HL Deb 17 September 2003 vol 652 cc180-1WA
Lord Taylor of Warwick

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why asylum seekers are not allowed to work for the first six months of their stay in the United Kingdom, bearing in mind the national skills shortage. [HL4322]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

The asylum process must be separate from measures taken to reduce the skills shortage in the United Kingdom. Generally speaking asylum seekers are not allowed to work while their claim for asylum is under consideration. Until 23 July 2002 there was a concession which allowed asylum seekers to seek permission to take employment if no decision had been made on their application within six months of it being lodged. The concession was abolished because, given the reduction in the backlog of asylum claims, there were fewer asylum seekers able to benefit.

The Government have introduced and developed a number of managed migration routes such as the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme as part of a programme to tackle skills shortages in the United Kingdom.