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(1) the deduction of payments for or in respect of tax credits from the gross revenues of the department of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue,
(2) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of—
(a) any expenditure of a Minister of the Crown or that department under or by virtue of the Act, and
(b) any increase attributable to the Act in sums payable out of money provided by Parliament under any other Act, and
(3) the payment of sums into the Consolidated Fund.—[Angela Smith.]

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

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Road Traffic

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Civil Aviation

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),


Question agreed to.



Police Officers

10.16 pm

Mr. John Baron (Billericay): I am presenting a petition from the residents of the Billericay and district constituency regarding their concern about the lack of police officers patrolling our streets and responding to reported crime in the constituency. The petition urges the Home Secretary to commit more resources to Essex police so that we can benefit from more police officers. More than 5,400 signatures were collected in two weeks.

The petition declares:

To lie upon the Table.

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Yoko Sibthorp

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Angela Smith.]

10.17 pm

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): According to the House of Commons Library, there have, over the last four and a half years, been four Adjournment debates on specific aspects of immigration cases and a further 12 Adjournment debates on immigration policy more generally. I refer to those statistics for the benefit of the House and to underline the fact that right hon. and hon. Members do not lightly raise particular immigration cases in the House. I do so, I think, for good reason tonight.

Yoko Sibthorp, on whose behalf I speak, was born on 31 July 1969. Andrew Sibthorp, to whom, until her divorce, she remains married, was born on 21 May 1973. Mr. Andrew Sibthorp is the son of my constituents, David and Angela Sibthorp of Blakes cottage, Horn street, Winslow, in the Buckingham constituency. Yoko first met Andrew in May 1992, so they have now known each other for approximately nine and a half years. They went out together for some time and eventually, on 27 February 1995, their marriage was registered in Japan. There they lived as man and wife for over five years. They then decided, early in 2000, to come to the United Kingdom, with the specific purpose of settling here and starting a family. They came to Britain on 17 April 2000, Andrew on the basis that he was a British citizen and Yoko on the strength of a 12-month permit to stay in this country. At that point, she was already pregnant.

After a couple of false starts, in July 2000 Andrew managed to secure a job at the Japan centre, in London's Piccadilly. In September, they got their own property in South Norwood, and on 29 October 2000 came the happy news for both of them of the birth of their first child, Nesta. Yoko testifies, and I have no reason to doubt her veracity, that Andrew had always given the impression in all the time they knew one each other that he would be a willing father, that on no account would he be separated from his son, and that he looked forward to the joys and responsibilities of fatherhood.

For the first few days, Yoko testifies, as do her parents-in-law, Andrew enthusiastically changed nappies and partook of other domestic responsibilities. Sadly, however, all went badly wrong and turned sour, to the great detriment of the family, and to Yoko and her son Nesta in particular. Twenty days after the birth of the child, on 18 November 2000, Andrew, after a row with his wife, suddenly left the family home—for ever, as it later transpired. He said that he wanted to lead a Rastafarian existence and conceded that he had returned to the use of drugs, which had bedevilled him in his youth, but which he now felt were useful to him and made him feel better. He left the home; occasionally he came back unannounced for short periods, but he never returned permanently.

The day after Andrew left Yoko, in understandable shock and trauma at the most ghastly experience that could be visited on anyone, she asked her parents-in-law, David and Angela Sibthorp, whether, for a period, she could come and live with them in Horn street in Winslow, to which they readily agreed. On 17 April 2001 Yoko, conscious that her marriage had not survived for the

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12 months in this country required under immigration law, applied for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. She did so, aware of the strength of article 8 of the European convention on human rights, which has been transposed into British law in the form of the Human Rights Act 1998. As you will undoubtedly be aware, Mr. Speaker, article 8 underlines the important right of every individual to have his or her private and family life respected. At the end of April, Yoko managed to secure a job at Fujitsu, in Hayes. Only four months ago, in August, her estranged husband sadly lost his job in Piccadilly. In September, in what proved to be his final communication to his father, he said that he wished to have no further contact whatsoever with his parents, whom he had known for 27 years, or with his wife and his child, who was born on 29 October 2000. Sadly, the ghastly and unimaginably appalling sequence of events that has afflicted Yoko Sibthorp culminated on 31 October 2001—in the Home Office's refusal of her application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Following that refusal, Lord Rooker of Perry Barr, for whom I have a high regard, wrote to me on 13 November to say:

He went on:

That seemed a dismal and lamentable state of affairs, and has certainly caused great heartache, as I am sure the Minister will understand, to Yoko and her devoted parents-in-law.

It is relevant at this point to refer to the views of Yoko and of her parents-in-law as regards the changed character and behaviour of Andrew Sibthorp. All three of the individuals concerned—Yoko and her parents-in-law, David and Angela—have good reason to feel affection and love for Andrew, for they are all inextricably bound up with his life.

Yoko concluded that there had been a dramatic and unaccountable change in her husband's behaviour. Previously devoted, unselfish, loving and willing to partake of domestic and family responsibilities, he had, she concluded, started to behave oddly. She has recounted a particular case in which Andrew Sibthorp, for reasons unknown to her, to me and to the House, broke the back window of a car by bashing his head repeatedly against it. David Sibthorp, devoted father of Andrew for 27 years, testifies with sadness that his son has undergone an extraordinary personality change. He tells me that the man has become self-centred, unpredictable and paranoid.

I emphasise that that is the account that has been given to me. I have every faith in the integrity of the individuals concerned. I have not spoken to Andrew Sibthorp; I am not interested in besmirching his name. I am seeking to give an account of events as they have been related to me, and as they pertain to the attempt of Yoko Sibthorp to secure indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.

Yoko decided that she would appeal against the rejection of her application. She is doing so, as the hon. Lady is aware, under section 61 of the Immigration and

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Asylum Act 1999. Specifically, she is doing so with an emphasis and reliance on article 8 of the human rights convention, which states:

The article continues:

In that context, because I feel passionately about the case, I want to make a simple but—as it seems to me, and I hope it might strike the Minister as—a compelling point. The presence in this country of Yoko and her son Nesta does not threaten national security. Their presence does not threaten public safety. Their presence does not threaten the economic well-being of the country. Their presence does not threaten the prevention of disorder and crime. Their presence does not threaten the protection of health or morals. Their presence assuredly does not threaten the rights or freedoms of others.

I have attended closely, as the hon. Lady no doubt has done, to the wording of the article upon which Yoko is reliant in her appeal against the initial judgment of the Home Office. That seems to me to be one ground on which she can credibly base a humanitarian plea to be granted indefinite leave to remain in this country, but there are others, to which I shall briefly refer.

First, it ought to be understood and it will be readily apparent from the facts, that the marriage was not one of convenience. It was not undertaken for an ulterior purpose which, once achieved, caused the marriage to be dissolved or to wither on the vine. It was a loving relationship that was conducted over a period of several years. Yoko and her husband were married happily for five and a half years. It is a pure technicality that the marriage did not subsist in this country for the requisite period of 12 months to qualify Yoko for success in her application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

I consider the case compelling, but I am determined to persuade others, including your good self, Mr. Speaker, at this late hour, that there is an additional argument in Yoko's support—that is, that she enjoys the love, devotion and support, both emotional and financial, of her parents-in-law. They have been absolute bricks in a ghastly situation. They love their son, of course, but they are horrified by what has happened, by the extraordinary metamorphosis in his character and behaviour that appears to have taken place, and by the residual but massive damage that has been done to her life, which could impact upon that of her son and their beloved grandson.

In communications to me in October and November this year, David Sibthorp stated:

Significantly, and worryingly from the point of view of the integrity and repute of the democratic process, he adds:

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I know these two parents-in-law. They are decent, reasonable and level headed. They are model citizens, well respected in their community. They are not hotheads and are not excitable or extremist in any way, but that is how they feel. Even if the Minister cannot give me the news that I seek, I ask her to empathise with their plight. I think that she will do so as a humanitarian.

There is a final argument in Yoko's support: she is not dependent on public funds. She has a good job, works hard and is industrious. She wants to succeed and is conscious of her responsibilities and willing to fulfil them. She is also fortunate in having superb parents-in-law who are willing to do everything that they can—emotionally, practically and financially. I think that I am right in saying—the Minister will tell me if I am wrong—that the Home Office refers to or has consciously in mind no fewer than seven forms of public funding that someone could be receiving and that might count against an individual in pursuit of an application for indefinite leave to remain, on the grounds of their being a drain on the public purse: child benefit, disability allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit, housing or homelessness assistance, income support and jobseeker's allowance, social fund payments or the working families tax credit. To the best of my knowledge and belief, Yoko does not receive and currently has no intention of receiving any of those payments. She wants to be self-supporting and wants the wonderful relationship with her parents-in-law to continue. She wishes to bring up her lad, her little boy Nesta, as she and her husband had always intended: as a British boy who speaks English and is integrated into our society and who understands, accepts and enjoys the mores of this community. She does not want to have to take him back to Japan, which is not quite the melting pot that she judges this society to be and where she fears that he may be subject to teasing, ridicule or possibly even discrimination.

I think that Yoko has a compelling case. Of course, there must be rules and there has to be a public policy, and the general principle must be of compliance with those rules and that policy. However, there must also be exceptions to every rule. I say to the Minister—I repeat that I believe that she is a humanitarian—that Yoko is not a statistic but a human being. Nesta, too, is not a statistic, but a human being. David and Angela Sibthorp, Yoko's parents-in-law and my constituents, are not statistics, but human beings. They are genuinely shaken by their first experience of immigration law and what they believe to be a defiance and violation of the rights of their daughter-in-law and the grandson whom they love so dearly. They want him and Yoko to stay here. They want that relationship to develop and become more fruitful, and to see the boy grow up into an adult citizen of this country.

I appeal to the Minister further to reflect on this matter. She and I have jousted many a time and oft in this House and doubtless we shall do so in future.

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