Focus: Policy and Politics - Question Time - Annette Brooke, LDem MP, Mid Dorset and North Poole

What's the state of play on deporting asylum seekers?

After the 2004 Act, there were fears that children of failed asylum seekers would be taken into care if the parents refused to leave and became destitute.

The Home Office has carried out a pilot scheme to monitor what happens to failed asylum seekers and their families.

What were the results?

Tony McNulty, a minister at the Home Office, revealed that as of November 2005 there were 116 families in the pilot. One family has returned to its country of origin and 11 others are taking steps to return.

What do you think of this?

I think it's pretty conclusive. The concern at the time was that children would be taken away from their parents - but rather than see that happen, the families appear to have gone underground. That shows the strength of family ties.

Do you support the call from the Refugee Council and Refugee Action to prevent a nationwide roll-out?

I opposed the initiative from the beginning. The evidence shows it's not working and that it is making families destitute. I recall making a speech at the time the Government was putting forward the notion that every child matters - as far as this Government is concerned, the children of asylum seekers seem not to matter.

Is there a chance it won't be rolled out?

The Government has to look at different working methods. In a sense, the Government has a target: there are failed asylum seekers who have reached the end of the line. But there has to be a more humane way of tackling this than making people destitute.

What will happen now?

There was a meeting in November of MPs and children's and refugee charities, and we said we would try to use whatever parliamentary procedures we could.

There was an adjournment debate in January. Now there is evidence to show how ineffective the policy is, clearly there's a lot more scope for further questions.

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