Mr. Allan: I thank the Minister for a comprehensive response, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 56 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 57 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Removal of asylum-seeker to third country
Mr. Allan: I beg to move amendment No. 289, in page 32, line 25, after 'asylum', insert—
'provided that a draft of any such arrangement has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.'.
Our last amendment of the day is a variant of the usual affirmative resolution amendment, as it would introduce an affirmative resolution where there is no resolution, rather than replace a negative resolution, which is the normal variety. A new provision is being introduced over which Parliament should have power of scrutiny, which is that the UK Government can make bilateral arrangements with another member state Government about certification in the context of third country questions. Such questions are normally covered by the Dublin convention, which is a multilateral agreement and subject to scrutiny by appropriate bodies.
We are concerned that the bilateral agreements will not be subject to any formal scrutiny without such provision as we propose in the amendment. Therefore, we suggest that when the Government want to make bilateral agreements, which may be entirely sensible, they should be able to do that only subject to the affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament.
Ms Winterton: As the hon. Gentleman said, the amendment would make any arrangement with another EU member state for the return of asylum seekers subject to the approval of both House of Parliament. We do not agree that any standing arrangement that we make with any member state should require that approval. The standing arrangements referred to in the clause apply specifically when the member state with which an arrangement has been made has accepted that it is responsible for the claimants' asylum claims. No arrangement under the clause may be entered into unless that condition has been fulfilled, and it is unnecessary to seek the approval of Parliament for arrangements to carry out removals to safe third countries. Given the level of protection of fundamental rights and freedoms by the member states of the European Union, they can be regarded as constituting safe countries for all legal and practical purposes in asylum matters. Any such standing arrangements should therefore benefit from the automatic safe third country provisions envisaged in section 11 of the 1999 Act. Given that explanation, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment.
Mr. Allan: I am grateful to the Minister for her assurances about how this will work in practice. I accept that the other EU states are also signatories to the European convention and can be trusted on their human rights record. That still leaves hanging the
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fundamental constitutional question of the Executive making agreements without parliamentary scrutiny. However, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 58 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr. Gerrard: On a point of order, Mr. Hurst. We are still waiting to see amendments to major parts of the Bill dealing with the appeal system. On Second Reading, the Home Secretary assured us that we
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would be given maximum notice of those amendments. Have you had any indication of when we might receive them?
The Chairman: I am afraid that that is not a matter on which the Chair can be of assistance. The hon. Gentleman should make inquiries of the appropriate office.
Further consideration adjourned—[Mrs. McGuire.]
Adjourned accordingly at twenty-five minutes past Seven o'clock till Thursday 16 May at Nine o'clock.
The following Members attended the Committee:
Hurst, Mr. Alan (Chairman)
Winterton, Ms Rosie