§ Sir John Wheeler
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy towards Lebanese nationals applying for asylum: and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Charles Wardle
All applications for asylum are carefully considered on an individual basis in full conformity with the provisions of the 1951 United Nations convention and 1967 protocol relating to the status of refugees, and refugee status is granted where appropriate.
In addition, for some years Lebanese nationals who have expressed a fear of return to Lebanon, but who could not demonstrate that they were refugees within the meaning of the 1951 convention, have generally been allowed to remain here, exceptionally, outside the immigration rules.
The Lebanese civil war ended last year and the situation there has now improved significantly. Following consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has decided that in all the circumstances this concession is no longer justified. Asylum applications made by Lebanese nationals from today will be assessed on their individual merits in the same way as those from nationals of most other countries. The United Kingdom will, of course, continue to honour fully its obligations under the 1951 convention and 1967 protocol.