HL Deb 16 November 1977 vol 387 cc673-5WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why Mr. Tashi Thondup, a refugee from Tibet who has been in the United Kingdom for 14 years, has been detained in Pentonville Prison for 10 months; why the Home Office Minister responsible for immigration wrote on 14th June that Mr. Thondup had been admitted to Friern Hospital, and did not subsequently notify those interested in the case that he had been returned to prison; and whether the Minister is yet ready to answer a letter on this matter dated 6th April, enclosing a large file of papers from Mr. Thondup's solicitors.


Tashi Thondup, who was released from custody last week, was admitted to this country as part of a group coming to the United Kingdom Pestalozzi Children's Village on the usual understanding that once trained or qualified here he would return to his own community to help them.

In the light of deteriorating performance and conduct (including convictions of a number of offences) it was thought best in the circumstances to give Mr. Thondup a short extension of stay in July 1976 to enable him to make arrangements to return to India. But he did not do so. In January 1977, following a further court appearance, Mr. Thondup was recommended for deportation by the court. After an out of time application for leave to appeal had been refused my right honourable friend made a deportation order on 24th March 1977.

Representations were made by the noble Lord and several others that Mr. Thondup should not be deported, or that if he were to be returned arrangements should be made for him to leave this country under Section 90 of the Mental Health Act 1959 or under some similar arrangement. In the light of these representations and Mr. Thondup's disturbed condition, detailed inquiries were put in hand for his reception in India. These were necessarily protracted but before they could be completed my right honourable friend concluded that in view of further changes in his medical condition—which involved a temporary admission to Friern Hospital—it would be right to consider sympathetically revoking the deportation order and giving him leave to remain in the United Kingdom for a further period if satisfactory arrangements could be made for his case upon release from custody.

These have proved extremely difficult to make in this case but I am glad to say that the Khan Tibet Centre have most kindly agreed to provide accommodation for him. We are most grateful to them for this offer. The deportation order has been revoked; and Mr. Thondup has been released from prison and given permission to remain in the United Kingdom for a further year.

The letter of 14th June was a courtesy to warn the noble Lord that my right honourable friend had directed that inquiries should be made in India and that the outcome of Mr. Thondup's admission to Friern Hospital might be a significant change in his circumstances. This was the case in that my right honourable friend, as I have explained, concluded that the deportation order might be revoked if suitable arrangements could be made for his care upon release. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State wrote to the noble Lord last week as soon as they had been finalised.