HC Deb 11 June 2002 vol 386 cc794-827

  1. '(1) This section applies to au appeal under section 66(1) against an immigration decision on an application which is made wholly or partly on either or both of the grounds specified in section 77(4)(a) and (b).
  2. (2) A person who is in the United Kingdom may not bring an appeal to which this section applies in reliance on section 77(4) if the Secretary of State certifies that the application mentioned in subsection (1) above is clearly unfounded in so far as made on the grounds specified in section 77(4)(a) or (b) (or both).
  3. 795
  4. (3) A person who is in the United Kingdom may not bring an appeal to which this section applies in reliance on section 77(4) if the Secretary of State certifies that—
    1. (a) it is proposed to remove the person to a country of which he is not a national or citizen, and
    2. (b) there is no reason to believe that the person's rights under the Human Rights Convention will be breached in that country.
  5. (4) In determining whether a person in relation to whom a certificate has been issued under subsection (3) may be removed from the United Kingdom, the country specified in the certificate is to be regarded as—
    1. (a) a place where a person's life and liberty is not threatened by reason of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, and
    2. (b) a place from which a person will not be sent to another country otherwise than in accordance with the Refugee Convention.
  6. (5) Where a person in relation to whom a certificate is issued under this section subsequently brings an appeal under section 66(1) while outside the United Kingdom, the appeal shall be considered as if he had not been removed from the United Kingdom.'.—[Mr. Blunkett.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Blunkett

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Government new clause 15—Appeal from within United Kingdom: unfounded human rights or asylum claim: transitional provision.

Government amendments Nos. 224 to 227.

Amendment No. 13, in clause 80, page 44, line 19, leave out Clause 80.

Government amendment No. 228.

Amendment No. 7, in page 44, line 21, leave out— 'the Secretary of State or an immigration officer' and insert "an adjudicator".

Amendment No. 14, in page 44, line 21, leave out— 'Secretary of State or an immigration officer' and insert— 'adjudicator or an Immigration Appeal Tribunal'.

Amendment No. 8, in page 44, line 26, leave out— 'the Secretary of State or the immigration officer' and insert "an adjudicator".

Amendment No. 15, in page 44, line 26, leave out— 'Secretary of State or the immigration officer' and insert— 'adjudicator or the Immigration Appeal Tribunal'.

Government amendment No. 229.

Amendment No. 9, in page 44, line 29, leave out— 'the Secretary of State or the immigration officer' and insert "an adjudicator".

Amendment No. 16, in page 44, line 29, leave out— 'Secretary of State or the immigration officer' and insert— 'the adjudicator or the Immigration Appeal Tribunal'.

Government amendments Nos. 230 and 231.

Amendment No. 155, in page 44, line 32, leave out— 'the Secretary of State or an immigration officer' and insert "an adjudicator".

Amendment No. 170, in page 44, line 34, leave out "or matter".

Amendment No. 171, in page 44, line 37, leave out "should" and insert "could reasonably".

Amendment No. 172, in page 44, line 40, leave out— 'would have been permitted or required to raise' and insert "could reasonably have raised".

Amendment No. 173, in page 44, line 43, leave out "or matter".

Amendment No. 156, in page 44, line 44, leave out— 'the Secretary of State or an immigration officer' and insert "an adjudicator".

Amendment No. 174, in page 45, line 1, leave out "or matter".

Government amendment No. 232.

Amendment No. 175, in page 45, line 3, leave out "or matter".

Amendment No. 157, in page 45, line 4, leave out— 'the Secretary of State or an immigration officer' and insert "an adjudicator".

Amendment No. 176, in page 45, line 5, leave out "should" and insert "could reasonably".

Amendment No. 177, in page 45, line 5, leave out "or matter".

Amendment No. 178, in page 45, line 7, leave out from "section" to end of line 8.

Amendment No. 158, in page 45, line 9, leave out— 'the Secretary of State or an immigration officer' and insert "adjudicator".

Amendment No. 179, in page 45, line 10, leave out "or matter".

Amendment No. 159, in page 45, line 12, leave out— 'the Secretary of State or an immigration officer' and insert "adjudicator".

Amendment No. 180, in page 45, line 15, leave out "or matter".

Amendment No. 181, in page 45, line 18, leave out subsection (6).

Government amendments Nos. 233 to 236, 245, 246, 244, 247, 242 and 243.

Mr. Blunkett

We should pause for a moment to determine what it is we are trying to achieve, not only with the changes in the Bill, but in terms of the appeals system. We are trying to ensure, first, that those who have a legitimate claim that their life, liberty and well-being are being threatened are able to make such a claim in this country and have that considered, as we said earlier this evening, speedily and fairly.

At the moment, the volume of claims in this country by those who are subsequently not allowed to remain—because, through the adjudication and appeals system, their claim is turned down—is so substantial that it clogs up the legitimate system for dealing with first decisions and appeals, which, frankly, is grinding to a standstill.

The amount of resource that has been allocated to the system, including support, and the prolonged nature of the way in which the appeals system works means that there is a danger that those who have a legitimate right to be here under the asylum system, as opposed to another form of migration policy, are in danger of being overlooked. We need to concentrate on the objective, which is, rightly, to provide for those who are genuinely at risk.

There is all-party support for this. On Second Reading, the shadow Home Secretary put it very well, when he said that he shared the objective of ensuring the rapid, effective admission of refugees fleeing dreadful persecution and the equally rapid and effective removal of those seeking to use this as opposed to other, legitimate means to enter the country, getting round rather than facing the immigration rules. I agree with that, as I think most people would. We need a system that works on that basis.

Lynne Jones

My right hon. Friend is correct to say that there is agreement on the objective, but he referred to the prolonged nature of the appeals system. In order to deal with that prolonged nature, surely it is necessary to have a robust analysis of the reasons for it. Has that been done?

Mr. Blunkett

Yes, it has. Many of the issues relating to the length of the procedure were outlined in the White Paper on 7 February, which is why we proposed an end-to-end review, starting with the question of induction and reporting, through to the existing dispersal of the new accommodation centres and to the removal provision, as well as a reassessment of the whole appeals process.

On Second Reading, I said that we were not satisfied that we had yet made sufficient progress in relation to the nature of appeals. The multiple opportunities for judicial review that exist—I remember spelling them out on Second Reading—lead to layer upon layer of delay. It is a question not only of the application of the resource that should be going into an assessment of the appeals that are made by those who have escaped from death and torture; there is also a diversion of expertise because it is not simply the resource that has to be applied.

We are doubling the number of people going through the adjudication system and we have massively increased the number of adjudicators in the last year alone. We have increased the staff of the immigration and nationality directorate by about 4,500 over the last two years and we are dealing with the largest number of new applicants currently in Europe, including Germany.

8 pm

It is not that we should not be taking, processing or granting the right to be here for those who have a legitimate claim. It is right for us to take a substantial number of those entering Europe, but we must be able to deal with claims fairly and properly. The shadow Home Secretary had a good point on Second Reading when he related this to Europewide objectives. He said: It would be practical and useful to have a general agreement across Europe that when asylum applicants come from a safe country…they should return to the safe country from which they started their travels to have their application processed there."—[Official Report, 24 April 2002; Vol. 384, c. 359–64.]. On Thursday in Luxembourg, at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, and at the Seville Council the week after, we will promote the idea of rapid improvement and change so that we can get a grip Europewide, collaboratively rather than competitively, on what needs to be done. We need to deal with asylum shopping, which is causing real difficulty, and on which we appear to be the last stop.

Mr. Gregory Barker (Bexhill and Battle)

Under the Home Secretary's criteria, do safe countries include all the applicant countries to the European Union?

Mr. Blunkett

No, there is no list at present, because we need to be clear that anyone who is to be returned under the category of a clearly unfounded claim would not have been at risk in any of the countries that they passed through to get here. We are talking about two categories: clearly unfounded, when people produce no evidence of having been at risk or that the country from which they came was unsafe for them; and the category of those who—there has been considerable debate about this in this country for some time—have not made a claim in any of the countries through which they have passed, where their asylum claim would have been quite legitimate and would have been heard in the same way, although not under precisely the same rules and processes, as in this country.

It is crucial that we are able to deal with those two categories sensibly and sensitively, We need to ensure that people whose claim is certified as clearly unfounded or those who have come through European countries where they would not have been at risk but where they failed to make a claim—so it could be presumed that they were heading for Britain for reasons other than that their life and well-being were at risk—are not returned through the undue use of Executive power. That is why it will be open to them to make an appeal against that certification under judicial review. Obviously, judicial review will establish a set of criteria in relation to the countries in Europe through which such people have passed, to determine whether those countries can be regarded as safe under the terms of the European convention on human rights and whether it is therefore appropriate to return people to them.

If, when we get these changes into statute, certain countries have been allowed into the European Union and have been seen to be providing all the necessary safeguards, it will be ridiculous if the regulations continue to debar us from doing an automatic return to them. Because it would be wrong to have a white list, safe countries must be determined on the evidence provided and in a way that ensures that safeguards are in place.

There is a wider issue—obviously, the Opposition will raise this, and I would have to be very silly not to pick it up, because there is a clear theme running here—concerning whether the assessment of countries is sufficiently clear or rapid. If it is not—which we do not accept—we need an advisory committee to assist us. Such a committee would have to be open and transparent and prepared to have consultations with the Government and the two main Opposition parties on its make-up. It would have to help us with the process without removing the existing formulations, which draw down all the known available evidence. It is important to put that on the table immediately, because no one should get the impression that we are going to put people at risk.

Simon Hughes

The Home Secretary has anticipated that we strongly oppose the new clauses and will seek to divide the House on them later. I do not understand how the Labour party has completely changed its policy over the past few years. In the run-up to the 1997 election, the Home Secretary's predecessor said that removing people before they appeal undermines justice. What has changed? His own figures—validly applauded by himself—show that the rate of making decisions is getting faster, appeals are being held in record numbers and the removal rate of failed applicants has increased. If the system is improving, which we welcome, why is there suddenly a need to do things that many people in the House and elsewhere find thoroughly obnoxious and morally reprehensible?

Mr. Blunkett

It would be obnoxious and reprehensible if we were to return people to regimes that put them at risk or if we did not give them a clear opportunity to make a claim in a legitimate European country, because they wanted to come to Britain. We have to ask why people want to come to Britain. Is it to escape death or torture or because of particular benefits to be found here; or should they be claiming through the new economic migration routes, because they want to work here? Given the number of people who fail to make a valid claim right through the appeals process, there are clearly many who want to work here and are not coming to escape death or torture. That is a simple fact.

The electorate do not fully understand why people who have crowded through the rest of Europe have not chosen to exercise a claim there, even though their reason for being there was escape. Asylum is not a matter of whether people would rather be here. It is fair dos if people really want to be here because they have learned our language over the internet or have friends or family here. Those people should apply through the other routes, many of which we are just opening up in new ways. That is a different matter from facing death or torture.

We need sensible ways of dealing with the matter, especially if we are to open new routes through the United Nations, so that people can claim out of country rather than clandestinely making it through the tunnel or on the ferries or coming through airports with false documentation, which is what many do. Many others make an in-country claim after having been here for a substantial time, sometimes on human rights grounds, having made no such claim at the time of arrival but having decided that it will help them stay. We all know that to be true, because we all see it all the time in our constituency surgeries.

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's direct question is that unfounded claims massively clog up our ability to use the extra staff and resources that we have provided fairly and properly, thereby negating the investment that we have put in. People out there think that we are crackers, and if they think that, they will not warm to the other things that we are saying about tackling prejudice and racism. We need to build trust in the system, so that people welcome warmly those whom they know to have been facing death or persecution.

I am trying to develop a system that does not involve a white list, but which has some common sense built in and which includes proper safeguards for those who genuinely face persecution. That is why there is the right to review and to challenge the decision taken on whether a person's life and liberty is threatened by reason of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, and whether certification should therefore have been made. If those points prove true and the life or well-being of the person concerned is threatened because of that, they would not of course be returned, and their appeal would be heard in this country. The same is true of all who present some founded claim the moment that they arrive, or who have some legitimate proof that they were at threat or that their country of origin had presented a threat in recent times.

I accept that we were fairly slow on the uptake in respect of Zimbabwe, but we did not put people's lives at risk. We halted the returns and listened to what was being said, including by my own party and the Opposition parties. I mention my party because I was touched by the deep concern expressed earlier today by members of the Conservative party for my well-being within my own ranks. It was clear that I had their support in taking into account Labour party views, and that certainly made me feel much better.

The second criterion is that we will not send someone back to a place from which they will be sent to another country, other than in accordance with the refugee convention. In other words, we will not return people in circumstances in which they will not enjoy the protection of the 1951 convention. Those safeguards are built in; we are simply trying to turn away people who have no right to be here, and to send them back even in cases where we will grant them an out-of-country appeal.

Simon Hughes


Mr. Michael Weir (Angus)


Mr. Blunkett

To varying degrees, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Finland have policies that allow out-of-country appeals to be heard. They are not countries that anyone would describe as illiberal, albeit that the changes are being introduced in Denmark are draconian. However, I am talking about the situation before the recent parliamentary debate and the legislation that was passed by the Danish Assembly.

Simon Hughes

The Home Secretary knows that we support the introduction of resettlement programmes and other routes into the country for people who are genuine economic migrants. We welcome that initiative and have said as much publicly and privately. However, does he accept the view of British courts that out-of-country appeals are in many cases almost valueless? The reality is that many people do not appeal, and in effect the system is making it impossible for many to do so. The system appears intentionally to be driving down appeals. The Home Secretary and I seemed to agree in an earlier debate that between 40 and 50 per cent. of all claims in the past 10 years were accepted under one heading or another. It is surely wrong, therefore, for significant numbers—at least one in five—to be forced out of the country before their cases, which might eventually be accepted, can be determined here.

Mr. Blunkett

That would be true if they were at risk in the country to which they return, but I am desperately keen to ensure that they are not so at risk. If they have a personal reason for wanting to pursue the appeal, we should facilitate their doing so. It is a lot easier to do so now than it was even five years ago, thanks to the internet and other communication methods, as well as to more traditional ways. Incidentally, it is not uncommon for paper appeals to be heard in circumstances where a person cannot attend an appeal in this country or in other European countries. Lawyers are familiar with such situations.

A person may well not appeal in a country that operates an out-of-country appeal because they recognise that they have no ground for an appeal and that it will prove unsuccessful. So long as legal support, asylum support and accommodation is available, and so long as another appeal is available somewhere along the line, people are inclined to use it. Indeed, the fact is that many lawyers are inclined to encourage them to do so. That is why our process is so prolonged. As I have said, that distracts from those who have a legitimate right to have their appeal thoroughly aired.

8.15 pm

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) and I had not a disagreement but a useful exchange on Second Reading about the percentage who stay. I agreed that if we added in the cases of exceptional and indefinite leave to remain, his figures were correct, so we eventually concluded that we were both right. Indeed, I remember the exchange well. However, the trouble is that exceptional leave had to be used in cases where everyone accepted that the country in question was not safe to return to. In Afghanistan—I mention it purely as an example—a great deal of heartache arid human and military resources, have been expended to re-establish safety and civilisation and to put Afghans back in charge of their country. However, what is to say that such people will still not attempt to come to this country? Some 9,600 have done so in the past year. Exceptional leave to remain was granted, even if the claim was not accepted, because we did not wish to return people.

Of course, the point is rapidly coming where we can encourage and support people in returning to Afghanistan—with the help, I hope, of the rest of Europe. We can then ask whether it is legitimate to suggest that they remain at risk from the Taliban, given that the Taliban no longer run the country. Such simple questions must be asked and answered, so that people who are genuinely fleeing persecution can be helped. I do not want to over-egg the point, and I know that many hon. Members will want to intervene, not least to clarify certain matters. However, in terms of returning people to European countries from whence they came, proper certification, judicial review and establishing which countries can legitimately be regarded as safe constitute a reasonable set of presumptions through which to get the matter right.

Mr. Weir

I understand the Secretary of State's argument, but his concentrating on countries rather than individual cases gives me cause for concern. A particular country could be safe by and large, but it might not be so for certain individuals. A current example is India. By and large, someone returning to India may be relatively safe, but that is not necessarily true if they originate from Kashmir, for example. In concentrating on the country rather than the individual, the danger is that injustice might be done.

Mr. Blunkett

If a person can provide any evidence whatsoever that clearly shows a founded fear—within the terms that I have described, and with which we are all familiar—their claim would still be heard. They would not simply be returned. However, India is not a good example. We are discussing not countries that are threatening each other with military conflict, but people who are persecuted and threatened with death or torture by a particular state or—under the wider definition of the 1951 convention—other organised groups that put them at risk.

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough)

I appreciate that a person could make an appeal from overseas that deals with the merits of the case, but I am concerned about judicial oversight of the process of certification. Many people find judicial review an expensive, alien and complicated process, to which they do not necessarily have easy access. Is there not a way to ensure some oversight of the certification process? I have a lot of confidence in the Secretary of State, but not in every possible holder of that office. I am concerned that the certification process could be misused in such a way that someone who is genuinely in fear of persecution might not have their right to asylum protected.

Mr. Blunkett

Given the long-standing and deep interest that my hon. Friend has in those issues and her knowledge of them, I take seriously what she says. We would all wish to ensure that the initial decision—the certification—is carried oui by professionals trained for the job, and that the possibility of review is readily available. I envisage that on issues relating to the nature of the risk in a particular country, we will wish to facilitate a rapid testing of the initial decision. We will also wish to be able to test the situation further, following any changes in that country. We are keen to establish a pattern that will be checked by the judiciary on certification to provide us with a base on which to make common-sense decisions. People will then know that the system is fair and credible.

The same is true of returning people to other European countries. In the end, a sensible bilateral agreement with those countries, as part of a longer-term revision of the Dublin agreement, must be the way forward. I will take every step possible, after next Sunday's concluding election in France, to do that. The interim Interior Minister has shown a willingness to achieve that aim and our position will be strengthened by the vote tonight. The interim Minister accepts entirely the rule of law and has written to me to indicate that he accepts the spirit of the new clauses and the way we are proceeding. Some tough negotiations will be necessary, but to have the ability to return people to France—we have been able to return almost 6,000 people who came for other purposes but did not claim asylum—makes sense.

We return almost 6,000 people a year, as I have said before—including during the question and answer session on the White Paper—but we do not return those who mention the words "asylum claim" when they hit our turf, even though they might have just come from France or Belgium and did not claim asylum there. We are trying to get the position right in the way that the Danes and the Germans have managed to get it right. Other countries are also keen to achieve that. The problem needs to be seen in the context of bilateral and multilateral agreements across Europe, with us taking a lead rationally and sensibly, instead of clamping down unacceptably as Denmark has, which has led to great disquiet and social uncohesion—if there is such a word.

Lynne Jones

Will one of the proposals that my right hon. Friend puts to the new French Government be an agreement that UK immigration officers should visit places such as Sangatte and interview those people who are attempting to reach this country as asylum seekers, so that their claims can be assessed there?

Mr. Blunkett

As part of bilateral and multilateral Europewide agreements, I would not rule out the use of our immigration officers and support staff working on other national territories, but I do not wish to be tempted into discussing what might be agreed for Sangatte, because that might start some hares running that I could do without. I have not even started negotiating on Sangatte, despite the Catholic weekly magazine and the interview with the interim Social Affairs Minister that led the Leader of the Opposition to write an intemperate article in the Daily Mail that presumed I had already given all my cards away. In fact, I am trying my best to strengthen my hand tonight with a few aces and I hope that the Opposition parties will assist me in doing so.

In the end, we want Sangatte closed under proper procedures that do not result in people on the streets of Calais and surrounding areas. We do not want people trying to get here in, on or under trains, or by other routes across the channel. We want people to come here fairly, under Europewide agreements that allow us to assess and return them if that is the sensible approach. That is what I will suggest on Thursday in Luxembourg, and in that spirit I ask the House to support the new clauses and the associated amendments.

Mr. Letwin

I welcome what has been a slow but steady acclimatisation on the part of the Home Secretary to the merits of the argument that we began making about eight months ago—that the resuscitation of the bilateral agreement and, as far as possible, multilateral agreements that work is key to resolving the chaos of the asylum system. He has even moved a little further today than in the past few weeks, and that is very welcome. We want to strengthen his hand, and he is right to say that some parts of new clauses 14 and 15—the meat before us tonight—will have that effect, or at least seek to achieve it.

New clause 14(3) and (4) have that intention and are welcome. New clause 15(2), (4) and (5) also seek to achieve that effect. If I have understood the articulation of those subsections correctly, they relate precisely to the case in which a person comes to the UK having most immediately been in a country other than their country of origin. In the example of France, the provisions would allow the Home Secretary, if he is equipped with the appropriate bilateral or multilateral agreement, to remove the person back to that safe country without the possibility of appeal. That is clearly an appropriate legislative underpinning for the resuscitation of the 24-hour rule that obtained in the bilateral agreement while it was in force, and we support it as a necessary consequence of our long-term argument in favour of the resumption of such an agreement. On that point, we are not one iota apart from the Home Secretary.

As I mentioned when we debated the initial question of the recommittal of the new clause to Committee, the problem that we face is that the Home Secretary has ingeniously allied the subsections that I just mentioned to other subsections—new clause 14(2) and new clause 15(1) and (3). Those subsections are about something different. They have the intention that the Home Secretary—which in this case means a rather junior official acting on behalf of the Home Secretary—should be able to make the judgment that a particular application is "unfounded". It is extraordinarily difficult to know how the official in question will make the decision that a claim is unfounded. By its very character, the decision is difficult to make.

In his remarks on this group, the Home Secretary mentioned frequently the example of a case in which the person presents no evidence at all. In such a case, I accept that it is relatively easy to decide that a claim is unfounded. When people who wander in and claim asylum are asked for evidence that they are subject to persecution and are unable to say anything at all, in any language, that might suggest that they have ever been or would ever be subject to persecution, I am bound by logic to accept that their claims would be, in any ordinary sense, unfounded.

8.30 pm

However, the number of such claims is, of course, minimal. Most of the people whom we are discussing in connection with the subsections will have said something in defence of their claims. They may not have said very much, or been very articulate, and they may have spoken about countries that, on the whole, are not very dangerous. Yet they undoubtedly will have said something, and the subsections to which I referred will call on junior officials to make the judgment that their claims are utterly unfounded, when such judgments might otherwise have fallen to an adjudicator on appeal.

The Home Secretary sought to counter what he suspected would be one limb of my argument when he spoke about the advisory committee that he wants to establish. That committee will decide whether the country in question might be dangerous.

I welcome the Home Secretary's idea of an advisory committee, although it does not go far enough. I do not accept that the present system of country risk assessment is merely in need of oversight by an advisory committee. That oversight is welcome, but the present system of country assessment is woefully and intrinsically deficient. I do not believe it likely that any Government agency will ever be able to conduct country risk assessments with the speed and confidence necessary to allow a junior official to decide that a claim is wholly unfounded, and to do so with the conviction required to sustain judicial review, among other things.

If the Home Secretary wants new clause 14(2) or new clause 15(1) and (3) to have any chance of sustaining themselves under judicial review, he will need to move to genuinely independent country risk assessment, at the very least. Even with that, there is a real question about whether it is proper for a junior official to decide whether a claim is unfounded, and to force the person involved back to the country from which he or she came—if, indeed, that is possible. That person would then have to conduct an appeal from that country. If the junior official makes an error, I have the gravest reservations about whether the case could be brought to a just conclusion.

The Opposition face a great difficulty, therefore. We want to back the Home Secretary in some subsections of the new clauses. Those provisions are necessary and safe, and there is no question that returning a person to France, Denmark or any EU country, for example, is anything but a perfectly legitimate act for the British state. It runs no risk of compromising that person's life or liberty. However, by the same token, we want to resist new clause 14(2) and new clause 15(1) and (3). The Home Secretary has so designed the new clauses as to ensure that we cannot achieve both desires simultaneously.

I suspect that the matter will be pressed to a Division by Liberal Democrat Members. If so, we will vote with the Government and against the Liberal Democrats, although we will have to hold our noses over the subsections of which we disapprove. We will seek to engage the interest of our noble Friends in another place to disentangle new clause 14(2) and new clause 15(1) and (3) from those other provisions with which we agree.

I fear that that will lead, yet again, to debate and discussion taking place between Members of the two Houses. That is not, I think, one of the Home Secretary's favourite occupations, but I see no other way to make progress. I am determined that we should give the Home Secretary the support that he deserves in regard to those provisions that are right and which make it possible to imagine that bilateral agreements will come hack into play. However, I intend to preserve our determination to avoid, if we can, compromising improperly the safety of individuals through those subsections that pose a threat to their safety.

Mr. Gerrard

I shall make a brief contribution to the debate. I understand the concerns expressed by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary about the way in which the process is sometimes dragged out deliberately by advisers and lawyers who know from the start that victory in a case is unlikely. Those of us who deal with asylum cases will be familiar with those instances in which atrocious advice is deliberately given with no other aim than to drag the process out. We all see such cases, and I understand my right hon. Friend's concern about them.

A proposal similar to the one in the new clause was contained in the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. I remember the debates on that legislation, in which we discussed proposals from the then Home Secretary that would have allowed people with manifestly unfounded cases to be sent back to the countries from which they had arrived. The proposals then allowed those people to mount appeals from those countries.

In the 1996 debates, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was the shadow Home Secretary. His view as to whether the proposed course of action was right was rather different then. Some of the concerns raised about the proposals in the 1996 Act are being raised again about the provisions in the new clauses.

We can tell people removed to a third country that they have a right of appeal from that country, but we cannot guarantee that that person will be allowed to stay in that third country until an appeal is heard. It is quite possible that they will be sent on somewhere else, or back to where they came from. We have no control over such people once they have been removed from the UK.

Experience with other appeals, such as family visit appeals, that are held on paper as opposed to being held in person, shows that adjudicators trying to judge the credibility of a person's story are more likely to respond positively when they can hear that person speak. That can be of critical importance when adjudicators come to decide whether an appeal should be allowed.

I should like some clarification because, from my reading of the new clause, it seems to deal only with removals to a safe third country as it refers to a country of which a person is not a national or citizen".

Mr. Letwin

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will receive the clarification that he seeks. I did not read the new clause that way, as he will have noticed. So far as I can see, subsection (2) applies specifically to the opposite case: to someone who is not being returned to a country of which that person is not a national—not another safe country—but to the country of which that person is or may be a national—an unsafe country, potentially.

Mr. Gerrard

That is an important point, and I want to be clear about it. Subsection (3) is quite clear, but some of the briefings and reports sent to us by outside organisations suggest that someone could be summarily removed back to their country of origin. I would be seriously concerned if that were the impact of subsection (2).

Much of the debate so far has focused on sending people back to France, Germany or Denmark, where they might have been able to claim asylum but did not, as opposed to sending them back directly to their country of origin. That is an important issue, and I would like the meaning of subsection (2) to be made absolutely clear. Does it mean that people can be summarily returned to their country of origin? If that is a possibility, it puts a very different perspective on the new clause.

We have already referred to who will make the decisions on certification and how those might be challenged. If decisions on certification are to be made by a caseworker at a port of entry, perhaps very quickly, and even though, on paper, a judicial review might be possible, it might be difficult for someone to take that route if they have been unable to obtain easy access to legal advice, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart).

Oakington has been described as a place that would be used for cases that appeared to be unfounded. A pattern seems to be emerging that the people sent to Oakington are from certain countries origin. One wonders whether that is the criterion, rather than what the individual said when arriving at the port of entry. We will get close, if we are not careful, to a white list in another form if countries of origin become one of the main deciding factors in whether a case is manifestly unfounded.

One of my greatest concerns is that this could be a critical decision affecting the individual, particularly if it involves summary return to the country of origin. It is essential, therefore, to get the initial decision right. Comments made by the hon Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) rang some bells. It is easy to talk as if there are only two classes of asylum claimants—those who will be given asylum because their cases are evidently well founded, and those, at the other extreme, whose cases do not have a shred of credibility. The reality, however, is that among the many thousands of people who claim asylum each year is a whole spectrum of cases, from one extreme to the other. We are trying to draw lines in that spectrum. Inevitably, with regard to which cases are certified and which are not, people will be bunched around that line. There will be very fine divisions between claims being certified or not. It concerns me that very small differences between individuals might lead them to be dealt with in significantly different ways in respect of whether they have a right of appeal.

Mr. Patrick Hall (Bedford)

My hon. Friend is making some useful points about the principles of out-of-country appeals. Does he share my concerns about the practicalities of a person who is removed from the country without having completed or begun an appeal here doing so from another country? What are the resource implications? What support would there be? Would it be through a British overseas post, which, as we know from dealing with ordinary matters are already under pressure, or would it be down to the individual to write, presumably in English, to the authorities in this country? Has my hon. Friend given some thought to the practicalities, never mind the principles, of the issue?

8.45 pm
Mr. Gerrard

That is an important point. Nothing in the Bill gives us an answer to that question. Let us assume that a person could act in various ways—they could pursue their appeal by writing, using the internet or visiting a British post overseas. That, of course, gives rise to other practical questions. How does that person obtain representation at their appeal? It would probably not be much good for them to try to use a lawyer in another country who was not familiar with British law, but how would they make contact with a lawyer in this country? How would they brief the lawyer, and where would they find the resources to conduct an appeal?

Such situations are different from other appeals conducted from overseas. For example, in family visitor appeals there will inevitably be sponsors in the UK who can help with some of the problems of finding representation in this country.

Mr. Letwin

Is there not another and more fundamental difference? If a person is sent back to the country of origin—if that is indeed the purport of subsection (2) of new clause 14—will it not immediately be evident either that the decision that the claim was unfounded was true and that the person has no basis for appeal because they are happily situated back in their own country, or, unhappily for economic reasons only; or that the claim was not unfounded and the person is in the most dire straits? In that case, how on earth can they conduct an appeal if they are being chopped up by some appalling regime to which they have been sent back by mistake? I cannot see—can the hon. Gentleman?—how an in-country appeal can resolve any problem that might arise under subsection (2).

Mr. Gerrard

The hon. Gentleman is right. If a mistake is made, it is difficult to see how the consequences can be other than extremely serious for the person returned on the basis of an unfounded claim.

Mr. Blunkett

We must not misunderstand each other. My hon. Friend has been putting his case extremely carefully and credibly, but we must not misunderstand what the shadow Home Secretary has just said. I spelled out the unacceptable risks, on which we are all agreed, and we are not intent on sending people back to countries that would chop someone up, in the words of the hon. Gentleman—or anything like it. We know of no country that has it in for one person alone, as regards taking away their rights and exposing them to the danger of death or torture as individuals, as opposed to the groups to which they belong, the religion they hold, the politics they espouse or any of the other things that I read out. I was specific about that because it is in those terms that we are talking about returning people.

Mr. Gerrard

I completely accept my right hon. Friend's point, but I question whether the proposed system will deliver what he says and whether there might not be a risk of serious problems for some individuals whose claim has been certified as unfounded.

Fiona Mactaggart

It may help my hon. Friend if I give an example of a case where such risks might occur in a country that is usually safe for most people. In parts of some countries, female genital mutilation is practised on young women and there is no adequate protection for them. That happens in countries to which we might consider returning people. I am not clear that the procedures would offer adequate protection that such practices could never happen.

Mr. Gerrard

My hon. Friend makes an extremely valid point. Such issues have always given rise to difficulty—whether only part of a country is safe and whether the person being returned actually ends up in the part of the country that is supposed to be safe.

My final point relates to new clause 15. My understanding is that it would apply to cases that were already in the system. An appeal might already be in progress under the existing system, but under the new clause the process could be stopped before the appeal was heard, the case could be certified as unfounded and the person could be removed. Retrospective legislation of any sort always concerns me. If that is the effect of new clause 15, I would be extremely worried.

Simon Hughes

I indicated earlier that my hon. Friends and I would divide the House at the end of this debate on the two Government new clauses. It might be helpful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, if I also indicate that we will seek to divide the House on our amendment No. 13. Of the many amendments in this group that Mr. Speaker has selected, it addresses one of the other issues that, in our view, goes most to the heart of what is wrong with many of these sets of proposals.

We may debate this later in the day when some of the heat and noise has gone out of the earlier exchanges—both those that happened and those that were expected to happen but did not—on education. We regret the failure to allow the time for such debate. In my view, we shall not have the time, with an hour and 10 minutes left, to complete the business schedule for today by any means. There are four groups of amendments on appeals—this is the first, and there are three remaining. We may not get beyond this debate by 10 o'clock, and that will be the end of it.

In this context, we are discussing the protection by law of some of the most vulnerable people who ever come to Britain to seek protection. It is unacceptable that Parliament should have to debate proposals put down on Friday afternoon, and published for the first time and available to colleagues for the first time yesterday morning, which nobody has been able to amend, even though we are meant to be able to amend new clauses and schedules on Report. It would not be acceptable even if they were relatively unimportant new clauses and new schedules. It is fundamentally unacceptable when they relate to the right of the courts to oversee the actions of the Executive and the process of appeals, and when they relate to this entirely new proposal, which, as I indicated to colleagues, the Labour party opposed five years ago—that an immigrant or asylum seeker may have to go abroad to pursue their case, but anybody else can have their case dealt with here.

It is fundamentally wrong as a matter of principle that if one comes here seeking shelter, one should not have the same appeal rights as someone who has gone through the employment appeal tribunal on an employment matter, through the social security appeal tribunal against a decision of the Executive on social security, or through the tax appeal system, for example. On behalf of my colleagues, I want to register our dissatisfaction with the process as well as the substance.

I shall give one example only of why what the Government are doing is fundamentally wrong. It relates to the intervention of the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), in terms of the kind of issue that it raises. A well known case called Islam and Shah went to the House of Lords in 1999; it got there after an application for judicial review. It went through the process in the following way. Originally, the case had been put to the adjudicator and lost by the individual applicant. She was refused leave to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. She applied for and obtained judicial review of the tribunal's refusal. The Home Office then appealed to the Court of Appeal and won. She then appealed to the House of Lords and won. It was not on an insignificant issue but on a hugely important issue relating to the rights of women in Pakistan. In many ways, that country might be regarded as one where proper process, in many years, might be acceptable, but the House of Lords was very clear that its decision was merited by a hugely important matter.

Let me set out what the Lords decided as regards whether someone could seek asylum on the basis of being a refugee as a result of belonging to a particular social group, which in some parts of the world could be women, people of a particular age, or people of a particular sexuality. For example, homosexuality is unacceptable in Nigeria and the safety of a homosexual who wants to return there might be at risk in some parts of the country.

The House of Lords said: a 'particular social group' consisted of a group of persons who share a common, immutable characteristic that either was beyond the power of an individual to change or was so fundamental to the individual's identity or conscience that it ought not to be required to be changed. The existence of such a group did not, however, depend on an element of cohesiveness or co-operation or interdependence amongst the members of the group. Thus, as gender was an immutable characteristic that was beyond the power of the individual to change and as discrimination against women was prevalent in Pakistan in violation of fundamental rights and freedoms, women in Pakistan constituted a 'particular social group', within the terms of Art 1A(2) of the 1951 convention on refugees.

The ruling continued: Accordingly, as the appellants were members of a particular social group in Pakistan and as the Pakistani authorities were unable or unwilling to protect them against gender-related persecution, it would be contrary to the UK's obligations under the 1951 Convention for that person to be required to leave the UK and her appeal would have to be reconsidered by the Tribunal. That woman came to this country and a couple of years ago the highest court in the land decided to uphold her case. However, it was upheld only because she had the right to have an Executive decision heard by our independent judiciary.

It is important not only to separate the powers of the Executive and the judiciary, but to understand that we often win the argument only because we have had the debate, like we did today. The hon. Member for Slough and others know that from their work before they came here. We do not stand a chance of winning a case if the only alternative is to have the papers looked at by someone in authority, with no chance of anyone putting the argument, which is what the Government propose.

Many of the greatest decisions in favour of liberty have been taken by courts in this land, the United States and elsewhere only because there has been debate and a court has been persuaded. The Government, to their shame, are suggesting that a group of people—not you or me, Madam Deputy Speaker, but people who have been subjected to the most awful circumstances before they arrive here—are deprived of that right. That must be wrong.

Mr. Barker

The hon. Gentleman's points are serious and important. I endorse what he says about the appalling lack of time available to scrutinise all the amendments properly. However, for the sake of clarity, is he saying that under the terms of the group criteria, the British Government should offer asylum to the entire female population of Pakistan? I may be wrong, but is that the essence of his argument?

Simon Hughes

The trouble with the debate is that we have such limited time in which to discuss the issues, and the matter that the hon. Gentleman raises is precisely what we should be considering. I have with me a sheaf of papers from Amnesty International, which knows what it is talking about, the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, the Immigration Advisory Service and the Refugee Legal Centre. They all say, first, that we have not had time to consider people's concerns properly, and, secondly, that the proposal is profoundly wrong.

9 pm

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's specific question is no—the only asylum issues that are dealt with here concern those who get here to put their case. That is one of the flaws of the system, and it is one reason why the Secretary of State rightly says that we must try to have a saner system that does not require people illegally to board a channel tunnel train and put themselves and others at risk. However, if a Pakistani woman were here and there was evidence that she came from a part of Pakistan where she would be at risk, she would be entitled to asylum. The refugee convention, drafted by British lawyers after the war, was introduced specifically to ensure, among other things, that people in need could put their case when they found somewhere safe away from their own country.

The great bulk of refugees do not come to Britain. It is not as if all the world's refugees were coming here. That is another fallacy perpetuated by tabloid newspapers. Most refugees are in places such as Pakistan and the central African states. Europe has a very small proportion of the world's refugees, and of that proportion we have a very small number. There may have been between 70,000 and 80,000 applicants, but they constitute a relatively small proportion of those coming to Europe. The numbers go up and down, and although at the moment the United Kingdom and Germany have the highest numbers, that has not always been the case.

Crucially, between 40 and 50 per cent. of those who have come here in the past 10 years have had their claim upheld. It is not as if all those people were putting dud cases. Of course there are economic migrants who try to claim asylum—I know them and I have dealt with them, as we all have. However, between 40 and 50 per cent. are not like that.

I want to give the House a few more figures, which are not an invention but come from a written answer given by Ministers. On 19 April, at column 1259W, Ministers gave figures for the outcome of asylum appeals at judicial review for the last two years for which figures are available. In 2000, 365 judicial review applications were allowed out of a total of 755 made. By my calculation, that means that almost half of them succeeded. In 2001, 260 applications were allowed out of 390 made, which is well over half. The total for the two years is 625 applications allowed out of 1,145. Those are not my figures; they were given by the Government in a parliamentary answer. They show how important judicial review is.

There are many proposals in this group of new clauses and amendments, and I shall state briefly—I hope that it will take no longer than 10 minutes—why I hope that colleagues from all parties will support us. I understand and respect the difficulty experienced by Conservative Front Benchers, but I hope that Conservative Back Benchers and Labour friends and colleagues will support us in saying that the Bill is not acceptable.

I understand the pressure on Governments to try to hay.: a co-ordinated European policy, and I welcome that effort. However, that does not mean that we have to misrepresent the position and take measures that are unnecessary and positively harmful. I quote to the Home Secretary a letter of 15 May 2002 from the then Minister of State, Lord Rooker, which sets out how the Government are succeeding on asylum: The rate of making decisions is faster; appeals are being heard in record numbers…and the rate of removal of failed applicants has increased. Last month, then, the Government were saying, "We are doing better."

We know that on the very day the letter, headed "asylum constituency casework", was sent to colleagues, the Prime Minister was meeting Ministers to discuss what action was required to reduce the number of unfounded asylum applications. One idea put to that ministerial group by civil servants was that it might be worth considering taking Department for International Development aid away from poor countries where large numbers of asylum seekers originate. I do not pretend that the Government adopted that suggestion, but it is the sort of idea that is being put to Ministers as part of the process.

Some of us, including the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) and the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, served on the Standing Committee on the Bill. During the Committee stage, the Government said that they would table some amendments—and they did. However, more announcements were made on 30 May, after the Committee had finished. It was announced that, in addition to the tightening up, the appeal on the papers alone and the removal of judicial review—all of which were introduced by the Government to their own Bill only after Second Reading—asylum appeals would have to be made outside the United Kingdom.

Let me explain why such a system is unacceptable, even if one or two other countries use it. First, all the evidence is that a person in France—to take the easiest case—will not have the same access to lawyers and advisers who can help in the British appeals system as a person here would have. In reality, such people's ability to lodge and argue an appeal does not work in the same way as it would if they were here. It is paradoxical that people who try to enter this country as immigrants and are turned down in, say, Tanzania or Lagos have their appeal heard here, but people who are here will now have to have their appeal heard here when they are somewhere else. That is simply illogical.

Worse than that, it is suggested that such people can go to one of two places. They can return to the country from which they came. Let us be realistic. The person from Kosovo who came to my constituency advice surgery three years ago, before there was peace in the Balkans, was hardly going to go back to Kosovo. A person who came here more recently from Afghanistan is hardly going to go back there. The fact that we are holding meetings with the Government of Afghanistan does not reassure people that the country is now entirely safe. I hope and pray that it will be safe, and it may well become so, but it will not become safe in a week, or a month, or even three months—life is not like that. The fears that drove people to leave will not suddenly be alleviated.

The Government offer those people an alternative, which is to go back to the last safe country they were in. I understand the logic of that, but it is actually a form of pass the parcel—passing the responsibility. It says that such people are not our business—pass them to France. I went to Sangatte and talked to the people in the camp, and I honestly believe that many of them did not know how they got there. They came across Europe in a lorry, not knowing whether they crossed over the Romanian frontier, the Polish frontier, or the German frontier first. They do not know their point of entry into the EU—they did not go through passport control. What was the first safe country? What do the French do—send them to Germany? What do the Germans do—send them to Austria?

That is a nonsensical system, it is nonsensical that we are playing into that system, and it is an unacceptable system for us to adopt. The proposals are not merely dangerous to the interests of the applicant; they are bad policy if what we want is a coherent system for dealing with asylum and immigration.

Mike Gapes

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Simon Hughes

No. I have told the hon. Gentleman that he does not nonnally make helpful interventions. He has made one unhelpful intervention today and I am certainly not going to give him the chance to make another.

The second argument that the Government might advance is that we need to pass the Bill as an emergency measure. We heard that argument last autumn and winter in respect of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill, and we accepted that there was an emergency. However, the Bill before us now is not an emergency measure. There is no justification for not carrying out proper scrutiny or for making bad decisions.

I hope that hon. Members have had a chance to read the representations from bodies such zas Amnesty International which make it clear that the Bill embodies unacceptable decisions and proposals. I shall quote only Amnesty International, which says: The provisions set out in Part 5 of the…Bill represent a profound attack on the right of appeal of asylum seekers. Amnesty International believes that, given the well-documented flaws in our asylum determination procedures, adequate appeal rights are an essential safeguard against erroneous decisions. Home Office statistics indicate a steady increase in the proportion of successful appeals, with the most recent figures showing a success rate of nearly one in four. If, under criminal law, one in four innocent British people were convicted, there would be an outcry, yet the Government are willing to put before Parliament a provision that will reduce the percentage of appellants who put their case fairly and succeed. That is not right and cannot be justified on the grounds of an emergency; there is no reason for treating the Bill in the same way as the anti-terrorism legislation that we passed last year.

It is now Government policy that the Government decide which claims are unfounded. That is unacceptable; it cannot be right that the Executive, who make the first decision, then decide whether or not there is a case further up the appeal ladder. The whole idea is that somebody else reviews the initial decision, not the Secretary of State. May I tell the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, who has just assumed responsibility for this, that the initial decision is often overturned—something which might have been considered unfounded has been shown not to be so? I therefore agree with the point made by the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard).

The difference between the proposals and the old white list, which the Labour Government, to their credit, abolished, is not clear. Under that system, someone would be treated as safe or unsafe depending on which country they came from. There has been no confirmation that clearly unfounded claims will not be similarly categorised Dow. It is not as if the matter has not been considered before, as it has been discussed by parliamentary Committees, particularly in the other place, which have said that the proposal to change the law is bad news. The } louse of Lords European Union Committee, after taking evidence, produced a report on minimum standards in asylum procedures. It said: Whether so-called fast-track or accelerated procedures are in practice efficient has been questioned. The evidence we received, especially that from the appellate authorities, suggested that they were not. Witnesses pointed out the adverse effects, in terms of diverting resources, delaying other proceedings and placing burdens on the judicial process. We can see no benefit in the retention of such procedures and we have doubts whether an accelerated procedure has a place in the Directive. All cases, including manifestly unfounded ones, should be dealt with on their merits speedily within an efficient 'regular' procedure. That would also apply to manifestly well-founded cases. The general principle stated in Article 33(1) that appeals shall have suspensive effect is one of the major procedural safeguards established by the Directive. I repeat for the benefit of colleagues that one of the best protections for appellants is protection against getting thrown out of the country before their appeal is heard. May I tell Ministers that if, by any chance, the provision gets through the House of Lords, and the courts when it is tested there—I hope that, if it succeeds here, it will fail in the Lords; but if it does not, I hope that it fails in the courts—the Government will have to deal with the consequences? Instead of people being able to go for judicial review, they will come to Members of Parliament. Calls will regularly be made to the Home Office duty officers who, if they do not decide to detain someone before they get on the plane, will call on Ministers to intervene; injunctions will be served on the Government; and people will be taken off planes because they are about to be sent back to unsafe countries.

That is undesirable for the Government, given the image of Britain as a supposed safe haven. However, they may have decided that it is all about playing and looking tough; they may want to sound tough before the Seville and Luxembourg summits so that other European countries can follow us. The Government tried such an approach on terrorism. They derogated from the European convention on human rights and said that that was justified and that all other European countries would follow them. Nobody has followed. No other European Union country has done the same thing or decided that the events of 11 September justify such derogation. The Government should not believe that adopting macho postures to the detriment of many vulnerable individuals is an appropriate response.

9.15 pm

I apologise not only for taking relatively more time than I did earlier, but for being absolutely unable to do justice in such a short contribution to the significant number of points that have been made by those who know what they are talking about in relation to immigration and asylum and who have made the strongest representations about why judicial review is not a hindrance but a help, about why Governments should not seek to reduce such review, and about an approach whose basis is not argument about the facts, but a consideration of whether a reasonable decision was taken by the Executive authority. Those people have made the case for why it is important that people should be allowed to put their case clearly.

As far as I have been able to gather, all those who have been consulted have concluded that the people who work in the system as practitioners believe that a reduction of rights is not what is needed. They do not want an approach in which cases are decided only on the basis of the papers involved and in which people's rights to judicial review are taken away. They do not want the Lord Chancellor to be given power to take away rights, or provisions such as those before us which add to the right to penalise those who represent the applicant by awarding costs against them. There is no equivalent right to penalise the Home Office, which is often the cause of delay. The treatment is absolutely unequal. People tell me that as many delays are caused by the Home Office as by applicants' representatives; and such delays frequently arise.

People also believe that they cannot trust adjudicators any more. The hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) gave the example of an accommodation centre for Somali citizens with an adjudicator who is well versed in affairs in Somalia. Such a person would be perfectly able to tell whether good cases were being made or whether somebody was trying to play along with the court and delay matters unnecessarily. We are talking about the Government not trusting the independent authorities to make independent decisions with which they are comfortable.

The provisions are not an acceptable series of interventions. If the people making the representations believe there is a need for more resources, mote adjudicators, more people in the Immigration Appeal Tribunal or more civil servants working in the system, let us remedy that failing. If Home Office bureaucracy is the failing, let us deal with it, but let us not visit the sins of the Home Office and our systems in recent years on the sons and daughters of people who come to this country because we have a reputation for being a defender of human rights.

The reasons why people come here may vary and depend on where they come from, but those people should expect the same service and upholding of rights as the rest of us. It is a theological and a civic moral premise that the way in which we deal with the least of our brethren—those with least resources and ability to look after themselves—is the way in which we should be judged and expect to be dealt with ourselves.

The new clauses are profoundly wrong, as are existing parts of the Bill. I hope that they will receive significant opposition in the Lobby.

Mr. Cameron

I want briefly to speak to new clauses 14 and 15. It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes), although he tends to speak expansively on these subjects, so that, like many liberals down the ages, I feel that I am being pushed towards the guillotine.

I agree fundamentally with what my hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) said about our desire to unpack the new clauses, although I respect what the Home Secretary said about the oversight committee considering the assessment of countries. That will help, although we wish that it went further. I want to make two points and ask a question. Before I do so, I want to say how depressing it is to see such fundamental proposals coming before us with so little time for consideration.

I did not serve on the Committee, so I come fresh to many parts of the Bill. There are just 12, or perhaps 24, hours to consider fundamental provisions that appear to take whole classes of people out of the ability to appeal and to represent huge attempts to limit the relevance of the Human Rights Act 1998 and other legislation. That is difficult to get to grips with. I have been relying on what the Minister for Social Exclusion said on "Question Time" on television to understand some of the beliefs that lie behind the provisions. If the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard), who is a great expert in this area, finds it hard to understand, what hope is there for the rest of us?

On the first of my two points, the new clauses are not much use without bilateral agreements, especially with France. Will the Minister say more about the timetable for securing that bilateral agreement? It is no good being able to send people back to the safe country from which they came—in many cases, France—if that agreement is not in place. What plans do the Government have for bilateral agreements with other countries that asylum seekers are using as a jumping-off point?

Secondly, the new clauses seem, in the most negative way, to invite judicial review. Subsection (3) of new clause 14 states: A person who is in the United Kingdom may not bring an appeal to which this section applies…if the Secretary of State certifies that—… (b) there is no reason to believe that the person's rights under the Human Rights Convention will be breached in that country. That is almost begging the courts to take a different view from that of the Home Secretary. That is likely to lead to many judicial reviews. How much of the Bill will survive? How much time has been put into thinking about it in the Home Office? We certainly have little time to consider it now.

My question is aimed at clarifying the drafting of subsection (5) of new clause 14 and subsection (6) of new clause 15, which deal with out-of-country appeals. They say that the appeal shall be considered as if he"— that is, the asylum seeker— had not been removed from the United Kingdom". Is there any intention behind using exactly those words? Someone who has come from France—say, from Sangatte—was in a safe country and should have applied for asylum in that safe country. If they should not have been here in the first place to apply for asylum, why should they have an out-of-country appeal? Do the words that I quoted mean that the person can claim legal aid and other rights?

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey explained the Shah case with his usual great power and vigour. The weakness of his argument is that saying that in every circumstance the right route for asylum applications is appeal, further appeal and judicial review—a highly judicial process—means that we need to work out what element of asylum applications should be an administrative process and what element should be a judicial process. There may be a strong case for saying that women who come from Pakistan or certain other countries should be seen as asylum seekers because of the way in which women are treated in those countries, but the Government should make a proposal about that, which we can debate in the House. This is where the decision about the framework should be made—it should not always be made, as it is currently, through very long judicial proceedings. That is one of the reasons why the system is getting so clogged up and our constituents think that we are incapable of dealing with the problem.

Simon Hughes

I accept the general proposition that many of us support the European Union's work towards a common basis of definition. As yet, France, Germany and the UK do not have the same definition of who qualifies for asylum. If we could reach that level, some of the difficulties would not exist and it would be much easier for the first decisions to be the right ones, so there would be far fewer appeals.

Mr. Cameron

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point, but if we believe that the issue should be determined fundamentally in a judicial context, the courts can take a different view, despite a common agreement.

I have already taken five minutes but I should be grateful if the Minister could clarify the mysteriously worded subsection (5) of new clause 14.

Angela Watkinson (Upminster)

I want to speak briefly about the refugee convention, which new, clause 14(4)(b) mentions. The provision relates to a person being removed from the United Kingdom to a place that is specified as safe, from which a person will not be sent to another country otherwise than in accordance with the Refugee Convention. Can we be confident that the convention is adequate to deal with the issue? I am not familiar with all its provisions. How binding is it? Is it the only agreement with other countries or have other arrangements been made under which we would be likely to send people to other countries to have their appeals heard? Is not independent country assessment required to enable us to produce a safe list on which we could all rely and thus know that people would not be sent on to a country that was unsafe for them?

Mr. Malins

I want to speak briefly about the amendments that we have tabled in the group. I share the sadness of many hon. Members that, yet again, we shall not debate more than a small proportion of what we should discuss.

I want to speak about amendments Nos. 7, 8, 9, 155, 156, 157, 158 and 159. I assure those who believe that that is a mouthful that they are short and almost identical. They relate to clause 80, which was clause 74, and is entitled "Earlier right of appeal". It troubled many members of the Committee that considered the Bill, including my hon. Friends the Members for Upminster (Angela Watkinson) and for Bexhill and Battle (Mr. Barker). I am pleased that they are in their places. It also troubled the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) and one or two Labour Back-Bench Members. I recall contributions from the hon. Members for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) and for Edinburgh, North and Leith (Mr. Lazarowicz).

The amendments would substitute "an adjudicator" for the Secretary of State or an immigration officer throughout clause 80. Why did the clause trouble us? For the first time, an essentially legal process could take place without the involvement of the judiciary. The provision relates to appeals under clause 66(1). Clause 66 is a general provision that determines what an immigration decision means. It defines several immigration decisions and refers to "an adjudicator". In simple terms, clause 80 provides: An appeal…against an immigration decision…may not be brought…if the Secretary of State or an immigration officer certifies that it cannot be brought. Let us analyse what that means in practice.

The words are plain. The clause means that a junior caseworker can make a decision and certify that an appeal cannot be made against it. Such a decision could be wholly contrary to the interests of the applicant. How can it be the end of the story when a junior caseworker makes a decision, then a certification? The appellant would never see a judicial person.

9.30 pm

There is a point of principle involved here: the taking of powers out of the hands of the judges and putting them into the hands of the state is something to be avoided whenever possible. Quite a number of respected non-governmental organisations thought that clause 80 was unfair and wrong in principle. The debate that we had on, I think, 21 May illustrated just that. One or more of the NGOs have pointed out that the clause made the Secretary of State judge and jury in his own cause.

I asked the Minister during that debate whether it could really be right that a junior caseworker could make a decision and then say, "I certify that this decision cannot be appealed against to any judicial person." I asked why an amendment could not be tabled allowing the same certification to be made by an adjudicator rather than the caseworker. The response that I received from the Minister was that if such an amendment were allowed, it would take up more of the adjudicator's time. That is exactly what it would do, but what is wrong with that? Adjudicators are meant to spend time deciding tricky legal issues, and more and more are being appointed. It is not on for the Minister simply to respond by saying that this would be administratively inconvenient.

Let us look again at exactly what clause 80 is telling us. It says that a junior official, who is not qualified, can make a decision and then certify that that decision cannot be appealed against on the grounds there set out. That is what the clause says. That is the end of the story, so far as any judicial involvement is concerned. Is there anybody in the House of Commons who thinks that that approach is fair?

Who are these junior caseworkers who will make the certifications? The clause also mentions the Secretary of State, and I would be happy if he made them personally, but the task will be delegated. He will never know about them; nor will other Ministers. Dozens of certifications will be made by people who are not judges. Do they have to be qualified lawyers? No, they do not. Do they have to have had considerable training? No, they do not. What training have they had? Does anybody know? Does anybody in the Chamber tonight know exactly what legal or other training a junior caseworker has had? If so, will they intervene on me, and tell me whether they are entirely happy that those junior caseworkers are fully qualified to make a decision that could almost be a matter of life and death, so far as the applicant is concerned?

Mr. Coleman

I have been listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman, and he has made a compelling case for opposing the clauses before us this evening. Bearing in mind all that he has said, and the strong case that he has made, will he tell the House why he and his hon. Friends will be voting with the Government this evening?

Mr. Malins

The short answer to that is that, quite often in life, we look to the other place to make progress on our behalf. We often find clauses in a Bill, or clauses that are given to us rather later, with which we agree in part, but with which, in principle, we might have some problems, no problems or a lot of problems. Those mattes are not as simple as that, and the truth is that, on appeals, the Government are dealing with certain issues on which we offer some support and sympathy for their approach while on others we remain unhappy.

The hon. Gentleman will share my unhappiness with the fact that the new clauses and some matters that we ai e discussing tonight landed on our desks yesterday afternoon. That is no way to do business. He is a man who approaches those topics with some knowledge and expertise, but here I am, trying to tell the Government in 10 minutes or so that I do not feel happy that vital decisions under clause 80 that will affect the welfare of someone who has a right of appeal may be taken by someone who simply is not qualified to make the decision. That troubles me immensely.

I return to a point that was reinforced by much of what the hon. Member for Walthamstow said. Were we to keep our eye on the ball, we would consider whether existing procedures in this country work well and efficiently. It s no good legislating year after year—there have been four Bills in the past nine years. What use is legislation when the basic workings out there in our immigration and asylum system are not functioning properly? I could talk for 10 hours or 10 weeks and it would not make a ha'p'orth of difference to what happens outside. [Interruption.] The Home Secretary is being very kind to me. On that note, I ought to quit while the going is good, but I must say to the House that fundamental administrative points in our system need looking at.

We need to watch out. It is unfortunate that a clause will allow a junior caseworker to make a decision and to certify it, saying, "You can't appeal against it, chum " How much better it would be if the powers to be given to the junior caseworker were given to an adjudicator. That would enable the principle that it is wrong to take powers from the judges and give them to the state to remain intact. I hope that, even now, the Government will take what I say seriously and consider taking steps, perhaps in the other place rather than under my amendment, to reassure not just me and my hon. Friends, but Members across the House of Commons who felt such concern about the provision when it was debated what seems like 10 years ago, but was, I think, only about 10 days ago.

Beverley Hughes

I shall try to respond to the points that hon. Members have made, but clearly we shall have further debates on new clauses 14 and 15. We have listened carefully to the comments and, I acknowledge, the genuine concerns that Members have raised tonight about parts of those provisions. The hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) began by claiming that it is difficult to judge whether a case is clearly unfounded and that the decision should not be taken by a junior official. I am concerned that that term has become common parlance among Opposition Members. In fact, those who make the decisions are experienced and concerned people. They want to make the right decision on the basis of the best available evidence. It does them a disservice to dismiss them as junior officials or junior caseworkers.

Mr. Letwin

I want to emphasise that I accept absolutely that the people making the decisions, like other civil servants in the UK, are trying to do the best job they can and, no doubt, they acquire in the course of their work a certain amount of expertise and understanding. That is not being challenged. However, they do not carry the same weight as a judge, which is why we have a system of adjudication.

Beverley Hughes

My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) asked for clarification, and other lion. Members rehearsed the same question. In relation to clearly unfounded cases—mentioned in subsection (2) of new clause 14—return would be to a person's own country, or country of origin. In third-country cases, removal, by definition, would be not to that person's own country but to a third country.

I emphasise—we ought to keep this at the forefront of our minds—that the certification that would be allowed under the clauses would be discretionary and that certification would not be made in relation to any country regarded as unsafe.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes)—

Simon Hughes


Beverley Hughes

I was about to deal with some of the points that the hon. Gentleman rnade, but I shall take an intervention now.

Simon Hughes

I know that the Minister has been in her job for only a week, but have, she and the Home Secretary decided how the definition of safe country will be arrived at? We used to have a white list. What will be the difference between the new way of defining a safe country and the old way?

Beverley Hughes

My right hon. Friend made it clear that we will not have a list, but we are sympathetic to the points that are being made about the documentation, which is valid—many other countries draw on our process of assessment. We must ensure that the documentation used to assess the situation in countries is perceived as being robust and as independent as possible.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey mentioned social groups and women. As the Home Secretary said, social group is one of the factors that will be taken into account. Female genital mutilation was also mentioned; obviously such cases would not be regarded as being clearly unfounded. There is no argument about that.

I regret the linkage that the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey made between this Bill—in terms of process and also in terms of substance—and anti-terrorism legislation. There is no link whatever in our minds.

Notwithstanding the concerns to which I have listened, some of the issues that the clause is designed to deal with arise from the kind of cases that, if we are honest, we all deal with in our advice surgeries. We know from the stories that people bring to us, and from the accounts of their circumstances and where they come from, that their claims are unfounded. That raises the legitimate question as to whether, in those circumstances, that person should continue to be maintained here while appealing. It is a question not of denying the right of appeal, but of whether the person should remain here while the appeal goes through. The Home Secretary and I are not into macho posturing. We think that the new clauses raise important issues. There might be disagreement about the solutions proposed in them, but the issues need to be discussed.

9.45 pm
David Winnick (Walsall, North)

We know the background, with people with claims of little or no merit appealing time and again, but is my hon. Friend aware that some of us, including Opposition spokesmen, remain uneasy? I would be happier if there were a double check. Perhaps the matter will be raised in another place. We should not have only one official—junior or otherwise, but it certainly will not be a very senior official—deciding that the case is unfounded. The decision should certainly go to another official, higher up the chain. My unease may be totally unjustified, but I had better express my view now.

Beverley Hughes

As the debate unfolds, various measures and solutions may be proposed that will provide some reassurance on the concerns that have been expressed, while still allowing us to make progress.

I do not recognise the figures on judicial review given by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey. I would be interested to know where he got them. My information is that, in the year up to March 2002, 3,200 cases were dealt with and 441 applications were granted, which is an average of 14 per cent. Perhaps that can be clarified in another place.

Simon Hughes

Whatever arguments we may have, they should not be about the figures, which I took from a parliamentary answer on 19 April 2002, at column 1260W. They are ministerial figures given only six weeks ago to Members of Parliament.

Beverley Hughes

I need to be clear about the time scale to which the figures relate and whether we are talking about the same thing. Judicial review outcomes are clearly significant for this debate, and we need to get the figures absolutely right.

The hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) asked about new clause 14(5). Legal aid will be available if the appeal is from a third country, subject to the usual merit and eligibility tests. It is a drafting measure to ensure that the adjudicator considers whether the appellant is a refugee.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the bilateral agreement timetable. The Home Secretary said today that, as the French elections conclude, we should try to make progress on the matter. Towards the end of May, Mr. Sarkozy made a statement warmly welcoming the approach that we are taking and expressing a desire to work with us to establish a bilateral agreement. We can be optimistic about making progress on a reasonable time scale.

The hon. Member for Upminster (Angela Watkinson) referred to independent country assessment. We are sympathetic to the need to strengthen the perception that assessment is robust and rigorous, and as independent as possible.

Many of the provisions in the new clauses do not break new ground, either here in the UK or in Europe. The idea of having fast-track systems for manifestly or clearly unfounded claims is not uncommon in Europe, and indeed several countries do not have automatically suspensive appeals for such claims. That is the case in Denmark, Germany, France and Finland, for example. Obviously, an unfounded claim is not defined in legislation; none the less, case law exists and our courts are familiar with cases that fall into that category. I am not presenting those arguments to hon. Members as a validation of the principle of non-suspensive appeals; I am simply saying that the argument that the principle is far removed from reality is not itself valid.

Annabelle Ewing

The Minister says that, putting to one side the debate about the validity of the provisions in principle, they are not far removed from existing legislative precedent. If so, why were they tabled at the eleventh hour?

Beverley Hughes

As my right hon. Friend has made clear, we had to relate the provisions to our own legal system and obtain the legal advice necessary to ensure that what we tabled could withstand the robustness of our law.

Mr. Barker

In the light of the Minister's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) about the availability of legal aid for appellants in foreign countries, have the Government assessed the additional legal cost of making such appeals from abroad? Given that foreign law firms will be used, an additional cost will presumably be incurred.

Beverley Hughes

We will deal with such issues as we progress through the Bill.

The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) spoke softly and persuasively on clause 80. Although an extensive debate took place in Committee—I have read ii—I am afraid that he still does not fully appreciate the current position or the proposal. As we said in Committee, clause 80 simply builds on existing legislation. Perhaps he does not realise that the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 introduced the one-stop procedure for appeals—a measure that enjoyed support on both sides of the House. It provides for each asylum seeker to have one, and only one, substantive appeal. During such an appeal, all other grounds that an applicant may have for wishing to remain in this country must be raised. To ensure that the system could work, sections 73 and 76 of the 1999 Act introduced certification in exactly the way referred to in clause 80. Section 73 applies if an appeal is dismissed and art applicant raises grounds that they knew about, and which they could, and should, have raised earlier.

As I said, in 1999 agreement was reached in Standing Committee that the one-stop procedure was the right way forward. I should point out to the hon. Gentleman that the form of certification arising from the 1999 Act has been shown to work. Since October 2000, some 700 applications have been certified—by the officials about whom he is rather disparaging—to effect removal. Only three applications for judicial review of those certifications have been made. Two were refused permission on the papers, one was refused after an oral hearing, and no substantive hearings have challenged those certifications. There can be no better evidence that the concerns expressed then and now are completely unfounded.

Mr. Malins

When I told Ministers in Standing Committee that the procedure constituted a departure, the point was not denied. Indeed, the current scenario used not to exist. Under the terms of the clause, an appellant might never have seen an adjudicator—end of story.

Beverley Hughes

That situation might, in theory, arise, but I shall go through the process with the hon. Gentleman and show how clause 80 will build on the current provision. A person submits a claim, having been served with notice on more than one occasion that all the reasons to support the claim must be included in it. A n initial decision is then made. Let us suppose that the claim is refused. That decision goes to appeal. It is only in circumstances in which an asylum seeker chooses at that point not to appeal or absconds, and then returns to try to make a fresh application, that it is possible to certify on grounds included in the 1999 Act that the person has already exhausted their access to a right of appeal.

We do not oppose the Opposition amendments because they would take up adjudicators' time, although they would: we oppose them because they would start to unravel the one-stop appeal process and would, in effect, allow another consideration by an adjudicator of the case of someone who had already gone through the process once, and submitted a fresh application. If that case was not then certified by the Home Secretary or an official and went to an adjudicator, there would be another appeal, which would cut across the procedure that we have all agreed in principle—that there should be one, and only one, substantive appeal.

I hope that on that basis the hon. Member for Woking can accept that we are not introducing new principles. We are building on what is already working well and what his party largely agreed when we discussed the process in proceedings on the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. There are no new principles included in the new clauses and, therefore, we oppose the Opposition amendments They would start to chip away at a procedure to which we have all agreed.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 379, Noes 71.

Division No. 264] [9.57 pm
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Clelland, David
Ainger, Nick Clwyd, Ann
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE) Coaker, Vernon
Alexander, Douglas Coffey, Ms Ann
Allen, Graham Cohen, Harry
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald (Swansea E) Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Corston, Jean
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Cranston, Ross
Atkins, Charlotte Crausby, David
Bailey, Adrian Cruddas, Jon
Baird, Vera Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Banks, Tony Cummings, John
Barker, Gregory Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Barnes, Harry Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Barron, Kevin Dalyell, Tam
Battle, John Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Beard, Nigel Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret David, Wayne
Begg, Miss Anne Davidson, Ian
Beggs, Roy Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Bell, Stuart Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Benn, Hilary Dawson, Hilton
Benton, Joe Dean, Mrs Janet
Berry, Roger Denham, Rt Hon John
Bets, Clive Dhanda, Parmjit
Blackman, Liz Dismore Andrew
Blears, Ms Hazel Dobbin, Jim
Blizzard, Bob Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Blunkett, Rt Hon David Donohoe, Brian H
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul Doran, Frank
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Dowd, Jim
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Drew, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington) Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Bradshaw, Ben Edwards, Huw
Brazier, Julian Ellman, Mrs Louise
Brennan, Kevin Ennis, Jesff
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas (Newcastle E & Wallsend) Fallon, Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Fisher, Mark
Browne, Desmond Fitzpatrick, Jim
Bryant, Chris Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Burden, Richard Flight, Howard
Burgon, Colin Flint, Caroline
Burnham, Andy Flook, Adrian
Burnside, David Flynn, Paul
Butterflll, John Follett, Barbara
Cairns, David Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Cameron, David Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Foulkes, George
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y) Francis, Dr Hywel
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Francois, Mark
Caplin, Ivor Gale, Roger
Casale, Roger Gapes, Mike
Caton, Martin Gardiner, Barry
Cawsey, Ian George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Challen, Colin Gibson, Dr Ian
Chapman, Ben (WirralS) Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Chaytor, David Gilroy, Linda
Clapham, Michael Godsiff, Roger
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands) Goggins, Paul
Gray, James
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Grieve, Dominic
Clarke, Rt Hon Charles (Norwich S) Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Grogan, John
Hain, Rt Hon Peter Lloyd, Tony
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Loughton, Tim
Hamilton, David (Midlothian) Lucas, Ian
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) Luff, Peter
Hammond, Philip Luke, Iain
Hanson, David Lyons, John
Haiman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet McCabe, Stephen
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Caihcart) McCafferty, Chris
Hayes, John McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
Healey, John McDonagh, Siobhain
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) MacDonald, Calum
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) McFall, John
Hendrick, Mark McGuire, Mrs Anne
Hendry, Charles McIntosh, Miss Anne
Hepburn, Stephen McIsaac, Shona
Heppell, John MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Hermon, Lady McKechin, Ann
Hesford, Stephen McKenna, Rosemary
Hewitt, Rt Hon Ms Patricia Mackinlay, Andrew
Heyes, David McLoughlin, Patrick
Hill, Keith McNulty, Tony
Hinchliffe, David MacShane, Denis
Hoban, Mark McWalter, Tony
Hodge, Margaret Mahmood, Khalid
Hoey, Kate Malins, Humfrey
Hood, Jimmy Mallaber, Judy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Hope, Phil Mann, John
Hopkins, Kelvin Marris, Rob
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E) Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Martlew, Eric
Howells, Dr Kim Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford) Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Meale, Alan
Humble, Mrs Joan Mercer, Patrick
Hutton, Rt Hon John Merron, Gillian
Iddon, Dr Brian Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Irranca—Davies, Huw Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) Miliband, David
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Miller, Andrew
Jamieson, David Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Jenkins, Brian Moffatt, Laura
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Jones, Helen (Wairington N) Morgan, Julie
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Morley, Elliot
Jones, Kevan (N Durham) Morris, Rt Hon Estelle
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Mountford, Kali
Jowell, Rt Hon Tessa Mullin, Chris
Joyce, Eric Munn, Ms Meg
Keeble, Ms Sally Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Kelly, Ruth Murrison, Dr Andrew
Kemp, Fraser Naysmith, Dr Doug
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Khabra, Piara S O'Hara, Edward
Kidney, David O'Neill, Martin
Kilfoyle, Peter Organ, Diana
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset) Owen, Albert
Kumar, Dr Ashok Palmer, Dr Nick
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Pearson, Ian
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Picking, Anne
Lammy, David Pickthall, Colin
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie Pike, Peter
Lazarowicz, Mark Plaskitt, James
Lepper, David Pollard, Kerry
Leslie, Christopher Pond, Chris
Letwin, Oliver Pope, Greg
Levitt, Tom Pound, Stephen
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen Prescott, Rt Hon John
Liddell—Grainger, Ian Primarolo, Dawn
Lidington, David Prisk, Mark
Linton, Martin Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken Stuart, Ms Gisela
Purnell, James Sutcliffe, Gerry
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce Swayne, Desmond
Quinn, Lawrie Swire, Hugo
Rammell, Bill Syms, Robert
Rapson, Syd Tami, Mark
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Redwood, Rt Hon John Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Reed, Andy (Loughborough) Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N) Taylor, Sir Teddy
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland) Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry) Todd, Mark
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW) Touhig, Don
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Trickett, Jon
Roche, Mrs Barbara Truswell, Paul
Rooney, Terry Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Ross, Ernie Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Roy, Frank Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Ruane, Chris Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Ruffley, David Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Ryan, Joan Tynan, Bill
Salter, Martin Vaz, Keith
Savidge, Malcolm Walley, Ms Joan
Sawford, Phil Ward, Ms Claire
Shaw, Jonathan Watkinson, Angela
Sheridan, Jim Watts, David
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Short, Rt Hon Clare Whittingdale, John
Singh, Marsha Wicks, Malcolm
Skinner, Dennis Wiggin, Bill
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Smith, GeraWine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Smith, John (Glamorgan) Wilson, Brian
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Winterton, Nicholas (Macdesfield)
Soley, Clive Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Southworth, Helen Woodward, Shaun
Spicer, Sir Michael Worthington, Tony
Squire, Rachel Wray, James
Starkey, Dr Phyllis Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Steinberg, Gerry Wright, David (Telford)
Stevenson, George Wyatt, Derek
Stewart, David (Inverness E) Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard Tellers for the Ayes:
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin Angela Smith and
Stringer, Graham Mr. Phil Woolas.
Abbott, Ms Diane Foster, Don (Bath)
Allan, Richard Galloway, George
Baker, Norman George, Andrew (St Ives)
Barrett, John Gerrard, Neil
Beith, Rt Hon A J Gidley, Sandra
Best, Harold Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Brake, Tom Hancock, Mike
Breed, Colin Harvey, Nick
Bruce, Malcolm Heath, David
Buck, Ms Karen Holmes, Paul
Burnett, John Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Burstow, Paul Jones, Lynne (Selfy Oak)
Cable, Dr Vincent Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Carmichael, Alistair
Chidgey, David Kirkwood, Archy
Coleman, Iain Lamb, Norman
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Laws, David
Corbyn, Jeremy Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Cotter, Brian Llwyd, Elfyn
Davey, Edward (Kingston) McDonnell, John
Doughty, Sue McNamara, Kevin
Ewing, Annabelle Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall—Andrews, Robert Taylor, Dr Richard (Wyre F)
Moore, Michael Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Mudie, George Tonge, Dr Jenny
Oaten, Mark Tyler, Paul
Pugh, Dr John Wareing, Robert N
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute) Webb, Steve
Rendel, David Weir, Michael
Robertson, Angus (Moray) Williams, Hywel (Caemarfon)
Willis, Phil
Salmond, Alex Wishart, Pete
Sanders, Adrian Younger—Ross, Richard
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns) Tellers for the Noes:
Stunell, Andrew Bob Russell and
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Mrs. Annette L. Brooke.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

It being after Ten o'clock, MR. SPEAKER put the remaining Questions required to be put at that how; pursuant to Order [this day].

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