HC Deb 11 January 2001 vol 360 cc610-1W
Mr. Gardiner

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made in reviewing the cost of family visitor visa refusal appeals. [144147]

Mr. Straw

In the debate on 20 November 2000,Official Report, column 139, on the Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) (No. 2) Regulations 2000 (S.I., 2000, No. 2446) I told the House that I would review the operation of the scheme provided by those regulations within three months. This review has now been completed.

The review undertaken by my right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, my right hon. Friend, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz), and me, involved a close scrutiny of the original assumptions which led to the level of fees provided by these regulations, and took account of the experience of the new appeals system since it came into force on 2 October 2000. In the light of the conclusions of the review, I am pleased to announce that the Government have decided to reduce the level of fees currently payable by family visitors who wish to appeal against decisions to refuse them visas. Regulations have been laid today to take effect tomorrow, 12 January, reducing the fees to £50 for paper appeals and £125 for oral ones, replacing the fees of £150 and £500 provided by the previous regulations.

The review team will now be examining other issues, including the definition of family visitor and how and to whom the fees are paid within the regulations.