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we would never have caught him had his DNA not already been on the databasehe didnt even live locally so we had no intelligence leads either.
Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): What does the Secretary of State say to Mr. Daniel Baker, a constituent of mine who was a victim of mistaken identity? He was never charged with any crime and is entirely innocent, but the police are retaining his DNA against his wishes. When will the Secretary of State start recognising the liberties of the individual, and stop regarding everyone in the country as a suspect?
Jacqui Smith: I think that the case study that I cited a minute ago identified some of the important benefits of DNA retention. There are real-life cases in which people have been made safer by the retention of DNA post-arrest. Of course, the right hon. Gentlemans constituent can apply to the police force, in exceptional circumstances. That is why I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will look closely at our proposals for a more proportionate way of dealing with the retention policy.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): While I recognise the merit of what has been said by the right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory), was it not DNA evidence that led to the release last week of someone who had been wrongly convicted of murder, and who had served 27 years in prison? So much for the point made at the beginning of Question Time by the hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr. Harper).
Jacqui Smith: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The case of Mr. Hodgson last week demonstrates how the DNA database and the use of DNA can prove people innocent after a period of time, and also how it can ensure both that innocent people are removed from an investigation at an early stage so that they receive justice, and that important police resources are not used up on false investigations or investigations that will not come to a conclusion. Those hon. Membersthey are largely on the Opposition Bencheswho throw up their hands in outrage at the idea of the DNA database need to have a sensible answer as to how we will make up for the difference made each month when more than 3,000 matches on the database provide the police with the ability to investigate and bring to justice criminals, including some who are convicted of the most serious offences in this country. Opposition Members may for political reasons want to throw that opportunity away, but I do not think the British people want to see that protection done away with.
Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell) (Con): This is a very straightforward and simple issue. It is, right now, illegal to store the DNA of innocent people over long periods on the DNA database, but as of today, the Government are still doing that. Why?
Jacqui Smith: I have made it very clear to the hon. Gentleman that we have looked in detail at the judgment in the case of S and Marper and we will bring forward proposals very soonand when we do so, I hope that Opposition Members will engage with them with slightly more sophistication than they have done today.
Chris Grayling: But this is illegal now, today. Furthermore, it is a principle in our society that people are innocent until proven guilty. This Government have a habit of throwing away many principles in this society, but that is one that should be sacrosanct. In the case of the DNA database, however, they appear happy to abandon the principle. They are also happy to store the data of babies and children. Their actions are clearly morally and legally wrong. Why will they not just stop keeping this data illegally, right now, today? Why will they not stop now?
Jacqui Smith: As the hon. Gentleman knows, there is a period of time during which, quite rightly and reasonablynot least given that the Governments approach to the retention of data was upheld in the UK courtsthere is consideration and proposals are brought forward. That is what the Government are doing, and he obviously was not listening when I said that no DNA of children under the age of 10 is kept on DNA databases now.
Dr. Nick Palmer (Broxtowe) (Lab): Does not the Home Secretary agree that there is a distinction to be drawn between people who have come under reasonable suspicion but for one reason or another are not prosecuted, and instances such as the one we heard about earlier from the Opposition Benches, in which there is a clear case of mistaken identity? Nobody suggests that the other police records of suspects, such as interviews and evidence, should be destroyed just because the suspect is not charged. Does she not agree that a reasonable course of action would be to have an independent bodynot the policethat can be appealed to and which can see whether there is a clear case of mistaken identity and whether the persons DNA ought to be removed?
Jacqui Smith: My hon. Friend is engaging seriously with the difficult issues involved in this debate. It is important to put it on record that the entry of a profile on the DNA database does not cause any detriment to an individual in seeking to do a particular job or looking for clearance for anything, for example. In that way, it is very different from having a police record. I think people are sometimes unclear about that distinction. My hon. Friend makes an important point about the blanket approach taken to retention. That is why in the consultation and proposals we will bring forward, we will look at a system of stepping down individuals over time in terms of the retention of their profile, and a differentiated approach, possibly based on age, risk or the nature of the offence involved.
The Minister for Borders and Immigration (Mr. Phil Woolas): Since the phasing out of embarkation controls from 1994, no Government have ever been able to produce an accurate figure for the number of people who are in the country illegally. However, with the implementation of our new e-borders system, which the Opposition oppose, by 2010 more than 95 per cent. of non-European economic area foreign nationals will be counted in and out of the country, and that will rise to 100 per cent. by 2014. This is part of the programme of border protection that also includes the global roll-out of fingerprint visas, watch-list checks for all travellers before they arrive or depart from the UK, and identity cards for foreign nationals.
Mr. Carswell: Ministers will recall that many thousands of illegal migrants were found to be working in the security industry, yet last month it was revealed that a mere 35 had been removed. Will the Minister specifically update the House on how many more have been removed since?
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): The Minister will be aware that there are a number of people who have been in this country for a long time without papers, but who nevertheless make a huge contribution to our society, have children and families here and, under article 8 of the European convention on human rights, have a right to family life. Will he look sympathetically at these cases, so that those people, who are making a good contribution to our society, can be brought completely into the fold, as opposed to having to live a semi-legal existence?
Mr. Woolas: Of course, if a person remains in the country illegally and has not been removed, but through no fault of their own, they are in a different situation. I note that my hon. Friend supports the ideas of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in calling for an amnesty in such cases. Our objections to that are first that it is unfair to those who are here legally and are contributing, and secondly that we fear it would act as a further pull factor for even more attempts at illegal immigration.
Mr. Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con): Two years ago, the Select Committee on Home Affairs took evidence, as part of its immigration services inquiry, from a number of people concerned about the large number of private adoptions, mainly from west African states, many of which never appear on immigration data. What steps have the Government taken since to follow up the recommendations of that report, which recognised the severe concerns of places such as the London borough of Southwark, where a large number of child welfare issues relating to this issue are starting to manifest themselves? What may appear culturally okay to some communities is certainly not okay when it is causing serious child welfare problems in this country.
The hon. Gentleman raises a very important issue, which all Members of the House would recognise, and, as ever, we are grateful to the Home Affairs Committee.
A number of policy measures have been put in place on the treatment of children in such a situation, including the identification of parents and of guardians; the work with the local authorities that stemmed from the policy issue; and country-by-country planshe referred to cultural differenceson which there has been particular co-operation with the Nigerian Government, as Nigeria is one of the main countries we deal with.
Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab): Surely the real problem the Minister needs to address is the gross incompetence of Lunar house in dealing with people who have been here so long that they are now parentsthey are married to United Kingdom citizens and have English childrenyet still cannot get their status regularised. We all know that they are not going to be put out of the country, so why cannot we just address the problem? I encounter hundreds of such cases every year, and I believe my constituency ranks 60th on this issue. Clearly, there is chaos out there and he ought to go down to Lunar house this afternoon to sort it out.
Mr. Woolas: All Members of the House will have recognised frustration over these processes in the past. Together with the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), to whom I am sure we would all want to send our best wishes for her pregnancy, we have seen an improvement in the processingthe backlog is being dealt with better and more quickly, which is what my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) is requesting. We will update the Home Affairs Committee with the latest figures very soon.
Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD): In answer to the first question the Minister noticeably did not give an estimate of the number of illegal immigrants here. Can he help us with other figures? How many of the people, in one category or another, who are here illegally have been here for more than 10 years, and how many other peoples cases are being dealt with by the Home Office but have not been finally resolved?
Mr. Woolas: The hon. Gentleman pushes and probes me about how many illegal immigrants there are. The answer to that question, as Ministers through the decades have said, is that by definition one does not know. If one did, one would be able to deal with it
The Governments successful attempts to reintroduce counting in and counting outborder controlsmean that, for the first time in decades, we will be able to answer that question. We will therefore be able to deal better with the hon. Gentlemans second question, the answer to which is not straightforward, because one does not know until one does the cases how many duplicates exist both within our system and with other European Union countries. I note that the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) opposes our border control measures, and I just ask him how he would control immigration in that respect.
The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Vernon Coaker): The UKHTC, in conjunction with the National Policing Improvement Agency, has developed a training programme on human trafficking for all new police recruits, police community support officers, special constables and community officers as part of their core training. In addition, the UKHTC will provide continuous development for the current single points of contact in each force.
Mr. Steen: In view of the number of trafficked women who have been found outside city centres following police raids under Pentameter 2 and the fact that only one police officer out of 3,500 in Devon and Cornwall constabulary has been on a training course and understands anything about trafficking, can the Minister explain why that force was told recently that the UKHTC will no longer do any training? What are the police supposed to do?
Mr. Coaker: Representing the constituency that he does, the hon. Gentleman is right to make the general point that the victims of human trafficking are not concentrated only in city centres. The evidence from Pentameter 2 was that they can be found in any area of the country, urban or rural. The hon. Gentleman says that only one police officer in his local force has been trained, but he might be referring to the single point of contact. Every police force in the country has a single point of contact, but numerous police officers receive training in human trafficking. For example, every police officer in the country has been sent a DVD produced by UKHTC to raise awareness of the issue. Training in human trafficking is given in the initial police learning and development programme, the special constable initial programme and the PCSO programme. That will be fully in place by the end of this month, and by the end of the year it will be extended to initial training for detectives, domestic violence training, public protection officer training, road policing training and the National Policing Improvement Agency trafficking and senior investigating officer training. That will all be overseen by the UKHTC, and plenty of work is being done to ensure that police officers are aware of that horrible crime, should they come across it.
Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend have a discussion with the Association of Chief Police Officers to try to ensure that police are trained to implement the new prostitution offences in the current Bill in a way that encourages men to report trafficking? The police will need to be trained to do that properly. Will he discuss with Tim Brain or the relevant chief constable how to ensure that that happens?
I thank my hon. Friend for that extremely important question. I shall speak to Tim Brain, chief constable of Gloucestershire, about this matter should the new strict liability offence in the Policing and Crime Bill go through. As the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Steen)
said, it is one thing to have laws in place, but it is another to ensure that police officers have the training and the confidence to use them.
Although the new strict liability offence is controversial, by changing the way we look at such things and by putting the onus in most circumstances on the man, for the first time, to consider whether the person whom he is paying for sex is being exploited or has been trafficked, we will get a lot further with tackling this crime than we have before. I shall certainly talk to the relevant police officers.
Mr. Shailesh Vara (North-West Cambridgeshire) (Con): Will the Minister kindly update the House on his conversations with his counterparts in the countries from which many of these people are trafficked? Will he comment in particular on whether any progress has been made in ensuring that those countries take this crime as seriously as it ought to be taken?
Mr. Coaker: In the EUas we know, some trafficking occurs within the EUthere has certainly been a lot of discussion. The EU trafficking action plan was published just over a year ago. There have been other discussions. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Campbell), attended a conference in Brazil recently where all the countries came together to discuss child exploitation and trafficking. We are supporting numerous charities as they try to highlight the fact that in some countries some offers that seem too good to be true are too good to be true. I expect and hope to go to China and Vietnam in the not-too-distant future to raise the issues there. This is a huge problem that needs global action, not just at EU level but at United Nations level, so that we can ensure that we raise awareness not only in this country but across the globe.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): The points-based system is the most radical reworking of the immigration system in a generation, consolidating approximately 80 work and study routes into five simple tiers. Tiers for highly skilled, skilled and temporary workers have been implemented. The student tier will be introduced later this month. The tier for low-skilled workers is suspended indefinitely.
Barry Gardiner: Many of my constituents enjoy performances by artists who come over under tier 5, yet they have noticed in recent months that there has been a discrepancy in the application of the criterion that states that they should be employed on national minimum wage minimum rates. Sometimes, higher rates are being demanded in order for them to obtain the necessary visas. Will she look into this and ensure that the criteria are applied rigorously and that too much discretion is not being applied?
The relevant codes of practice for performers who come in under the tier 5 criteria indicate that the salary paid should meet the industry minimums,
rather than the national minimum wage. They are the standard payment rates set out in the collective agreements of Equity and the Musicians Union, negotiated with other industry bodies. I am sure that notwithstanding the pleasure gained by my hon. Friends constituents from performers who come here from overseas, he would not want such performers to be exploited or for high-quality UK performers to be undercut in their opportunities to provide entertainment for his constituents.
Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): The Government have allowed 750,000 work permits over the past five years, four times the previous rate. What steps are being taken to ensure that those from outside the EU who have completed some of those 750,000 visas have returned home before we accept further overseas workers during this recession?
Jacqui Smith: On work permits and the tier 2 situation, I have been very clear that the points-based system would have resulted in 12 per cent. fewer people coming in through that route. I have also been clear that that we will see a fall in the number of people coming in from outside the European economic area over the next year, not least because of the changes that we are making to the points-based system and the way in which we are raising the bar, particularly in terms of the level of skills that we expect from those coming into this country.
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): One of the core concepts of the points-based system is linking admission to acknowledged and accepted skills shortages in certain categories of job. As the economy tracks downwards, the shortages in some areas will shrink accordingly. How can the Home Secretary reassure the House that the system is sufficiently flexible to respond to rapidly changing economic circumstances?
Jacqui Smith: My hon. Friend raises a very important point about the precise flexibility that we have built into the system. We asked the Migration Advisory Committee, which determines which occupations are shortage occupations, to review the list. It will shortly report to us again on its current assessment of which occupations have shortages. Secondly, we have been clear that if an occupation is in shortage, it does not mean that the only approach should be for us to fill the shortage by bringing in migrant labour. That is why, working with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, we have already determined that we will use the publication of the shortage occupation list every six months to trigger skills reviews for the jobs listed under those shortage occupations. We will focus on upskilling workers in the UK, making the UK less dependent, even for filling shortages, on migration in the future.
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