HC Deb 14 February 2000 vol 344 c602
16. Mr. Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)

If he will make a statement on progress in relieving the pressure on accommodation for asylum seekers in London and the south East. [108250]

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

About 1,000 asylum seekers have been dispersed from London and Kent to other areas of England since the start of the interim dispersal scheme on 6 December 1999.

Mr. Bradshaw

Will my hon. Friend do what she can to expose and publicise the apparent double standards of some political parties whose representatives in London and the south-east make loud demands for dispersal while those in other parts of the country not only resist dispersal but use the issue to fan the flames of anti-foreigner feeling?

Mrs. Roche

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, as has been illustrated once again this afternoon. The right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) says one thing one day and another thing the next. She goes to Kent and says that something must be done to relieve the burden and the pressures there, and then she supports an amendment tabled in the other place that would delay dispersal—which would help the people of Kent—and cost our hard-pressed taxpayers £500 million a year.