Oral Question to the Prime Minister

- Wednesday, 22nd January 2003

 

Q11. [92199] Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): I welcome the Prime Minister‘s decision to reinstate the measures that I introduced to remove the right to benefits from those who enter this country as business men, tourists or students, but subsequently claim asylum. Does he acknowledge that his mistake in endorsing the removal of the changes I made and the reinstatement of those benefits five years ago contributed to a doubling of the number of asylum seekers? Will he tell us how many extra economic migrants the country has had to admit and pay for as a result of five mistaken years?

The Prime Minister: I do not accept what the right hon. Gentleman says. I would also point out that it is not just the measures on benefit that are making a difference now; it is also the withdrawal of exceptional leave to remain, it is also the juxtaposed controls, and it is also the fact that 70 per cent. of asylum claims are now decided within two months. When we took office?particularly as the right hon. Gentleman‘s party was prepared to cut the number of immigration officers?claims were taking 12 months to decide. All those things are making a difference.

22 Jan 2003 : Column 299

 

 

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