Focus: Policy and Politics - Question Time - John Battle, Labour MP for Leeds West

What is the purpose of your early day motion? It is highlighting a campaign by the charity Church Action on Poverty, called the Living Ghosts Campaign.

What is the campaign aiming to achieve? Church Action on Poverty is suggesting asylum seekers be allowed to take some form of paid work while they are in this country - or, if they are unable to work, that they should qualify for National Asylum Support.

What's the situation at the moment? People seeking asylum can end up in destitution very quickly. This is particularly the case if they are turned down for asylum, but it also applies to those going through any part of the process. Asylum seekers can end up homeless, so you have one government department helping to tackle homelessness and another department kicking these people out onto the streets.

What do you think of the Government's approach to asylum? We are doing everything on a case-by-case basis. This is fair in one sense, but underlying principles then start to emerge. If you have a group of people from a country to which it is practically impossible to send them back, there may be a discrepancy between the Home Office's approach and the Foreign Office's approach. For example, the Foreign Office says "you can't go there because it's not safe", and the Home Office is sending people back there. We have to tackle these sorts of things as policy issues.

Have you taken this up with ministers or any of the relevant government departments? Yes, because the regional distribution centre for asylum seekers and refugees is in my constituency. My constituency has one of the country's highest concentrations of people going through the asylum process.

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