§ Earl Russell
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Given the commitment in the Comprehensive Spending Review to produce savings by halving the number of people applying for asylum in the United Kingdom, to what extent the Goverment can control this figure. [HL3981]
§ Baroness Scotland of Asthal
The Government recognise the limited control they have over factors that may lead to an increase in the number of people applying for asylum in the United Kingdom. Concerted effort is required on a number of fronts. The work that the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) do to reduce poverty, human rights abuse and conflict in poor or badly governed countries helps to remove the conditions which produce asylum-seeking. The Government have also put in place a range of measures designed to tackle abuse of the system which have already contributed to a reduction of more than 50 per cent in the number of new applications when compared to the peak of October 2002. The Government will continue to seek further reductions in asylum intake through relentless implementation of such measures.
The range of measures includes:
Juxtaposed Controls the establishment of frontier control zones in key locations overseas to enable UK immigration officers to consider and decide the admissibility of passengers prior to embarkation to the UK. Such controls currently operate at Coquelles, Calais, Dunkirk, Boulogne, Eurostar stations in France and Eurostar stations in Belgium for direct services to the UK.
Deployment of new detection technology at key continental ports for the effective searching of vehicles before embarking on ships to the UK.
An informed visa strategy (including direct airside transit visas) designed to establish qualification for entry before arrival, and which is kept under regular review with requirements, imposed or lifted in response to immigration pressures and wider considerations.
The expansion of the airline liaison officers network abroad offering advice and training to the airlines to control the number of inadequately documented arrivals by air.
Alongside this, a number of key initiatives are designed to reduce the attractiveness of the UK as an asylum-seeking destination including the non-suspensive appeals provision (NSA); the Harmondsworth fast track pilot; restricted access to NASS support (RANS).
In addition measures in the Asylum & Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Bill will ensure that asylum seekers do not benefit by destroying their documents to prevent removal and will help to make the appeals system faster.