|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Clarke: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am particularly glad that she made reference in the final part of her question to the need to strengthen the cohesion of communities in this country. That is an important and genuine requirement to consider as we balance the issues that are being debated today. I can assure her that the cohesion of communities up and down the country, including her constituency, will be a central consideration for me as we take forward the legislation.
Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): Following last week's statement, the Home Secretary was kind enough to write to tell me that one of the 79 most dangerous foreign nationals was resident in Scotland. Can he tell me how many of the 1,023 are currently in Scotland? What possible excuse can he give for not notifying the Scottish Executive, the Scottish Prison Service and Scottish police forces when he knew about the difficulties in his Department? Why did he not tell them in time so that something could have been done to ensure that Scottish communities were safer and more secure?
Mr. Clarke: As I said in my statement, I am not in a position to give full information about the 1,000 at this stage. I will do so when I can. On the hon. Gentleman's other question, I dealt with that in the answer that I sent to him, and I will continue to work closely with the Scottish Executive and others to ensure that we bring those matters under control.
Mr. Terry Rooney (Bradford, North) (Lab): My right hon. Friend has referred to WPC Sharon Beshenivsky. What checks are made by the Prison Service and the immigration and nationality directorate on prisoners' claimed nationality? Where removal is not possible, is administrative detention ever considered? What conditions, such as tagging, are applied on release to people who cannot be deported?
On the hon. Gentleman's second point, yes, we deal with administrative detention. On his third point about tagging, we are looking to extend the ability to use that. As I said to the former Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith), there are serious issues about our legal powers in those circumstances, which is why I called for further consideration. On his first point, he puts his finger on a critical difficulty in this procedure. Many people come into this country having destroyed all their documents and make fraudulent and
3 May 2006 : Column 984
untrue claims about their nationality. In those cases, it is often extremely difficult to identify the genuine nationality of those concerned. If we do not know which country individuals come from, it is extremely difficult to know where to deport them to. That is a major issue in immigration, and we have done tremendous work in developing the e-borders regime, which tries to identify people more effectively before they enter this country. I will be candid with my hon. Friend, however, that that also raises serious questions, because there are people whose nationality cannot be identified at the outset, which is one of the serious problems that we have had in providing the data that the Public Accounts Committee and the House would wish for.
Mr. Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): When the Home Secretary wrote to you last Friday, Mr. Speaker, he said that 79 of the prisoners were originally in prison for more serious offences and 13 had committed the most serious offences, by which he meant murder, manslaughter, rape and child sexual offences. If we look at his letter to the PAC last Tuesday, however, we see that three had been in prison for murder, two for manslaughter, nine for rape and five for sexual offences involving minors, making a total of 19, not 13. Can the Home Secretary clear that up? Was he being inaccurate on Tuesday or on Friday, or is there some other explanation? Can he explain
Mr. Clarke: I will write to the hon. Gentleman and the PAC about his specific question about the relationship between the issues. As he says, however, it is true that the definitions in each of the cases have not always been entirely straightforward. That is why the situation has arisen with the numbers. The best way to deal with that is to write to him and the PAC.
Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend confirm that because Somalia has entirely disintegrated it has not been possible for many years, including when the Conservatives were in office, to deport anyone to that country, short of taking them up in an aeroplane over Mogadishu and dropping them out with a parachute? Does he therefore agree that it is entirely fancifulindeed, hypocriticalfor Conservative Members and their friends in the media to pretend otherwise?
Mr. Clarke: My hon. Friend is correct. That has been more of a difficulty with that country than with just about any other country in the world. It is possible to imagine voluntary return in certain circumstances, which has been achieved in a small number of cases. More generally, however, it has not been possible to proceed for precisely the reasons that he gives.
Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con):
Following the points raised by the hon. Members for Keighley (Mrs. Cryer), for Bradford, West (Mr. Singh) and for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney), will the Home Secretary take the opportunity to apologise to the family of WPC Beshenivsky and the people of Bradford for the fact that the main suspect in her murder was allowed to wander the streets when he should have been deported? Will he
3 May 2006 : Column 985
answer the question that many people in Bradford are asking at the moment: why do he and this Government give more credence to the human rights of foreign criminals than to those of police officers and the general public in this country?
Mr. Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent, South) (Lab): I also welcome the announcement from my right hon. Friend. Many constituents have asked me in recent weeks why foreign nationals who have committed offences and effectively outstayed their welcome by their actions have not been automatically deported. On the serious matter of the countries to which, for whatever reason, people cannot be deported, will he consider issuing a list making public the countries to which it is difficult to deport people? When people finish their sentences, what are we doing to make sure that they are detained? Finally
Mr. Clarke: I certainly will consider my hon. Friend's proposals. Let me highlight one problem: in the case of Zimbabwe, which has many difficulties, the Government are subject to consistent calls, including from the Opposition, not to deport anyone to that country in any circumstances. We are also under a duty to examine the circumstances of the individuals concerned and the threat that they face. My hon. Friend illustrates the serious issue at the core of how we deal with those questions. All that I ask for is consistency from Opposition parties in addressing those questions, rather than one day saying, "What about the rights of asylum seekers?" and the next day saying that they cannot be allowed into the country.
Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking) (Con): Is it not the case that a foreign prisoner due to be deported still retains a right to make a claim to stay under the Human Rights Act 1998? If that is the case, what will happen to that foreign prisoner making a claim under that Act during the course of proceedings? Will he or she be on bail or in custody, and under which provision?
Mr. Clarke: Actually, that is the position with regard to such a prisoner's human rights under the European convention on human rights rather than specifically under the Human Rights Act. Any individual might or might not have a claim under the European convention on human rights, which I think, from memory, this country signed up to in 1951. That claim has to be duly considered by the courts, whether the person concerned is on bail or in prison, in whatever circumstances apply. The issue that I raiseI do not know whether the hon. Gentleman, with his great legal experience, will agreeis that we must be more ruthless about examining the actual circumstances of such people. That is why I say that we should have a presumption that someone who has committed a criminal act should be deported to the country from which they come.
Mr. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab):
I welcome my right hon. Friend's proposals to deal with the
3 May 2006 : Column 986
systemic failures that he has honestly put before the House today. Will he assure me, however, that he will take no strictures from the former Home Secretary, the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard), whose woeful personal misjudgment allowed two of the biggest drug dealers in the United Kingdom out of prison?
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|