UK Borders Bill
Mr. Byrne: I beg to move amendment No. 29, in clause 45, page 24, line 3, leave out Sections 1 to 4 and 21 and insert
Sections 1 to 4, 21 and 27(1) and (2).
Mr. Byrne: The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Joan Ryan), flags up an issue on trafficking that did not emerge until after publication of the Bill. The amendment seeks to bring the Bill perfectly in line with our devolution arrangements. It proposes the simple remedy of delimiting the extent of the relevant clauses to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The effect of the amendment is limited. My hon. Friend and I needed some reassurance of what the practical implications would be. The amendment will allow us to preserve the existing situation. If there is people smuggling or human trafficking into the United Kingdom, or from Scotland into England or from England into Scotland, an offence would still be committed in each of those three situations regardless of whether the offence was undertaken by a British national or by a foreign national and of whether the crime was organised in the UK or abroad.
If the clause remains unamended, prosecution of the trafficking offence would need to be undertaken in a court in England. We therefore look to the Scottish Executive, at some time after the elections, to bring forward proposals to ensure that the remit of the Bill, and particularly of clause 45, is extended to Scotland so as to ensure that the offence can be prosecuted in Scottish courts as well as English courts. I am satisfied that there is no practical diminution of our intent to prosecute the offence in the UK. We have devolution arrangements in place, and it is important that Bills passed by the House should be in line with them.
Damian Green: The issue of devolution has bedevilled the Bill from the start of its Committee stage almost to the finish. If I understand the Minister, he just said that for the provisions of the Bill to be effective, the Government will have to plead with the Scottish Executive after the elections to pass them.
Damian Green: I misspoke. I, too, meant to refer to the clause. Presumably, until that happens the protections afforded by the Bill will not be fully available to the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland or, presumably, Scotland. As he said, he will depend on the good will of the Scottish Executive after the Scottish elections to agree to the things that the current Labour-led Scottish Executive has failed to agree to. I find that position, as I have done throughout, a slightly unusual one for a Government to find themselves in. However, many of the provisions of the Bill are useful, so I hope that, whatever the make-up of the Scottish Executive after the Scottish elections, Ministers will find that their powers of persuasion are more effective with the new Executive than they appear to be with the current one.
Mr. Byrne: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 30, in clause 45, page 24, line 6, after extend, insert (subject to subsection (3)).
No. 31, in clause 45, page 24, line 10, leave out But.
No. 32, in clause 45, page 24, line 10, after shall, insert (subject to subsection (1)).[Mr. Byrne.]
Clause 45, as amended, ord ered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 46 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
New Clause 2
Assaulting an immigration officer: offence
(1) A person who assaults an immigration officer commits an offence.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to
(a) imprisonment for a period not exceeding 51 weeks,
(b) a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or
(3) In the application of this section to Northern Ireland the reference in subsection (2)(a) to 51 weeks shall be treated as a reference to 6 months.
(4) In the application of this section to Scotland the reference in subsection (2)(a) to 51 weeks shall be treated as a reference to 12 months.
(5) In relation to an offence committed before the commencement of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (c. 44) (51 week maximum term of sentences) the reference in subsection (2)(a) to 51 weeks shall be treated as a reference to 6 months..[Mr. Byrne.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
The Chairman: With this, it will be convenient to consider new clause 3Assaulting an immigration officer: powers of arrest, &c.
Mr. Byrne: This is a debate that we have, to an extent, already had. The purpose of the clauses is to create the new offence of assaulting an immigration officer, to establish penalties and sanctions relating to that offence, and to ensure that there is the power of arrest, and to make the technical and consequential amendments that are required to ensure that it is possible to give effect to warrants to enter premises, to search individuals who are arrested and to seize material. They not only bring the new offence into being, but align it with the similar offences of assaulting an officer of Her Majestys Revenue and Customs and assaulting a police officer. The proposed penalties, which have been well debated by the Committee, are fairly standard and well established.
Before I sit down I underline the point that we have had a useful debate in the Committee, in which we have spent some time celebrating the contribution, pride and
Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere) (Con): I have just one question. We notice that the offence in the new clause will be triable only summarily. If an immigration officer is assaulted and any harm is caused to him, which one imagines there might well be in many cases, it then becomes an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and triable at the Crown court, because that offence carries a maximum sentence of five years and can be tried in either the magistrates court or the Crown court.
In a case in which the offence becomes triable in the Crown court and is tried there, what will happen to the summary-only offence of assaulting an immigration officer? Will it be able to stand as an alternative on the indictment in the Crown court for the offence of assault occasioning actual body harm?
Mr. Byrne: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for such a direct question. Will he permit me to deliver him a much fuller response in writing than I am able to give him this afternoon?
Mr. Blunt: While the Minister is offering explanations in writing, would he be willing to offer an explanation of the advice that he received on the earlier amendment No. 108 so that we can decide whether to return to the matter on Report?
Mr. Clappison: Will the Minister address a related question in his letter to me? Will there be any way to communicate to sentencing judges, through sentencing guidelines, that if somebody is convicted of assaulting an immigration officer and occasioning actual bodily harm, the fact that it was an immigration officer who was assaulted should be regarded as an aggravating feature of the offence? That is to say, the fact that it was an offence of causing actual bodily harm to an immigration officer should be regarded as an aggravating circumstance and make the sentence more serious than it would otherwise be.
The Chairman: Order. Before I call the Minister to respond, I have to say that he is obliged to respond only to the points on new clause 2. The hon. Member for Reigate is out of order in trying to raise amendment No. 108 again.
Mr. Byrne: I have made it my policy to be as helpful to the Committee as I possibly can, and that is the path of least resistance to a successful Third Reading and Report stage. If there is advice that I can usefully summarise and provide to the Committee, I will of course seek to do so.
I am grateful for the comments of the hon. Member for Hertsmere. He has been consistent in his words of
Question put and agreed to.
Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 3
Assaulting an immigration officer: powers of arrest, &c.
(1) An immigration officer may arrest a person without warrant if the officer reasonably suspects that the person has committed or is about to commit an offence under section [Assaulting an immigration officer: offence].
(2) An offence under section [Assaulting an immigration officer: offence] shall be treated as
(a) a relevant offence for the purposes of sections 28B and 28D of the Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77) (search, entry and arrest), and
(b) an offence under Part 3 of that Act (criminal proceedings) for the purposes of sections 28(4), 28E, 28G and 28H (search after arrest, &c.) of that Act.
(3) The following provisions of the Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77) shall have effect in connection with an offence under section [Assaulting an immigration officer: offence] of this Act as they have effect in connection with an offence under that Act
(a) section 28I (seized material: access and copying),
(b) section 28J (search warrants: safeguards),
(c) section 28K (execution of warrants), and
(d) section 28L(1) (interpretation)..[Mr. Byrne.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 6
Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Establishment
(1) The Secretary of State shall appoint a person as Chief Inspector of the Border and Immigration Agency.
(2) The Chief Inspector shall monitor and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Border and Immigration Agency; in particular, the Chief Inspector shall consider and make recommendations about
(a) consistency of approach within the Border and Immigration Agency,
(b) the practice and performance of the Border and Immigration Agency compared to other persons doing similar things,
(c) practice and procedure in making decisions,
(d) the treatment of claimants and applicants,
(e) certification under section 94 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (c. 41) (unfounded claim),
(f) compliance with law about discrimination in the exercise of functions, including reliance on section 19D of the Race Relations Act 1976 (c. 74) (exception for immigration functions),
(g) practice and procedure in relation to the exercise of enforcement powers (including powers of arrest, entry, search and seizure),
(h) the provision of information,
(i) the handling of complaints, and
(j) the content of information about conditions in countries outside the United Kingdom which the Secretary of State compiles and makes available, for purposes connected with immigration and asylum, to immigration officers and other officials.
(3) In this section the Border and Immigration Agency means
(a) immigration officers, and
(b) other officials of the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State, in respect of functions relating to immigration, asylum or nationality.
(4) The Chief Inspector shall not aim to investigate individual cases (although this subsection does not prevent the Chief Inspector from considering or drawing conclusions about an individual case for the purpose of, or in the context of, considering a general issue)..[Mr. Byrne.]
Brought up, and read the First and Second time.
Amendment proposed to the proposed new clause: (a), leave out subsection (4) and insert
(4) The Chief Inspector shall have the power to investigate individual cases..
Question put, That the amendment be made:
The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 8.
Division No. 15 ]
Question accordingly negatived.
Clause added to the Bill.
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