The asylum system is one of the more arcane parts of the UK's bureaucracy - but the nuts and bolts of how it handles claims has become one of the hottest topics in politics.
About 2% of the world's refugees claim asylum in the UK. The Home Office deals with all these applications and says that Britain "has a proud tradition of providing safe haven" for those genuinely in need.
But ministers say they remain determined to prevent the "misuse" of the system and are keen to prevent those seen as illegal economic migrants from entering the UK.
With the passing of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act in 2002
Britain's asylum system is under going what the Home Office calls "the most radical and far reaching reform" for many years.
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