New clause

Clause 8 – in the House of Commons am 6:45 pm ar 15 Gorffennaf 1996.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Lords amendment: No. 24, after clause 10, to insert the following new clause—Saving for social security regulations—

".—(1) Notwithstanding any enactment or rule of law, regulations may exclude from entitlement to any of the following benefits, namely—

  1. (a) income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992;
  2. (b) income support and housing benefit under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992; and
  3. (c) jobseeker's allowance under the Jobseekers Act 1995 or the Jobseekers (Northern Ireland) Order 1995,

any person who has made a claim for asylum other than on his arrival in the United Kingdom or within three working days of that arrival.

(2) Regulations may provide that, where such a person as is mentioned in subsection (1) above is subsequently recorded by the Secretary of State as a refugee within the meaning of the Convention—

  1. (a) that person may, within a prescribed period, claim the whole or any prescribed proportion of any income support, housing benefit or council tax benefit to which he would have been entitled had he been recorded as a refugee immediately after he made the claim for asylum; and
  2. (b) where he makes such a claim as is mentioned in paragraph (a) above in respect of housing benefit or council tax benefit having resided in the areas of two or more local authorities in Great Britain, the claim shall be investigated and determined, and any benefit awarded shall be paid or allowed, by such one of those authorities as may be prescribed.

(3) Regulations making such provision as is mentioned in subsection (2)(b) above may require the other authorities there mentioned to supply the prescribed authority with such information as it may reasonably require in connection with the exercise of its functions under the regulations.

(4) Schedule (Modifications of social security regulations) to this Act—

  1. (a) Part I of which modifies the Social Security (Persons from Abroad) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 1996; and
  2. (b) Part II of which modifies the Social Security (Persons from Abroad) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996,
shall have effect.

(5) The Jobseeker's Allowance (Amendment) Regulations 1996 shall have effect as if they had been made on the day on which this Act is passed.

(6) In this section—

"claim for asylum" and "the Convention" have the same meanings as in the 1993 Act;

"prescribed" means prescribed by regulations;


  1. (a) in relation to income support, housing benefit or council tax benefit under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, means regulations under that Act or the Social Security Administration Act 1992;
  2. (b) in relation to income support or housing benefit under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992, means regulations under that Act or the Social Security Administration (Northern Ireland) Act 1992;
  3. (c) in relation to jobseeker's allowance under the Jobseekers Act 1995, means regulations under that Act or the Social Security Administration Act 1992;
  4. (d) in relation to jobseeker's allowance under the Jobseekers (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, means regulations under that Order or the Social Security Administration (Northern Ireland) Act 1992."

7 pm

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

I must inform the House that the Lords amendment involves privilege. With this, we may consider the following: Government amendments (a), (b) and (c), and amendments (d), (h), (e) and (f) to the Lords amendment.

Lords amendments Nos. 27 and 28, and Government amendments (a) and (b) to Lords amendment No. 28.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The procedures for claiming asylum were set up to help the small number of people who escape tyrannous regimes, but the rules have been exploited by more and more economic migrants using them to circumvent immigration controls. That situation has been exacerbated by the benefit system. The easy availability of social security benefits has been exploited by an ever-rising number of asylum seekers—more than 90 per cent. of whom turn out not to be genuine.

The losers are genuine refugees. They come here not for benefit but for sanctuary, but their asylum claims are delayed as the system becomes swamped by an ever-increasing number of bogus claims, and they have to wait longer and longer for a decision. The other losers are the taxpayers. If we had done nothing, the cost would soon have exceeded £400 million a year. We are determined that this country shall remain a sanctuary for genuine refugees.

The changes I introduced in February, with parliamentary approval, ensure that anyone arriving in the UK as a refugee, and persons trapped here by an upheaval in their home country, will receive benefit help until their claim is turned down. That continued help to asylum seekers is expected to cost £140 million a year. Persons who are found to be genuine refugees, and those granted exceptional leave to remain, will continue to quality for help—which is over and above the sum that I mentioned.

The regulations removed the benefit incentive from illegal immigrants and overstayers who claim asylum when apprehended by the authorities, and from individuals who gained entry to the UK by claiming that they would support themselves without recourse to public funds—and it is surely wrong that they should be able to avoid that requirement by subsequently making an asylum application.

The third change was to end entitlement to benefit if and when a claim to refugee status is found to be invalid. If people choose to appeal against that refusal. the regulations treat them like British citizens, who do not receive benefit while appealing against refusal of a benefit claim.

Those regulations were all agreed by comfortable majorities in both Houses, but, on 21 June, the Court of Appeal decided that the benefit changes required primary legislation. In the light of the court's decision, I moved promptly, and announced the Government's wish to insert a new clause in the Bill to reinstate those successful and much-needed regulations. A new clause and new schedule were agreed in the Upper House and restored the regulations.

I also took the opportunity to meet the concerns that lay behind the Court of Appeal's decision about the tiny minority of asylum seekers—5 per cent. at first decision and 3 per cent. on appeal—who are eventually found to be genuine refugees. Our amendment provided for an individual's benefit to be backdated once he or she is found to be a refugee, which brings treatment of refugees fully into line with that of British citizens who will an appeal against an initial decision to refuse them benefit.

Photo of Mr James Lester Mr James Lester , Broxtowe

My right hon. Friend makes the important point that the regulations treat asylum seekers the same as British citizen—but the latter are claiming a means-tested benefit, whereas there is no such test for refugees.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

I am not sure why my hon. Friend thinks that is so, because the same means test applies to asylum speakers as to British citizens, and is in that respect analogous. Refugees will be treated the same as British citizens—now fully so, in that, if they are found to be genuine claimants, they will have their means-tested benefits backdated to the beginning of their claim.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Surely the Secretary of State appreciates that his point is not logical. No one who appeals against a social security decision, who will normally be resident in this country, does so against a background of absolute destitution. Asylum seekers who are denied benefits face the alternative of complete destitution.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The hon. Gentleman may think the arrangement is illogical, but it is the one that he requested in our earliest debate on the matter. I thought that he would welcome the fact that I listened to his points and made the change. People appealing against asylum decisions may have friends and relatives in this country, whereas individuals appealing against benefit decisions may not have any friends and relatives living in this country—so the situation could be the reverse of that which the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Photo of Ms Liz Lynne Ms Liz Lynne , Rochdale

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that benefit claimants are able to work, whereas asylum seekers are denied that ability?

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

That is only partly true. After six months, any asylum seeker is normally given the right to work. We are withdrawing benefits only from persons who have demonstrated that they have the means to support themselves. Individuals who, at the port of entry, declare themselves to be seeking asylum will be entitled to benefit from the moment that they enter the country.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

Will the right hon. Gentleman justify his statement that he is only withdrawing benefits from persons who are able to support themselves? That is patently not the case. Is not the answer to the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Sir J. Lester) that, in one case, an individual is appealing against a benefit decision, whereas in the other, the person is appealing against an asylum decision? The two cases are completely different.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The hon. Gentleman's second point ignores the fact that the asylum claim gives a right to benefit entitlements—so it amounts to much the same thing. What was the hon. Gentleman's first point? He has forgotten.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

The Secretary of State has forgotten. He claimed—I am astonished that he has forgotten this—that he was withdrawing benefit only from persons who are able to support themselves.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The hon. Gentleman does not realise that anyone who claims at the port will get benefit. Those who do not must have convinced the immigration authorities that they have the means to support themselves in this country. It is reasonable to hold them to that assurance. They have given it, and demonstrated that they are not asylum seekers but business men, tourists or students.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

I will make a little progress. I am sure that this theme will run through our subsequent discussions.

As well as, effectively, accepting the regulations and reinstating them through the clause and the schedule, the Lords accepted an Opposition amendment to our clause, which, among other things—I shall return to those other things—extends benefits to those who claim asylum within three days of entering the United Kingdom. That has been presented as a minor change of limited consequence, which mainly affects genuine asylum seekers. If that were so, I would be very happy to accept it. I readily understand why, accepting it on those terms, John McCarthy and the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster, for whom I have profound respect, have given it their support.

In fact, the amendment is not minor. It would have major financial consequences—costing £80 million, and far more as people deliberately exploit the loopholes it creates and, of course, respond to the incentives it generates. Far from helping just genuine refugees, the change would be of the greatest help to bogus refugees, since it also creates a whole raft of new incentives for them to claim benefit as well as asylum.

I shall explain what the amendment would do. It extends benefit to three groups. First, it would give benefit to illegal immigrants. Since their immigration is illegal, we cannot say when they came in, so the three-day rule would enable any illegal immigrant, when discovered, no matter how long they had been in the country, to obtain benefits simply by declaring that they had only recently arrived in the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Hon. Members display a degree of ignorance of the real world that does them little credit.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

If the Minister lived in the east end, he would know about the real world.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The hon. Gentleman expresses a profound truth.

The change would also open up opportunities for people to circumvent the rules inherent in the Bill that will enable us to return people who come from a safe third country to that country. People who enter the country through the European Union channel at the channel ports or at airports by waving a forged EU passport at the immigration official would subsequently be able to claim benefit. That cannot be right.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

The Secretary of State raises a point about falsified papers and forged documents, which is similar to his earlier point, on which I was trying to intervene. Business men, students and people who are classified in any number of ways do not say precisely what has happened to them in their countries of origin, often because of fear, what they are fleeing from and the persecution they have endured.

If the Secretary of State or a member of his family were fleeing political persecution, does he imagine that the first thing on their mind when they arrived in the country to which they were fleeing would be to ask for the relevant form so that they could fill it out in the accurate way he describes?

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

My first instinct when faced with authority in foreign countries—I have been faced by the secret police in Uganda—is to tell the truth. I am afraid of getting into trouble by telling lies. That is most people's instinct. One reason why some people tell other stories is that, when they enter the country, they genuinely are business men, students or tourists, and subsequently decide to become asylum seekers.

One of the cases that was heard before the Court of Appeal was of a gentleman who came to this country from Bulgaria because he was a keen follower of the Bulgarian football team. He only subsequently decided that, having got here, he should lodge a claim for asylum. That surely should not entitle someone to the right to benefit.

Several hon. Members:


Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

I should like to make a little progress, because I want to get some further factual information into the debate. Hon. Members are clearly reluctant to consider the facts.

Those who support the amendment presume that anyone who makes a claim within three days of arrival is more likely to be genuine than those who delay making a claim for longer periods. I asked to see the figures. The figures for the last quarter, which are the only ones available, show that that is not so.

Indeed, of those who claimed asylum within three days of arrival, 3.5 per cent. were found eventually to be genuine. Of those who claimed after a longer period, 4 per cent. were found to be genuine. Although they are both very small numbers, they do not confirm the belief that people who claim within three days are predominantly genuine.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 7:15, 15 Gorffennaf 1996

The very first point that the Secretary of State made in arguing against the three-day concession was that it would allow any illegal immigrant merely to state that they had been here only for three days to evade immigration control. If he knew a little more about immigration and nationality matters, he would know that the majority of illegal immigrants are discovered because they are informed on. The same person who informs would therefore be able to testify that someone had been here longer than three days.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

There may be some instances for which we would have such evidence. If informants were willing to come forward and testify, what the hon. Lady says would be perfectly true, but in many instances, that would not be so, and people would be able to circumvent the rules.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

The Secretary of State said that he wanted to impart some facts. Does he accept that the facts that we are talking about are these: about 5 per cent. of applicants are granted permission to stay as refugees, and on top of that, last year, 18 per cent. were awarded exceptional leave to remain, which makes 23 per cent.? We are talking about people who the Government accept have genuine grounds for staying here: not 5 per cent. but 23 per cent.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The exceptional leave to remain is exactly what it says it is—exceptional, and not a recognition of refugee status. In 80 per cent. of cases last year, people came from three countries—Somalia, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Those countries are currently in a state of some turmoil, so we do not immediately send them back, even if we believe that they do not fulfil the criteria of the Geneva convention.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

Could my right hon. Friend say in rough terms what proportion of those seeking asylum have come from another EU country? What would be the effect of reversing the Lords amendment on preventing illegal access to the United Kingdom from EU countries?

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

Several thousand people every year, and rising, come via an EU third country. That is why my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has taken measures so that we can, as the Geneva convention allows, return people straight to the safe country—France, Belgium or somewhere—through which they came.

The amendment would create a loophole so that, when it was advantageous for people to enter from those countries without declaring themselves, pretending to be EU citizens, and using a forged passport that they had only to wave at the passport official before destroying their documents and claiming that they came directly from their country of origin, we would have no option but to give them benefit.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley , Eltham

The House and people outside would be grateful for what my right hon. Friend has said about the three-day proposal, were it not to have other disadvantages. I think that I am right in recalling that the archbishop's arid the cardinal's letter said that the Lords amendment might not be perfect, and that some flexibility might be important.

Would it be possible, at least in theory, for the three-day rule to apply if it did not give any other advantages to the late applicant? If, for example, they were judged only on asylum rules and not on immigration and deportation rules, and they had to demonstrate that they had arrived in the previous three days, we would get rid of the problem about the long-term illegal immigrants.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The second point would not be possible under the Geneva convention. Under the convention, one is not allowed to discriminate against illegal immigrants. To have a different set of benefit rules and a presumption of proof that applied to them and not other claimants would therefore not be possible.

My hon. Friend suggests that we might change the immigration rules, and I shall come to those in a minute. I should point out, however, that introducing a three-day rule would open up a loophole similar to that available to illegal immigrants, as, in practice, anyone who had entered the country some while ago could destroy their documentation and claim to have arrived recently. It is common for those claiming asylum to destroy their documents or return them to the agents who brought them here, so that they can be recycled for other users.

Photo of Mr Hartley Booth Mr Hartley Booth , Finchley

Does my right hon. Friend understand and appreciate the point made in the other place, that some people who arrive here in a state of fear and trauma may not understand that they have to claim asylum at the airport? Therefore, will he assure the House that all immigrants or asylum seekers are made aware of their rights in their own language at the airport or port?

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

Of course people must have access to an interpreter so that they can deal with the immigration authorities. There are interpreting facilities in scores of languages to cope with people arriving from various countries.

The most telling point in the archbishop's letter referred to the difficulties that might be experienced by asylum seekers who cannot speak English. However, there is a degree of flexibility, as was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley). People who arrive at an airport or other port of entry with no interpretation facility are told to come back and complete the formalities in a few days' time. They are then treated as if they had just arrived and were making an in-port claim, although such a claim is made two or three days later. That flexibility will continue when the measure is in force.

Photo of Miss Emma Nicholson Miss Emma Nicholson , Torridge and West Devon

I am concerned about the plight of those who may find it difficult to speak at all, such as victims of torture. I have worked with such people. They have been so humiliated by the torture, which has degraded them as human beings and exploded their sense of identity, that they can hardly speak. Apart from their inability to speak English, it may take them months to explain what has happened to them, because they feel so abused, degraded and ruined. Of course they have forged documents. Otherwise, how on earth could they get out—by speaking to the secret police who are torturing them? That is just a joke.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The hon. Lady misunderstands what happens at ports. We do not expect people to know about our benefit regulations or understand the minutiae of bureaucratic detail, as has been suggested. They are simply asked why they are coming to Britain. If they are seeking asylum, they have simply to say so. Surely it would be more difficult for people in the circumstances the hon. Lady describes and for whom we all have immense sympathy to tell some concocted cock-and-bull story than to tell the truth, which is all we require of people arriving in Britain.

There is a misunderstanding about why so many asylum seekers do not claim at the port but wait until they are in country before lodging a claim. It is often suggested that the main reason is that they arrive ignorant and traumatised, but, since we have introduced changes to the benefit regulations, the number of people claiming in country has fallen by two thirds. The figure has fallen by two thirds since last June. So it is pretty clear that the great majority of people learn pretty quickly about changes in the benefit system, and respond to them.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

The Secretary of State—I am sure unknowingly—is being entirely disingenuous, as there was a comparable reduction in asylum applications two years before the regulations were introduced. The numbers of asylum applications ebb and flow, for all sorts of reasons. The fluctuation is certainly not affected by the introduction of regulations.

Will the right hon. Gentleman elaborate on the point he was making earlier—that, in some circumstances, people arriving in Britain can be told to come back in two or three days' time and make an asylum application? Will he elaborate on those circumstances? Has he ever been at a desk in Heathrow when large flights are arriving at terminal 4? Has he attended any of those sessions? Does he really think that such casual conversations take place?

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

If the best the hon. Gentleman can do to explain the two-thirds drop in in-country claims since the regulations were introduced is to suggest that it is just a coincidence, he is grasping at straws. On his second point, about the problems of languages, Heathrow is well equipped with a vast array of interpretation facilities. However, other ports that cater for smaller numbers of people do not have facilities for every language. If someone arrives with an unusual linguistic requirement, such arrangements as I suggested might be necessary should apply.

Several hon. Members:


Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Mr. Wardle), who is a distinguished expert on these matters.

Photo of Charles Wardle Charles Wardle , Bexhill and Battle

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, if anyone is disingenuous, it is the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden)? The last time that the number of asylum applications fell dramatically was immediately after applicants were required to turn up in person at Lunar house.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

My hon. Friend wins game, set and match on that point. He is absolutely right.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

As this is not Question Time, may I make a little progress?

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

Knowing the hon. Gentleman's persistence, I give way to him.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

I simply follow up my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden), who asked the Secretary of State whether he had direct experience of such cases. During business questions on 11 July, I asked the Leader of the House the following question: May I ask a question that by implication could be interpreted as being offensive, but is not meant to be? Cabinet members have some 300 years' experience between them as constituency Members of Parliament. Can we be told, before Monday's debate, whether any member of the Cabinet, as a constituency Member, has become involved with asylum seekers within three days of their arrival in this country? I have, and it is a very chastening experience, because the asylum seekers are extremely confused when they arrive. I wish to know whether any Cabinet member or any Home Office Minister has had that experience in the course of their constituency duties."—[Official Report, 11 July 1996; Vol. 281, c. 582.] The Leader of the House, ever courteous, said that he would make inquiries.

Photo of Miss Janet Fookes Miss Janet Fookes , Plymouth Drake

Order. That was a very long intervention. The hon. Gentleman should wait until he can make his own speech.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

I have not asked all my Cabinet colleagues, but as I represent a constituency with a large immigrant population, I have certainly had to deal with such cases.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

I have experience of cases involving people seeking asylum or in other ways in conflict with the immigration and asylum laws. The most recent case that I can think of offhand was within three days, but it involved the wife of someone who had entered the country illegally, who was about to claim asylum three days later. I do not know whether that falls within the hon. Gentleman's circumstances, but it is an example of what happens. All hon. Members are used to such cases.

The main reason why people claim in country rather than at the port of entry is that they are advised to do so by their relatives and friends, or in most cases their agents. Let us acknowledge that most people coming to this country as asylum seekers have agents. In almost every case mentioned in The Independent on Sunday report yesterday, the person concerned had an agent who had been paid to help them leave their own country and enter Britain. Agents give that advice because it is—or used to be—in the interests of asylum seekers to make a claim in country rather than at the port of entry.

Although the same criteria and process of assessing an asylum claim apply whether it is made at port or in country, different rules apply once the application has been turned down and the applicant has entered the normal appeal process if he is an in-country claimant, rather than in-port. In-country claimants whose claim to asylum status is rejected can invoke complex immigration law appeal rights against deportation that can drag on far longer than those available to port applicants. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has said, they do so, and many hope to prolong their stay indefinitely. It is wrong that we should enable them to do so by extending benefit and rewarding those who have failed to tell the truth simply to get a better immigration status by claiming in country.

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill , Streatham 7:30, 15 Gorffennaf 1996

If the Secretary of State is right, and most in-country applicants have been put up to it by outside advisers, can he explain why in-country applications for asylum are twice as successful as in-port applications?

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

They are not. The figures vary from year to year, but in both cases they are very small. As I have just said, the proportion of successful claims among those who claim within three days is lower than for those who wait longer.

The amendment extends the right to benefit to people who have been found not to be genuine refugees. Anyone claiming at the port or within three days will, under the amendment, retain the right to benefit throughout their appeal process—even after they have been found not to be a genuine asylum seeker at the first decision point. That means that, under the amendment, they will have greater rights to benefit than British residents in analogous circumstances. That cannot be right, and it would be extremely costly. It demonstrates that the amendment goes far further than its apologists suggest.

The amendment effectively denies the Government the right to bring in any regulation to withdraw benefits from anyone claiming at the port or within three days as long as they continue to maintain their claim as an asylum seeker, so we could not withdraw benefits after he or she had been found not to be genuine. The amendment would, as a whole, be costly. It would cost £80 million even if there was no behavioural change, no attempt to exploit the loopholes and no incentive effect that encouraged more people to come to this country and lodge asylum claims.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

The Secretary of State has made a great deal over the months about the costs involved, and all of us are conscious of that. But will he confirm that, if every person who came to this country—not as an immigrant, but as an asylum seeker or refugee—was fraudulent, we would still be talking about one third of 1 per cent. of his entire departmental budget? The parliamentary time that we have taken on the issue leads me to wonder what motives were behind the introduction of the measure in the first place.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The cost would be some £400 million. If that has to be met within the social security budget—as the hon. Gentleman suggests—that is equivalent to cutting the basic state pension by 1 per cent. Is that what the Liberal Democrat party proposes? Is that what the Opposition are proposing? The Opposition have told us that they will restore the benefits, and have also said that they will not allow any net increase in the social security budget. That must mean that they are proposing to reduce benefits going to British citizens to finance the extension of benefits to largely bogus asylum seekers.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

This will be the last intervention that I take, as I want to leave time for other hon. Members to speak.

Photo of Glenda Jackson Glenda Jackson Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

I am most grateful to the Secretary of State. I should like some clarification of the figure of £400 million that he has given. When the changes to the benefit system were introduced, we were told that the savings to the taxpayer would be some £200 million. Last week, the Secretary of State inflated that figure to £300 million. Given that we have heard about the savings that have been made, how can we now be looking at the possibility of £400 million being saved? Does the Secretary of State know either the costs or the numbers?

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

I can explain to the hon. Lady. When we made the assessment, we assumed that there would be no reduction in the number of claims. On that basis, the figure was about £200 million in a full year. There has been a sharp reduction in the number of claims, and that has enhanced the likely savings to something like £274 million. But that means that we are continuing to pay out some £140 million to people who were in-port applicants, making a total of about £400 million—the figure that I gave to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton). I hope that that satisfies the hon. Lady.

It is important to make savings, and the Opposition suggest that that can be done purely by speeding up the administrative process. They are mistaken. As long as we have a benefit enticement to people to come here, ever-increasing numbers will do so and will clog up the system, and it will not be possible for us to speed up the assessment of claims.

As a result of the changes we made, the overall number of claims fell by more than half since January 1995, and by two thirds as far as in-country claims were concerned. As the asylum system is relieved from a flood of bogus claims, so it is easier to process those remaining, which is of great benefit to genuine claimants.

Last month, 75 per cent. of all new in-country claims were cleared through the short decision procedure in, on average, one month. But we believe that it is important to do better, and we remain committed to further improvements. We are investing an extra £37 million to speed up asylum decisions and appeals, and the Home Office is introducing a major computerisation scheme, and is further extending the short procedure.

Above all, the measures in the Bill as a whole will further speed up the process, and will tackle claims from safe third countries and from white list countries. Yet the Opposition—while saying that instead of curbing entitlements, they would make savings by improving the efficiency with which claims are dealt—are opposing almost all the changes contained in the Bill.

The Opposition cannot have it both ways. If they leave in existence a benefit lure, they will make it more difficult to give a speedy assessment to genuine benefit claimants. That is what those who have expressed concern about the issue in the press and the media recently want. We share their desire to see a speedy assessment of genuine claimants, but we believe that that will be possible only if we make the amendments that we moved in another place, and do not accept the specific amendment that will effectively drive a coach and horses through the Bill.

I believe that much of the concern expressed about the issue has been based on inaccuracies. A large majority of those seeking asylum do abuse the system. There is no question of taking away benefit just because people do not understand the procedures of claiming asylum. We are taking away benefit only from illegal immigrants, from people who change their story after they have arrived in Britain claiming to be something other than asylum seekers, and from people found not to be genuine refugees.

The genuine refugee has nothing to fear from this change. This country has always been a safe haven for genuine refugees, and will remain so. I ask the House to reject the clause as it now stands, and to amend it to restore the Government's original intention, which was agreed by this House in January.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

I want to refer first to the issue of the three days, which the House of Lords put into the Bill and which the Government are seeking to delete. I want to tackle the fundamental assumption that underlies everything that the Government have said and done on that issue—if someone does not apply for asylum the moment that he sets foot in this country at port, his claim is somehow inevitably bogus. That is what the Government believe, because it is the logic that underlies everything that the Secretary of State has said. Yet the figures disprove that thesis. Of the 775 people granted refugee status in the first four months of this year, 610 were in-country applicants.

In a rather dismissive response to my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill) on that question, the Secretary of State said that the figures vary from year to year. For every one of the past four years, the approval rate for in-country applicants has been higher than that for port-of-entry applicants. So the Government's assumption that, simply because one does not apply at the port of entry, one is more likely to be a bogus applicant, is false.

The Secretary of State has been parading himself around the radio and television studios in the past few days, talking about people who come in as students, business men and tourists. He says that such people cannot be genuine refugees. He clearly has no idea of the circumstances of someone who is genuinely fleeing from oppression, who has to adopt such guises to seek a safe haven here.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

Would the hon. Gentleman care to explain why the change in the benefit rules that took away entitlement to benefit from those who claim in country has led to a two-thirds reduction in people making claims in country?

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

The Government are trying to starve genuine refugees out of this country. Of course, that change may well have an effect, but my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) said that there are ebbs and flows in applications, which is a valid point.

The Secretary of State clearly does not understand what drives people to flee from oppression in their own country. They might well be frightened of any figure in authority and, when confronted with such a figure at the port of entry, they will not be confident about immediately telling that person their life story. They might well have been given bad advice before they left, but that does not mean that they are not genuine asylum seekers. They might well not be questioned intensively at the port, depending on the port of entry. They may well have had to flee with false papers because that was the only way in which they could get out of their country. Their one anxiety may be to get in and be safe in this country.

Those are all circumstances in which people who are genuinely fleeing from oppression and are in fear of their life—often people have been subjected to torture—arrive at the initial point of entry. To assume that, simply because they come in with other papers or in another guise, they are not legitimate refugees, is a false assumption.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

I will not give way at the moment because many hon. Members want to speak.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in due course. I want to make some progress.

The House of Lords, by including a three working days period of grace to allow someone who is genuinely fleeing from persecution to contact his or her community here and, perhaps, friends or a solicitor and make an application for asylum, has made a reasonable, commonsense, small extension of the provision. That period of grace will ensure that some genuine refugees who are excluded by the Government's provisions can be included and will be entitled to benefit.

The Secretary of State argued that the change would help illegal immigrants and asked how we would tell if someone claimed that he entered the country three days ago, when he did not. That is a bogus argument. All the Government need to do is to provide clear guidance that proof of the date of entry is required before benefit entitlement can be achieved. The moment that that is achieved, the Secretary of State's entire argument falls.

7.45 pm

The Secretary of State also told us that the proposal would cost £80 million. [Interruption.] It might pay Conservative Members to attend to the figures that the Under-Secretary of State issued to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson), who asked about the proportion of asylum seekers last year and in the first six months of this year who had applied for asylum within the first three days after arrival. The Under-Secretary answered my hon. Friend today—5 per cent. of those seeking asylum in the first six months of this calendar year applied within the first three days. I have the answer here.

That 5 per cent. figure means that the Secretary of State's figure of £80 million as the extra cost of the Lords amendment is bogus. If one allows an average of a year and a half for the determination of each of those 5 per cent. of applications, the Secretary of State is assuming an average cost to the social security budget in each case of £30,000 a year. That figure is not credible. The Secretary of State ought to come clean to the House about how he arrived at his £80 million figure, because it does not hold water.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The figure is made up of the two factors involved in the Opposition amendment. One is extending the benefit entitlement to those who claim within three days of arrival and the other is extending the right to benefit of those who claim at the port and those who claim within three days of arrival into the appeal process, which is very expensive. The two together come to about £80 million.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

I took that into account in the figures that I just gave. If the Secretary of State had been listening, he would have understood that I had.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

The appeal process in itself is revealing. The Refugee Legal Centre—an organisation funded by the Home Office and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees—has recorded a 20 per cent. success rate in the past three months. The issue is one of representation. If refugees and asylum seekers are properly represented, the number of successful appeals increases—the inadequacy of representation was raised by Conservative Members in Committee. The argument that virtually everyone who comes in is bogus has been shown to be nonsense.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

The hon. Gentleman is right. The Government continually fail to point out that it is not only those who are granted full refugee status who are legitimately here at the end of the asylum-seeking process, but people who are granted exceptional leave to remain. The figures are far higher than the Government keep claiming.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

The Secretary of State's claims about savings are as bogus as his claims that the regulations alone have caused the reduction in asylum seekers. The Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Mr. Wardle) robustly rejected my claim that there had been similar reductions in earlier years. Perhaps they will accept the briefing of the Refugee Legal Centre, which was sent to all hon. Members and states: between 1991 and 1992 there was a decrease in applications of some 45 per cent. There was no change in the legislation affecting asylum seekers in that period and yet this decrease is almost identical to the reduction presently being proclaimed as the result of changes made to benefit entitlement. Perhaps the Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle will have the good grace to apologise—if they believe the figures of a body that they fund.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

My hon. Friend makes an effective point.

The Secretary of State argued that the Lords amendment is technically defective, in that it does more than the Lords intended when they passed it. All the speeches in the other place show that they intended it to apply to people who were claiming asylum within three days of the point of application through until the first determination.

There is a legal dispute about the legal definition of any person who has made a claim for asylum". If that is to be interpreted in the same way as an asylum seeker is interpreted in Department of Social Security regulations, it applies only up to the point of first determination, and the definition in the Bill is unclear. However, if the. Government—and some of their Back Benchers who might be minded to support the Lords on this—are worried about that, there is a simple answer. If the Government are defeated on amendment (a), it is open to them to table a simple manuscript amendment to ensure that it is clear that the provision applies only up to first determination, or they could use the opportunity of next Monday's debate in another place to resolve the matter.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

Can we be clear about this? Is the hon. Gentleman saying that there was a mistake with the amendment and that it was not meant to restore benefits during the appeal process? Up to now, the Opposition have favoured restoring benefits and we assumed that the amendment was deliberate. Is he saying that they no longer favour restoring benefits during the appeal process? Have they made a giant U-turn and has he consulted the parliamentary Labour party about that?

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

I expected better from the Secretary of State. There are two issues. I am dealing at the moment with what the House of Lords intended when it passed its amendment to the Bill. I shall come in a moment to the issue of appeal in general, because I think that the Government are wrong about that. I am pointing out that their argument about the technicality of the Lords amendment is not valid. They must not let a technicality stand in the way of a sensible proposal that would make the procedure a little more understanding and humane in respect of the circumstances of genuine asylum seekers who are fleeing for their lives.

I promised the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) that I would give way and I shall do so, but for the last time.

Photo of Mr Robert Hughes Mr Robert Hughes , Harrow West

That is a fascinating way in which to debate something. Nevertheless, I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. His response to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is inadequate. We need to know what the hon. Gentleman's policy is. Does he agree with the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) that the amounts of money are small and that we should not worry about them, or does he want to stick to his policy so far, which would treat asylum seekers who may turn out to be bogus more generously than British people? What is his policy? He is getting muddled. At the moment, he is saying that he wants to treat asylum seekers—

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) claimed that I had said that the amount of money involved was small. I did not make that excellent point; it was made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton).

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

It is not I who is muddled but the hon. Member for Harrow, West, who clearly cannot tell his Hackney, North from his Mossley Hill. The sooner he does, the better.

It is not only a question of the three-day provision that the House of Lords passed, which we support and will vote to defend. There is the more general issue of what the Government are trying to do with the removal of benefits from many asylum seekers. There are several reasons why the Opposition oppose what they are doing in general.

First, and most importantly, we oppose the Government's action because it is inhumane. That point was made tellingly by Lord Justice Simon Brown in the Court of Appeal when he said: this uncompromising draconian policy contemplates a life so destitute that to my mind no civilised nation can tolerate it". The Court of Appeal was not concerned only about the illegality of trying to introduce the changes by regulation rather than by primary legislation but about the morality and humanity of what the Government were doing. It was right to be concerned. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster are also right to be concerned.

Secondly, what the Government are doing hits the bogus and genuine claimant alike. The Government always like to refer to bogus claimants. Indeed, the Secretary of State's letter to all hon. Members of 9 July begins: I am writing to explain why we are limiting benefits for bogus asylum seekers". Yes, they are limiting benefits for bogus asylum seekers, but they are also limiting them for genuine asylum seekers. The sooner that the Government admit that, the better.

The third reason why we oppose what the Government are doing is that the cost savings that they claim are mythical. They may be saving a bit of money on the Department of Social Security budget, but the cost for local authorities will rise because they will be left to pick up the pieces. If an asylum seeker who has children is denied benefit—and remember 5,000 come in each year with children—and is left destitute, there is a responsibility on local authorities to take children into care at an average cost of £45,000 per child per year. The Government have recognised that, because they have produced a scheme to reimburse local authorities for the extra costs involved. They even have a scheme to reimburse the social services costs through the Department of Health to the tune of £25 million. They are saving money in one part of the public purse but spending it in another.

The fourth reason why we oppose the Government's action is that it fundamentally undermines the concept of appeal. The Secretary of State is fond of parading the argument that British citizens who appeal against a benefit decision do not receive benefit. He is fond of saying that all he is doing is putting asylum seekers in exactly the same position. That is an entirely fallacious argument, because he is not comparing like with like.

An asylum seeker in receipt of benefit who appealed against a decision to withdraw it would, in the same way as a British citizen, not be entitled to that benefit while the appeal was pending. This is a question not of people appealing against a benefit decision but of their appealing against the decision on whether to grant them asylum. The two are quite different decisions.

In addition, a decision on benefit is taken on factual, objective criteria. A decision on asylum is taken on a subjective assessment by the Home Secretary of the degree of difficulty in the country of origin and how genuine is the fear of oppression of the individual. They are two completely different issues, and for the Secretary of State deliberately and erroneously to confuse the two is not to do any justice to his argument.

The last reason why we oppose what the Government are doing is that they would be far better employed in speeding up the processing of asylum applications in the first place. The average length of time spent waiting for an initial determination is currently eight months. In February this year, more than 10,000 asylum seekers had been waiting since 1991 for a determination. What the Government are doing is not the way to save money on the benefit bill. The solution is not to leave people—some with children, some with injuries and disabilities—destitute on the streets. It would be much better to speed up the processing of applications.

8 pm

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Shadow Secretary of State

I will not give way, I am afraid, because I am trying to conclude and other hon. Members wish to speak.

The Government claim that they are seeking to ensure that Britain is a safe haven and not a soft touch. No one is arguing for a soft touch. We all want to root out bogus claims, and to do it much more quickly, but we do not want to deny legitimate, genuine applicants the means of life while we are doing it. For many entirely legitimate applicants fleeing from real persecution, Britain will become not a safe haven but, if the Government have their way, a place of wretched destitution. The Government should think again.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , South Staffordshire

I do not wish to detain the House long, but I cannot pretend that I am not extremely troubled by this series of amendments. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, with whom I have spoken, knows well that I am concerned.

There were three letters in The Times this morning. I shall briefly draw the attention of the House to them. One, from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster, is carefully and persuasively worded. One is from our colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir J. Critchley). The one that is really important, in my view, is from Dr. Perutz. I will not read it to the House, but I shall quote one paragraph: Beginning with the Huguenots, asylum-seekers and their descendants have brought fame, health, wealth and even victory to this country. He cites a number of eminent men and women who have come to this country fleeing persecution, have made it their home and have brought great honour upon it, and great wealth, too, in many cases.

I was taught to love Shakespeare by a German refugee who was not a Jew but had some Jewish blood. If he had stayed in Nazi Germany, he would doubtless have suffered, as so many others did. He came to this country and was given succour. He more than repaid the refuge that was given to him.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

Is my hon. Friend suggesting that any of the people whose names were set out in that letter were claiming benefit? It was all pre-welfare state. The debate is not about whether people should come into this country and whether they are genuine asylum seekers but about whether they should claim benefit.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , South Staffordshire

I am tempted to stray, but I will not. The debate is about more than that. It is about Britain's reputation as a safe haven. I do not for a moment impugn the sincerity of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench. I am sure that they share my view and that of Dr. Perutz, as expressed in his letter. However, I am clear that if the Lords amendment is resisted, we shall have made life more difficult for some people—I do not know how many, but obviously some. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security has admitted that with his statement about retrospective payments. The very fact that he makes that statement makes it plain that he accepts that some people will be refused and will later receive benefit. That concerns me.

It concerns me that some people persecuted by evil regimes will come into Britain in a state of shock, bewilderment and dismay and will not in the first three days necessarily fully comprehend the circumstances. It is a modest amendment that their lordships have inserted into the Bill. All that it says is that three days' grace should be granted to such people. It was not proposed by outlandish people. Nor is it supported by such people. The Refugee Council is an extremely responsible body. The National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux is an extremely responsible organisation. Those bodies have to deal at the sharp end with the problems of refugees. They believe that the amendment to allow three days, modest as it is, will help.

It is important that my right hon. Friends do everything that they possibly can to separate the bogus from the genuine. I hope that not one Member of the House would want a bogus person to benefit. But I am afraid that I have to say that, if faced with the choice, I would rather that a bogus person benefited than that a genuine refugee was sent back to an evil regime. That is the way in which we have conducted our policy over the centuries. It is a policy that has benefited Britain considerably.

I do not see why it is not possible to insist on proof that the person came into the country within three days of the application. I do not see the amendment as opening the floodgates, so that every illegal immigrant could present himself or herself at a benefit office. That is not a valid argument against the amendment. I am prepared to accept that it may be technically flawed. I would not want to argue with that. I should be happy if my right hon. and hon. Friends came up with a series of proposals and formulae that would meet the point. No hon. Member would refuse to listen carefully to such a series of proposals. However, we do not have such a series of proposals. We are urged to reject the Lords amendment, with nothing administrative or otherwise to put in its place.

The reputation of this country is priceless. One of the things that has made Britain a great country—I believe that it is a great country—is the fact that it has been through the centuries a safe haven for those who have fled from desperate regimes and terrible conditions. Whether one talks about Louis XIV revoking the edict of Nantes, or those who came over in the 19th century fleeing pogroms, or those who came during the evil years of the 1930s from Nazi Germany, or those who are here now, having fled the evil of Bosnia in the past two or three years, one is talking of people who have suffered desperately, for whom Britain is a beacon. Why is it a beacon? It is because of the standards and values that they believe that we encapsulate and personify. At our best we do. The Government would take a little step in the wrong direction and, unless my right hon. Friends can convince me by good administrative proposals or some other means, I cannot take part in voting against the Lords amendment.

Photo of Miss Emma Nicholson Miss Emma Nicholson , Torridge and West Devon

It is a pleasure to speak to amendment (d) to Lords amendment No. 24, to which my hon. Friends the Members for Rochdale (Ms Lynne) and for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) have also put their names. It is a simple amendment that would make means-tested benefits available to asylum seekers if the decisions on their cases took longer than 28 days. It would, we believe, mean that asylum seekers would not become victims of bureaucracy and would not be kept waiting too long for their decisions. Given the attitude of the present Government, it would certainly have that effect.

The strength of the Government's case for turning down last-ditch amendments such as amendment (d), which is backed by all the Church leaders, rests on two arguments. The first is the problem of drafting minutiae, which suggests that the Clerks of the House of Lords cannot do their job. I find that difficult to believe. The second has comprised a series of elastic personal guarantees from the Minister of State, which stretched and contracted according to the notes that she received from the Home Office civil servants in the Box. The Secretary of State for Social Security added his guarantees later. Those guarantees are worthless. Perhaps the latest ones from the Secretary of State are as invalid as the selective unemployment figures that he used recently in Southwark cathedral. While we have listened to those worthless guarantees, the moral minority on the Conservative Benches has sat on its hands when Divisions were called.

Why do I say that the guarantees are worthless? I must be the only person on Opposition Benches who voted in favour of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993. I reread a little of the debate this evening to discover why, unwillingly, I supported the Act. The then Home Secretary, a man I trusted—now the Chancellor of the Exchequer—said in the Second Reading debate: The Bill will achieve a better system for making prompt and fair decisions when we receive applications to settle in this country … That in itself will ease the pressures on all our public services."—[Official Report, 2 November 1992; Vol. 213, c. 22.] Yet recent Home Office statistics show that, in 1994, 4,170 decisions were made on the cases of applicants who applied in that year, as opposed to 11,390 decisions made on cases lodged in previous years. The higher figure for previous years even excludes an additional 5,435 decisions for which no year of application was recorded.

We should not confuse decisions and applications. The total of 4,170 decisions taken in 1994 on cases lodged in 1994, made up only 13 per cent. of the total number of applications in that year. How, therefore, can I believe the assurances given by Ministers tonight when the assurances given by a previous Home Secretary have proved so swiftly to have been invalid? The figures also show that applicants wait far more than three months for initial decisions to be made, and cases take years to resolve. The decision may take only three to six months, but files sit in backlogs waiting to be considered. That may be the result of a lack of resources, poor planning or inefficiency. Current delays are impossible to justify now, but they would be completely unacceptable if applicants were to be excluded from benefits as the Government desire.

Those with exceptional leave to remain would also benefit from amendment (d). Some 7,825 people received exceptional leave to remain in 1992, 5,520 in 1993 and 1,875 in 1994. All of them—more than 15,000—would have been denied benefit by the Government's proposals, yet all have been found to have genuine reasons for being too frightened to go back to their homes. Those 15,000 people also have families, so the number of people in trouble would have been significantly larger. I voted for the 1993 Act. I know now that it has become a licence to bully.

I am concerned when the Secretary of State talks about forged European Union passports and false papers. Does he not understand that people in Iraq cannot get a passport, let alone a visa? They cannot travel unless they travel on false papers. How can people in Iraq have their family name on any paper when Saddam Hussein has wiped out all family names and people are allowed to use only their forenames?

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security 8:15, 15 Gorffennaf 1996

I entirely accept that people need to resort to all sorts of devices to leave an oppressive country, but they do not need to resort to devices or dishonesty to enter this country. The hon. Lady gave the example of Iraq. That country has a tyrannous regime and we were recently at war with it; we might expect that even genuine asylum seekers would be fearful on entering this country, but none the less a majority of those claimants claim at the port and not in country. On the other hand, the vast majority of claimants from the Indian subcontinent, who follow a well-oiled trail to this country, claim in country and not at port because they know that that gives them an advantageous status in the immigration rules when their claims are subsequently found to be bogus.

Photo of Miss Emma Nicholson Miss Emma Nicholson , Torridge and West Devon

Iraq was a protected state of the United Kingdom for many years and the Iraqi people know Britain well and they know our systems. I am sad to have to tell the Secretary of State that he is known by the Iraqi refugees in London—and many thousands of other refugees—as monster Lilley. I take no pleasure in that and, like others who have spoken, I want the Government to make the United Kingdom respected internationally, not disrespected.

The Secretary of State has talked about bogus asylum seekers abusing the system, but a more competently run system would not be open to such abuse. The Secretary of State's job should be on the line tonight, not the benefits of some of the most miserable people in the world.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley , Eltham

The earlier part of the speech made by the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Miss Nicholson) was better received than her unjustified attack on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security.

The essential element of our debate tonight is how to meet the objective of the Lords amendment and of the letter from the Moderator of the Free Church and the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster and, at the same time, to see if it is still possible—here or in another place, if we do not accept Lords amendment No. 24—to meet the Government's aim. I do not regard Lord Carr—the former Home SecretaryLord Donaldson, the former Master of the Rolls, or the Earl of Sandwich as revolutionaries. They are people who know what they are talking about because they have served in their different ways, and we should take their points as seriously as we do those of the Church leaders.

I suggest to my right hon. Friends in the Home Office and the Department of Social Security that we should try to recognise that a small number of people who have a justifiable claim for refugee status should be able to claim not only at the moment that they arrive in this country, but within a day or two afterwards. They should be able to do that by putting themselves in the position that they would have been in had they claimed when they arrived, legally or illegally. They should have to demonstrate when they arrived, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) suggested, and they should give up any claim they might have under immigration rules and agree to be treated only under the asylum rules. That would remove any artificial incentives for people to apply for asylum after their arrival.

We shall achieve our desired ends through tight limitations and by removing any advantage people may derive from sneaking into the country giving a false story, making false declarations that they can support themselves, or appealing against deportation on immigration grounds if they fail in their asylum appeal.

We can achieve the flexibility that Church leaders seek in another way. If the Government will not allow claims for benefit, they should provide a certain amount of money—I hope not too little—to those bodies that will carry the load. I have not visited the refugee centre in Vauxhall or the United Reformed Church centre in Stoke Newington, but I know several people who have, and their testimony is impressive.

I ask my right hon. Friend, when he replies to the debate, to confirm how flexible the system will be. Will he ensure that, before the matter returns to the House of Lords—whether we disagree with the Lords amendment or produce some other Government proposal—the Government will find a way of addressing the genuine concerns of those who want to give those with justifiable asylum claims the chance to live in this country without suffering destitution?

In a letter to The Times of 4 July this year, I am on record as supporting the Government's policy to reduce the number of unjustified asylum claims. I stand by that view. However, it should be possible to reach a compromise and agree not to penalise those who have a genuine—I do not really like to use that word in these circumstances—reason for not applying for asylum immediately. They should not derive any advantage from applying within two or three days of their arriving in this country. If people sneak into the United Kingdom without passing through immigration, the duty should be upon them to demonstrate that they arrived within three days of making an application.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

I wish that the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) spoke for the entire Conservative party, but unfortunately he does not. We know what the issue is about: it is a hangover from the Conservative party conference of last year or the year before. Stirring up racism and xenophobia might be good for the blue-rinse brigade, but it is not good for those who must represent the people we are discussing tonight—many of whom live in the east end, where I come from.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

It may interest the hon. Gentleman to learn that the board of the race relations commission, which was meeting when I delivered my speech, considered it and was delighted to find that it did not contain any such invective.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

I am sorry; I would never accuse the Secretary of State of using invective in his speeches to Conservative party conferences. I remember his, "I have a little list" speech. If he believes that that sort of speech does not stir up racism and xenophobia, he does not understand the meaning of those words. That is what lies behind the proposal tonight.

As the hon. Member for South Staffordshire said, the Lords amendment is modest: it calls for a three-day delay. The Secretary of State and other Conservative Members must try to imagine how they would feel if they had just arrived in this country fleeing from an evil regime. How rational would they be? The Secretary of State says that the easiest thing to do is speak the truth—hon. Members do not always follow that advice—but we must consider the circumstances.

People arriving in this country may not speak English and they may have left families or children behind in their country of origin. The idea that they will be totally coherent regarding their rights and their intentions beggars belief—it will not work like that. That is why this modest and reasonable proposal should be acceptable to a reasonable Government—if the Government were trying to help such people.

The Secretary of State did not say whether or how often he has visited terminal 4 to watch people entering this country and claiming asylum or refugee status. We should be grateful that people want to come to this country. We talk about people being economic refugees, as if that were a crime. People come to the United Kingdom to improve their lot. They want to contribute: they do not want to live off social security. Some might do that, but some who live here do it also. Most asylum seekers want to improve their personal circumstances and those of their families. We should not refer to "bogus" asylum seekers, as though they are useless people who can make no contribution to society.

Allowing that point to pass, we must ask how helpful are the immigration officials at the port of entry. In my opinion, they are not helpful at all: they certainly do not explain people's rights. They ask trick questions—I have listened to them—to try to trap people because they do not want asylum seekers to enter the country. Little helpful information is offered at the port of entry. That is a sad thing to say in this place, but it is my experience.

Never mind the circumstances—obviously I speak in support of the Lords amendment—let us examine the practicalities if the Government are successful in forcing through their amendments. What will happen to the people from whom all benefit is withdrawn? Children may be involved. What will people do? Come to borough councils' social services offices. What will the borough councils do? Refer asylum seekers to the refugee centre in Newham, where they will receive £15 and a food hamper. That is not very generous, but it is all that the centre can afford. Such benefit soon runs out.

What will the local authorities do? Unlike in some Conservative constituencies, in Newham there may be 10,000 or more refugees. Many people who come to my constituency advice centres do not appear on the electoral register. They are considered to be my constituents, but much of my work load consists of trying to explain rights to people who are not registered voters. When we examine hon. Members' work loads, we should look not only at the number of registered electors but at the work load of individual Members of Parliament.

I ask the Secretary of State: what will happen in the London borough of Newham when people are bereft of any recourse to state aid? What will the local council do with people who have no resources and no access to funds?

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

In areas such as the hon. Gentleman's and in cities such as mine, people will live on the streets and we shall end up with shanty towns like those in the United States.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

That is a strong possibility. The Minister of State has visited my borough. I should like to take her to the areas where immigrants and those waiting for the Department to process their applications live. The hon. Lady smiles, but she would not like to live like that—I certainly would not. As I do not want to live like that, I am not prepared to condone the conditions that those people must endure.

If the Secretary of State manages to smash the amendments through the House tonight, what will he then do to assist the hard-pressed borough of Newham where the problem is concentrated? We welcome refugees to the east end, but we need Government support. Today the Government are showing two fingers to us, two fingers to those who turn up in this country seeking asylum and two fingers to those who must look after them on their arrival. It is disgraceful that the Secretary of State should turn down the Lords amendment, and I hope that he will be defeated.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

I hope that I can lower the temperature following that rant by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). Many of those who are listening to the debate will think that we have taken leave of our senses shortly after giving ourselves a substantial pay rise. I shall examine some of the points that have been made. The hon. Gentleman suggested that we are being racist in questioning the abuse of public money. That idea is too preposterous for words. Most—if not all—Conservative Members would not tolerate any action that our Government took that was racist in any sense, and I think that the House showed how united it was against racism in a series of debates that we had before.

My former hon. Friend—still the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Miss Nicholson)—talked about Iraqis. It may well be the case that people from Iraq and from other terrible regimes want to leave their countries and cannot expect to come without forged passports, exit visas or whatever. But all they have to say when they arrive is, "Asylum." They do not have to say any more before we give them asylum, and with it they get social security benefits, housing benefits, health benefits, education benefits. All they have to do is say, "Asylum," and if they cannot "speaka da English"—[Interruption.] All they have to do is indicate that they cannot speak English, and the immigration authorities will provide them with somebody who will translate for them. All that person has to do is to say, "If you are a genuine asylum seeker, because you're in a state, you've obviously been beaten up, you've got burns all over your body, you can claim asylum." That is what the immigration service provides. It provides translators, people who will help them. It is nonsense to say that that does not happen.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

I am sure that the hon. Lady will want to make her own contribution in a moment.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack), for whom I have much respect, showed some confusion. The people who are here and make a claim for asylum in country may still be able to get asylum or to get extended right to remain. All we are saying is that those people will not get benefits. All the people to whom he referred in the letter from the academic in The Times today were those who got asylum but who did not get benefits.

Photo of Miss Emma Nicholson Miss Emma Nicholson , Torridge and West Devon

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

No, please, I have a short time in which to speak, and most hon. Members will make their contributions, or will have already made them.

The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) spoke about the need to speed up. Of course there is such a need. Everybody agrees that there is a need to speed up asylum applications, but one of the best ways to do so is by reducing the number who make asylum applications, 95 per cent. of which are bogus. If that number is reduced, the legal, justified and genuine applications that are made by asylum seekers will be processed that much more quickly.

The background for this legislation is that, nine years ago, 5,700 people applied for asylum in this country, and now the number has risen to 50,000. It is rising in this country, whereas it is falling in all the countries in Europe that have tightened their asylum-seeking requirements. Italy does not even provide benefits for asylum seekers. That is why people want to come to Britain. For too long we have said, "We have this very proud tradition. We will not question too deeply, and of course you will have benefits."

I think that people outside think that we are mad having a debate on this not about the people who come to this country who genuinely seek asylum, who say at the port of entry, "Asylum," or get a translator to help them, but about people who are not inarticulate, who are not quivering with fear or are too humiliated to speak. Seventy per cent. of them enter the country, saying, "I want to visit." They have with them their sponsor and have filled in applications and forms that set out clearly how much money they have so that they will not be a burden on the state. They come in with their return tickets, saying, "I have business to do. I am a business man. These are the men I am doing business with. These are the men who will guarantee that I will be not one penny burden on the taxpayer." They come into the country and say, "I am a student. I have a place at this college. I will not be a burden on the state because the following people and organisations are helping me." They are the people who, when they turn round later and say, "I am an asylum seeker, please let me come in," have lied and cheated their way here.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

I am sorry, but I shall not give way, as too many hon. Members want to speak in what is a short debate.

The people outside—

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can we have your advice? When we are confronted by an hon. Member who refuses to give way, while listing a catalogue, a tissue of lies and untruths—

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

Order. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will want to withdraw the word, "lies".

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

I certainly withdraw the word, "lies," but substitute the term "deliberate falsehoods".

What can we do when the hon. and learned Gentleman refuses to give way to Opposition Members?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

Order. The hon. Gentleman can do nothing. The hon. and learned Gentleman is responsible for his own speech and whether he gives way.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

The only reason why I shall not give way is that it would prolong my speech and many other hon. Members want to speak. I notice that the hon. Gentleman's colleague on the Front Bench gave way only once, and my right hon. Friend gave way so many times that his speech went on for much longer than he intended.

I accept the hon. Gentleman's apology, but he has just shown that he is so carried away that he is capable of misjudgment, and that is what I am afraid is dictating so much of the debate. We are losing control of ourselves. I was merely making the point that our constituents simply do not expect us to provide social security benefits all the way down the line for illegal immigrants. I do not think that people outside want to provide social security benefits for people who come into this country, promising that they can afford to be here without being any burden on the state, pretending, or perhaps changing their minds later, that they are students when they are not, that they are business men when they are not, that they are genuine visitors with genuine sponsors when they are not—all of whom have to be interviewed; all of whom have to be articulate; all of whom have to satisfy the immigration authorities that their application sounds genuine.

To say that those people are petrified, that they cannot explain themselves or that they are so humiliated, is to paint a completely false picture about what happens with 70 per cent. of applicants who are in-house applicants, having changed their minds as to the reasons why they are here.

We must take a sensible grip of ourselves. Ordinary, genuine asylum seekers will nearly always claim asylum when they arrive. They will get asylum and continue to get benefit. Those who are here and who have changed their minds can still satisfy the authorities that they are genuine asylum seekers and they will be given asylum or extended right to remain, but they will not get benefits. For the illegals and everybody else, I am afraid that the public are against Opposition Members who think that what is needed is a bigger handout and that we should be a bigger soft touch than all the other countries of Europe that do not operate such an absurd system of welfare payments in the circumstances that we are discussing.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

The less said about the speech by the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) the better.

Hon. Members who intervene at this point had better have a very good reason for doing so. My good reason is personal experience of having seen—like, I hope, other hon. Members—what happens in the first day when an asylum seeker arrives. I repeat the question that I put to the Leader of the House last Thursday, which was meant not offensively but factually: how many members of the Cabinet and Home Office Ministers have seen what happens in the crucial first three days? The Leader of the House said that he would draw it to the attention of those who reply to the debate."—[Official Report, 11 July 1996; Vol. 281, c. 582.] Could we have some kind of factual answer?

On 18 November 1992, at the request of the then Home Secretary—now Chancellor of the Exchequer—I went, along with Dr. Perutz, who wrote to The Times, and Dr. Pirouet of Charter '87, also known as A Charter for Refugees, to see those who were framing the previous Bill. As Home Office records will show, we were allowed an hour and three quarters with a most courteous Mr. Peter Wrench. My interest in the matter is not sudden., and I therefore ask the following questions.

How can the asylum procedures be shaped to allow for the exhaustion, trauma and confusion that many asylum seekers experience on their initial arrival—sometimes so severely that they are unable to give an adequate account of their reasons for seeking asylum? If they later have to change and amplify their stories, they are liable to be accused of lying. In fact, they often are accused of lying, precisely because they have had to amplify and change the stories that they gave in their original traumatic condition. What the Secretary of State said about lying is open to considerable question.

Moreover, both male and female rape are all too frequent among those who have suffered imprisonment and torture in a number of countries from which genuine asylum seekers come. The United Kingdom police now know that rape victims often need time and reassurance before they are able to reveal what has happened to them. I hope that the Secretary of State will make some reference to those who have been raped in the course of torture.

Dr. Stuart Turner, of the traumatic stress clinic in London, specifically notes the incidence of rape, and says that it is doubly evident in some of the cultures from which asylum seekers come. An amendment permitting a person to apply for asylum within three days of arrival without loss of benefit constitutes a minimal recognition of that difficulty. I am a newcomer to the Bill; others have worked on it long and hard. I hope, however, that I shall receive a reply on the specific question of rape and the general question of whether the Ministers who are giving us this legislation have personally observed the terrible effects of the current arrangements on asylum seekers.

I was very moved by the speech of the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack), and it is in that spirit that I ask my questions.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I listened with interest to what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence). I understand that he is a lawyer; if he is, I feel genuinely sorry for anyone whom he seeks to represent in court, because he managed completely to ignore the real legal point about the benefit cuts.

Perhaps I can help the hon. and learned Gentleman by reminding him of what Lord Justice Waite said in his judgment. He said that cutting benefits for asylum seekers and refugees would have the effect of rendering their ostensible statutory right to a proper consideration of their claims in this country valueless in practice by making it not merely difficult but totally impossible for them to remain here to pursue those claims. I am struck by the fact that a lawyer of the hon. and learned Gentleman's experience has missed the central legal point that it is no use having a right to appeal if the person concerned is made destitute while exercising that right: the right becomes valueless. Either the hon. and learned Gentleman missed that point, or he did not care to comment on it.

I also listened with interest to the remarks of the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack). During his heartfelt speech, in which he spoke for most hon. Members on both sides of the House, my attention was drawn to the expression on the faces of Ministers. When he called in aid the point that it would be damaging to this country's international reputation if we introduced changes that might hurt genuine refugees, Ministers rolled their eyes and sneered. It has come to something when Ministers sneer at hon. Members who express genuine concern for the country's reputation. If Ministers think that, for the sake of a fraction of the social security budget, it is worth throwing away a reputation for fair play in regard to refugees, that tells us something about them. It also tells us something about the respect that they have for their Back-Bench colleagues.

8.45 pm

The substance of Ministers' arguments for the benefit cut is that anyone who claims refugee status in country is more likely to be bogus than someone who claims it at the port. Over and over, hon. Members on both sides of the House have put it to Ministers that there is not a shred of statistical evidence to demonstrate that people who claim in country are more likely to be bogus than those who claim at the port; over and over, Ministers have refused to deal with that fact. In my view, however, that fact blows away the whole basis of their case.

As hon. Members have said, this is a modest amendment. It will rule out the very small number of people who may have been here for six months, a year or longer, and then claim refugee status gratuitously, while giving confused and frightened people a few days in which to collect their thoughts, obtain advice and put in a claim. It will do a good deal to help genuine refugees.

I have listened to the debate with interest. I have been struck both by Conservative Members' unwillingness to face the truth about their case—which I believe has no basis in fact—and by the number of hon. Members who have jumped up to complain that the great British public do not want to give benefits to foreigners and "tinted people". Those hon. Members—some of whom are not present now—are the same hon. Members who, year after year, rose to denounce Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and to say that he should be hanged. History has shown that their position was both morally and politically bankrupt, and I believe that history will show that those who vote against this modest amendment are just as morally and politically bankrupt as the Conservative Members who, year after year, denounced Nelson Mandela as a terrorist who was beneath contempt.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham , Perth and Kinross

I, too, am disgusted by some of the squalid sentiments that have been expressed tonight. I am sure that I speak for many other hon. Members when I dissociate myself from those sentiments, and state categorically that what the Government say is not being said in my name. If their proposal is passed tonight, it will not be passed with any agreement from my party.

As I listened to the speeches, some simple maxims ran through my mind. Two of them form the basis of our entire system of justice. One is the belief in innocence until proof of guilt; the second, deriving from that, is that it is better for one guilty person to go free than for 10 innocent people to be convicted.

We are discussing a fairly straightforward issue of natural justice, which the Government are ignoring. The implication of everything that is being said—particularly by the Secretary of State—is that in-country applicants are not genuine asylum seekers but, by definition, bogus applicants. Yet most applicants have applied on an in-country basis and they have greater success than those who apply at the port of entry.

I understand that the Refugee Council's figures for 1993 show that some 12.8 per cent. of in-country applications were successful, compared with 4.3 per cent. of port applications, so, in 1993 at least, people were three times more likely to be successful if they applied in country. I would have made that point if the Secretary of State had allowed me to intervene in his speech because it seemed to run counter to his figures.

It is not hard to come up with reasons why there should be that differential. We have discussed them tonight, but many Conservative Members appear not to accept the reality of disorientation and distress. It does not take much imagination to put oneself into the shoes of someone who comes to this country from regimes that we are able to read, hear and know about. Their disorientation and distress could be enormous, amounting, in some cases, to outright trauma, which again the Government do not appear to want to recognise.

In many cases, people will be completely ignorant of the need to apply immediately for refugee status. In many cases, that ignorance would be understandable. The Government have not dealt with that, other than to make spurious points, for example, about interpreters somehow magically metamorphosing themselves into advisers. In my experience in court, interpreters simply interpret the words. They are not there to give advice—it is not their job to do so. In any case, the Nuffield interpreter project, set up in 1991, highlighted what in its view were serious miscarriages of justice as a result of shoddy interpreting in other sectors of the public service. That project was set up with Home Office funding, so I assume that the Government are aware of that, yet they want to rely entirely on interpreting services available at the port of entry for people who do not speak English. I understand that that involves some 90 per cent. of those seeking asylum.

The hon. Members for Torridge and West Devon (Miss Nicholson) and for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) spoke about the enormous difficulty that many people have—and, in the example that I wish to raise, that many women have—about talking about some of the things that have happened to them. That should not be underestimated. Women who have been raped or have been subject to other forms of sexual torture will find—[Interruption.] I see the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department shaking his head. I wonder if he has considered this matter. It is extraordinary that it can be dismissed in such a fashion.

Women, particularly those from cultures where expressing themselves about such matters is extremely difficult at the best of times, have enormous difficulty in talking about some of the things that have happened to them. To have to do so in front of strangers at the time of greatest distress, and about issues that, even in their own culture, would cause enormous distress—not to mention the extra problems of talking about rape or torture—is difficult, yet they are somehow expected magically to do so in a calm and rational manner on arrival at Heathrow or other ports of entry. I am sorry, but I just do not accept that they can do so. Ministers know very well that such women cannot do so. The truth is that Ministers simply do not care. That is what appals me most and should appal most people in this country. In many cases, that absolute lack of compassion is explicit in many Conservative Members' speeches.

As I have said, this is a simple issue of natural justice, but, if that concept is too difficult for people to understand, how about simple humanity?

Photo of Neil Gerrard Neil Gerrard , Walthamstow

I want to make some brief points because we are obviously short of time. First, what will happen to people as a result of the Government's wish to reject the Lords amendment? We do not have to guess because the benefit regulations were introduced in February and the court judgment has meant that the Government must try to put them into the Bill.

We know from what has happened to people since those regulations came in that they have had led simply to destitution. The Refugee Council monitoring project has shown that people have ended up on the streets. The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture has, I think, sent all of us evidence of what it has found out. Its clients—remember that the foundation is treating victims of torture—have attempted suicide since they were deprived of benefits. More than 40 clients who have been victims of torture alone would have been destitute, but for financial help and food parcels from the foundation.

People are being forced to live on charity handouts, or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) pointed out, the bill will be shifted from social security to local authorities, which have to pick up the tab when taking people in through the Children Act 1989.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Does my hon. Friend agree that Ministers do not seem to realise that not just Labour local authorities, but Conservative local authorities such as Westminster will bear a serious burden if the legislation goes through?

Photo of Neil Gerrard Neil Gerrard , Walthamstow

That is absolutely right. It will cut across the political control of local authorities, particularly in London.

The Secretary of State for Social Security, when he introduced the regulations, said that no one who was receiving benefits now would lose benefits, unless there was a negative decision on that case, but there have been cases where a man has claimed, his wife has been attached to his claim and, after that couple has split up, the wife's claim has been treated as a new claim and she has been refused benefits, so women have been left without a penny simply because they and their husbands have split up.

Secondly, much has been made of the question of telling the truth at the port of entry. Members have said, "It is quite simple. You just turn up at the port of entry and say that you are an asylum seeker. There is no reason why any genuine asylum seeker should not do that." The hon. Member for Perth and Kinross (Ms Cunningham) and others have pointed out the difficulties for people who are torture victims. Even if people are not torture victims and are fleeing for other reasons, think of what they have to do to get here in the first place.

Earlier this evening, in an attempt to mollify some of the Conservative Members who were pressing the amendment on involuntary abortion, the Minister of State, Home Office, suggested that it would somehow be possible for people to turn up at a British embassy or high commission, to tell their story, and to say that they were asking for asylum, and that their case would be considered in the light of the evidence and their connections with the UK. I cannot think of a single refugee whom I have come across who has been given a visa by an embassy or high commission in those circumstances. I shall be interested to see the answer to the written question about the number of such people that I have submitted since that first debate.

The Government have introduced a visa regime in every country from which the number of asylum applications has increased. They also introduced the Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Act 1987, as a result of which, airlines will not take people without papers. That means that people have to persuade a high commission or an embassy to grant a visa for some other reason, such as a visit or a tour. If I came to an airport with such a visa, I would not be keen to say to the first person whom I met, "By the way, I got my visa in the high commission in SriLanka and I lied to get it." I would not feel safe until I was out of the airport. The next day, or the day after, I might think of claiming asylum, when I felt that I was actually in the country.

Ministers shook their heads when my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) suggested that genuine asylum seekers would be hit as well as the bogus ones. I do not want to make too much of the speech by the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence), but he accepted that some genuine asylum seekers would make applications and said that the only difference was that they would not get benefit. Therefore, genuine asylum seekers will lose.

Even if I gave credence to the Home Office decisions on asylum, I would be worried about what is going on. There is a culture of disbelief in the Home Office and the administrative system for dealing with immigration and asylum cases is a shambles. For the Home Office to think only now of computerising such a system is beyond belief. As the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) said, the amendment is modest and, if it is defeated, people will be left destitute.

9 pm

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

We have had a long debate and I should like to put on record the fact that the speech by the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) discredited him and every hon. Member. It was an abominable speech in which he sought to plead to the lowest common denominator, and it showed an absolute failure to understand the legal technicalities surrounding asylum seeking. That is surprising for someone who spends so much of his life in courts—perhaps he should be spending more time here. Secondly, he made a naked appeal to racist attitudes throughout the country. It was an absolute disgrace.

In his excellent speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) drew attention to the problems of poverty that are faced by many asylum seekers. In the borough that he and I have the honour to represent, many people are living in absolute destitution. Often, the only way that they have been able to survive is by getting support from asylum refugee communities that have been here for some time, most of whose members are unemployed and relying on benefits. That means that they are sharing misery rather than wealth.

Alternatively, people beg on the streets or are kept by generous people who belong to some of the churches in the borough and who collect money at Sunday services to buy food parcels for asylum-seeking families to make sure that they do not starve. The Secretary of State says that there is no evidence of increased destitution. He could walk not far from his house and talk to people in some of the churches in his borough to find out exactly what the situation is like.

Many families are in a desperate position. We are in danger of having asylum seekers begging on the streets and people living in benders or broken-down cars, or sleeping under railway arches because they have been denied benefit as a result of the Government's obdurate attitude towards asylum seekers. Local authorities will have huge bills trying to ensure that children are maintained under the Children Act 1989.

The Secretary of State spoke about the appeals system and made free use of the term "bogus asylum seekers" because he does not believe that people have a genuine fear of persecution if they return to their own country. The Government should look at some of the evidence on which they are acting. I have had extensive correspondence with the Home Office about people whom I believe to be in danger if they are returned to Nigeria. One case that stands out is that of the Onibiyo family. To the credit of the Government of Guyana, they were prepared to take Ademole Onibiyo. To the disgrace of this Government, he was thrown out of the country and placed in enormous danger. Likewise, people have been forcibly returned to Zaire, to the Ivory Coast and to some other countries in which there is a veneer of electoral democracy, underneath which all the old evil forces of the police and the army and the oppression of individuals are still at work.

Photo of Mrs Maria Fyfe Mrs Maria Fyfe , Glasgow Maryhill

I think that Guyana has really shown up the Government in the case mentioned by my hon. Friend. It is one of the poorest countries in the world and cannot afford to look after its own people adequately, yet it held up its hand in that case and our Government did not.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

My hon. Friend makes a valuable point. I shall return shortly to the issue of how the British and European Governments are turning their backs on asylum seekers while others recognise the problems of those people. It is a great credit to President Jagan and the people of Guyana that they were prepared to help out the Onibiyo family.

The hon. and learned Member for Burton demonstrated his ignorance of the procedures—as have the Minister and many other hon. Members—for entering the country. My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) then put his finger absolutely on the point. I remember a debate in this very Chamber about the Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Act 1987 just before the 1987 general election. It was another flawed piece of legislation rushed through on the basis of a speech from the previous year's Tory party conference. If the Secretary of State troubled to read it or to check the Hansard report of its Committee stage or the debate on its Second Reading, however, he would discover a recognition that it was legitimate for people genuinely fleeing from persecution to use bogus names and false documents to deceive their way out of a country and to deceive their way into a country of safety.

People write books about the genuine heroism of people who fled from Nazi Germany, from pogroms against Jewish people in Russia at the turn of the century, from Chile at the height of the oppression, from El Salvador and from so many other places around the world, Iraq and Iran included. In 50 years, will people write books about how they must deceive their way into Britain to gain a place of safety because of the Government's attitude towards asylum seekers? The history lesson that the Government need to be taught is that they are acting in a grossly inhumane manner at a time when the world is desperately crying out for humanity in the way that people are treated.

The Government's attitude towards the provision of social security payments has been very well dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury and by many other hon. Members. The issue of the three-day rule to make an application has also been dealt with very well. I do not believe that the Secretary of State has ever bothered to go to any port of entry to see what it is like when someone is fleeing from somewhere and attempting to seek asylum. If he can, I ask him to put himself in the mind of a Kurdish person coming out of Turkey, Iran or Iraq, where Kurds face the most appalling persecution in their villages, which have been bombed and burnt out by the army. They get themselves away from that community, to Ankara or to Istanbul, to try to get a plane out.

Those people have to get a visa and an airline to take them. So they go along to a normal, reputable airline, such as British Airways, but people there tell them, "Sorry; we can't take you because the Home Office might not admit you, and we'll be fined £2,000 if subsequently you're not admitted, and we'll have to bring you back." So they go to the back streets and they pay out a great deal of money to a corrupt travel agent who buys them a plane ticket and is prepared to bear the danger of paying the fine. It is another example of exploitation of people in fear.

It is quite possible that those people have been brought up in a community in which anyone wearing a uniform is just not trusted. When they arrive at a port of entry and are confronted by people in uniform, they might not be so trusting of them as those of us who have grown up in a slightly different atmosphere with different attitudes. So they get themselves into the country by whatever means they can, and then they do something about the situation.

We are talking about a minimal and modest amendment—one that will merely allow three days for an application to be made. Some hon. Members said that information should be given to potential asylum seekers, and they were jeered at by the hon. and learned Member for Burton. I hope that that will be understood by the public.

I want the Government to understand this message: people seek asylum from many places for many reasons. They might be victims of religious, social or political persecution. Perhaps they stood up against a structural adjustment programme in a third-world country, were deemed to be an enemy of that state and had to flee. The Secretary of State might call them economic migrants, but I call them people standing up for justice. They deserve our support and our recognition.

The Secretary of State says that the number of people seeking asylum is reducing throughout Europe, but that is because of the xenophobia of the right hon. Gentleman and others of his ilk in different countries. As a result, Europe accepts fewer asylum seekers than any other part of the world, and Britain admits proportionately less than most, if not all, other European states. Let us have a sense of humanity and, if nothing else, agree to amendment No. 24, so that there will be less destitution and more people who have fled from fear of persecution will at last be able to live in a place of safety.

Photo of Ms Liz Lynne Ms Liz Lynne , Rochdale

What leads the Secretary of State to believe that amendment No. 24 will restore benefits during the appeal period? My understanding is that the Lords amendment was not voted on, so perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will answer that question.

The removal of benefits has caused great controversy in both Houses, which should fully debate any regulations before they are approved. If nothing else, that is a matter of democratic accountability. We have heard from many hon. Members that asylum seekers face destitution because, unlike UK benefit claimants, they are not allowed to work for six months. What are they supposed to do?

It was wrong of the Government to smuggle through benefit changes in an amendment in the other place, because we are dealing with people's lives.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security

The changes were not smuggled through.

Photo of Ms Liz Lynne Ms Liz Lynne , Rochdale

The right hon. Gentleman may say that, but why did he not come to the House with another Bill after the court ruling? That way, we would have had the chance to debate the regulations fully, in Committee and through all the other stages.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

My hon. Friend makes an important point about the processes of this Parliament. According to advice that we received today from my noble Friends Lord Lester of Herne Hill and Lady Williams of Crosby, because of the pell-mell way that the Bill has been rushed through, the UK may be in breach of the European convention on human rights. Our compliance with international law is being seriously questioned. If the Secretary of State had paused, the House would have had the chance to consider the country's international obligations.

Photo of Ms Liz Lynne Ms Liz Lynne , Rochdale

I totally agree; that is why both Houses should have considered a proper Bill.

The Government's only concession has been that, if an applicant is successful, his benefits will be backdated. That does not go far enough. An asylum seeker might not have any family, friends or voluntary group to provide support. Even if he does, the initial determination takes an average of eight months. Figures produced in February this year show that 10,000 applicants have been waiting since 1991. How can family, friends or voluntary groups support an applicant for that length of time?

The right to claim asylum within three days is a minor concession for the Secretary of State to make. We are not asking much. I do not know whether Conservative Members have ever talked to torture victims. I talked to several when I was working with Amnesty International. They do not turn up at a port of entry and decide that they will tell all about what they have gone through. They are devastated about what they have gone through. They cannot speak about it. Some of them cannot speak about it for months on end. Only through counselling and various people trying to bring it out of them can they begin to talk about the horrors that they have undergone.

When I hear some Conservative Members, I wonder where they are coming from. They obviously have no idea what Opposition Members are talking about. We are talking about humanity. We are talking about decency. We are talking about taking into account the fact that genuine asylum seekers are terrified when they turn up at the port. They are terrified of authority and people in uniform. Does the Secretary of State expect all of them to say at the port of entry, "I have been tortured. Help me"? Most of them will not be able to do that. I know that some will, but many will not.

I sincerely urge all hon. Members on both sides of the House to support the Lords amendment for the sake of humanity and justice.

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke , City of London and Westminster South 9:15, 15 Gorffennaf 1996

The hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) quoted my local authority's situation. Unlike the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), who is currently out of the Chamber, I spoke on Second Reading, and specifically about inner-London local authorities, which would potentially be penalised by the draft benefit regulations.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack), I abstained in the Division on the benefit regulations on 23 January. Unlike him, though, I have been driven towards the Government's position by the Lords' three-day amendment. I am now clear—I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department for replying to the fax that I sent him last week—that those who claim asylum in country bestow on themselves a more privileged immigration status than those who claim at the port of entry.

Like many hon. Members, I have had representations from the clergy—earlier, and recently. I understand the clergy overlooking falsehoods as somebody leaves the country of persecution, but I find it a little more difficult to understand the clergy overlooking falsehoods told at the port of entry here. Pragmatically, one of the strongest arguments for telling the truth is that it is a great deal easier to remember. Morally, I find falsehoods to improve one's immigration status, even if made unconsciously, distasteful.

I have heard Opposition Members' speeches on people who are terrified of those in authority when they arrive at the port of entry here. Nevertheless, such people have been able to present their case for entering the country in a manner that has proved persuasive to the immigration authorities.

On Second Reading, I alluded to unaccompanied refugee children and their effect on Westminster and its finances. Incidentally, those children have no difficulty at all in getting their story off pat. The Government did their best to unwoo me by their financial treatment of unaccompanied refugee children and local authorities on 26 June, but I agree that that is not a matter for my right hon. and hon. Friends the Ministers on the Front Bench at the moment.

The Government could, however, do much to ease the anxiety of Conservative Members who are uneasy on these matters by giving a commitment that part of the funds that they will save from the regulations will go towards voluntary organisations that will have to provide a safety net for those in trouble. I share the Government's concern to temper the numbers of those seeking asylum without justification, but the benefit of the doubt has also played a notable part in our national evolution.

The Government would carry these matters off with greater dignity if they provided reasonable funds to those voluntary organisations that have been and will be carrying a national burden of responsibility for us all. I shall listen closely to what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State says in winding up.

Photo of Glenda Jackson Glenda Jackson Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

With the exception of the hon. Members for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) and for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley), listening to the speeches emanating from Conservative Members has been one of the most nauseating experiences I have had to endure in the four short years since I was elected to this place.

Not least was the lamentable contribution by the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence), who began by wishing to lower the temperature of the debate, but succeeded only in lowering its tone. I refer to his disgraceful speech to make one specific point. Yet again, he made the spurious allegation that emanates from the Conservative Benches whenever the House debates this subject: that the Opposition are not concerned about bogus immigrants and asylum seekers or about reducing the costs to the public purse. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact that, not for the first time, the Secretary of State has significantly failed to give the House any detailed information as to the actual cost to the taxpayer engendered by bogus asylum seekers, or how many people have come off benefit lists since the changes to the system on 5 February, is irrelevant. We are not concerned with indulging anyone who makes bogus claims to be a refugee.

I find it deeply disturbing that the Government have convinced themselves—and the Secretary of State in particular—that the absolute, total and final definition of a bogus asylum seeker is a person who has failed to apply at the port of entry, and that anyone who applies in country, without any examination in a court of law or by immigration officials, has suddenly been defined—almost under the Government's writ—as a bogus asylum seeker. That is why I support the Lords amendment, not least in the name of humanity and compassion.

I should also make the representations that have been made to me by my constituents. The House cannot be unaware that there was yet another lobby urging hon. Members on both sides of the House to support the Lords amendment. My constituency of Hampstead and Highgate has a proud reputation of offering asylum to those who have had to flee from their countries. The hon. Member for South Staffordshire spoke of the Huguenots. My constituency offered sanctuary to people fleeing from that reign of terror in France. It has offered sanctuary to those fleeing oppressive and cruel regimes since records began.

The Secretary of State consistently argues that there is wide popular consensus throughout the country for the proposed changes as they affect asylum seekers. Ever since the changes to the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act were introduced, and even more since the changes in the benefit system as it applies to asylum seekers, my postbag has increased. My constituents are outraged by what their country is doing in their name. They are ashamed beyond belief that their reputation and the reputation of their country is being damaged by such a blinkered, cruel and appalling change to our system.

It is not a minority of people who feel a sense of deep disgust at what is being done in their name. There is total cross-community, cross-society consensus in my constituency over this long-drawn-out episode that is resulting in the genuine degradation of human beings who suddenly find themselves bereft of any financial support. Surely they have suffered enough.

During the debate on an earlier amendment, Conservative Members made representations—which the Minister of State, Home Office looked upon kindly—that enforced abortions should be a reason for women to be allowed to apply for asylum here. I have a constituent who is here in London right now. She is seven months pregnant, yet she has been denied any financial support for herself and her unborn child, as she is deemed to be a bogus asylum seeker. It is shameful not only on the level of common humanity and decency, as the hon. Member for Perth and Kinross (Ms Cunningham) said this evening in a particularly fine speech.

Hypocrisy is running rampant among Conservative Members, who are denying what I believe vast numbers of people want. This country's reputation as a beacon for what we claim to represent in this House—a commitment to justice and freedom for all—is being Tamished by Conservative Members.

Photo of Nick Raynsford Nick Raynsford , Greenwich

I am pleased to follow that fine speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson).

I shall not detain the House long, but it is right that it should be aware of the history that I shall briefly outline, involving someone currently living in my constituency who is a refugee, before we come to vote on this crucial amendment.

The case history involves a 31-year-old Kurdish refugee from Iraq. The case is familiar to the Secretary of State, as I mentioned it during the debate on 23 January, and to the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, with whom I have corresponded about it. The person would, under the Government's rules, be described as a bogus refugee, but the House should be aware of the circumstances of his claim.

The man came to this country after 10 years of appalling terror at the hands of the Iraqi regime. In 1986, he was injured when shot from the air by a helicopter, after having fled to avoid being conscripted into the Iraqi army during the Iran-Iraq war. In 1988, he was arrested, blindfolded and subjected to repeated electric shocks to his legs and genitals. He was frequently suspended from the ceiling by one leg, abused and whipped, and this torture continued for two weeks. He was made to witness the torture of others, including watching one man having his fingernails pulled out and his feet set on fire. This other man was subsequently executed. The person who is now my constituent was released after five months' solitary confinement.

Three years later, when the Kurdish uprising took place after the Gulf war, my constituent joined the freedom fighters in their doomed rebellion. His brother, who was also involved in the rebellion, was one of 5,000 Kurds buried alive by the Iraqi forces after the rebellion had been put down. The person who is now my constituent was subsequently arrested, and was again taken to be tortured. He was again hoisted from the ceiling, and subjected to repeated electric shocks. He was kicked, beaten and forced to undergo water torture. He remained in prison for a year until March 1993, when he was once again released.

Last year, the security police visited my constituent's home while he was away, and his uncle warned him that, if he returned, his life would be in danger. At this point, he finally realised that he had to get out of Iraq to save his life. Leaving his wife and his four young children behind, he fled across the border into Turkey, from where he was assisted on to a flight to Britain. He arrived at Heathrow late on a Friday evening, exhausted, frightened, confused and speaking no English. He was met by friends, who took him to stay with them over the weekend and, on the Monday, helped him to make an application for political asylum.

I do not believe that any hon. Member with a sense of humanity and decency could believe that that person was doing anything other than making a proper application for political asylum. The very fact that, under the Government's rules, he is to be classified as a bogus applicant because he delayed the application from the Friday evening to the Monday morning is an indication of just how profoundly wrong those rules are.

In my constituents's case, because he arrived in this country before 5 February, he is entitled to benefits. To that extent, he is lucky. If he had been denied benefits, who knows whether by now he would have been forced by destitution and starvation to give up, and possibly to return to the country where he suffered such appalling torture?

I believe that the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) spoke for the whole House when he said that, although we would not want to allow bogus applicants to benefit, it would be far worse if individual genuine asylum seekers were penalised unfairly as a result of the rules being brought in. The case that I have described undoubtedly reveals that truth. Had my constituent been denied benefits and forced to leave this country and return to a country where he had been tortured and where his life had been put at risk, he would have suffered an acute injustice, for which everyone in the House would have felt deeply ashamed. We owe it to him, to this country's sense of decency and to our common sense of humanity, to support the Lords amendment, which would ensure that that individual was treated as a genuine refugee.

Even the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) would probably accept that my constituent was a genuine refugee. It must be an indication of how profoundly wrong and shameful the regulations the Government propose are that someone in that position and with that history could be treated as a bogus refugee. We owe it to everyone to reject the Government's position and to support he Lords amendment.

Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Secretary of State for Social Security 9:30, 15 Gorffennaf 1996

First, I must set right two concerns expressed by Opposition Members. The hon. Members for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), for Perth and Kinross (Ms Cunningham) and for Rochdale (Ms Lynne) suggested that someone arriving in this country seeking asylum is required to give details at the port of the suffering that they have undergone or their reasons for seeking asylum. All we ask is that, when such people are asked why they have come to this country, they should say that it is to seek asylum, not something totally different. There is no question of their being required to give details then and there. Of course it is right to be considerate to them if they have suffered in the ways that some hon. Members have rightly expressed concern about.

Secondly, the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) mentioned the problems faced by people whose spouse or head of household had made a claim before the regulations came in, but who were subsequently divorced or widowed. We have tabled amendments to the Bill to cope with that difficulty, so that problem is being set right.

On the substance of the debate, the Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen made a weak attack on the Government's position—I suspect that it was deliberately weak—and defence of their amendments. It was deliberately weak, because the Opposition are two-faced on this issue. The politically correct face, directed towards their The Guardian reader clientele, has to express a degree of opposition to the changes that we have made, but as they recognise the concerns of ordinary voters, they want to keep quiet the cost implications of the changes that they would force.

That is why the speech of the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), offered no answers to key questions. There was no explanation of why in-country claims have fallen by two thirds since the benefit rules were changed. There was no explanation of why it is wrong to exclude from benefit 100 per cent. of those who say that they are not going to rely on benefits when they come to this country because they are here for some purpose other than to claim asylum, but right to exclude 90 per cent., because only 10 per cent. would be covered by the three-day rule.

That seems an arbitrary point at which to put the divide, and it would probably lead to far more people claiming within those few days to get the advantages of immigration status, as my right hon. Friend the Member for City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke) explained.

We heard no explanation from the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman of why it is right to set a boundary anywhere other than at the point at which people are asked whether they are asylum seekers. There were no suggestions as to how the Opposition would speed up the process, given that they are opposed to all the changes that we are introducing in the Bill, which will speed up the processing of applications. Above all, there was no explanation of where the Opposition would find an extra £270 million to extend benefits indiscriminately to all those who claim in country and on appeal. I therefore have little respect for the Opposition's position, which was marked more by sanctimonious humbug than by serious argument.

I respect the arguments of my hon. Friends the Members for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) and for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley). My hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire was right to emphasise the importance of Britain remaining a sanctuary and a place of liberty. Like him, I warm to the points made by Dr. Perutz in his letter to The Times. However, as my hon. Friend pointed out, many of the people Dr. Perutz was talking about, and most of the people about whom we are concerned, come to Britain not primarily to receive benefits, but because they know that it is a sanctuary and a place of liberty. Conservative Members are determined that we should remain that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eltham recognised that there were reasons why people are, and have been, advised to claim in country rather than at the port. He suggested changing the rules to remove those reasons. He wanted immigration law changed, so that people got no extra rights to appeal against deportation, and social security law changed so that applicants would bear the burden of proof.

That would require immense changes to the amendments which I doubt could be done in the time available, even if the changes were feasible. I doubt, too, whether it could done in line with the Geneva convention and not still leave considerable loopholes for people to abuse the system. I will consider closely what my hon. Friend said, but I cannot pretend that it is likely to prove possible to do what he suggested.

I was grateful for the powerful support of my right hon. Friend the Member for City of London and Westminster, South for the measure. At an early stage, he rightly expressed concern about the impact of concentrations of asylum seekers in his constituency, and we endeavoured to respond to that concern in respect of local authorities. Of course I shall keep his points under review, but he is right to recognise that the Government have tried to achieve our desire to allow this country to be a place of refuge for those who genuinely come to seek asylum, without indiscriminately making benefits available in a costly way.

I hope that the House will join us in rejecting Labour's amendment and supporting the changes that the Government have introduced, to make this a sensible and targeted way to help people who want to come to Britain to seek asylum.

Question put, That the amendment to the Lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 295, Noes 274.

Division No. 199][9.37 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)Bruce, Ian (South Dorset)
Aitken, Fit Hon JonathanBudgen, Nicholas
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)Burns, Simon
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Burt, Alistair
Amess, DavidButcher, John
Ancram, Rt Hon MichaelButler, Peter
Arbuthnot, JamesButterfill, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Carlisle, John (Luton North)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln)
Ashby, DavidCarrington, Matthew
Aspinwall, JackCarttiss, Michael
Atkins, Rt Hon RobertCash, William
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)Chapman, Sir Sydney
Baldry, TonyClappison, James
Banks, Matthew (Southport)Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Batiste, SpencerCoe, Sebastian
Bellingham, HenryColvin, Michael
Bendall, VivianCongdon, David
Beresford, Sir PaulConway, Derek
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnCoombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Body, Sr RichardCoombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bonsor, Sr NicholasCope, Rt Hon Sir John
Booth, HartleyCouchman, James
Boswell, TimCran, James
Bottomley, Rt Hon VirginiaCurrie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Bowden, Sir AndrewCurry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Bowis, JohnDavies, Quentin (Stamford)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir RhodesDavis, David (Boothferry)
Brandreth, GylesDay, Stephen
Brazier, JulianDeva, Nirj Joseph
Bright, Sir GrahamDevlin, Tim
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterDorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Brown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Browning, Mrs AngelaDover, Den
Duncan, AlanJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Duncan Smith, IainKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Dunn, BobKey, Robert
Durant, Sir AnthonyKing, Rt Hon Tom
Dykes, HughKirkhope, Timothy
Eggar, Rt Hon TimKnapman, Roger
Elletson, HaroldKnight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)Knight Rt Hon Greg (Derby N)
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)Knox, Sir David
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth)Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Evennett, DavidLamont Rt Hon Norman
Faber, DavidLang, Rt Hon Ian
Fabricant, MichaelLawrence, Sir Ivan
Fenner, Dame PeggyLegg, Barry
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Leigh, Edward
Fishburn, DudleyLennox-Boyd, Sir Mark
Forman, NigelLidington, David
Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Forth, EricLord, Michael
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Fox, Rt Hon Sir Marcus (Shipley)MacGregor, Fit Hon John
Freeman, Rt Hon RogerMacKay, Andrew
French, DouglasMaclean, Rt Hon David
Fry, Sir PeterMcLoughlin, Patrick
Gale, RogerMcNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Gallie, PhilMadel, Sir David
Gardiner, Sir GeorgeMaitland, Lady Olga
Garnier, EdwardMajor, Rt Hon John
Gill, ChristopherMalone, Gerald
Gillan, CherylMans, Keith
Goodlad, Rt Hon AlastairMarland, Paul
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMarlow, Tony
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Gorst, Sir JohnMarshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Grant Sir A (SW Cambs)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Mates, Michael
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)Mellor, Rt Hon David
Grylls, Sir MichaelMerchant Piers
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMills, Iain
Hague, Rt Hon WilliamMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir ArchibaldMitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Moate, Sir Roger
Hampson, Dr KeithMonro, Rt Hon Sir Hector
Hannam, Sir JohnMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Hargreaves, AndrewMoss, Malcolm
Haselhurst, Sir AlanNeedham, Fit Hon Richard
Hawkins, NickNelson, Anthony
Hawksley, WarrenNeubert, Sir Michael
Hayes, JerryNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Heald, OliverNicholls, Patrick
Heath, Rt Hon Sir EdwardNicholson, David (Taunton)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon DavidNorris, Steve
Hendry, CharlesOppenheim, Phillip
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelPage, Richard
Hicks, Sir RobertPaice, James
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir TerencePatnick, Sir Irvine
Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)Patten, Rt Hon John
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Horam, JohnPawsey, James
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir PeterPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelPickles, Eric
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)Powell, William (Corby)
Hunter, AndrewRathbone, Tim
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasRedwood, Rt Hon John
Jack, MichaelRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)Richards, Rod
Jenkin, BernardRiddick, Graham
Jessel, TobyRobathan, Andrew
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRoberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Jones, Robert B (W Hertfdshr)Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)Thomason, Roy
Ross, William (E Londonderry)Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame AngelaThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Ryder, Rt Hon RichardThornton, Sir Malcolm
Sackville, TomTownend, John (Bridlington)
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir TimothyTownsend, Cyril D (Bexfyhth)
Shaw, David (Dover)Tracey, Richard
Shephard, Rt Hon GillianTredinnick, David
Shepherd, Sir Colin (Hereford)Trend, Michael
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Trotter, Neville
Sims, Sir RogerTwinn, Dr Ian
Skeet, Sir TrevorViggers, Peter
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Soames, NicholasWalden, George
Speed, Sir KeithWalker, Bill (N Tayside)
Spencer, Sir DerekWaller, Gary
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)Ward, John
Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)Wardle, Charies (Bexhill)
Spink, Dr RobertWaterson, Nigel
Spring, RichardWatts, John
Sproat, IainWells, Bowen
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)Whitney, Ray
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir JohnWhittingdale, John
Steen, AnthonyWiddecombe, Ann
Stephen, MichaelWiggin, Sir Jerry
Wilkinson, John
Stern, MichaelWilletts, David
Stewart, AllanWilshire, David
Streeter, GaryWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Sumberg, DavidWinterton, Nicholas (Macc'fid)
Sweeney, WalterWolfson, Mark
Sykes, JohnWood, Timothy
Tapsell, Sir PeterYeo, Tim
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strgfd)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Tellers for the Ayes:
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)Mr. Michael Bates and Mr. Richard Ottaway.
Temple-Morris, Peter
Abbott, Ms DianeCallaghan, Jim
Adams, Mrs IreneCampbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Ainger, NickCampbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Allen, GrahamCampbell-Savours, D N
Alton, DavidCann, Jamie
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Chidgey, David
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)Chisholm, Malcolm
Armstrong, HilaryChurch, Judith
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyClapham, Michael
Ashton, JoeClark, Dr David (South Shields)
Austin-Walker, JohnClarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Clelland, David
Barnes, HarryClwyd, Mrs Ann
Barron, KevinCoffey, Ann
Battle, JohnCohen, Harry
Bayley, HughCook, Frank (Stockton N)
Beckett, Rt Hon MargaretCook, Robin (Livingston)
Beith, Rt Hon AJCorbett, Robin
Bell, StuartCorbyn, Jeremy
Benn, Rt Hon TonyCorston, Jean
Bennett, Andrew FCousins, Jim
Benton, JoeCox, Tom
Bermingham, GeraldCunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Berry, RogerCunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Betts, CliveCunningham, Roseanna
Blair, Rt Hon TonyDafis, Cynog
Blunkett, DavidDalyell, Tam
Boateng, PaulDarling, Alistair
Bradley, KeithDavidson, Ian
Bray, Dr JeremyDavies, Chris (L'Boro & S'worth)
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Byers, StephenDenham, John
Cabom, RichardDewar, Donald
Dixon, DonKennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Dobson, FrankKennedy, Jane (L'pool Br'dg'n)
Donohoe, Brian HKhabra, Piara S
Dowd, JimKilfoyle, Peter
Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethKirkwood, Archy
Eagle, Ms AngelaLestor, Joan (Eccles)
Eastham, KenLewis, Terry
Etherington, BillLiddell, Mrs Helen
Evans, John (St Helens N)Livingstone, Ken
Ewing, Mrs MargaretLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Fatchett, DerekLlwyd, Elfyn
Faulds, AndrewLoyden, Eddie
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Lynne, Ms Liz
Fisher, MarkMcAllion, John
Flynn, PaulMcAvoy, Thomas
Foster, Rt Hon DerekMcCartney, Ian
Foster, Don (Bath)Macdonald, Calum
Fraser, JohnMcFall, John
Fyfe, MariaMcKelvey, William
Galbraith, SamMackinlay, Andrew
Galloway, GeorgeMcLeish, Henry
Gapes, MikeMadennan, Robert
Garrett, JohnMcMaster, Gordon
George, BruceMcNamara, Kevin
Gerrard, NeilMacShane, Denis
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnMcWilliam, John
Godman, Dr Norman AMadden, Max
Godsiff, RogerMaddock, Diana
Gotding, Mrs UinMahon, Alice
Gordon, MildredMandelson, Peter
Graham, ThomasMarek, Dr John
Grant Bemie (Tottenham)Martin, Michael J (Springbum)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Martlew, Eric
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Maxton, John
Grocott, BruceMeacher, Michael
Gunnell, JohnMeale, Alan
Hain, PeterMichael, Alun
Hall, MikeMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hanson, DavidMichie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Hardy, PeterMitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Harrnan, Ms HarrietMoonie, Dr Lewis
Harvey, NickMorgan, Rhodri
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyMorris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wy'nshawe)
Henderson, DougMorris, Estelle (B'ham Yandley)
Heppell, JohnMorris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Hill, Keith (Streatham)Mowlam, Marjorie
Hinchliffe, DavidMudie, George
Hodge, MargaretMullin, Chris
Hoey, KateMurphy, Paul
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Home Robertson, JohnOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Hood, JimmyO'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hoon, GeoffreyOlner, Bill
Howarth, George (Knowsley North,O'Neill, Martin
Howells, Dr Kim (Pontypridd)Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hoyle, DougParry, Robert
Hughes, Kevin (DoncasterN)Pearson, Ian
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Pickthall, Colin
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Pike, Peter L
Hutton, JohnPope, Greg
lllsley, EricPowell, Sir Ray (Ogmore)
Ingram, AdamPrentice, Bridget (Lew'm E)
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Jackson, Helen (Shefld, H)Prescott, Rt Hon John
Jamieson, DavidPrimarolo, Dawn
Jenkins, Brian (SE Staff)Purchase, Ken
Johnston, Sir RussellQuin, Ms Joyce
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)Radice, Giles
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)Raynsford, Nick
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)Reid, Dr John
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)Rendel, David
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Jowell, TessaRoche, Mrs Barbara
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRogers, Allan
Keen, AlanRooker, Jeff
Rooney, TerryThumham, Peter
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)Timms, Stephen
Rowlands, TedTipping, Paddy
Ruddock, JoanTrickett, Jon
Salmond, AlexTurner, Dennis
Sedgemore, BrianTyler, Paul
Sheerman, BarryVaz, Keith
Sheldon, Rt Hon RobertWalker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Shore, Rt Hon PeterWalley, Joan
Short, ClareWareing, Robert N
Simpson, AlanWatson, Mike
Skinner, DennisWelsh, Andrew
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)Wicks, Malcolm
Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)Wigley, Dafydd
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Snape, PeterWilliams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Soley, CliveWilson, Brian
Spearing, NigelWinnick, David
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)Wise, Audrey
Steel, Rt Hon Sir DavidWorthington, Tony
Steinberg, GerryWray, Jimmy
Stevenson, GeorgeWright, Dr Tony
Straw, JackYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)Mr. Eric Clarke and Mr. John Cummings.
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment (b) to the Lords amendment agreed to.

Amendment (c) to the Lords amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment, as amended.—[Mr. Burns.]

Question put.:—

The House divided: Ayes 297, Noes 270.

Division No. 200][9.51 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Aitken, Rt Hon JonathanBrown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)Browning, Mrs Angela
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Bruce, Ian (South Dorset)
Amess, DavidBudgen, Nicholas
Ancram, Rt Hon MichaelBurns, Simon
Arbuthnot, JamesBurt, Alistair
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Butcher, John
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)Butler, Peter
Ashby, DavidButterfill, John
Aspinwall, JackCarlisle, John (Luton North)
Atkins, Rt Hon RobertCarlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Canington, Matthew
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)Carttiss, Michael
Baldry, TonyCash, William
Banks, Matthew (Southport)Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Chapman, Sir Sydney
Bates, MichaelChurchill, Mr
Batiste, SpencerClappison, James
Bellingham, HenryClarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif)
Bendall, VivianClifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Beresford, Sir PaulCoe, Sebastian
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnColvin, Michael
Body, Sir RichardCongden, David
Bonsor, Sir NicholasConway, Derek
Booth, HartleyCoombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Boswell, TimCoombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bottomley, Rt Hon VirginiaCope, Rt Hon Sir John
Bowden, Sir AndrewCouchman, James
Bowis, JohnCran, James
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir RhodesCurrie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Brazier, JulianCurry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Bright, Sir GrahamDavies, Quentjn (Stamford)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Day, StephenJack, Michael
Deva, Nirj JosephJackson, Robert (Wantage)
Devlin, TimJenkin, Bernard
Dorrell, Rt Hon StephenJessel, Toby
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dover, DenJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Duncan, AlanJones, Robert B (W Hertfdshr)
Duncan Smith, IainJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dunn, BobKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Durant, Sir AnthonyKey, Robert
Dykes, HughKing, Rt Hon Tom
Eggar, Rt Hon TimKirkhope, Timothy
Elletson, HaroldKnapman, Roger
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)Knight Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)Knight, Rt Hon Greg (Derby N)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)Knox, Sir David
Evans, Roger (Monmouth)Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Evennett, DavidLait, Mrs Jacqui
Faber, DavidLamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fabricant, MichaelLang, Rt Hon Ian
Fenner, Dame PeggyLawrence, Sir Ivan
Field, BarryLegg, Barry
Fishbum, DudleyLeigh, Edward
Forman, NigelLennox-Boyd, Sir Mark
Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)Lidington, David
Forth, EricLilley, Rt Hon Peter
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)Lord, Michael
Fox, Rt Hon Sir Marcus (Shipley)Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Freeman, Rt Hon RogerMacGregor, Rt Hon John
French, DouglasMacKay, Andrew
Fry, Sir PeterMaclean, Rt Hon David
Gale, RogerMcLoughlin, Patrick
Gallie, PhilMcNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Gardiner, Sir GeorgeMadel, Sir David
Garnier, EdwardMaitland, Lady Olga
Gill, ChristopherMajor, Rt Hon John
Gillan, CherylMalone, Gerald
Goodlad, Rt Hon AlastairMans, Keith
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMarland, Paul
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMarlow, Tony
Gorst, Sir JohnMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Grant, Sir A (SW Cambs)Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Mates, Michael
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Grylls, Sir MichaelMellor, Rt Hon David
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMerchant, Piers
Hague, Rt Hon WilliamMills, Iain
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir ArchibaldMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Hampson, Dr KeithMoate, Sir Roger
Hannam, Sir JohnMonro, Rt Hon Sir Hector
Hargreaves, AndrewMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Haselhurst, Sir AlanMoss, Malcolm
Hawkins, NickNeedham, Rt Hon Richard
Hawksley, WarrenNelson, Anthony
Hayes, JerryNeubert, Sir Michael
Heald, OliverNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Heath, Rt Hon Sir EdwardNicholls, Patrick
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon DavidNicholson, David (Taunton)
Hendry, CharlesNorris, Steve
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelOppenheim, Phillip
Hicks, Sir RobertOttaway, Richard
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir TerencePage, Richard
Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)Paice, James
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)Patnick, Sir Irvine
Horam, JohnPatten, Rt Hon John
Hordem, Rt Hon Sir PeterPattje, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howard, Rt Hon MichaelPawsey, James
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)Pickles, Eric
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensboume)Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Hunter, AndrewPowell, William (Corby)
Rathbone, TimTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Redwood, Rt Hon JohnTaylor, Rt Hon John D (Strgfd)
Renton, Rt Hon TimTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Richards, RodTaylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Riddick, GrahamTemple-Morris, Peter
Robathan, AndrewThomason, Roy
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir WynThompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Robinson, Mark (Somerton)Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Ross, William (E Londonderry)Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)Tracey, Richard
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame AngelaTredinnick, David
Ryder, Rt Hon RichardTrend, Michael
Sackville, TomTrotter, Neville
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir TimothyTwinn, Dr Ian
Shaw, David (Dover)Viggers, Peter
Shephard, Rt Hon GillianWaldegrave, Rt Hon William
Shepherd, Sir Colin (Hereford)Walden, George
Sims, Sir RogerWalker, Bill (N Tayside)
Skeet, Sir TrevorWaller, Gary
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Ward, John
Soames, NicholasWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Speed, Sir KeithWaterson, Nigel
Spencer, Sir DerekWatts, John
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)Whitney, Ray
Whittingdale, John
Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)Widdecombe, Ann
Spink, Dr RobertWggin, Sir Jerry
Spring, RichardWlkinson, John
Sproat, IainWilletts, David
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)Wilshire, David
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir JohnWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Steen, AnthonyWinterton, Nicholas (Maccfld)
Stephen, MichaelWolfson, Mark
Stem, MichaelWood, Timothy
Stewart, AllanYeo, Tim
Streeter, GaryYoung, Rt Hon Sir George
Sumberg, David
Sweeney, WalterTellers for the Ayes:
Sykes, JohnMr. Gyles Brandreth and Mr. Bowen Wells.
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Abbott, Ms DianeBruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Adams, Mrs IreneByers, Stephen
Ainger, NickCaborn, Richard
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Callaghan, Jim
Allen, GrahamCampbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Alton, DavidCampbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Hos'dale)Campbell-Savours, D N
Armstrong, HilaryCann, Jamie
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyChidgey, David
Ashton, JoeChisholm, Malcolm
Austin-Walker, JohnChurch, Judith
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Clapham, Michael
Barnes, HarryClark, Dr David (South Shields)
Barron, KevinClarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Battle, JohnClelland, David
Bayley, HughClwyd, Mrs Ann
Beckett, Rt Hon MargaretCoffey, Ann
Beith, Rt Hon A JCohen, Harry
Bell, StuartCook, Frank (Stockton N)
Benn, Rt Hon TonyCook, Robin (Livingston)
Bennett, Andrew FCorbett Robin
Benton, JoeCorbyn, Jeremy
Bermingham, GeraldCorston, Jean
Berry, RogerCousins, Jim
Betts, CliveCox, Tom
Blunkett DavidCunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Boateng, PaulCunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Bradley, KeithCunningham, Roseanna
Bray, Dr JeremyDafis, Cynog
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)Dafyell, Tam
Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)Darling, Alistair
Davidson, IanJones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Davies, Chris (L'Boro & S'worth)Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Jowell, Tessa
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Denham, JohnKeen, Alan
Dewar, DonaldKennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Dixon, DonKennedy, Jane (L'pool Br'dg'n)
Dobson, FrankKhabra, Piara S
Donohoe, Brian HKilfoyle, Peter
Dowd, JimKirkwood, Archy
Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethLestor, Joan (Eccles)
Eagle, Ms AngelaLewis, Terry
Eastham, KenLiddell, Mrs Helen
Etherington, BillLivingstone, Ken
Evans, John (St Helens N)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Ewing, Mrs MargaretLlwyd, Elfyn
Fatchett, DerekLoyden, Eddie
Faulds, AndrewLynne, Ms Liz
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)McAllion, John
Fisher, MarkMcAvoy, Thomas
Flynn, PaulMcCartney, Ian
Foster, Rt Hon DerekMacdonald, Calum
Foster, Don (Bath)McFall, John
Fraser, JohnMcKefvey, William
Fyfe, MariaMackinlay, Andrew
Galbraith, SamMcLeish, Henry
Galloway, GeorgeMcMaster, Gordon
Gapes, MikeMcNamara, Kevin
Garrett, JohnMacShane, Denis
George, BruceMcWilliam, John
Gerrard, NeilMadden, Max
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnMaddock, Diana
Godman, Dr Norman AMahon, Alice
Godsiff, RogerMandelson, Peter
Golding, Mrs LlinMarek, Dr John
Gordon, MildredMartin, Michael J (Springburn)
Graham, ThomasMartlew, Eric
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Maxton, John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Meacher, Michael
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Meale, Alan
Grocott, BruceMichael, Alun
Gunnell, JohnMtehie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hain, PeterMtehie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Hall, MikeMitchell, Austin (Gf Grimsby)
Hanson, DavidMoonie, Dr Lewis
Hardy, PeterMorgan, Rhodri
Harman, Ms HarrietMorris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wy'nshawe)
Harvey, NickMorris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyMorris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Henderson, DougMowlam, Marjorie
Hill, Keith (Streatham)Mudie, George
Hinchliffe, DavidMullin, Chris
Hodge, MargaretMurphy, Paul
Hoey, KateNicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Home Robertson, JohnO'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hood, JimmyOlner, Bill
Hoon, GeoffreyO'Neill, Martin
Howarth, George (Knowsley North)Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Howells, Dr Kim (Pontypridd)Parry, Robert
Hoyle, DougPearson, Ian
Hughes, Kevin (DoncasterN)Pickthall, Colin
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Pike, Peter L
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Pope, Greg
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Powell, Sir Ray (Ogmore)
Hutton, JohnPrentice, Bridget (Lew'm E)
Illsley, EricPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Ingram, AdamPrescott, Rt Hon John
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)Primaroto, Dawn
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)Purchase, Ken
Jamieson, DavidQuin, Ms Joyce
Jenkins, Brian (SE Staff)Radice, Giles
Johnston, Sir RussellRaynsford, Nick
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)Reid, Dr John
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)Rendel, David
Robertson, George (Hamilton)Suteliffe, Gerry
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Roche, Mrs BarbaraTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Rogers, AllanThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Rooker, JeffTipping, Paddy
Rooney, TerryTrickett, Jon
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)Turner, Dennis
Rowlands, TedTyler, Paul
Ruddock, JoanVaz, Keith
Salmond, AlexWalker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Sedgemore, BrianWalley, Joan
Sheerman, BarryWareing, Robert N
Sheldon, Rt Hon RobertWatson, Mike
Shore, Rt Hon PeterWelsh, Andrew
Short, ClareWicks, Malcolm
Simpson, AlanWigley, Dafydd
Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Skinner, DennisWilliams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)Wilson, Brian
Smith, Chris (Isf'ton S & F'sbury)Winnick, David
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)Wise, Audrey
Snape, PeterWorthington, Tony
Soley, CliveWray, Jimmy
Spearing, NigelWright, Dr Tony
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Steinberg, GerryTellers for the Noes:
Stevenson, GeorgeMr. Eric Clarke and Mr. John Cummings.
Straw, Jack

Question accordingly agreed to.

It being after Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business),That, at this day's sitting, consideration of Lords Amendments to the Asylum and Immigration Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour. —[Mr. McLoughlin.]

Question agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 25 to 27 agreed to.