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GOVERNMENT PRESSURED OVER CONSULTATION AND HOUSING FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS

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Hansard 26 June: Column 652 ...
Hansard 26 June: Column 652

Home office minister Barbara Roche insisted the arrangements for dispersing asylum seekers were working well despite concerns from MPs that councils and health authorities were not always warned about an influx of new people in their areas.

Mrs Roche said that by 9 June, 2,650 asylum-seekers had been dispersed to national asylum support service accomodation around the country. All accomodation had to meet strict criteria and was inspected by independent surveyors.

But Peter Pike, Labour MP for Burnley, asked: 'Is (the minister) absolutely certain that there have been all necessary discussions with local authorities and health authorities on arrangements for

receiving dispersed asylum-seekers? Is she absolutely certain that cowboy landlords are not charging exorbitant rents for appalling properties, despite what she has said about accomodation?'

Mrs Roche said home secretary Jack Straw had met the leader of Burnley council and his officers, and she was confident that all proper procedures were in place for inspection and consultation.

However, Jim Marshall, Labour MP for Leicester South, urged the minister to keep a close eye on the workings of the national asylum support service. 'It recently entered into an agreement to

provide accomodation on one hotel site in leicester for 400 people, but the local authority was not informed at an early stage. Will she ensure that there is adequate dialogue between NASS and local authorities, so that they are able to provide the services needed to support those 400 new people in Leicester?' he asked Mrs Roche.

She assured him that she held regular meetings with NASS. 'Not only do we make sure that local authorities are informed through the regional consortium - that is why we encourage local authorities to sign contracts with us - but we notify health authorities as well', she said.

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