Debates between Lord Green of Deddington and Lord Judd during the 2019-2024 Parliament

Mon 14th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Lord Judd
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I shall also speak to Amendments 39 to 41. I say from the start that I broadly support the Government’s policy on all these matters. All these amendments would have a similar effect. They would make it very difficult to detain a person who claimed asylum for more than a few days, irrespective of the facts of the case. It is surely perfectly obvious that such measures will make it extraordinarily easy for any claimant simply to disappear into the very large community of illegals—perhaps 1 million—that we already have in the UK.

We have to consider these amendments against the background of current events. A substantial and growing inflow of migrants across the channel is, understandably, very unwelcome to the public. They rightly perceive that they have nearly all come from a country that is safe, whether France or Belgium, and that they are not in fear of their lives. This is confirmed by Home Office evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on 3 September, which said that, of those crossing this year, 98% claimed asylum, half of which had been considered so far, and 80% of that number had been refused. Some 71% were refused because we are not the responsible country. That, of course, is because they travelled through a safe country before they arrived here.

It follows that for those who are concerned about genuine asylum seekers—I of course accept that many noble Lords and noble Baroness are concerned about them—the situation has to be tackled if public support for the asylum system is to be maintained. However, limiting detention to 28 days, as proposed in Amendment 39, would exacerbate the crisis of immigration enforcement and undermine support for asylum generally.

People need to feel confident that the asylum system, which costs the taxpayer £1,000 million per year, is producing a worthwhile result. The main effect of a 28-day limit on detention is that false asylum claimants would have only to spin out their claim or make some false statement that could not be refuted in the allotted time before being released and potentially disappearing. Indeed, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has found

“little evidence that effective action was being taken to locate the vast bulk of absconders”.

It follows that illegal immigration—which, by the way, 77% of the public consider a serious problem—would intensify. The credibility of the immigration system as a whole would also be further undermined.

Some Members will remember that, on the first day of Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, rightly pointed to the crucial importance of the integrity of the immigration system in the eyes of the public at large. It is a continual surprise to me that others in the political arena seem to have failed to get this absolutely central point.

Lord Judd Portrait Lord Judd (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, this is a very important amendment. So many of those involved have been through unspeakable, disturbing—even horrific—experiences. Detention is really not appropriate for any of them but, if there is detention, it must be strictly monitored and should certainly be for only a limited period of time; 28 days is surely more than long enough for the authorities to be able to establish reasons for declining residency to people who are in detention.

The practice of detaining people, as referred to by Amendment 70, is unspeakable when you think of the kind of backgrounds many have come from. The other practical point I make is that, in the overwhelming majority of cases with which we are dealing, people are ultimately released from detention. This makes it all the more obvious that something is wrong. The system needs very close attention; these amendments help us to provide that kind of focus.