Right of appeal on visas lost in Lords

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Indy Politics
THE GOVERNMENT last night beat off a move by an alliance of law lords, bishops and peers of all parties and none to provide would-be visitors to Britain with a chance of an appeal if they are refused a visa, writes Stephen Goodwin.

The Asylum and Immigration Appeals Bill removes a right to appeal for would-be visitors and students who are refused entry visas, saving pounds 1.25m. In an attempt to appear conciliatory, Earl Ferrers, Minister of State at the Home Office, promised that office managers in entry clearance posts overseas would run a daily 'review' of all visa refusals by their officials. But Lord Ackner, a retired Lord of Appeal, dismissed the arrangement as 'a rubber stamp'.

In 1991 there were 917,000 applications for visas, of which 77,000 were refused. Only 1,500 of 9,000 appeals were successful. Lord Ferrers admitted the 1,500 cases represented a problem, but drew gasps when he wondered 'if it is necessary to have this great appeals edifice to get over that'.

Indian-born Baroness Flather, a Conservative and member of the Commission for Racial Equality, said no young male could come to Britain as a visitor from the Indian sub-continent at the moment, and the situation caused great unhappiness.

An amendment moved by Lord Ackner would have introduced a filter under which anyone wishing to appeal would first have had to obtain leave from an adjudicator. It was defeated by 148 votes to 124. The clause removing the right of appeal was agreed by 120 votes to 97.