will be influenced by factors such as whether bail applications are accepted and so on. The way in which Oakington has been described makes me fear that it will be used for people who will be fast-tracked by short-term, quick decisions and people who come in from particular ports and particular countries. That sounds suspiciously like a new form of white list.

12 midnight

The first line of Lords amendment No. 1 says: The Secretary of State may provide, or arrange for the provision of, facilities for the accommodation of persons…temporarily admitted to the United Kingdom", and so on. It seems to me that the powers that flow from that amendment could apply to any asylum seeker in the new support system because although their accommodation may not have been provided directly by the Secretary of State, he will have arranged for the provision of the facilities.

Lords amendment No. 329 refers to provisions requiring the person to reside in such accommodation and prohibiting them from being absent, and I find it difficult to square that with some of what we were told on Third Reading. We were told that if people had an offer of accommodation and support, but said that they wanted to live elsewhere, the Home Office would accept that, provided that they were living at a registered address, and they could then accept only the support package.

Those assurances about elements of choice within the support system are difficult to square with the possibility of much more draconian impositions on people. As I read it, Lords amendment No. 1 could apply to anyone in the support system, whether they are temporarily admitted to the UK, have come out of detention or been released on bail from detention. That worries me, and I should be grateful for clarification on that point.

In conclusion, I return to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington. It is clear to anyone who reads the Official Report of the debates in the Lords that there is enormous confusion about how what Ministers are saying relates to Home Office press releases. Unfortunately, the issue of Oakington arose at roughly the same time and became mixed up in the debate about the new powers. A clear statement on Oakington would be helpful because that is not a matter to which we will be able to return when we consider regulations made under Lords amendment No. 329.

Mr. Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire)

It is a pity that, as the hon. Member who represents Oakington, it is after midnight when I am given the opportunity to say something about my constituency and the circumstances there.

In defence of Ministers, I point out that when the announcement about Oakington was made, I was under no illusions that the centre was other than a centre established under existing Immigration Act powers. That much, at least, was said. It would have been much simpler if, on 21 October when the press release was issued, the Home Office had said that the centre would be designated as a detention centre and established under existing powers. It would then have been perfectly obvious that the safeguards for Oakington that we have, quite properly, been pressing on the Minister this evening would flow from such a designation.

I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) that when one reads the House of Lords debate, it was perfectly unclear, even as late as Third Reading, what was the character of Oakington, who would be there, how it was to be designated and even how it was to be described. Even though the legal basis for the establishment of the centre at Oakington may be perfectly clear, that tells us remarkably little about what will be the regime at Oakington. That is the more pertinent question this evening. It is clear that the scale will be substantial. Ministers speak of up to 400 asylum seekers being present there for up to seven days. Indeed, I have heard references to a larger number, as I am told that the capacity is greater than that.

On the basis of present figures, one in four or a greater proportion of asylum seekers could be held at Oakington for a period. The character of the regime provided there is therefore an important consideration. We have been through some relevant matters, and the Minister has leapt swiftly to the Dispatch Box to say, for example, that legal advice will be available or that it will be possible to maintain religious worship. However, we have not dealt with these matters in detail.

It matters a great deal to those at Oakington whether the legal advice available is the same as that which would be available under other circumstances. The Minister knows perfectly well that Oakington is not in an area where there is large-scale independent legal advice for refugees and asylum seekers.

Mrs. Roche

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. We are keen that people residing at Oakington have full access to independent legal advice, and we are having discussions with the Refugee Legal Centre about what could be established.

Mr. Lansley

I am grateful to the Minister for that further assurance. I am sure that the Refugee Council, the Refugee Legal Centre and the Immigration Advisory Service will all be listening carefully to the debate. If legal advice is not accessible, we will quickly find out.

My argument extends more widely. The Oakington centre is to be established in an area where there is no existing infrastructure of support for a significant number of refugees. East Anglia was not identified as a cluster area for dispersal of asylum seekers when the Government made their previous announcement. It should, by extension, be assumed that none of the infrastructure of support in the local community which would normally be looked for in a dispersal area is available in Cambridgeshire.

if resources are to be made available, they must be made available additionally, whether in support for families—it is clear that families, including children will be present—or through legal advice or medical and other facilities. I shall not detain the House, but it should be put on the record that if all those pressures fall on the local community, they cannot be accommodated readily with the resources available to Cambridgeshire as a local authority in respect of social services, because of child protection issues; as a health authority, because of the rapid rate of population growth; and as a police authority, about which I have been writing to the Home Secretary in recent weeks.

Despite all that the Minister and her colleagues in another place have said, it is still unclear what sort of people are to be held at Oakington. What does that tell us about the requirement for security and support? I have dwelt for the moment on safeguards and support for those who are present, but if Oakington is designated as a detention centre, many of my constituents are aware of the experience of other detention centres, and they will feel that something that they do not understand and which raises serious physical security issues is being established in their midst.

Mrs. Roche

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the press release and his understanding of what was proposed for Oakington. In the third paragraph of the press release that I issued, we made it clear that applicants will be required to reside at Oakington under existing immigration powers for initial examination of their claim. We could not be more direct and open about the situation.

Mr. Lansley

When the Minister checks the record, she will find that that is precisely what I said. In the press release, she made it clear that the centre would be established using existing Immigration Act powers. What the Minister did not say in the press release was that Oakington would be designated as a detention centre, which would have made it simpler for everyone to examine the safeguards that flow from that designation. However, I do not want to rehearse what I said earlier, which still stands.

The Minister and I will be in correspondence and, if the Minister listens to her hon. Friends, we will have another opportunity to question the form of the regime that is to be established. If it is to start in the new year, and a contract is to be let to resolve all the practical issues between now and then, the Home Office and the Minister must have a detailed understanding of what is intended at Oakington.

The issue for my constituents is who will be there. They may well be families and thus represent no significant physical security problems. On the other hand, initially it may consist of largely single males, giving rise to a physical security issue. It is all very well for the Minister to say that the regime will be relaxed, implying that there will be no additional security, and that those present will be able to obtain approval to visit shops or medical services, but that simply raises the question in the local community of why these people are being detained rather than being given temporary approval and dispersed elsewhere. If they are being detained there is presumably some risk of their absconding or of physical security problems, and a string of consequences flows from that.

The Minister says that there will be no additional security and no direct problems for the local community, and we are talking of a village rather than a city context. If that is true, we must be clear about the character of the persons there and why they need detention, with all that that implies in terms of maintaining security, but do not require security to the extent that the local community needs to be concerned about the relaxed nature of the regime.

We shall come to all these issues, but at the heart of the matter is a failure on the part of the Home Office to understand that it is not sufficient to have announced such a facility and its legal base, without amplifying on the character of the regime and how it fits with those who will be there.

I have no fundamental objection to the establishment of the facility, and the Minister knows that I have made that clear locally. We are in a difficult situation. The problem is substantially of the Government's making, with a 60 per cent. year-on-year increase in asylum applications, but it is a problem that we must solve. If a centre at Oakington can assist in the fast assessment of applications—it is generally agreed that speedy assessment is necessary—well and good, but I am also sure that we need to be clear about the character of the regime to be applied there, so that the safeguards that should be applied to the asylum seekers themselves exist, and the safeguards for the local community that have been hinted at in letters to me and in meetings with the local community are delivered, so that the process does not become a burden or a source of concern to my constituents.

Mr. Corbyn

When the Minister opened the debate, she said that one reason for having detention centres—Oakington came to mind—was the great financial burden imposed on local authorities and the demands on their social services departments. What worries me about that is that, if we are to say that it is too expensive for local authorities to undertake the work necessary to support asylum-seeking families—particularly families—and they are put in the equivalent of a detention centre, either the cost will be transferred to a detention centre, if it is properly run, or the asylum-seeking families will be offered much less in the way of local authority and social services support than they would get if they were placed in the community. I find both those suggestions unacceptable.

12. 15 am

My borough, like many inner-London boroughs, contains a large number of asylum seekers. The local authority staff work extremely hard in supporting them in the best way that they can, but the introduction of the voucher system for food and the like has done enormous damage to relationships in the area. Large numbers of asylum seekers scout round the place looking for the appropriate supermarket in which to spend the vouchers. They cannot cash them on the market or anywhere else, so they spend more to get less although they have an inadequate income. They also have the inadequate diet that goes with it. We should be realistic: we are saying that asylum seekers apparently deserve less than 75 per cent. of what the poorest in this country receive in income support. That is no way to treat people who have come here, within the terms of the 1951 Geneva convention, seeking a place of safety.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will explain what exactly is happening with the development of detention centres and the powers of detention that go with that. I am disturbed by all that has been said about Oakington being set up. Indeed, under the previous Government I initiated Adjournment debates on Campsfield detention centre, its administration and all the problems that have gone with it. If Oakington is to be anything like Campsfield, it will have high security, massive gates and lots of guards. Basically, a prison will be established there. Unless she can assure me that Oakington will be very different—more like the supportive centres that some European countries have—I shall have to conclude that it is part of a process of assigning asylum seekers to particular detention centres around the country from which their applications will be fast-tracked. I suggest that the very fact that applications will be fast-tracked and applicants sent to such places will be prejudicial to a fair hearing of their cases.

We have to realise that the cause of people seeking asylum is events in other countries, some of which are of our own making. It is all very well for us to complain about the number of asylum seekers coming from Turkey, but at the same time we are selling arms to the Turkish Government, who are doing so much damage to so many Kurdish people in that part of the world. There is a foreign policy connection.

My hon. Friend the Minister ought to be ensuring that the local authorities, which are doing their best, are given sufficient support and money and are, above all, reimbursed quickly when they undertake such expenditure. There should be no further development of any detention centres without specific proposals coming before the House following proper consultation. Such centres should not be introduced as holding centres when, in reality, they are detention centres that are, as I understand it, very much like Campsfield, Haslar and the others, which have a poor reputation.

Mr. Allan

I shall summarise our views on our amendment, but first I should dispose of the Oakington issue. We did not intend to have the major debate on it, but our discussion has been useful. Although occasionally robust, in many ways the debate has shown why the guillotine motion was flawed: I do not feel that any time has been wasted, but we are discussing only the second group of amendments and there is plenty more to be said on other issues. However, I am speaking with a heavy heart because I am taking up time that I would like to use to debate other issues. I hope that the Minister will take on board comments made from both sides of the House about the need for a further statement on Oakington and more time to discuss the issue. There is agreement on that and I hope that she does not feel unable to make such a concession.

On our amendment (a) to Lords amendment No. 1, I shall be fairly blunt: I believe that this is knee-jerk legislation which has been introduced purely as a result of the disturbances in Kent over the summer and the coincidence that they took place when the Bill could still be amended. Someone said, "Cor lumme, guvnor, we've got a problem down in Kent. We've got to do something about it. Let's get some legislation on the statute book." In many ways, the Bill follows the dangerous dogs principle: something high profile has happened and it has made the newspapers, so we have to pass legislation. That exercises me and my hon. Friends because it is a key issue: in a free Parliament, people who want to live in a liberal society should spend as much time defending the citizen from the state as giving the state new powers to impose on the citizen.

In this case, the citizens are those who do not have British citizenship as yet, although some will eventually achieve it. We do not seek to make a distinction between those who have come from abroad and those who happen to be British citizens in terms of the civil right to be free from detention and from having one's liberty restricted. The proposed provision represents a fairly unfettered power to restrict the right to free movement and access.

The Minister has talked about the proposed power as a possible form of curfew, yet if we do not amend the Bill, the law will prohibit freedom of movement subject to any conditions imposed in the relevant regulations. The Bill does not stipulate day or night, or specify anything more than giving the Secretary of State a power to impose restrictions on people's movements.

To put it bluntly, the provisions effectively surrender to the British National party and those who have taken to the streets and sought to attack asylum seekers. Blame does not always lie 100 per cent. in one direction, although that seems the clear implication of the proposed legislation. It is saying that there will be trouble if a certain group of asylum seekers in a particular district go out at night, so, without confronting the cause of that trouble, a power will be introduced to keep such people inside. That is a very dangerous route to go down.

There are already proportionate provisions under the Immigration Act 1971 for detention where there is a problem. The Minister said that the Government's legal advice is that the powers are supposed to be used only in response to absconding. That is right; the state should not take to itself powers to detain, imprison or hold people under house arrest unless to do so is a proportionate response to some offence or mischief.

If applicants are criminal, it is right under certain circumstances to lock them up. It may be right to detain people who abscond from the immigration service, so long as they have the right to challenge the decision and prove why they would not abscond. However, it cannot be correct to provide an arbitrary power under which the Secretary of State can decide to keep people under house arrest because he judges that, otherwise, public order offences may be committed and that those people should be protected from themselves. He is giving in to those who might be seeking to cause harm and contribute to the public order offence.

So many questions are left open. How will the power be enforced? What will be the penalties for breaching it? What if someone is in genuine fear of torture or death in their home country and does not conform to the Secretary of State's curfew? Would the Secretary of State ship such people home to face torture and death? How will legitimate legal challenges be dealt with?

The powers for dealing with somebody in a family are not clear either. Lord Williams expressed some very different views in another place. In one instance, he described how the new powers could be used to develop reception facilities in which people would reside. Therefore, the powers are about putting families and individuals into a new form of detention centre. So, we have the proper detention centre, the strange hybrid beast of the Oakington detention centre and the new-power detention centres. We are adding again and again to the powers of the Secretary of State to deprive people of their liberty, applying different conditions and tests to each.

What power will an individual have to challenge such decisions? The Government are giving with one hand and taking back with the other. To the Government's credit, on detention powers under the 1971 Act they have given us a presumption in favour of bail, with standardised hearings after seven days, for which we have called. However, they have introduced another power under which the maximum time limit is not specified and there is no ability for individuals to challenge the restriction of liberty. Such knee-jerk provision takes us two steps back, just when we thought that it was one of the few elements on which we on the Liberal Democrat Benches thought we had taken one step forward.

Mr. Clappison

I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman. Does he agree that all that we have heard makes nonsense and a mockery of the Home Secretary's proud boast about the Special Standing Committee procedure? Such matters should definitely have been considered at its sittings.

Mr. Allan

The hon. Gentleman makes a very fair point. Groups that work with refugees and others who are subject to immigration control have passed many pieces of information to me expressing their extreme concern, which would have been forceful evidence in the Special Standing Committee.

This is a sensitive issue, but sensitivity does not mean lack of scrutiny. The reverse is true, precisely because it is sensitive, and because we know that some of the forces not of conservatism but of fascism have been involved in the incidents that have forced the Government to bring the measure forward. Those forces have been there in Dover and other parts of Kent, peddling their filth and their muck around the streets. We know that they are involved—and that means that we should talk about the issue for more time, not less. We should not rush through a Lords amendment that, when we think about the history of where it has come from, we see is clearly a reaction to the forces of fascism.

We must be careful about the process of tagging bits on to Bills—or why not leave Bills open all the year round so that we can simply tag extra bits of legislation on to them at various stages? I have no doubt that the provision would not have emerged if the Bill had not still been open to amendment over the recess.

Mr. Stephen Pound (Ealing, North)

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that he causes grave offence in implying, by associating the word "fascism" with it, that the Bill is a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in the summer? Does he accept that what has been happening in many constituencies for many years is intolerable, and that it is in no one's interests that it be allowed to continue? Does he not at least accept that there is an element of good will and positive thinking on the part of the Government, and an attempt to resolve the situation before it degenerates even further?

Mr. Allan

I have been careful not to say that the Bill as a whole is related to the wider issue and the wider build-up of problems. I say simply that the specific measure before us, which the Minister has already said was introduced in response to public order incidents involving fascists over the summer—[Interruption.] She made the point herself that it was a response—

Mrs. Roche


Mr. Allan

It was a response to public order events in Kent, and my reading of the newspapers—

Mrs. Roche

I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman, and he too must be careful and report accurately what I said. I said that the power was new and would not be used routinely, but would be subject to scrutiny. I made it clear that public order would be one of the considerations affecting its use, but not the only one. The hon. Gentleman forgets himself.

Mr. Allan

I take that elucidation on board, but the incidents in Kent of which we are all aware constituted one of the factors behind the Lords amendment. I still bluntly maintain that the provision was introduced purely because of the coincidence of the Bill's remaining open when the incidents occurred, and that that is not the appropriate way in which to respond to such events.

I return to the fundamental principle that the state should restrict the liberty of the individual, whether that individual be a citizen or not, only in extreme circumstances and when it has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, subject to proper scrutiny, why it should take those powers.

If the Government do not accept our amendment—or even if they do, but still press ahead with the powers that they are taking—we shall move into a world in which children under 10, and foreigners subject to immigration control, can be subject to such things as curfews and home detention orders without proper scrutiny, and without having committed any criminal offence. I urge the House to support our amendment to restrict the powers, and to be very careful about placing such powers on the statute book.

Mr. Dawson

I am extremely perturbed by Lords amendment No. 1, and the prospect of the provision of, facilities for the accommodation of persons". That is partly because the language seems so benign, and it has been difficult to find out what the facilities might be and what they might mean.

It is a shame that at the end of our dealings with a complex and challenging Bill, such a far-reaching proposal has been made. I simply do not understand the need for such accommodation. I do not understand the institutional rules that will need to surround such provision, nor its place within a human rights agenda.

The most disturbing aspect is the fact that we shall expect children, either as part of families or unaccompanied, to be accommodated in such facilities.

Mrs. Roche

There is no suggestion whatever that we would seek to place unaccompanied children at Oakington.

12. 30 am

Mr. Dawson

I am grateful for that clarification. However, children will still be held at such institutions as part of families. To accommodate children in circumstances that will be, at the very least, restricted seems to me to be wrong. It goes against our concept of childhood and the ability of parents to care properly for their children. It will also deny parents access to the facilities that their children need. Those children could end up living among undesirable people and be unable to get away. That is inappropriate.

We have heard of the need for proper discussion of the regulations surrounding the proposals at an early stage, and I ask my hon. Friend the Minister to make arrangements that stop such facilities being used for children in any circumstances. The facilities cannot accord with the United Nations convention on the rights of the child or with an agenda that stresses care for children and family friendly policies. I hope that the facilities will not be used for children in any circumstances.

Mrs. Roche

I am glad that we have had this debate. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have raised many important issues and I have listened carefully to the requests for as much information as possible about Oakington. I shall reflect on how we can make that available. We are already actively consulting the voluntary organisations and have been open with them about access.

I must point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) that it would be wrong to split up families, and that is why we are providing the accommodation at Oakington. I must also say to the Liberal Democrat Members who have spoken that I believe that they will have cause to repent the tone of their remarks, when they have time to reflect on them tomorrow in the cold light of day. It is a great shame that they made their comments in such a way. In contrast, both Labour and Conservative Members made several practical points.

The most humanitarian approach is to speed up applications so that we can deal swiftly with those cases that are unfounded and can grant status to those whose cases are genuine as quickly as possible. Indeed, the Government have shown their commitment to that approach by publishing a consultation document on refugee integration. [Interruption.] Liberal Democrat Members are talking among themselves, but they never mentioned the positive steps that the Government are taking. I hope that the House will agree to the Lords amendment.

Amendment proposed to the Lords amendment: (a), in line 8, at end add—

'(2) No person shall be accommodated by the Secretary of State under subsection (1) for a period exceeding 10 days.'—[Mr. Simon Hughes.]

Question put, That the amendment to the lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 39, Noes 296.

Division No. 317] [12.34 am
Allan, Richard Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Ballard, Jackie Keetch, Paul
Beith, Rt Hon A J Kirkwood, Archy
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Llwyd, Elfyn
Brand, Dr Peter McAllion, John
Breed, Colin McDonnell, John
Burnett, John Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Burstow, Paul Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) Moore, Michael
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Canavan, Dennis Rendel, David
Chidgey, David Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Corbyn, Jeremy Salmond, Alex
Cotter, Brian Sanders, Adrian
Davey, Edward (Kingston) Stunell, Andrew
Fallon, Michael Webb, Steve
Fearn, Ronnie Welsh, Andrew
Foster, Don (Bath) Willis, Phil
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Harris, Dr Evan Tellers for the Ayes:
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N) Sir Robert Smith and
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Mr. David Heath.
Adams, Mrs lrene (Paisley N) Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Ainger, Nick Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Alexander, Douglas Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Allen, Graham Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Atherton, Ms Candy Clelland, David
Atkins, Charlotte Clwyd, Ann
Barnes, Harry Coaker, Vernon
Barron, Kevin Coleman, lain
Bayley, Hugh Connarty, Michael
Beard, Nigel Cousins, Jim
Beggs, Roy Cranston, Ross
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Bennett, Andrew F Cummings, John
Benton, Joe Cunliffe, Lawrence
Berry, Roger Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Betts, Clive Dalyell, Tam
Blackman, Liz Darvill, Keith
Blears, Ms Hazel Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Blizzard, Bob Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Borrow, David Dean, Mrs Janet
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Denham, John
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Dismore, Andrew
Bradshaw, Ben Dobbin, Jim
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Donohoe, Brian H
Browne, Desmond Doran, Frank
Burden, Richard Dowd, Jim
Burgon, Colin Drew, David
Butler, Mrs Christine Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen Edwards, Huw
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Efford, Clive
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Ellman, Mrs Louise
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Field, Rt Hon Frank
Campbell-Savours, Dale Fisher, Mark
Caplin, lvor Fitzpatrick, Jim
Casale, Roger Fitzsimons, Lorna
Caton, Martin Flint, Caroline
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Flynn, Paul
Chaytor, David Follett, Barbara
Clapham, Michael Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry McDonagh, Siobhain
George, Bruce (Walsall S) Macdonald, Calum
Gibson, Dr lan McFall, John
Gilroy, Mrs Linda McGuire, Mrs Anne
Godman, Dr Norman A Mclsaac, Shona
Godsiff, Roger McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Goggins, Paul Mackinlay, Andrew
Golding, Mrs Llin McNulty, Tony
Gordon, Mrs Eileen MacShane, Denis
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) Mactaggart, Fiona
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) McWalter, Tony
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McWilliam, John
Grogan, John Mahon, Mrs Alice
Hain, Peter Mallaber, Judy
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Hanson, David Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Martlew, Eric
Healey, John Meale, Alan
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Merron, Gillian
Henderson, lvan (Harwich) Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Hepburn, Stephen Miller, Andrew
Heppell, John Moffatt, Laura
Hesford, Stephen Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Moran, Ms Margaret
Hill, Keith Morley, Elliot
Hinchliffe, David Mountford, Kali
Hood, Jimmy Mudie, George
Hope, Phil Mullin, Chris
Howarth, Alan (Newport E) Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Howells, Dr Kim Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Hoyle, Lindsay Naysmith, Dr Doug
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford) Norris, Dan
Humble, Mrs Joan O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Hurst, Alan O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Hutton, John Olner, Bill
lddon, Dr Brian O'Neill, Martin
lllsley, Eric Organ, Mrs Diana
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Osborne, Ms Sandra
Jamieson, David Palmer, Dr Nick
Jenkins, Brian Pearson, lan
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Pendry, Tom
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn) Pike, Peter L
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Plaskitt, James
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Pollard, Kerry
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Pond, Chris
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Pope, Greg
Keeble, Ms Sally Pound, Stephen
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & lsleworth) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Kemp, Fraser Prosser, Gwyn
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Purchase, Ken
Khabra, Piara S Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Kidney, David Quinn, Lawrie
Kilfoyle, Peter Rapson, Syd
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Raynsford, Nick
Kumar, Dr Ashok Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Roche, Mrs Barbara
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Rooker, Jeff
Laxton, Bob Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lepper, David Rowlands, Ted
Leslie, Christopher Roy, Frank
Levitt, Tom Ruane, Chris
Lewis, lvan (Bury S) Ruddock, Joan
Linton, Martin Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Salter, Martin
Lock, David Sarwar, Mohammad
Love, Andrew Savidge, Malcolm
McAvoy, Thomas Sawford, Phil
McCabe, Steve Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
McCartney, Rt Hon lan (Makerfield) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Short, Rt Hon Clare Tipping, Paddy
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Todd, Mark
Singh, Marsha Touhig, Don
Skinner, Dennis Trickett, Jon
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Truswell, Paul
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S) Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Smith, John (Glamorgan) Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Snape, Peter Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Soley, Clive Tynan, Bill
Southworth, Ms Helen Walley, Ms Joan
Spellar, John Ward, Ms Claire
Starkey, Dr Phyllis Wareing, Robert N
Steinberg, Gerry Watts, David
Stewart, David (Inverness E) White, Brian
Stewart, Ian (Eccles) Whitehead, Dr Alan
Stinchcombe, Paul Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Straw, Rt Hon Jack Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Stringer, Graham Wilson, Brian
Stuart, Ms Gisela Winntek, David
Sutcliffe, Gerry Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S) Wray, James
Taylor, David (NW Leics) Tellers for the Noes:
Temple-Morris, Peter Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W) Mr. Robert Ainsworth.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being more than five hours after commencement of proceedings on the supplemental allocation of time order, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Questions necessary for the disposal of proceedings to be concluded at that hour.

Lords amendment No. 1 agreed to [Special Entry].

Lords amendment No. 139 and amendment (a) thereto agreed to.

Remaining Lords amendments agreed to [some with Special Entry].

Committee appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to their amendment No. 135: Mr. Mike Hall, Mr. Tom Levitt, Mr. David Lidington, Mrs. Barbara Roche and Mr. Keith Simpson; Mrs. Barbara Roche to be the Chairman of the Committee; Three to be the quorum of the Committee.—[Mr. Mike Hall.]

To withdraw immediately.

Reasons for disagreeing to Lords amendment No. 135 reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.