immigration and asylum system was published today by the home
secretary, David Blunkett.
range of provisions to deliver an efficient and robust immigration
It would improve the security of UK immigration controls, crack down
on those who try to abuse them, and build the confidence necessary to
head off threats to good race relations and strong social cohesion.
The Bill contains measures which would:
- create a new, well-managed, end-to-end system of induction,
accommodation, reporting and removal centres. It will require
asylum seekers to report regularly and meet stringent residence
conditions or face losing support altogether;
- crack down on illegal working by introducing new powers for
immigration officers to enter businesses to search for illegal
immigrants as part of our crackdown on the sub economy. The
government will also make it easier for employers to comply with
the law's demand on illegal working;
- take forward the new citizenship agenda, so that those who are
granted British nationality learn our languages and have knowledge
of our society;
- tackle fraud by requiring public authorities, employers and banks
to share information about suspected illegal entrants with the
immigration and nationality directorate, building on the end-to-end
anti-fraud audit now taking place;
- introduce a new 'right to carry' scheme, where carriers such as
airlines would have to obtain clearance for passengers at the point
of departure. In time, this will enable the immigration service,
using high-tech physical recognition equipment, to target
individuals who could pose a security threat, and immigration
offenders before they set out for the UK;
- streamline the appeals process to ensure applicants and their
advocates have less opportunity to delay cases and obstruct
removal of those who have failed in their claim;
- increase the penalty for facilitating illegal entry from 10 to 14
years, an indication that this offence is taken as seriously as
- tackle human trafficking by closing loopholes that allow foreign
nationals or people from the EU to be brought in or out of the UK
for sexual exploitation;
- make it an offence to unlawfully possess immigration stamps or
falsify asylum application registration cards (ARC).
The Bill takes forward the plans to reform the entire asylum and
immigration system set out in the recent white paper, Secure Borders
Safe Haven, to aid those genuinely fleeing persecution and to ensure
that the UK has the skills it needs for our economy to flourish.
The home secretary, David Blunkett, said:
'I am determined to put in place a nationality, immigration and
asylum system which is clear, robust and workable. Only then can we
build the trust and confidence necessary to deal with any threats to
good race relations and prevent a breakdown in social cohesion.
'Our asylum process must be efficient, fast and trusted by the
British people. This is not about creating 'fortress Britain'. We
are an open, trading nation, and we will continue to meet our
obligations, along with the rest of the international community, to
provide a safe haven to people fleeing persecution. But we will not
be seen as a soft touch.
'We know that unscrupulous individuals attempt to defraud and abuse
the system. Traffickers and people smugglers are well organised in
criminal gangs. I am determined to tackle these gangs, and root out
abuse, abuse which wastes taxpayers' money and clogs the system for
genuine refugees. At the same time, government has a responsibility
to run an efficient and effective system.
'We have a responsibility to asylum seekers, to consider their
claims fairly and quickly and to support them during the process,
but they in turn have a responsibility toward us. And those seeking
nationality will be expected to learn our languages, to understand
the workings of our society and to take a new citizenship pledge.
'I am equally determined that would-be illegal immigrants get the
message that we are tightening our rules and deploying every possible
measure to deter and to detect them.'
The home secretary also said that he would bring forward further
amendments to the Bill, to tackle the problem of 'benefit shopping'.
This is a new problem involving people who come to the UK and claim
support from local authorities when they have already been granted
refugee status or leave to remain in other European Economic Area
states. These people usually fail the Habitual Residence Test, which
prevents people claiming social security benefits unless they have
been resident in the UK for three months, but they then turn to local
authorities for assistance. Powers will be taken to stop this
happening and guidance issued to local authorities to ensure that the
law is applied consistently.
In addition, a targeted operation, 'Operation Hornet', using new
'Borderguard' technology, is being set up to detect forged documents
at Dover, and to stop deceptive asylum claims being made in the UK by
people who have entered with legitimate papers. Again, these are
often claimants who already have refugee or leave to remain status
somewhere else in the European Economic Area. The Immigration Service
will prosecute those against whom there is evidence of fraud and
The home secretary and the lord chancellor also announced that new
measures to reform both the appeals system and judicial scrutiny of
asylum decisions would be brought forward following consultation with
the senior judiciary. These amendments will speed up the appeals
system and tackle abuse of judicial review.
The home secretary added:
'We will be bringing forward amendments to the appeals and review
system to ensure that claims are dealt with more rapidly, and to stop
people spinning out cases without merit. This is a highly technical
area which I am determined should be legally watertight and command
the confidence of the public as well as the judiciary. That is why we
will be bringing forward amendments during the course of the Bill's
passage through parliament.'
The lord chancellor, Lord Irvine said:
'I am committed to ending the abuse of the asylum appeals system, and
ensuring judicial review is not undermined by meritless applications
being made to cause delays. The home secretary and I are working
closely together to bring forward measures in the Bill which will
address these concerns. It is very important that we have a properly
functioning system of asylum appeals and judicial scrutiny of asylum
The provisions in the Bill include:
Tracking and supporting asylum seekers during the claims process:
- Introducing a new trial of accommodation centres, with basic
services provided on-site, and a comprehensive induction programme
to advise applicants of their rights and responsibilities and
explain what will happen to them during their claim process.
- Asylum seekers living in the community will be required to report
regularly or lose all government support.
- Tightening of the appeals process to stop abuse and delay:
- Simplifying the one-stop appeals process.
- Introducing a closure date to stop multiple time-wasting
adjournments to draw out the appeals process unnecessarily at the
- Stopping appeals against removal directions, and stopping people
delaying removal by simply claiming they have another country to go
to without providing any evidence.
- Narrowing the grounds of appeal to the Immigration Appeals
Tribunal to points of law only.
Tackling illegal working, traffickers and racketeers:
- Strengthening the law by increasing the penalty for facilitating
illegal entry from 10 to 14 years.
- Introducing a new offence of trafficking people into, within or
through the UK for the purposes of prostitution, with a tough
penalty of 14 years imprisonment, to clamp down on the exploitation
of vulnerable people.
- Clamping down on illegal working, by giving immigration officers
powers to enter business premises to search and arrest immigration
offenders where they have reasonable grounds for suspecting such an
offender is on the premises. Employers would not to be able to
refuse immigration officers entry onto business premises.
- Introducing new fraud offences making it illegal to unlawfully
possess an immigration stamp or falsify an ARC card.
New border control measures:
The Bill would introduce powers to ensure immigration controls are
sufficiently robust to exclude individuals who are an immigration or
security risk, but that are sufficiently efficient, flexible and
responsive to allow the high number of legitimate passengers to the
UK to pass through quickly. They include:
- Introducing 'right to carry' schemes for airlines, so that
carriers wouldhave to obtain confirmation that passengers posed no
known security or immigration risk before they embark for the UK.
- The use of physical or 'biometric' data such as facial or iris
recognition to verify the identity of people arriving in the UK.
The process will also help automate immigration controls, speed
passengers through, and release valuable immigration resources to
other, higher risk areas of work.
Scottish secretary, Helen Liddell, commented:
'In Scotland there are currently around 6,000 asylum seekers being
given support. The Scots have a long tradition of playing host to
people from many other countries and cultures.
'We should welcome the skills and positive attitudes that immigration
introduces, and must ensure that every new resident is made a valued
member of our society. This Bill should help achieve that goal. Its
provisions will apply equally in Scotland as in the rest of the UK.
'The Scotland office will continue to work in partnership with the
Scottish executive and the home office, along with other agencies and
support groups, to create a fair, decent and comprehensive system for
dealing with all those who arrive in this country whether as
immigrants or seeking refuge and protection.'
Welcoming the Bill, the secretary of state for Wales, Paul Murphy,
'Wales has a rich cultural diversity and has welcomed a great many
people from different parts of the world over the years.
'The Wales office and the national assembly for Wales have
contributed to the consultation process behind this Bill and have
ensured that the Welsh view has been taken into account in
'The Bill offers genuine reform of nationality, immigration and
asylum policies which will benefit Wales and the UK as a whole.
'I am particularly pleased that the home office has paid special
regard to the Welsh language and to those services which have been
devolved from Westminster to Cardiff.'
1. The recent white paper, Secure Borders Safe Haven, was published
on 7 February 2002.
2. The government will consider retaining certification of cases that
do not merit full appeal rights, and is looking at the introduction
of a statutory review process to replace existing judicial review of
refusals to grant leave to appeal by the immigration appeal tribunal,
and of certification decisions. The government is also looking at
whether a single tier appeals system would produce an overall
speedier resolution of asylum claims. The government is considering
whether to introduce these measures in the Bill.
NATIONALITY IMMIGRATION AND ASYLUM BILL,
The government's white paper, 'Secure Borders, Safe Haven:
Integration with Diversity in Modern Britain' - was published on
7 February 2002 and provides the background to the Bill.
The Bill is in eight parts and touches on all areas of the
nationality, immigration and asylum system:
Part one - Nationality
The Bill contains provisions which amend British Nationality
legislation, primarily the British Nationality Act 1981, with the
main aim of enhancing the importance of acquiring British
citizenship. They include:
- introduction of citizenship ceremonies, together with a
- requirement for those who apply for naturalisation as a British
citizen to have sufficient knowledge of United Kingdom society;
- removal of existing provisions which allow discrimination on the
grounds of sex, nationality, ethnic or national origin in the
exercise of nationality functions;
- removal of the present distinctions in nationality law between
legitimate and illegitimate children;
- removal of minimum age requirement for applications for
registration by stateless children born in the UK and the British
overseas territories; and
- amendment of the grounds for deprivation of citizenship, with
provision of a new right of appeal against deprivation.
Part two - Accommodation Centres
The Bill makes provision for the introduction of accommodation
centres, built or adapted to accommodate and provide services for a
number of asylum-seekers and their dependants on one site. The
centres will be introduced on a trial basis. The centres may provide
for a number of facilities and services, including: food and other
essential items; money; assistance with transport and expenses to
pursue purposeful activities; legal services; healthcare and
education and training.
Residents of the centres will be subject to conditions of residence.
Those who refuse the offer of a place, or voluntarily cease to reside
may forego their right to support.
Part three - Other Support and Assistance
Maintaining contact with asylum-seekers is essential and
the new asylum system will be based on a network of
induction, accommodation and reporting centres as well as
existing national asylum support service accommodation.
The Bill contains provisions that:
- link the provision of support to asylum-seekers with a
requirement to report;
- allow the home office to fund the voluntary assisted return
programme. This programme is a means by which we provide assistance
to asylum-seekers who wish to return home; and
- allow the home office to fund international projects. Examples of
international projects that may be funded under this power include
resettlement and the 'interception assisted return programmes'. In
addition this provision enables the home office to fund research
projects, and organisations and bodies that carry out this work.
Part four - Detention and Removal
The Bill contains a number of measures designed to simplify the
process of contact management, detention and removal of those who
have no right to stay in the UK. These include:
- requiring asylum-seekers to reside for up to 14 days at a
location at or near a place where an induction programme is to be
- a power to impose reporting and residence restrictions on
asylum-seekers with leave to enter or remain;
- giving detainee custody officers acting as escorts a limited
power to enter private premises to search persons being taken into
- giving the secretary of state an equivalent power to detain or
grant bail to that of immigration officers;
- the power to remove children born in the UK, where their parents
entered the UK unlawfully; and
- the power to remove those who attempt to obtain permission to
stay by using deception.
Part five, Immigration and Asylum Appeals
The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 introduced a one-stop appeal
requiring an adjudicator considering an immigration appeal to deal
with any other appealable matters raised by the applicant at the same
time. The provisions in the Bill aim to re-structure the appeals
system to simplify and streamline the one-stop appeal provisions and
- define the specific immigration decisions which attract a right
- make clear that removal directions, which are an administrative
decision flowing from an earlier refusal decision which is itself
appealable, will not be one of the immigration decisions which
attract a right of appeal;
- ensure that we can certify cases where a failed asylum-seeker
has had the opportunity to appeal but has chosen not to do so;
- provide for the introduction of the power to set a statutory
closure date to prevent multiple adjournments of cases at the
adjudicator stage and
- narrow the grounds of appeal to the immigration appeals tribunal
to a point of law.
Part six, Immigration Procedure
This Part of the Bill contains provisions to:
- allow a fee to be set for work permit applications;
- allow the introduction of an Authority to Carry ('ATC') scheme
which provides for regulations to require carriers to check the
details of passengers against a database to confirm that they pose
no known immigration or security risk;
- powers to introduce a scheme to require physical data, such as
iris or facial images, to accompany applications to enter or stay
in the United Kingdom, and to introduce voluntarily scheme for
those arriving in the UK; and
- require public authorities, such as local authorities, and
private persons, such as employers, to disclose information to the
Secretary of State for immigration and nationality purposes.
Part seven - Offences
Provisions have been included that introduce a number of
- strengthening the law by increasing the penalty for facilitating
illegal entry from 10 to 14 years;
- trafficking of people into, out of, or within the UK for the
purpose of sexual exploitation;
- forgery and similar activities relating to the new Application
- possession of an immigration stamp, whether genuine or a replica,
without a lawful excuse; and
- a provision which gives police and immigration officers a right
of entry to business premises, at reasonable times, to search for
and arrest immigration offenders.
Part eight, General provisions
The final section of the Bill contains provisions on the
making of subordinate legislation, interpretation,
amendment of applied provisions, expenditure and
receipts, the title of the Bill, repeals, commencement