§ Lord Hylton
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why they are reducing the grant to the Immigration Advisory Service by £500,000 in 1998–99; what effect this will have on clearing the backlog of applications for asylum; and how appellants are to be fairly treated if they have no legal aid and their cases cannot be presented by the Refugee Legal Centre or the Immigration Advisory Service. [HL1014]
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
There is no reduction in core funding for the Immigration Advisory Service (IAS): in fact, it is being increased by 3 per cent. for the coming financial year after three years of standstill. The £500,000 referred to was allocated to IAS in each of the financial years 1996–97 and 1997–98 under the Spend to Save arrangements, which were designed to reduce the burden on public funds by funding measures to reduce the backlog of asylum cases. This was a time-limited initiative under which funds are not available for the IAS in 1998–99. This will not affect the backlog of asylum applications since the IAS is funded under Section 23 of the Immigration Act 1971 to provide assistance only to those with rights of appeal under immigration and asylum legislation. Funding under Section 23 is one method by which assistance is available to immigration and asylum appellants but it is also open to them to seek assistance from other voluntary organisations or from representatives, including solicitors.