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Year 2005 No. 126, November 3, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Stop Deporting Children and Students – Day of Action

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Stop Deporting Children and Students – Day of Action

Children Seeking Asylum Must Be Afforded the Same Rights As All Other Children

“Justice – Not Deportation and Torture”

Fighting the Asylum and Immigration Acts: Defy Section 9!

For Your Reference:
“Starve Them Out”: Does Every Child Really Matter?

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Stop Deporting Children and Students – Day of Action

London & Manchester Demonstrate Saturday 19th November 2005

Stop All Deportations! Scrap Section 9!

"My name is Daniel. I'm 15. Me and my family face deportation to the Congo. There is a war there and my life would be finished. One of my mum's friends was deported and killed in a prison in Congo. If we go back, we might also end up in prison, so please help us. I am scared that I would be forced to become a soldier. I don't want to be a child soldier. I want to be a football player. I play for a local team – when I'm older, I want to play for England" Daniel Sukula.

 

Manchester:

12 noon – assemble : Manchester University Students Union, Oxford Road
1.30pm – Rally & Performances : Peace Gardens, St Peter's Square, Manchester
Followed by : Young People's Forum – Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester

                In Manchester we will gather at 11am at the Manchester University Students Union on Oxford Road for refreshments and to make "umbrellas with a message" for the march. Umbrellas provide protection from the rain. Young asylum seekers seek protection in Britain, but often don't get it, and increasingly seem to need protection from the government here.

Manchester, march with:

~               Destin & Sarah Sukula – primary school pupils
~              Taimoor Hassan – secondary school pupil
~              Darlain Tchoua – college student; and many more

Other speakers :

~               Jason Travis – Teacher & Bolton National Union of Teachers
~              Mark Krantz – Teacher & Chair Manchester CDAS
~              Paul Barns – Head Teacher Cheetham Community School
~              Rob Owen – Secretary, University of Manchester Student Union
~              Flores Sukula – Student and Sukula Family Campaign
~              Rena Wood – Assistant Branch Secretary UNISON
~              Dr Rhetta Moran – RAPAR

London:

1pm : Assemble in Horseguards Avenue (off Whitehall)
2.30 pm : Hyde Park for a Rally
Contact : Tel 0207 502 6749
Email : info@standup4children.org
Web : http//www.standup4children.org

 

The government will stop at nothing to satisfy their arbitrary targets – seemingly, deportation at any cost, including children. They placed a general reservation to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, meaning children's rights are less important than their immigration status.

                In Britain, under new trial "Section 9" legislation children and young people from so-called "failed" asylum seeking families have been evicted, made destitute and face being taken from their loving and capable parents, and put into care. In October 2005, three children were "constructively" orphaned when their mother was deported to Uganda. Current and future legislation puts children in ever greater danger.

                What happened to the government slogan "every child counts"?

                School is meant to be a safe place, yet some children have been "snatched" from school and taken to Removal Centres, characterised by hunger strikes, self-harm, and suicide. The UK is the only European country to detain children indefinitely. From there, children are deported dangerous countries like Angola, Somalia, or the Congo – countries devastated by years of civil war and where human rights are routinely abused. Some of the children were born in the UK and have never been to those countries. Students have been refused enrolment, or thrown out of college half way through their course, made destitute, or detained.

                Young people should not have to live in this climate of fear, denied their basic human rights to an education, to become a useful member of society, to be brought up in a spirit of, tolerance, and friendship. We call on everyone to get behind refugee communities to defend a life free from fear for all young people.

 

“Our schools should be given the status of embassies"

Schools and colleges have successfully campaigned against unjust and inhumane deportation of their pupils and students

                The Okolo Family was facing deportation – a massive campaign was mobilised by St Philip's CE Primary School, together with churches, trade unions and the local community in Hulme, Manchester. The Okolo Family won their right to remain in the UK. The Okolo's campaign raised many issues relevant to teaching citizenship, so the family and the school, together with Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit and Save the Children published a Teacher's Pack which is a useful tool in an examination of values, promoting moral, social and cultural development, and has direct relevance to the History curriculum.

                The last year saw a steep rise in calls to National Coalition of Anti Deportation Campaigns and other organisations from schools. Many teachers were concerned about Immigration officers removing children from their classrooms, in many cases the parents were not present, which is in complete breach of Home Office guidelines on “Family Removal Policy”.

                Teachers have come into class on a Monday and found some of their pupils missing – children and their parents had been arrested over the weekend; detained or deported. Many schools started campaigns last year to stop classmates being deported – from Plymouth to Canterbury, London, Manchester, Bolton, Sunderland, Glasgow – schoolchildren went onto the streets with petitions. Whilst a few campaigns lost, many won.

                In Ireland, the National Teachers' Organisation president said deportations were “terrorising pupils” and that “our schools should be given the status of embassies. Parents should have an assurance that when their children are placed in a school, they will not be abducted from their place of learning by the state”. His stand came after public outcry against the deportation of Nigerian student Olunkunle Elunkanlo who was later allowed back to Ireland. The actions inspired a new campaign group “Schools Against Deportations”, who are calling for teachers, students and others in education to support a national declaration against the deportation of children and young people in schools and colleges. Supporters can sign up to the declaration at a new website launched in April – http://www.schoolsagainstdeportations.org/ In France and Belgium, the campaign group 'education without borders' has similar objectives. Across the country, teachers, trade unionists, families and churches have come together to protect and defend asylum seeking children.

                A primary school in Rochdale, 40% of whose pupils are asylum seekers, is campaigning to prevent the deportation of seven pupils and their families, from Angola, Bolivia and the D R Congo.

                Eva and Lorin Sulaiman were arrested with their mother at their home in Portsmouth – Lorin's friends from Mayfield School swung into action with a 50-page petition, letters to local MP's and a high-profile local media campaign. The Home Office stayed the deportation and released the family, pending a review of their case which resulted in winning 2 years leave to remain.

                Canterbury High School pupils held demonstration in support of classmates Amin Buratee and Abrahim – Amin won;

                Pupils from Mayfield School in Plymouth held a march and rally in support of their classmates, Hana and Sebrin Thaha;

                Home Office was forced to pay £45,000.00 in damages to a Kosovan family who were unlawfully deported.

Article Index



Children Seeking Asylum Must Be Afforded the Same Rights As All Other Children

By Doug Holton

As the central plank of a new campaign this is hardly revolutionary, you may think.

            Children arrive in the UK seeking safety and protection. They have fled armed conflicts, persecution and dreadful human rights abuses. Many arrive with their families, some are alone, without anyone to look after them. They face tremendous challenges in rebuilding their lives – learning a new language, making friends, and dealing with harsh memories. Despite many barriers, they often achieve remarkable success and make a real contribution.

            No matter how cynical the government’s demonisation of adult asylum seekers surely they must accept that all children should get the support they need and be treated equally. Their strategy for improving the lives of all children, especially the most vulnerable, is called Every Child Matters. Does every child matter?

            Despite being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Britain has a “reservation” in respect of immigration, nationality and asylum matters which the Labour government refuses to remove. The immigration status of a child takes precedence over every other consideration. Children of a lesser god.  The abuse of asylum seeking children is not an unfortunate and unforeseen anomaly – it is calculated and cynical.

            The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights believes the Government’s reservation amounts to “unjustified discrimination against asylum-seeking children on the grounds of nationality”.

            No place for a child, a recent report by Save the Children, demonstrates the appalling detention conditions imposed on children seeking asylum in the UK. They call for “….an entirely different approach towards children who are subject to immigration control, one that places their needs and interest as children at the centre of decision making”.

            Ann Owers, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, condemned conditions in detention centres and asked the government to ensure that “children’s rights and needs for care and protection are respected and met in full”.

            Under Section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 “failed” asylum seeking families can be left destitute, save for the obligations of local authorities under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 to provide accommodation for any child in need within their area – which means separating children from their parents. Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places a duty on organisations and services to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, except the immigration authorities.

            We need a determined unified campaign. There have been local campaigns in support of individual families, some of which have enjoyed success. Chiefly because those being victimised are seen as real people: colleagues, neighbours, friends and schoolmates. Now campaigns must come together and challenge the policy on a national level.

            That is necessary but not sufficient. The whole progressive movement must be galvanized into activity to campaign for the right to childhood; surely among the most basic of human rights. Refugees have been left isolated for too long.

            We are fighting a whole gamut of abuses. Detention, separation from families, eviction from homes. They are all part of the same issue flowing from the “need” to deport children.

            It is time for trades unionists, community associations, NGO’s and all progressive forces to stand up and be counted. Our day of action is on November 19. The day before the anniversary of the UN Convention the government has emasculated. There will be activities in Central London and throughout the country.
Contact: Campaign to Stop Deporting children, c/o Equalities Unit, NATFHE, 27 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JP Phone 020 7502 6749

www.standup4children.org
 
e-mail info@standup4children.org

Article Index



“Justice – Not Deportation and Torture”

An Open Forum “War on Refugees: Justice – Not Deportation and Torture” was held on Wednesday, November 2, in the House of Commons, hosted by Elfyn Llwyd, MP. The organisers, The Refugee Project, write: “Refugee rights are under attack as never before. Migrant, particularly Muslim, communities, now increasingly live in fear and intimidation as social tensions escalate following recent tragic events in London. A raft of tough new anti-terrorism legislation is set to be presented before Parliament as an uncritical cross-party political consensus emerges in the wake of the suicide bombings. The rhetoric of the ‘war on terrorism’ links asylum seekers to terrorism with dangerous consequences for community relations. ‘Muslim’, ‘refugee’ and ‘terrorist’ are now casually uttered in the same breath – even by allegedly serious social commentators. British ministers have been touring the Middle East to forge new agreements with governments of the region that aim to make deportations of suspects easier. Internationally, the Geneva Convention is being dismantled while, here in the UK, the right of asylum seekers to settle and put down roots is under threat. Human rights abuses are becoming more widespread as the government sets targets for removal.

            “How do we deal with these issues from a progressive perspective? How can we defend the humanitarian tradition that the Geneva Convention exemplifies? How can we protect asylum seekers from removal to repressive regimes and countries that are still at war, and where their lives are in danger? What can be done to stop the brutal treatment of asylum seekers, including children, in detention and by deportation officers at the point of removal?

            “We will be bringing together a panel of experts to examine these questions. Much is being done by existing organisations, but trades unionists, human rights campaigners, refugee and community organisations and concerned individuals can do more by working together.”

            Speakers included Gareth Peirce, human rights lawyer; Liz Fekete, author of The Deportation Machine- Europe, Asylum and Human Rights; Nick Hildyard, Refugee Project; Jean Lambert MEP, Green Party; Emma Ginn, National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC), Doug Holton, Stop Deporting Children; Dashty Jamal, International Federation of Iraqi Refugees; Leonard Ruredzu, asylum seeker from Zimbabwe; and Sherzad Mardo, Iraqi Kurdish asylum seeker.

            The Forum was also sponsored by CAMPACC, NCADC, Stop Deporting Children, International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, CARF, Asylum Aid, Asylum Rights Campaign, Peace and Kurdistan Campaign, Kurdistan Solidarity Committee, Halkevi Kurdish-Turkish Community Centre, The Green Party and Liberation

 

Article Index



Fighting the Asylum and Immigration Acts:

Defy Section 9!

A working conference for trade unionists, anti-deportation campaigners and anti-racists

Saturday 28 January 2006
Methodist Central Hall, Oldham St, Manchester
11a. m. – 5 p. m.

The government aims to pressurise “failed asylum seekers” to return to their country of origin through Section 9 of the 2004 Asylum and Immigration Act. It does this by withdrawing all state support and threatening to take children of asylum seekers into care. The Refugee Council reports that support has already been withdrawn from 17 families and a further 70 families are nearing the end of the process.

            The British Association of Social Workers has described this measure as a “brutal” and “wholly inappropriate” practice. The Association of Directors of Social Services called it a matter of “grave concern” and “really belonging to an earlier century”. It has been condemned by human rights organisations such as Liberty, and trades unions such as Unison and the National Union of Teachers. Manchester social workers have voted to refuse to implement Section 9 while 10 Greater Manchester councils have called for the measure to be reviewed.

            Still further attacks on asylum seekers are planned. Section 10 of the same Act compels asylum seekers to work for their meagre benefits, for example if they have agreed to repatriation but the home country is too dangerous for the government to send them back to. There is a Bill, the sixth in 12 years, currently before Parliament that involves further attacks on benefits. The far-right fascists and racists take these measures as a green light to launch their own attacks on asylum seekers and immigrant communities generally.

            From Plymouth to Glasgow local communities have come together to prevent families, who have lived here years and often have children at school, from being deported to dangerous countries with despotic governments. This conference is aimed at council and social workers, teachers, and trade unionists generally, along with anti-deportation activists and anti-racists, school students and anyone else who wants to build active resistance to Section 9 and other attacks on asylum seekers.

            Plenaries and workshops on:

campaigning against section 9
local anti-deportation campaigns – how to win
defending civil liberties
racism/fascism – defence of asylum seekers
co-ordinating our campaigns.

            Phone Jason Travis Bolton NUT for more information on 07976 476181 or George Binette, CDAS, on 07905 826304.:p>

            Initially supported by: Sukula Family Must Stay Campaign, Altaf Family Defence Campaign, Committee To Defend Asylum Seekers, Unison United Left (North West region), British Association of Social Workers, National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, Bolton National Union of Teachers, Bolton Trades Council, Liberty.

Article Index



For Your Reference

“Starve Them Out”: Does Every Child Really Matter?

A commentary on Section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act, 2004

By Steve Cunningham* and Jo Tomlinson**

Abstract: This article analyses Section 9 of the Immigration and Asylum (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act, which gives the Home Office powers to terminate all welfare support to failed asylum-seeking families deemed to be in a position to leave the United Kingdom. It examines the implications of Section 9 for both practitioners and asylum-seeking families. The article shows that by threatening children with destitution and possible removal from their families, Section 9 flies in the face of the UK’s domestic and international human rights commitments. Moreover, in flatly contradicting accepted childcare principles, Section 9 undermines the Labour government’s stated ambition to ensure that “every child matters”.

On 27 October 2003, the Home Office published a consultative paper on asylum and immigration, the sixth such document since Labour’s election in 1997. Although many of the measures it contained were deeply controversial, this article focuses on one aspect of the proposals, the decision to terminate support to families deemed to be in a position to leave the UK. The controversy over what became Section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act alone justifies a detailed examination of its contents. However, an analysis of Section 9 is necessary for other reasons. Because it concerns the treatment and support of refugee children, it provides an opportunity to test the government’s stated commitment to the principle “every child matters”. Just as importantly, though, Section 9 has serious implications for practitioners working with refugee families.

            The withdrawal of welfare support from certain categories of asylum seekers has been a feature of recent asylum legislation. Justified by the claim that welfare acts as a “magnet”, encouraging “bogus” asylum applications, governments have set about dismantling asylum seekers’ social rights (Clements, 2001; Bloch and Schuster, 2002; Cemlyn and Briskman, 2003). In Opposition, Labour condemned this trend. However, since 1997, the restriction of asylum seekers’ citizenship rights has intensified. The Immigration and Asylum Act (1999) removed future asylum seekers from mainstream social and welfare benefits, introducing a residualised system of voucher support and “no choice”, dispersed accommodation (for analyses of its detrimental impact see, Oxfam/Refugee Council, 2002).

            Following the Home Office’s own admission that these measures stigmatised asylum seekers and exacerbated racial tensions (Home Office, 2001), cash support was reluctantly reinstated, although the value of this remained at only 70 per cent of that given to UK citizens. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act (2002) tightened support mechanisms further. Section 55 of this Act removed welfare support from individuals (though not families with children) who failed to apply for asylum “as soon as is reasonably practicable”. Ministers claimed this would be implemented sensitively, yet in 2003, 9,000 were refused support, many of whom had applied for asylum within days of arrival in the UK (Refugee Council, 2004b: 7). As Shelter (2004) argues, Section 55 made a mockery of the notion of human rights, “consigning people who have often suffered terribly already to destitution on London’s streets, simply because they have failed to grasp the finer points of the asylum system within a day or so of arriving here”. The Court of Appeal’s recent ruling that Section 55 violated asylum seekers’ human rights by making them destitute, has done little to blunt the government’s enthusiasm for its provisions.1

            The Home Office’s legislative proposals on asylum and immigration announced in October 2003 spoke of the need for a more “balanced” approach towards asylum and immigration. However, like Labour’s 1999 and 2002 asylum Acts, they were predicated on the notion that the vast majority of asylum seekers were bogus, and that hasher, meaner systems of support needed to be put in place in order to combat what “what may be seen in many quarters as continuing evasions and exploitation of immigration and asylum controls at significant cost to the taxpayer” (Home Office, 2003b). Amongst the proposals were measures designed to coerce failed asylum-seeking families to leave the country “voluntarily”. The Home Office already had powers under Section 54, Schedule 3, of the 2002 Act (hereafter Schedule 3) to deny welfare support to four categories of “ineligible” asylum seekers, one of which was failed asylum seekers and their dependents, who failed to co-operate with removal directions. Under this provision, if a failed asylum-seeking family did not depart the country at an appointed day or time, the Home Office could terminate all support as an “incentive” for them to leave voluntarily (Home Office, 2002b). The effect of the new proposals would be to add a fifth category of “ineligible” asylum seeker to Schedule 3 of the 2002 Act.

            In future, failed asylum-seeking families deemed to be in a position to leave the UK, would also be subject to the sanctioning powers contained in Schedule 3. The significance of this proposal should not be under-estimated.

            If passed, it would roll forward the date at which failed asylum-seeking families could be deprived of welfare, to a loosely defined period well before any removal directions had been set in place. As the Refugee Children’s Consortium (RCC) would subsequently argue, in reality the proposal was not about “voluntary” departure at all – it was a blunt instrument of coercion, designed to coerce families into leaving the country by plunging them into destitution (RCC, 2004c).2

            In order to understand the level of controversy generated by this proposal, it is first necessary to grasp the full implications of the sanctioning powers available under Schedule 3. As noted, it originally allowed the Home Office to terminate all support to families not co-operating with removal directions. In an attempt to meet obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), some assistance under the 1989 Children Act could be given to children. Significantly, though, under Schedule 3, local authorities were explicitly prohibited from using Section 17 of the Children Act, which obliges them, wherever possible, to provide services for children and their families, with the aim of promoting the upbringing of children in their families. Although not initially fully appreciated, we now know the government intended local authorities to provide accommodation for such children. Beverley Hughes, the Minister responsible for Schedule 3, indicated as much, when she implied that Section 20 would be used to support them (Commons Hansard, 12 June 2002, col. 898). This states that local authorities must provide accommodation for any child in need in the event of “the person who has been caring for him being prevented (whether or not permanently, and for whatever reason) from providing him with suitable accommodation and care” (Bridge et al., 1990: 171). The fact that Section 20 relies upon parental co-operation was not acknowledged at the time, nor was guidance given on what local authorities would do if consent were not forthcoming. The government’s intention, though, was clear. It wanted to use the threat of separation implicit in Schedule 3 as a means of forcing parents to comply with removal directions. Hilton Dawson, a former social worker and Labour MP for Lancaster and Wyre, was one of the few to grasp the consequences of the measure. Section 17 of the Children Act, he argued, was a fundamental building block in the support and care offered to families with children and it was “deplorable” that the government were considering exempting children of asylum seekers from its provisions (Commons Hansard, 12 June 2002, col. 913). Dawson’s point was well made. There can be little doubt that Schedule 3 undermined the overarching philosophy of the Children Act, that wherever possible children should grow up within their own families. In its defence, the government has stated that powers under Schedule 3 to remove support from families failing to co-operate with removal directions have never been used (Commons Hansard, 15 January 2004, col. 881W), though refugee agencies have contested this claim (RCC, 2004d).

            It was not until the government announced its intention to extend the powers available under Schedule 3 that its ramifications became more widely understood. The Home Office’s consultation document made it clear that in the event of assistance being withdrawn from parents deemed to be “in a position to leave the UK”, local authorities would be prohibited from using Section 17 of the Children Act to support children. Indeed, it made explicit reference to the use of Section 20 (Home Office, 2003b). In short, it was envisaged that the children of those denied support and made destitute would be accommodated in local authority care. As the Bishop of Southwark would subsequently argue, the proposal had more than a hint of the “social policy of the workhouse”. Like the Poor Law, where part of the regime of humiliation was for children to be separated from parents, this proposal envisaged the use of the same “pressure of the most painful kind” as a social lever to secure acquiescence (Lords Hansard, 5 April 2004, col. 1692).

            The “consultation period” allowed by the government for its proposals was ridiculously short. Indeed, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) rebuked the Home Office for pressing ahead with such contentious legislation “with insufficient advance information to enable proper consultation or prior parliamentary scrutiny of the principles involved”. It pointed out that the planned “consultation period” fell well short of the 12 weeks specified by the government’s own guidance on the minimum period for consultation, leaving little time for detailed scrutiny (HASC, 2003a: 5). The Committee was echoing concerns raised by a number of its respondents, many of whom interpreted the “consultation” as little more than a “paper exercise” designed to justify, in the words of the Immigration Advisory Service (2003), the introduction of “a half-baked, incomplete Bill to the House of Commons”.

            The Home Office justified its proposals by claiming they were “designed to remove the current incentive for families to delay removal as long as possible and so save money in support and legal costs” (Home Office, 2003a). In fact, sections of the press had been briefed about this specific proposal prior to the consultation process being announced. Then, reporters were told that voluntary return schemes for unsuccessful asylum applicants had failed and that a harsher, meaner approach was required. “Having offered a bit of a carrot,” one Home Office spokesperson commented, “there is a need for a bit more stick” (Western Daily Express, 2003: 6). The HASC questioned the Home Office Minister, Beverley Hughes, on the proposals on 19 November 2003. Although she began by claiming it was “not at all” the government’s intention to make people destitute, her testimony offered little reassurance. David Winnick, one of the Select Committee’s Labour MPs, asked whether “it would be fair to describe the policy as ‘starve them out’?” Whilst Hughes denied this, when asked whether the government intended to deny families “every form of support” and allow their children to be taken into care, she replied, “Yes, that is what we are proposing” (HASC, 2003a: Evidence pp. 8–9). There was, she insisted, a “need to eradicate the perverse incentives which lead failed asylum seeking families to refuse opportunities to leave voluntarily” (Hughes, 2003b).

            In her evidence, Hughes displayed no awareness of the real reasons why removals are delayed. In fact, the vast majority of cancelled or deferred removals are for administrative reasons, allied to Home Office incompetence and not non-compliance. This was the cause of 71 per cent of removal deferrals/cancellations between November 2002 and October 2003. A further 10 per cent were due to flight cancellations by airlines and only 14 per cent resulted from a failure to comply (Thorpe and Young, 2003: 66). Nor did Hughes show any appreciation of the full implications of the policy she was advocating, displaying no understanding of the difficulties it might cause, or how to overcome them. Hence, whilst agreeing with John Denham’s (chair of the Select Committee) suggestion, that if parents denied support disappeared, leaving children in care, this would be a “difficult position”, she could offer no explanation of what the Home Office might do in such circumstances. Nor could she provide any estimate of the numbers of children potentially affected by the proposals, simply stating she was “not sure” parents would be prepared to see their children taken into care (HASC, 2003a: Evidence pp. 8–9).

            Hughes subsequently wrote to the HASC to “clarify” this issue. Her answer was no less vague: We cannot know what proportion of families would act in such an irresponsible way: I hope it will be small. Indeed, we have no reason to believe that asylum-seeking parents are any more likely to prefer to abandon their children than any other parents . . . I am not in a position to give estimates of the number of families to whom the new clause might apply. (Hughes, 2003b, our emphasis) What is interesting here is the way in which Hughes shifts the concept of “irresponsibility” quite clearly away from government policy, preferring to locate it instead in the actions of “irresponsible” asylum-seeking parents. This represents little more than an attempt to criminalise and denigrate this group, by defining them as being morally different to other more “responsible” parents in the UK. As the RCC (2004c) suggest, the notion that the government is not responsible for the suffering of children resulting from the laws it passes “is very dangerous and unjust”. In its briefings on the proposals, the RCC cautioned against the “sins of the parents” being “visited upon children”, and emphasised the state’s obligation to promote and protect the best interests of the child irrespective of the actions of parents. It was not until after Hughes’s evidence to the HASC that the significance of the government’s proposals became more widely disseminated.

            An article in the Observer (Hinsliff, 2003: 1), which estimated that over 2,000 children of asylum seekers could be removed from parents, was the catalyst, prompting similar negative headlines elsewhere (see Hardy, 2003: 20; Walker, 2003: 2). The proposals’ opponents received support from some unlikely quarters.

            For example, an editorial in the traditionally right wing, anti-immigration Daily Mail (2003: 12), described David Blunkett’s “contentious plan to take the children of failed asylum seekers into care” as “a step too far”. The Daily Express also criticised the proposals, although admittedly on grounds of cost rather than human rights: While this might seem harsh, desperate parents may actually prefer to surrender their children to the state and go underground in the belief that their family would get a better upbringing this way . . . the latest policy could mean our care homes end up full of the children of illegal immigrants and it is the taxpayer who has to foot the bill. (Daily Express, 2003: 12) The HASC Report on the proposals also expressed concern that failed asylum seekers may be forced underground, making it harder to remove them. For some families, it argued, “it will introduce an incentive for them to do so while leaving their children in the care of local authorities at public expense” (HASC, 2003a).

            In its conclusions, the HASC admitted to being “very uneasy” about the proposals. Concerned they “may be counterproductive”, it recommended the government pursue a policy of swift and humane removal, rather than forcing children to suffer for their parents’ actions. In his evidence to the Committee, the Mayor of London (2003) made much the same point. Rather than improving voluntary removals (the government’s stated aim), families made destitute would have no incentive to continue co-operating with authorities.

            Voluntary return schemes would be undermined, families forced “underground”, and consequently removal would be less likely than had support remained in place. Others would later expand on this point. Hilton Dawson, the MP at the forefront of opposition to the Asylum Bill in the Commons, spoke of desperate families being “impelled back into the arms of traffickers or forced into the arms of thieves and pimps”. Dawson pleaded with the government to withdraw its proposals. “It seems extraordinary,” he commented, “that I have to say this to a Labour Government”, but irrespective of what parents may have done, and regardless of the merits of their case, “in no circumstances whatever should the basic means of sustenance be removed from children.” As a former social worker, he drew on his professional experience, pleading with the government “to contemplate the awful human difficulties of removing children from their families”. What, Dawson asked, would be the consequences of this? There was a strong possibility parents, desperate to avoid returning to violence and oppression, would disappear, “leaving their children as alone as any unaccompanied asylum-seeking child who had made their own way to the UK”: The proposed legislation will make some families – some children – disappear from view and they will be in colossal danger. As I wrote that sentence I thought, “My God, I hope I’m wrong.” We should not dream of putting the legislation, or families, to the test. What is proposed . . . is wrong. (Commons Hansard, 17 December 2003, cols. 1617–21) Families would, he insisted, respond far more readily to a more sensitive approach, based upon providing counselling and practical support to help families prepare for returning home. He advocated a much greater emphasis on linking families with resources in their own country, on improving voluntary return schemes, and on the development of “real, international, good-quality family social work”.

            Whilst this might not work in all cases, it would in most, and importantly, it would be based on dignity, respect and humanity (Commons Hansard, 1 March 2004, col. 646). Certainly, recent evidence suggests grounds for optimism on this front. As the HASC’s 2003 report, Asylum Removals, highlights, since March 2002, when more extensive packages of support were introduced for returnees, voluntary removals have “increased significantly on a daily basis [itself undermining the government’s claim that voluntary return schemes had failed]” (HASC, 2003b: 17). Moreover, if the Home Office improved the quality of voluntary removal packages, the success rate would be much higher. Interestingly, Ministers themselves appear to concur with this view. In her evidence to the HASC in 2003, Hughes accepted the Home Office “do not do as much as we could in terms of maximising the potential of voluntary departure” (HASC, 2003b: 5–6).

            The government’s response to the concerns raised by the HASC was, though, dismissive. In a letter to the Guardian, Hughes (2003a: 23) denied families faced with a choice between “voluntary” removals, or having their children taken into care, would opt for the latter option. “At this point I expect them to act as any parent would, to make the best decision for their children and leave the UK.”

            Not for the first time, Hughes displayed a lack of understanding of the sheer desperation that drives families to seek refuge for themselves and their children. Ignoring all the experiences of agencies working with refugees, she remained convinced that the threat of separation from their children would persuade “failed” asylum-seeking families to choose voluntary removal. We are not so sanguine. In the light of the Home Office’s woeful record on initial asylum decisions and appeals (Amnesty International, 2004), we do not share Hughes’s confidence that a family’s fear of persecution on return will (or should) cease simply because the Home Office has denied its application for asylum.3

            As the RCC (2004a) noted, if the Home Office’s proposals became law, there was a “grave risk” that many “failed” asylum-seeking families, still in genuine fear of persecution, might believe that their children are better left behind than facing the risks of return to their own country. During the passage of the Asylum Bill, many would make the same point. Kelvin Hopkins, a Labour backbencher who would vote against the Asylum Bill, recalled the “kinder transports” of unaccompanied Jewish children fleeing Nazi Germany in the late 1930s (Commons Hansard, 17 December 2003, col. 1664). These children’s parents were not “uncaring” or “unloving”. On the contrary, they only accepted separation from their children because they genuinely believed it was a better option than them remaining to suffer harassment, persecution and possible death. As he intimates, the “rational” decision these parents made (and the correct one with hindsight) was to ensure their children’s safety at all costs, despite this meaning possibly never seeing them again.

            Nor did Hughes show any appreciation of the complexities associated with removal, and the potential problems caused by the government’s policy of terminating support “as soon as it is confirmed that the family is in a position to leave the UK”. She glibly assumes that families with children can, at a moment’s notice, uproot from their lives and leave a country where they have resided for what in many cases may be years. On receipt of the devastating decision that their application for asylum has finally been turned down, what time scale can reasonably be imposed upon families to leave the UK? In addition to having to come to terms with the momentous emotional impact of the decision, parents may also have to face removing their children from schools, leaving established communities and associated support networks, and uprooting to leave the UK to face the unpalatable consequences of returning “home”. As the HASC’s Report Asylum Removals points out, what are often rarely understood are the practical difficulties associated with “removing people who may have lived in this country for years, whose country may not be willing to re-admit them, whose national airline may not be willing to carry them and who, in the case of families, may have children (some born here) who know no other life but this” (HASC, 2003b: 5–6). The suggestion that support to families facing such crises should be terminated, at some arbitrarily defined moment, can only be described as morally reprehensible and inhumane.

            The Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill, the fifth such Bill since the early 1990s, was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 26 November 2003. Concerns raised by participants in the “consultation” process were ignored. All the initial proposals, including those relating to the termination of family support, were included in the Bill. Whilst it made no overt reference to “taking children into care”, this was an inevitable consequence of Clause 7, which added a fifth class of “ineligible person”, a “failed asylum seeker with family”, to Schedule 3 of the 2002 Asylum Act.

            The dismay felt by agencies was palpable. “In this country,” commented Helen Dent, the Family Welfare Association’s chief executive, “we put children into care as a last resort and for their own protection”. It was, she insisted, “inhuman to use our own version of tyranny and poverty by separating parents and children as a punishment” (Morris, 2003: 11).

            The Home Secretary, David Blunkett (2003), answered the government’s critics in the Guardian, declaring he “did not come into politics to be the King Herod of the Labour party”. He was, though, characteristically unapologetic. His plans were “necessary medicine”, in the “middle ground” of politics, and designed to counter the challenge of right wing extremists rather than pander to them. Taking children into care would be a “last resort”, and a result not of government policy, but of the “unreasonable behaviour of the parents”. “Our obligations to the welfare of the Child,” Blunkett insisted, “are paramount.”

            This latter claim has not gone uncontested. Only three months previously, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) published a Green Paper, Every Child Matters, a chapter of which was devoted to “Supporting Parents and Carers”. “All children,” it begins, “deserve the chance to grow up in a loving, secure family.” “The bond between the child and their parents is the most critical influence on a child’s life”, and the government would reinforce this by developing “more and better universal services, open to all families, as and when they need them” (DfES, 2003: 39–40, our emphasis). As Fiona Williams (2004) notes, the Green Paper identifies the needs of a number of hitherto hidden and marginalised groups, including unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (whom it describes as one of the groups in “greatest need”, DfES, 2003: 50). However, the needs of children of families seeking asylum are not mentioned, an omission noted by many respondents to the DfES’s consultation exercise. Whilst supporting the notion underlying the title, that every child should indeed matter, in the absence of any mention of children of asylum seekers, many questioned whether this was, or would be the case: If . . . every child matters we would have expected further discussion of the specific needs of children of asylum seekers than occurs in the green paper . . . Such children ought to be considered since they stand a much higher risk of poverty-induced vulnerability than is the typical experience. (Child Poverty Action Group, 2003: 5–6) Alison Harvey, the RCC’s Chair, also acknowledged the omission.

            However, she stated that interested parties should base their responses to the DfES on the assumption that Every Child Matters, as the title suggested, included all asylum-seeking children. We are, she argued, “mirroring the prejudice asylum-seeking children suffer if, at every chapter, we say it doesn’t apply to them because they are not named” (Community Care, 2003). By the time the Asylum Bill was published, though, it was apparent that “every child did not matter”. On 3 December 2003, Harvey (2003: 21) wrote to The Times criticising the plans for restricting family support, claiming they contravened not only recommendations made in Every Child Matters, but also the best-interests principle set out in the Children Act 1989, the CRC and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). “The Government,” she argued, “tell us in its Green Paper on children at risk that every child matters.” “Perhaps,” she stated, “someone should remind the Home Office”.

            The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights’ (JCHR) report on the Bill agreed that Clause 7 potentially contravened human rights.4

            First, adult asylum seekers left destitute may “undergo a degree of suffering amounting to inhuman or degrading treatment”, violating ECHR Article 3. Second, separating children from families may contravene the right to respect for family life under ECHR Article 8.1 and also various rights under the CRC. On the specific question of children’s rights, the JCHR stated that the idea of “using children and the threat of taking them into care as a deterrent or incentive to persuade adults to co-operate with the authorities” directly contravened CRC Article 3.1. This states: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be paramount” (JCHR, 2004a: 19). In its carefully crafted response, the government denied Clause 7 contravened Convention rights, pointing to the existence of a “saving provision” in paragraph 3, Schedule 3 of the 2002 Asylum Act, which Clause 7 amended. This vaguely worded “get out clause” allows those responsible for providing support to continue to do so “for the purpose of avoiding a breach of – (a) a person’s Convention rights, or (b) a person’s rights under Community Treaties” (Home Office, 2002a).

            Regarding CRC Article 3.1, the government claimed Clause 7 was compatible, because it was not in a child’s best interests to continue to be supported in a country in which it had no future.

            However, the JCHR remained unconvinced that Clause 7 was either proportionate or justified. Regarding the “saving provision”, the JCHR (2004a: 20) accepted this offered a theoretical safeguard, which “would not make it impossible to give appropriate protection to Convention rights”. In practice, though, due to the absence of any clear procedure for implementing the “saving provision”, “there could be many people (including children) who suffer hardship and violations of Convention rights” under ECHR Article 8 and CRC Article 3.1. The RCC (2004c: 3) agreed. The memoranda it submitted to MPs and peers emphasised the practical difficulties of implementing the “saving provision”. The government had not explained at any stage how this “safeguard” would be enacted, nor how, or by whom, assessments of potential human rights breaches would be undertaken.

            We were, it argued, in danger of creating scenarios where individual social workers will be faced with the unenviable task of determining precisely whether, and at which point, the Convention rights of families are breached. In truth, as Ministers must be aware, the “saving provision” represents little more than a “sop” to the UK’s human rights obligations. Whilst its insertion affords Schedule 3 apparent “legal status”, as the RCC (2004a: 20) argue, it “promises to be the source of much litigation, with children potentially put at risk or separated from their families in the meantime”.

            Those whose role it would be to implement Clause 7 of the Bill reacted to the government’s proposals with incredulity. The Local Government Association (LGA, 2003) stated that Clause 7 was “particularly draconian, in breach of the Children Act, and punishes the child”. As well as contravening principles enshrined in Every Child Matters and the forthcoming Children’s Bill, both of which emphasise the importance of family life, it undermined social workers, whose role it was to keep families together wherever possible. It also contradicted the government’s own targets to reduce the numbers of children accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act. The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) also vehemently opposed the measures: We are astounded that the Government can prepare a Green Paper aimed at raising outcomes for vulnerable and hitherto underachieving children with a title Every Child Matters that implies the inclusion of all children within its range of proposals and within a matter of weeks propose legislation that will exacerbate the difficulties already facing this particular disadvantaged group. (BASW, 2003a) Regardless of the decisions of adults it was “fundamentally unjust to introduce legislation that will make children destitute” and force them into care. It was “as if the government wishes to use children as a rod with which to implement its immigration policy”. It would, the BASW argued, be “utterly inappropriate” for the social work profession to be complicit in such a policy. It would “damage our professional credibility and we expect our members to strongly resist the implementation of this clause” (BASW, 2003a). The BASW subsequently issued an unprecedented notice advising it would “sup-port any members to challenge any direction by their employer to act unlawfully or unprofessionally in unjustifiably separating children from their parents” (BASW, 2004).

            MPs also spoke of difficulties Clause 7 would cause to practitioners. Supporting an unsuccessful amendment moved by Hilton Dawson at the Commons Report Stage, which would have struck Clause 7 from the Bill, Annette Brooke (for the Liberal Democrats) referred to “the iniquitous position that social workers will be in” if the provision remained: As I understand it, when a family is destitute, the Children Act 1989 and the professional ethics of those working with the family require social workers to look first to relieve destitution, but Clause 7 proposes the opposite. What should social workers do in those circumstances? The framework in clause 7 undermines the professional judgment and skills of social workers, and I can envisage them being put in impossible positions, perhaps being asked to remove children from their parents to increase the pressure on parents to leave the country. The United Kingdom stopped removing children from their families on the ground of poverty a long time ago. Where, then, are we going with Clause 7? (Commons Hansard, 1 March 2004, col. 653) Certainly, it is difficult to reconcile the requirements of Clause 7 with the Ethical Code for Social Workers. Article 3.1.2 of the Code requires practitioners to respect basic human rights in United Nations and other international conventions, whilst Article 3.2.2 requires them “to challenge ways in which the policies or activities of government, organisations or society create or contribute to structural disadvantage, hardship and suffering, or militate against their relief” (BASW, 2003b). Nor, it must be said, does Clause 7 comply with the binding requirements set out in the General Social Care Council’s (GSCC) Code of Practice for Social Care Workers. It is, for example, difficult to see how the destitution and consequent separation of children from parents implicit in Clause 7 conforms to the GSCC Code, which obliges social workers to protect service users “as far as possible from danger or harm” whilst “respecting and maintaining” their dignity. Nor, in the light of the JCHR’s conclusion that Clause 7 would “in practice” contravene Convention rights and the Children Act, can its provisions be reconciled with either the GSCC’s requirement for social workers not to condone “any unlawful or unjustifiable discrimination”, or its call for practitioners to “challenge . . . discriminatory or exploitative behaviour and practice” (GSCC, 2002). Baroness Howarth, a former social worker and NSPCC Professional Advisory Panel member, was one of many MPs and peers who drew attention to the erroneous nature of the government’s proposals. “No child,” she insisted, “should be put through the trauma of removal from caring – even if misguided – parents.” Who, she asked, would fulfil the government’s will? Not, she predicted, social workers. She pleaded for the government to think again: “I find it hard to understand how a caring government, committed to children, to whom ‘every child matters’ can contemplate this course of action. I beg for the clause’s withdrawal” (Lords Hansard, 5 April 2004, col. 1695). Speaking for the government, Baroness Scotland rejected her plea. “The intent behind this legislation,” she stated, was “to help those who have failed in their application to leave this country in a humane, decent and well managed way.” When asked to account for the legislation’s potential effect, rather than its intent, Baroness Scotland stated, “All we can do is create a framework where the effect of what we anticipate is managed in a way that we hope will not injure . . . children” (Lords Hansard, 5 April 2004, col. 1699).

            Over the coming months amendments were moved in the Commons and Lords designed either to remove Clause 7, or to secure commitments that clear safeguards would be put in place for the protection of families and practitioners. The amendments failed on both counts. Not only did Clause 7 remain intact, Ministers consistently failed to outline how it would be implemented, or how contradictions between it and the principles underpinning the ECHR, the Children Act and the CRC would be reconciled. The Asylum Act received its Royal Assent at the end of July 2004, with Clause 7’s provisions enshrined in Section 9. The Home Office Minister, Des Browne, commemorated the event by inviting a host of people to his Westminster headquarters, in the words of the invitation, to “celebrate the enactment of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claim-ants etc) Bill”. Fortunately, at least some of those invited questioned Browne’s tact and taste. “It’s an absolute classic,” commented Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat’s Home Affairs spokesman. “We are being asked to drink wine and scoff canapés to celebrate a Bill that takes away benefits from the children of asylum-seekers, and cuts their support” (Adams, 2004: 10).

            On 17 September 2004, the Refugee Council’s optimistically entitled Sheffield conference, Making Sense of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004, gave practitioners an opportunity to absorb and discuss the implications of the Asylum Act. Speakers at the conference impressed on delegates the significance of Section 9. Vicky Williams, National Liaison Manager for the National Consortia Co-ordinating Group for Asylum Seekers and Refugees,5 predicted a battle between the courts and government. By “flying in the face” of accepted childcare principles, “this legislation by its very nature leaves the door wide open to judicial review”. In addition, by providing the circum-stances by which no other avenues of support are available, “the legislation in effect promotes taking children out of the family environment into care”. In the absence of parental consent for separation (which, as already noted, is necessary under Section 20 of the Children Act), local authorities would be forced to apply for court orders. It was, she insisted, “unlikely in view of accepted childcare principles that the courts will support family separation in these circumstances”. This “ignores the accepted principle of maintaining family life, and effectively punishes the child”. Section 9, she argued, “prioritises the asylum process over that of child welfare, be it in practice or by definition” (Williams, V., 2004: 4–6). John Donkersley, an immigration lawyer speaking on the legal aspects of the Asylum Act, agreed. Section 9 amounted to little more than an attempt to “starve into submission” an already deprived, vulnerable group. He believed challenges under ECHR Article 8 were inevitable.

            It was left to Jonathan Duke-Evans, Director of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate’s (IND) Social Policy Unit, to defend Section 9. Responding to the Refugee Council’s chief executive, Maeve Sherlock’s, claim, that she was “frankly amazed” at the provision, Duke-Evans sought to reassure delegates, saying he “confidently expected” few children would, in all actuality, be taken into care.

            Whilst he accepted that some families would lose support, he did not believe this would be on a wide scale. Moreover, voluntary organisations would, he anticipated, step in to provide a modicum of assistance to families made destitute, meaning children may not be “in need” under the terms of the Children Act. Unsurprisingly, this did little to reassure delegates. Many recalled similar “assurances” had been given when Section 55 of the 2002 Asylum Act was debated. As noted, despite these, in 2003 up to 9,000 asylum seekers were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, and denied support under a test which was, in the words of Lord Justice Jacob, “abhorrent, illogical and very expensive” (Rozenberg, 2004: 12). Others pointed to the enormous logistical problems Section 55 had caused refugee agencies. Were these same organisations, still suffering from the strain of coping with destitute Section 55 clients (see Refugee Council, 2004b), now really expected to pick up the pieces arising from Section 9? Listening to Duke-Evans, we were reminded of comments made by Ministers during the passage of the Bill, to the effect that they “hoped” the worst exigencies associated with Section 9 would not materialise. This is what Beverley Hughes said to the HASC on 19 November 2003 when asked about the implications of taking children into care: “I hope it will not come to that, and I do not intend that it should come to that . . . I do not think that is in the best interests of those children, and I hope it will not come to that in any circumstances at all” (HASC, 2003a: Evidence p. Q. 870; see also Baroness Scotland’s comments, above). However, as the RCC argue, “hoping” that children will not be taken into care is simply not good enough: It is not acceptable for the Government to propose legislation that has the potential for resulting in extreme hardship to children and families and then to hold its breath and hope that its worst exigencies will not come to fruition. The Government must be made to account for the operation of this clause. (RCC, 2004a: 2, our emphasis) What is clear is that the government cannot claim to have been unaware of the consequences of Section 9. Why, then, in full knowledge of the human rights implications, did it press ahead with its proposals? Some commentators have pointed to the culture and ethos of the Home Office itself. It is, they argue, perhaps not surprising, given the Home Office’s wider departmental remit, that it is less concerned with complying with the UK’s domestic and international obligations towards children than it is with fulfilling its more strategic objective of controlling immigration. Certainly, the Home Office is deeply imbued with a pervasive culture of control, and it has a long historical tradition of subordinating children’s welfare in order to achieve its more central objectives (see Cunningham, 1999, 2002). It is for this reason that the location of administrative responsibility for addressing the needs of asylum-seeking children has long been a cause of concern for refugee agencies. As the RCC (2003) argue, refugee children are “children first and foremost”, yet the Home Office invariably treats them according to their immigration status. A recent JCHR (2004b: 28) Report on the Children Bill drew much the same conclusion. The RCC now calls for responsibility for all children, including children seeking asylum, to come under the responsibilities of the new Children, Young People and Families Directorate of the DfES. “Without this development,” it argues, “it is likely that Home Office policy will continue to undermine any attempts by the Government to safeguard and promote children’s welfare and best interests” (RCC, 2004b: 4).

            There can, however, be little doubt that political expediency was also a significant factor in leading Ministers to press ahead with Section 9. Although in Opposition Labour claimed it would have no truck with “racist” immigration legislation, like its predecessors, this government prides itself on its determination to be seen as “tough” on “asylum cheats”, whatever the cost. Certainly, Ministers seemed to revel in the controversy over Section 9, doubtlessly content at the “hard-line” message their refusal to back down sent out to the electorate and potential asylum seekers. As Bill Morris, former General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress argued, the sight of a Labour government “thrashing around seeking to appease Middle England by attacking some of the weakest people on our shores” was not a pleasant one. “Using children to blackmail their parents” was, as he insisted, “plumbing the depths of morality” (Morris, 2003). As well as contradicting the Home Office’s own research, which suggests that withdrawal of benefits has a limited impact in stemming or redirecting asylum flows (Zetter et al., 2003), it flew in the face of the UK’s domestic and international human rights commitments. Moreover, in threatening children with destitution and possible removal from their families, it totally undermined the government’s stated ambition to ensure that “every child matters”.

Notes

1. Although the Home Office has introduced a temporary reprieve, revising its procedures determining eligibility for support under Section 55 (now welfare is provided to all new asylum applicants who have no access to “alternative” forms of support), it is seeking leave to appeal to the House of Lords against the Court of Appeal’s decision. Hence, the government remains committed in principle to reintroducing the draconian measures enshrined in Section 55 (Refugee Council, 2004a).

2. The RCC is an umbrella group consisting of 18 children’s and refugee non-governmental organisations These include, the Asphaelia Project, Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees (AVID), Bail for Immigration Detainees, Barnardo’s, British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), Children’s Legal Centre, Children’s Rights Alliance for England, the Children’s Society, the Family Support Unit (FSU), the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA), the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), National Children’s Home (NCH), the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), the Refugee Council, the Refugee Arrivals Project and Save The Children UK. The British Red Cross, UNICEF UK and UNHCR all have observer status.

3. The Home Office’s own latest statistics do little to allay long-standing concerns over the quality of asylum decisions. For example, in 1994, only 4 per cent of appeals to the (first tier) Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA) were successful, whereas in 2003, 20 per cent (16,070) were. Second stage appeals also have a disturbingly high level of success. In 2003, the (second tier) Immigration Appeals Tribunal heard 9,450 appeals: 1,490 (15 per cent) of these were successful, and in a further 4,220 (44.6 per cent) cases, sufficient concern was raised for them to be returned to IAA adjudicators for a more detailed consideration (Heath et al., 2004).

4. Consisting of members of the House of Commons and House of Lords, the JCHR considers matters relating to human rights in the UK. It has the power to require the submission of written evidence and documents, to examine witnesses and to make Reports to both Houses. One of its roles is to examine the potential human rights implications of proposed legislation. As well as drawing attention to potential breaches of human rights law, its Reports often contain specific recommendations.

5. The National Consortia Co-ordinating Group for Asylum Seekers and Refugees consists of Regional Consortia Managers who manage asylum policies in each of the English, Scottish and Welsh Regions. Vicky Williams acts in an advisory capacity to the LGA, and for all intents and purposes, the views she expressed at the conference were what she had advised.

* Steve Cunningham is a senior lecturer in social policy at the University of Central Lancashire. He has a history of researching and writing about the Home Office, children and young people. He most recently contributed to an article on the development of citizenship education in schools in Critical Social Policy (2004; 24(2): 255–69).
** Jo Tomlinson is a principal lecturer in social work at the University of Central Lancashire. She has researched and written on issues of children, childhood and social work. Most recently, she contributed to a NSPCC report on child death and child maltreatment (C. May-Chahal, S. Hicks and J. Tomlinson (2004)
The Relationship between Child Death and Child Maltreatment, NSPCC, London).

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