David Blunkett's plans for a new crackdown on failed asylum-seekers were hit last night by a rebellion by Labour MPs who claimed that his proposals would make refugee families destitute.
The Commons gave a comfortable majority to the measures, which now face a battle in the House of Lords. A total of 35 Labour rebels, including three former ministers, voted against the Home Secretary's proposals to streamline the appeals process for refugees whose applications are rejected. And 28 opposed a move to stop welfare payments to failed asylum-seekers who reject an offer of a free flight back to their home country.
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, warned that by denying people whose asylum claims have been rejected the right to a judicial review, the Government could be sending them "back to grave danger and possible death". The Bar Council had described the proposal as a "disgrace" and "unfit for a democracy".
Hilton Dawson, MP for Lancaster and Wyre, said: "As well as being simply wrong, it's completely counter-productive to make people and their children destitute in circumstances where they are desperate, where they are afraid, where they are utterly uncertain as to what the future might hold."
The Refugee Children's Consortium, which brings together children's charities, had denounced the plans as "dangerous and immoral".
Beverley Hughes, the Home Office minister, said last night: "We don't want families to be separated. We don't want people to be destitute."