A Bill which would allow asylum seekers the right to work after six months waiting for a decision in their case will be introduced in Parliament today by Lord Roberts of Llandudno.
At present all asylum seekers are barred from taking up employment, denying them a living and leaving them dependent on handouts from the taxpayer.
But a Private Member’s Bill which will be introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Roberts today would amend the 1971 Act and allow them to take a job if a decision has not been made on their application after six months.
At the end of last year there were more than 4,400 asylum seekers in the UK waiting more than six months for a decision.
Lord Roberts said: “As a Liberal Democrat, I believe that the UK should be a safe haven for those fleeing persecution.
“Allowing asylum seekers permission to work would not only save taxpayers money, but it would afford them the dignity of earning a living and reduce dependency on state handouts.
“At the close of 2012 there were more than 4,400 asylum seekers waiting over six months for a decision. That’s 4,400 excluded, inactive, benefit-reliant people who could have been contributing to the British economy.
“The Government can’t have it both ways. We must either allow asylum seekers the right to work, or we must reform the pitiful support system.”
Currently 11 EU members allow asylum seekers to work after six months or less, and all but one receive fewer asylum seekers than the UK.
Lord Roberts said: “We have a responsibility to both welcome and care for those fleeing war and persecution.
“We must reform our immigration system to permit those that can the dignity of being self-sufficient while resident in the UK.”
The Immigration Act 1971 (Amendment) Bill will be introduced in the House of Lords later today.
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.