§ Mr. Andrew George
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans she has to restore social security benefits to destitute asylum seekers; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Keith Bradley
We are committed to a wide ranging review of Social Security. With the Home Office, the Department of Health and other Departments we will consider all arrangements for asylum seekers to ensure they are dealt with fairly and promptly.
Under current rules, asylum seekers who make their asylum application immediately on arrival are eligible to claim benefit. In addition following the Home Secretary's declaration on 1 July 1997 of Sierra Leone as a country of upheaval, a Sierra Leonean national who entered the country previously and applies for asylum within three months of the declaration being made is eligible to claim income support, income based jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit while their asylum application is considered by the Home Office. Zaire was also declared a country of upheaval on 16 May 1996 and Zairean nationals have three months from the date of the declaration to apply for asylum and thereby become eligible to claim benefit.