Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill
Harry Cohen: I beg to move amendment No. 361, in clause 119, page 80, line 22, after persons, insert long-term.
No. 362, in clause 119, page 80, line 23, after essential, insert long-term.
No. 359, in clause 119, page 80, line 27, leave out may not and insert must.
No. 360, in clause 119, page 80, line 28, leave out from cash to end of line 29.
No. 363, in clause 122, page 82, line 21, leave out subsection (7).
Harry Cohen: The amendments are about the cash or vouchers issue. It may come as a surprise to some of my colleagues, but at the last count I was not in the top 20 when it came to rebelling in votes in the House. However, I did rebel over vouchers, which threw a lot of asylum seekers into destitution. I am concerned about that and I have a track record in that regard.
Some of the amendments relate to essential living needs and accommodation. If people are very likely to be specially designated for a long time, they should have long-term assistance or their circumstances should be dealt with on a long-term basis. Also, they should have cash rather than vouchers.
I have had a number of representations, including from the Refugee Council, which says that there is no allowance for such things as clothing and shoe repairs and that there will be progressive poverty under the proposals. It also said:
The use of vouchers as a form of support for asylum seekers was ended following considerable concerns about its stigmatising and impoverishing impact. Currently it is only used for refused asylum seekers in receipt of Section 4 (hard cases) support. Now it is proposed to reintroduce the use of vouchers for a whole class of people who have no prospect of this form of support coming to an end.
The JCWI quotes from the refugee convention, which we are signed up to, and mentions
The duty to assimilate refugees
The Contracting states shall so far as is possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalisation of refugees.
It notes that the convention says:
The contracting states shall accord to refugees lawfully staying in their territory the same treatment with respect to public relief and assistance as is accorded to their nationals.
I think that vouchers fall foul of that. However, worst of all, they are impoverishing. Vouchers carry about two-thirds of the value of income support. If people use a voucher, they will get less value than if they were spending cash. I ask the Government to think again on that aspect.
Mr. Coaker: I know that my hon. Friend has real concerns, not just about supporting people who may be designated under this provision, but about the support that is made available to people in all sorts of other circumstances. He will see, under clause 119(3), the support that can be made available and under subsection (4) he will see something in respect of vouchers, about which he is concerned. However, to try to appease some of his concerns, he will also know that we have inserted something into the Bill, because of his concerns and those of others. I refer him to clause 120(6), which specifically states:
The Secretary of State may by order repeal, modify or disapply (to any extent) section 119(4).
Although he is concerned about certain elements in the Bill, there is explicitly a provision for him to continue to argue his case for the need for those to be changed through the order-making power.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 119 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Mr. Burrowes: I should like to refer to the point made in response to the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead. Clause 120(6) is a Henry VIII provision, allowing primary legislation to be amended by statutory instrument. Will the Minister briefly respond to the concerns in this regard? Obviously, as a matter of principle, use of this type of provision should exceptional, rather than the norm. Would it not have been more appropriate to consider in more depth whether there was a need to have flexibility implicit in the Bill, rather than seeking to use an order-making power to build in the flexibility that the Minister mentioned with regard to alleviating his concerns?
Mr. Coaker: We have tried to meet the concerns that some people have that the Bill is unnecessarily restrictive and does not do what it should on support. We have provided for what we believe to be the right level of support at present, but we thought it appropriate and proportionate to include the opportunity to change that if necessary. That is why the provision is in the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 120 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 121 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Harry Cohen: I beg to move amendment No. 355, in clause 122, page 82, line 9, at end insert and [Appeals against designation].
(1) A designated person may appeal against his designation.
(2) The Secretary of State must make regulations about appeals under this section.
(3) Regulations under this section are to be made by statutory instrument and are subject to amendment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament..
Harry Cohen: This is about appealsthere are none. However, I think that, out of natural justice, there should be an appeal if someone feels aggrieved because
Mr. Heath: I rise to support the hon. Gentleman. It seems to me, reading this element of part 11, that not only is there no appeal against designation but there is no potential challenge to any part of the process, which is all dealt with by Executive action, including any conditions that may be applied as part of that process. At no stage, other than by recourse to the Human Rights Act 1998 or, presumably, judicial review of a decision taken by the Secretary of State or an immigration officer, is there any capacity for any challenge to be made to anything that he has done to a person who is designated as having special immigration status. Of course, there is the very real assumption that in the absence of any form of legal aid provision, there is no capacityunless the person has particularly deep pockets from elsewhere, which is unlikely in this contextto mount a judicial review application or an application under the Human Rights Act in any case. The hon. Gentlemans point about the lack of an appeal is very serious, but I would go wider and say that it is not simply the issue of designation that is relevant, but the other factors encompassed in this part of the Bill.
Mr. Burrowes: I wish to follow on from those remarks, rather than repeat them. They are valuable in relation to the lack of appeal. I ask the Minister to consider whether by not having an appeal mechanism, we may have built a delay into the process when the only option left to an applicant is to go to the European Court of Human Rights or seek judicial review. Would it not be appropriate to have an appeal mechanism at least to allow any challenge to proceed expeditiously and appropriately?
Mr. Coaker: I am sorry to disappoint hon. Members, but the Governments view is that someone who fulfils those criteria should expect to be deported. If that is not possible for ECHR reasons, we should not be obliged, as we currently are, to grant them leave under the Immigration Acts. In many cases, judicial review is open to them, and those people would have legal aid available to them. I am sorry to disappoint hon. Members, but we feel that it is appropriate in the circumstances.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 122 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Orders and Regulations
( ) an order under section (Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: eligible complaints: general)(4),
( ) an order under section (Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: power to modify certain provisions)(1), (3) or (5),
( ) an order under section (Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: power to confer new functions),.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Government amendments Nos. 367 to 369.
Government new clause 61Appointment etc. of Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints.
Government new clause 62Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: eligible complaints: general.
Government new clause 63Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: eligible complaints: specific requirements applicable to all complaints.
Government new clause 64Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: treatment of complaints.
Government new clause 65Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: report on the outcome of an investigation.
Government new clause 66Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: recommendations by Commissioner.
Government new clause 67Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: investigation of deaths.
Government new clause 68Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: reports on the outcome of a death investigation.
Government new clause 69Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: investigations requested by the Secretary of State.
Government new clause 70Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: reports on the outcome of an investigation under section (Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: investigations requested by the Secretary of State).
Government new clause 71Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: powers of Commissioner to obtain information etc..
Government new clause 72Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: exceptions etc. to Commissioners powers under section (Powers of Commissioner to obtain information).
Government new clause 73Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: obstruction and contempt.
Government new clause 74Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: legal and other representation.
Government new clause 75Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: disclosure of information etc..
Government new clause 76Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: disclosure prejudicial to national security or contrary to public interest.
Government new clause 77Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: offence of wrongful disclosure.
Government new clause 78Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: notification of matters of potential concern to the police or other authorities.
Government new clause 79Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: power to pay expenses.
Government new clause 80Transitional provision: the Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.
Government new clause 81Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: interpretation.
Government new clause 82Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: power to modify certain provisions.
Government new clause 83Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: power to confer new functions.
Government new schedule 6The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints.
Government new schedule 7The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: complaints remit.
Government new schedule 8The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: deaths remit.
Government new schedule 9The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Prison Complaints: controlling authorities.
Maria Eagle: It is great to be back on my feet again, Mr. OHara, and I am going to be succinct. The purpose of these measures is to make a similar provision for Northern Ireland to the measures in part 4. Hon. Members will recall that part 4 of the Bill puts prisons and probations ombudsman on a statutory footing. The effect of the measures will be to place the office of the prisoner ombudsman for Northern Ireland on a statutory footing on very similar terms to those that we have discussed. The office holder will be known as the Northern Ireland commissioner for prisoner complaints, and his main function will be to deal with eligible complaints from prisoners, investigate deaths in custody and carry out other investigations at the request of the Secretary of State. The amendments make broadly similar provisions to those discussed, although there are some minor differences which I would be happy to deal with in detail if hon. Members are interested.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 123 , as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Further consideration adjourned.[Mr. Khan.]
Adjourned accordingly at two minutes to Ten oclock till Thursday 29 November at Nine oclock.
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