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29 Apr 2004 : Column 1297W—continued

Entry Visas

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the   role of the Scottish Executive in determining Government policy on issuing entry visas. [165978]

Mr. Browne: The Scottish Executive has no role in determining Government policy on issuing entry visas as immigration is a reserved matter and dealt with nationally, but we do work closely with the Scottish Executive on visa policy.
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EU Enlargement

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he plans to take to ensure control of Britain's frontiers following enlargement of the EU in May. [163550]

Mr. Browne: The Immigration Service is implementing a series of measures at air and seaports to maintain robust border controls post 1 May and to discharge our obligations to ensure that bona fide EU travellers are processed without delay. Measures include: raising awareness of the risks of document abuse by non EU nationals; re-deploying front-line staff when necessary and trialling these arrangements in advance of 1 May.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the likely number of people coming into the UK from countries acceding to the EU in each of the next seven years. [150803]

Mr. Browne: Research conducted by University College London for the Home Office, published in June last year ("The impact of EU enlargement on migration flows", Home Office On-Line Report 25/03), estimates that the numbers of people expected to migrate to the UK from the new member states in the years following enlargement will not be significant. The research corroborates a number of other independent studies, which have been summarised in reports by the European Commission in 2000 and the former Department for Education and Employment in 1999. The estimates for those expected to migrate cover those coming to the UK for at least a year. As my right hon. friend the Home Secretary said, these are independent estimates and not Home Office figures.

We will monitor the situation and the UK has the right to reintroduce restrictions on workers in the event of an unexpected impact on the standard of living or   level of employment in a particular region or occupation.


Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to publish the outcome of the review of immigration rules and procedures applicable to dependent members of serving Gurkha soldiers. [166515]

Mr. Browne: There is no review into immigration rules and procedures applicable to dependent members of serving Gurkha soldiers. Officials are currently reviewing immigration policy in respect of Gurkhas serving in the British Army and will be reporting to Ministers shortly.

Harold Shipman

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether authority has been given for Dr. Harold Shipman's body to be disposed of. [167254]

Paul Goggins: Yes. This authorisation has been given.
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Identity Card

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the public services for which the Draft Identity Cards Bill requires the production of an ID card as a condition of receiving the service. [169447]

Mr. Browne: There is no automatic requirement to produce an ID card for particular services in the draft Bill published by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 26 April. Parliament or the relevant devolved administration would have to approve regulations for each service on a case by case basis. In addition Clause 15(2) prohibits the ID card or a check of the National Identity Register being the mandatory way to access social security benefits or free public services prior to there being a compulsory requirement to register for an ID card.

Clause 15(5) of the draft Identity Cards Bill defines provision of a public service as:

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what purpose the Draft Identity Cards Bill enables an individual's national insurance number to be recorded in the National Identity Register. [169449]

Mr. Browne: Schedule 1 of the draft Identity Cards Bill published by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 26 April (CM 6178) sets out the information which may be recorded in the National Identity Register. Final decisions on what will be recorded in the Register will depend on further feasibility studies and what legislation Parliament finally agrees.

Recording the National Insurance number on the Register would link the more secure identity established when the ID card is issued with the National Insurance number which is a less securely issued number. This could help prevent abuse by people using other people's National Insurance numbers and be more convenient for employers using an ID card to confirm eligibility to work.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers he plans to make available to the police in the event that an individual refuses to verify his or her identity following introduction of identity cards. [169702]

Mr. Browne: The draft Identity Cards Bill that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary published on 26 April makes clear that it will not be a requirement for individuals to carry an identity card or to produce a card to a police officer on demand.
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As set out in "Legislation on Identity Cards: a consultation (CM 6178)" there will be no new power for the police to stop someone and demand to see their card. Existing police powers to require drivers to produce their driving licence (which could be designated as an ID card) on demand or within seven days at a police station will remain. Added to this, if someone has been arrested for a recordable offence, existing powers will allow the police to take reasonable steps to identify them. This   currently includes powers to check biometric information. There are also classes of criminal offences which are non-arrestable and are enforced by sending a summons. In these situations, the police have to be certain of a person's name and address. If a person refuses to identify themselves in these circumstances or the police are not satisfied with the information given, they have a power of arrest after which biometric checks can be made. If it were not possible to identify an arrested person otherwise, for example checking police records, a check could then be made on the person's biometric against the National Identity Register.

Illegal Immigrants

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many illegal immigrants from China could not be deported in each year since 1997 because the Chinese authorities refused to take them; and if he will make a statement. [163198]

Mr. Browne: Information on the number of Chinese nationals who could not be returned to China due to the Chinese authorities refusing to accept them is not available.

Deportations are a specific subset of removals alongside persons subject to administrative removal, removal due to illegal entry action or those refused entry at port and subsequently removed. Information on the nationality of those people removed as a result of deportation action is not available.

Our ability to effect removals to the country of origin is crucial in tackling illegal immigration, and we expect the co-operation of source countries in this regard. The Chinese Government have very strict conditions for re-documenting their citizens and will only accept their return once they have verified their exact identity. This causes problems for many countries that wish to repatriate Chinese illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers, as those who do not wish to return are careful to conceal their true identity. Chinese officials seconded to the Immigration Service have recently provided assistance in identifying Chinese nationals to enable their return. We are now working on an arrangement to make this assistance permanent.

We have made it clear to the Chinese Government that we urgently need to find a solution to the problem of re-documenting those who continue to conceal their identity in order to frustrate return, and are working together to find a way forward to enable us to significantly increase returns to China.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what measures are in place to stop businesses employing illegal immigrants; [155283]

(2) what measures are in place to deter employers from employing illegal migrants. [159605]

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Mr. Browne: The current principal control on employers to prevent the use of illegal labour is section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. Section 8 makes it an offence to employ someone over the age of 16 who is subject to immigration control unless that person has current and valid permission to be in the United Kingdom and that permission does not prevent him or her from taking the job in question; or that person comes into a category where such employment is   otherwise allowed. At present, an employer can be fined up to £5,000 per illegal employee on summary conviction for an offence under section 8.

On 16 March we announced changes, via secondary legislation, to strengthen the security of the document checks employers must carry out on prospective employees under section 8 to establish a statutory defence from prosecution.

The changes will make it easier for compliant employers to ensure that their work force can work in the UK, and for the Immigration Service to identify and   prosecute the small minority of non-compliant employers who knowingly or negligently employ illegal workers.

The Government recognises the widespread concern, especially in the wake of the recent Morecambe Bay tragedy, about the use of illegal labour and is also supporting the Private Members Bill introduced by my hon. friend, the member for Renfrewshire West (Jim Sheridan) on the licensing of gangmasters. More generally, we are increasing illegal working enforcement activity.

Between April and June 2003 the Immigration Service reported carrying out 79 illegal working operations of which 27 were aimed at detecting five or more illegal workers. Between October and November last year the number of reported operations increased by over 75 per cent. on the second quarter to 141, while the operations aimed at detecting five or more illegal workers rose by over 175 per cent. to 75.

In the four month period from the beginning of November 2003 to the end of February 2004 UKIS reported carrying out 18 enforcement operations at farms and packhouses where labour providers were involved. These operations led to the removal of over a hundred immigration offenders. A further 11 operations involving labour providers are also scheduled or being planned.

Earlier this month, two major investigations involving the police supported by UKIS resulted in the conviction of gangmasters for very serious criminal offences. In March, six labour providers with the company Ultimate Source were convicted at Kings Lynn Crown Court of various offences in connection with the supply of illegal workers. On 16 March, the labour provider and his son were found guilty of charges including conspiracy to defraud and facilitating the entry of illegal immigrants into the UK. Both have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

Where the Immigration Service encounters illegal workers, it seeks to remove them from the United Kingdom.
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