The government’s controversial plans to reduce the appeal rights of
asylum seekers and remove their entitlement to benefits made it
through the House of Commons unchanged this week despite two
Thirty-six Labour MPs voted against plans to remove asylum seekers’
right to seek judicial review over appeal decisions in the High
Court. Plans to deny support to families who refuse to go home
after their asylum claims have failed, which could result in their
children being taken into care, were also opposed by 28 Labour
The Liberal Democrats voted against the government on both issues,
with some Conservatives.
Labour MP and former social worker Hilton Dawson, who opposed both
proposals in the bill, told the Commons: “I absolutely and firmly
believe that it is morally wrong to make families destitute – or,
indeed, to threaten to make them destitute – as part of a process
to encourage them to return home.
“I cannot believe that such a measure is acceptable. Frankly I
cannot believe that it is coming from the party of which I have
been a member for more than a quarter of a century,” he
Despite the opposition, the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of
Claimants etc) Bill, passed through the House of Commons on its
third reading with a large majority.
The proposal for a single-tier of appeal came under further
criticism in a report from the House of Commons constitutional
affairs committee, published last week. It warned that the plans
could lead to upheaval and more delays.
It heavily criticised the proposals to remove asylum seekers’ right
to appeal to the higher courts and to set up a new asylum and
immigration tribunal without judicial oversight to hear appeals.
The MPs said that the restrictions were “without precedent”, and
that judicial oversight must be maintained as a matter of
constitutional principle and to ensure justice.
They instead called for the government to tackle “significant flaws
in Home Office practice” at the initial decision-making stage. No
appeal tiers should be removed until this was improved and until
the rise in the number of successful first-tier appeals had been
The bill will now go to the House of Lords where it is expected to
encounter further obstruction from peers.
– Asylum and Immigration Appeals: Second Report on the Session