HL Deb 23 May 2000 vol 613 cc76-7WA
Baroness Howells of St Davids

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will announce the results of the consultation process on the design of a pilot study for financial bonds for visitors under Sections 16 and 17 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. [HL2605]

Lord Bassam of Brighton

My honourable friend the Minister of State at the Home Office (Mrs Roche) has today placed in the Library a detailed analysis of responses to our recent consultation paper on bonds for visitors, together with an analysis of responses to this proposal in the 1998 White Paper onImmigration and Asylum. She is grateful to all those who responded to our consultation document. We have taken full account of their views, and of the many other representations made to us, in considering how the pilot study should run.

The pilot study on financial bonds will begin in October at two posts overseas, Manila and Casablanca. It will run for six months, followed by a further six months to monitor departure from the United Kingdom, and a further, brief period for analysis of the results.

The scheme is intended to enable more people to visit the United Kingdom by providing an additional facility to prospective visitors in borderline cases where their intention to return is in doubt. It will enable a British citizen or overseas national settled in the United Kingdom who is a family member to provide a financial bond in the form of a cash payment in advance as an additional guarantee that the visitor will leave the United Kingdom at the end of their stay. The scheme will be open to those seeking to visit close family members in the United Kingdom. The amount of the bond will be set at £3,000. The bond will be returned when the visitor leaves the United Kingdom.

We shall monitor the scheme closely to ensure that it operates fairly, effectively and swiftly. We shall make available our analysis of the operation of the pilot study when it is complete.

Further details about how the scheme will operate will be provided nearer the time.