Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill

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Mr. Malins: The debate has been interesting, although I still think that the burden on the applicant is high and heavy.

There is an issue of language. I have been thinking about the phrase

    ''before the appeal is commenced''

and I have been trying to decide its meaning. I have tried to think of another word for ''commenced'', which is not a word that you or I, Mr. Hurst, use in our normal day-to-day language. Indeed, I challenge any member of the Committee to raise intervene if they have ever used the word ''commenced'' in their normal day-to-day language. I have not, although I have used the words ''begins'' and ''starts'' quite often.

Let us examine what ''before the appeal begins'' might mean. Assuming that I am an appellant in a court case and someone rings to ask whether the appeal has begun, and I say, ''No, it starts or begins on Tuesday, though I lodged the appeal a fortnight or a month ago.'' What does it mean? Is the appeal commenced—the more I use that word, the uglier it becomes—on the day that it is lodged, or on the first day that the appeal starts? It is an important difference.

Ms Winterton: Perhaps I can clarify the matter.

Mr. Malins: If the Minister can clarify it, that will be terrific.

Ms Winterton: The hon. Gentleman was right when he referred to the appeal being lodged.

Simon Hughes: That is a worst case scenario.

Mr. Malins: The hon. Gentleman has been trying to extract that fact from the Minister for the past quarter of an hour. She might consider redrafting the provision on Report, as it might read better if it said, ''submits to the Secretary of State before the appeal is lodged''.

Simon Hughes: Except that that is not what we want.

Mr. Malins: At least we would know where we were. I was completely confused until a few moments ago. I look at the clock and realise that we have only five minutes before we break for lunch. The amendment raises a serious issue. The hon. Gentleman was right in saying that it is the worst case scenario for the appellant. It is wholly unrealistic. It might be a different story if it referred to the day on which the appeal began. We flagged up the issue, and although I do not mean it unkindly, the Minister has not responded adequately. However, I shall not press

Column Number: 394

for a Division. We shall return to the issue again. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 343, in page 34, line 35, at end insert—

    '( ) In subsection (1)(d) ''EEA national'' means a national of a State which is a contracting party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area signed at Oporto on 2nd May 1992 (as it has effect from time to time).'.—[Ms Rosie Winterton.]

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Simon Hughes: In the light of our debate a few minutes ago, I hope that the Government will reflect further on the clause. We shall not seek to divide the Committee, but we regard the last part of the clause as unsatisfactory. I would be happy to speak to Ministers about it before Report—I realise how little working time is available before then. I hope that the Home Office will urgently consider tabling an amendment that would deal with the nonsense and satisfy myself and the hon. Member for Woking.

Mr. Malins: The hon. Gentleman refers to how little working time is available between now and Report. Has he heard the same rumour that I have—that Report stage is proposed for the Wednesday after our return on 10 June?

Simon Hughes: I have heard that, but it is not confirmed. It would make improving the clause difficult. If we finish the Committee stage this evening, have three working days before the spring break and Report stage is planned for two days after our return, it will be difficult for the Government to respond to debates. The Opposition parties will be able to table amendments. People from outside with an interest in these matters will be able to read the Hansard report of today's proceedings and reflect on them, but contacting the Government and Opposition will be impracticable. Ministers should discuss with their business managers and with the hon. Member for Stirling (Mrs. McGuire) how best to ensure practicable arrangements. She will doubtless do her best to accommodate the Opposition, as she so often does.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 62, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

It being One o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at half-past Four o'clock.

Column Number: 395

The following Members attended the Committee:
Hurst, Mr. Alan (Chairman)
Allan, Mr.
Buck, Ms
Dhanda, Mr.
Eagle, Angela
Gapes, Mike
Gerrard, Mr.
Hughes, Simon

Column Number: 396

Lammy, Mr.
Lazarowicz, Mr.
McGuire, Mrs.
Malins, Mr.
Prosser, Mr.
Rooney, Mr.
Watkinson, Angela
Winterton, Ms Rosie

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