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COUNCILS TO BE ADVISED ON REFUSAL OF AID FOR ASYLUM-SEEKERS

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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

Local authorities will be issued with guidance explaining how to identify asylum-seekers whom they must refuse all forms of support, Home Office minister Lord Filkin told peers.

This is in the wake of the passage of a controversial government amendment, introduced at committee stage of the Nationality, Immigration and Nationality Bill, which allows the home secretary - through the National Asylum Support Service - not to provide or to make arrangement for support if it is thought the claim was not made a soon as practicalble.

The amendment was approved by 103 votes to 39, despite opposition from Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers.

Lord Filkin said local authorities had been identifying asylum-seekers. He added: 'We believe that they will not have much difficulty in identifying and refusing to support those who have been refused NASS support for making a late claim. We will of course be issuing extra guidance to help local authorities address this and will be consulting with the LGA and local authorities about those regulations'.

Later, the minister assured peers there would be sufficient offices around the country to make their claim in person. Lodging the claim in person increased contact with the authorities, which was on of the Bill's underlying aims.

He added that by March 2003, the government planned to have a substantial number of screening sites for in-country applications. These could include: Croydon and other parts of London; Dover and various places in the south and south west - for example, Portsmouth, Southampton, Poole, Bristol and Plymouth.

There will also be sites at Cardiff, Stansted, and in Norfolk, Birmingham and Northampton by the summer/autumn 2003; and various sites in the north east - for example, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull, Humberside, on the Tees and the Tyne; and Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast.

Hansard 17 Oct: Column 974-1035; 1047-1057

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