HC Deb 16 July 1997 vol 298 cc176-8W
Mr. Cawsey

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes are being made in the handling of applications from refugees and displaced persons from the former Yugoslavia following the Dayton Peace agreement. [9463]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

All applications for asylum will continue to be considered on their individual merits within the terms of the 1951 Untied Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Since 1992, exceptional leave to remain has been granted to those who came from Bosnia but did not qualify for refugee status. The situation now, following the Dayton Agreement and subsequent developments, makes that policy unnecessary and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have recently said that certain categories of persons could reasonably be expected to return to Bosnia.

The Government share UNHCR's hope that many Bosnians will wish to return home voluntarily. However, leave will not be withdrawn from Bosnians already granted exceptional leave to remain on having been refused refugee status, or from former Yugoslays admitted under the Temporary Protection Programme; and, subject to personal acceptability, extensions of stay will normally be granted.

From today, applications for asylum from Bosnians will be considered on their merits in the normal way. Exceptional leave will not be granted automatically if the application is unsuccessful, but it will be considered in individual cases where there are genuine humanitarian reasons. Those falling within the categories who UNHCR say may reasonably be expected to return home will no longer, in general, be granted exceptional leave to remain and will be expected to return home.

Since August 1992, as a concession, the United Kingdom has not normally sought to return asylum seekers from the former Yugoslavia to safe third countries through which they had transited, if they had spent less than a day or two in each country. Asylum applicants from the States of the former Yugoslavia will now be treated in the same way as those from other countries. This will mean that they will be returned to safe third countries where we are satisfied that the applicant is not a national or citizen of the third country concerned; the applicant would be safe in the third country concerned; and the applicant either had an opportunity to claim asylum in the country concerned or was otherwise admissible there. However, we would not normally

Outcome of cases where leave granted
Year Total number of judicial review applications lodged Total number of judicial applications where leave granted Applications granted Applications dismissed Applications withdrawn
1991 506 93 33 40 33
1992 544 104 14 27 58
1993 668 111 15 18 61
1994 935 162 68 32 110
1995 1,220 258 99 39 71
1996 1,748 301 131 42 105

The figures relate to the number of applications dealt with at each stage during the year concerned. For any given year, the total number of cases decided will not necessarily tally with the number of applications in which leave was granted, since applications may not be dealt with in the year in which they are lodged.

Ms Hodge

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions since 1991–92 legislation has been introduced by the Department(a) to remove effects of judicial review decisions and (b) to implement them. [7842]

Mr. Straw

The information sought is not kept in a readily retrievable form. It could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

remove an applicant where there were immediate family members in the United Kingdom, such as a spouse, a minor child or, if the applicant were a minor child, a parent.

Since December 1992, nationals of the former Yugoslavia have been granted a visa abroad where they could demonstrate that they had a claim to refugee status or had been displaced from their home as a result of the conflict and that they had close family here. In view of the improved situation in the former Yugoslavia, this concession is now being withdrawn and the normal arrangement for obtaining visas to claim refugee status in the United Kingdom will apply.

We have agreed with UNHCR that the temporary protection programmes announced in 1992 and 1995 are to end, although those people already accepted who can go straight into the community will continue to be allowed to take up their places. A total of 2,660 people have been brought to the United Kingdom and given temporary refuge under the two programmes.