Hundreds of unaccompanied asylum seeker children are in line to be housed in Scotland to ease pressure on English local authorities, The Herald has learned.

The Home Office is consulting on proposals to find other homes for about 3000 children who arrive alone in the UK each year and claim asylum, after complaints from London and south-east England that they take too many of the youngsters.

Glasgow City Council, which houses hundreds of asylum seeker families as part of the government's previous dispersal scheme, has confirmed to The Herald that it is discussing proposals with the Home Office to become a "specialist authority" caring for unaccompanied asylum seeker children.

Other Scottish councils are due to discuss the scheme at a meeting of the Convention on Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), the Scottish Executive and officials from the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) on April 17.

Glasgow's bid has been viewed favourably by IND officials as the council has considerable experience in dealing with asylum seeker families.

The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) has expressed concern at the potentially disruptive effect of caring for the children and integrating them into local communities, when benefits and housing are withdrawn when they turn 18.

The Fostering Network Scotland is also worried that a large influx of vulnerable children would put an undue strain on Glasgow fostering services, which already deal with nearly 1000 of the 3500 children in foster care throughout Scotland.

Glasgow City Council officials yesterday refused to discuss details.

The 3000 children who arrive every year are usually given temporary leave to remain until they turn 18. In 2005, the last year for which statistics are available, only 6% were granted refugee status.

There are about 100 unaccompanied asylum seeker children in Scotland, 85 of them housed in Glasgow.

In a consultation document in February, the Home Office proposed the creation of between 50 and 60 "specialist authorities" which would care for around 100 children each.

The consultation also proposed bringing down the age at which failed asylum seekers can be removed from the country from 18 to 171/2 and introducing dental record checks to ensure that adults do not abuse the system.

The SRC yesterday warned that the Home Office's proposals to remove children from care at the age of 16 may bring it into conflict with the Scottish Executive's policy of caring for young people until they are 21. A spokeswoman for the SRC said: "If the Scottish Executive is to Get It Right for Every Child, as their children's strategy says, this must include unaccompanied minors and the children of asylum seekers and refugees, and any measures should put the child first, regardless of immigration status."

Bryan Ritchie, director of the Fostering Network Scotland, warned that Glasgow would struggle to find enough foster care places if a large number of children were sent north of the border. The Home Office said yesterday it would maintain "firm and robust immigration control" for children and adults. A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said it welcomed the Home Office's consultation and was preparing a response.