Lib Dems defeat government over asylum seekers

On Wednesday (9th March) Lib Dem peers in the House of Lords played a key role in defeating the Conservative government over the Immigration Bill. Liberal Democrats voted to allow asylum seekers the right to work if their claims haven't been processed within six months.

Together with peers from Labour and other groups, the Lib Dem amendment was passed 280 votes to 195.


Liberal Democrat Lord Alton, who proposed the amendment, said it would end the "enforced workhouse destitution" currently experienced by asylum seekers.

"They are frustrated at being forced to remain idle and survive on benefits," he said.

"How many of us could exist on just over £5 a day while an asylum application was being considered? This is way below the poverty line. Where is the justice and fairness in that?"

Lord Alton said 3,500 people had been waiting for six months or more by the end of last year, and they deserved to be able to work rather than "eke out" an existence on "pitiful" state benefits.

At the moment, asylum seekers are not allowed to work unless they have been waiting for a decision on their case for more than a year - and then only in national shortage occupations.

Liberal Democrats believe it's far better than people should be allowed to work and pay tax instead of being forced to live off of benefits.