HC Deb 14 December 1994 vol 251 cc644-5W
Mr. Beith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum applications have been awaiting decision for more than(a) six years, (b) five years, (c) four years, (d) three years and (e) two years.

Mr. Nicholas Baker

As at 30 November 1994—the latest date for which this information is available—the estimated number of asylum applications outstanding was 54,025. Information on the number of these cases waiting longer than two, three, four, five or six years is not available.

Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to examine the length of detention periods of asylum seekers in relation to the EU human rights convention, article 5.4.

Mr. Nicholas Baker

Powers of detention under the Immigration Act 1971 are used only where there is no alternative and where there are good grounds for believing that a person will not comply with the conditions of temporary admission.

Anyone refused asylum may appeal under the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993 and may apply for bail to the independent appellate authorities at any time while an appeal is pending. Bail may also be sought from the appellate authorities by any passenger who has been detained for longer than seven days pending further examination. These statutory provisions are supplemented by the general power of the courts to grant a writ of habeas corpus and to grant bail in any case before them.

Decisions to detain under the Immigration Act 1971 are authorised at Chief Immigration Officer level at least and are reviewed by an Immigration Service inspector within 24 hours. The need for detention is then reviewed locally at least every seven days and after one month at increasingly senior levels.