Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for his support for the policy, which has never been in doubt either from himself or, indeed, from the party which he represents. Equally I am delighted to try to reassure him--I am sure under the circumstances, in view of his remark, somewhat inadequately--that I wholly support his contention that this is a serious House of Parliament. I think that that was the phrase he used. It is a phrase that I have used, in particular, in response to various inquiries in a similar vein over the past few months from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, who also sought my reassurance along the same lines.

Looking at the timetable which has been pursued, both in another place and here, in terms of the Government's legislative programme, I have no doubt that if the noble Lord, Lord Harris, looks, which I know he does, at the amount of time given to consideration of the Government's mainstream legislative programme--though it may not perhaps be particularly tactful on my part to remind another place of this--he will see that your Lordships' House can take a certain amount of pride in the serious consideration and thorough examination accorded those Bills brought forward by Her Majesty's Government in your Lordships' House.

At the risk of perhaps sounding more than usually patronising on the subject, I believe that your Lordships deserve congratulation on that. My noble friend, the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, has been under some pressure, because of your Lordships' insistence on scrutinising the Government's legislation, somehow to begin to live up to the timetable which he had intimated to our colleagues that your Lordships would be able to sustain during the course of the current Session. I hope that that, at least, will give, in the generality if not in this particular, some reassurance to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, who I think it may be fairly said has played more than his usual part, even by his high standards, in ensuring that so far the generality of the Government's legislation has received its proper scrutiny in your Lordships' House.

It is fair to say that this is, indeed, an exceptional case. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Harris, will realise that after the Statement to which he referred, and the Statement that I repeated in your Lordships' House on behalf of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, there was necessarily a period of consultation with the Northern Ireland parties. It was important to see whether it would be possible for a mutually agreed election system to emerge from that consultation. As it turned out, it proved to be impossible to agree that. Under those circumstances, as foreseen in the original Statement, Her Majesty's Government had to decide what was likely to be the most acceptable compromise. That is what we

23 Apr 1996 : Column 1026

have endeavoured to produce. That has inevitably taken time. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, will recognise that since we had already, with the approval of his party, and, in particular, his noble friend Lord Holme of Cheltenham, set a date for elections--a date that was requested by the Dublin Government--it would be sensible for us to try to achieve whatever timetable seemed the most expedient, even at the expense, which I recognise, of proper scrutiny in your Lordships' House.

I hope your Lordships will forgive me for having taken so long, but the objection of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, as he recognised, is a serious one. I resist it only with the greatest of reluctance, as I hope I made clear during the course of my opening remarks.

I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Graham, for his suggestion, which was supported by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell. If your Lordships were to agree, I think that it would be extremely sensible, should it become apparent during the course of next Thursday's proceedings that proper examination of the Bill could not be concluded in the time available, that perhaps the usual channels should take counsel together and give further thought to how the Bill could subsequently be considered. The noble Lord pointed out that the House will be considering other matters on Friday and that there is an opportunity there. I am grateful to him for that suggestion, if the House will go along with it.

The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, and, in a slightly different context, my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale asked some timetabling questions. In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, this legislation has to be on the statute book by the end of the present month if the returning officer in Northern Ireland is to have the time to perform his task according to statute. Therefore, I hope that he will accept that we are under considerable time constraints in that regard.

I can best answer my noble friend Lord Skelmersdale by telling him that since the Bill is expected to be passed by another place some time on the evening of Tuesday, 23rd April--that is, today--a text of the Bill will be available in the Printed Paper Office on the morning of Wednesday, 24th April--that is, tomorrow--in a form passed by the other place. If the other place sits late and the Bill is unamended, then the Bill in the Printed Paper Office tomorrow morning will be another place's print of the Bill. Otherwise, arrangements will be made for a House of Lords' print of the Bill to be available. But in either case, the Bill as printed by this House will be available in the usual form on the morning of Thursday, 25th April.

It might be for the convenience of your Lordships if I also add that the Public Bill Office will accept amendments in advance of the Second Reading of the Bill, should any of your Lordships wish to put down any amendments. Until any Lords' Bill is available, any amendments should as a matter of convenience relate to the print of the Bill coming from another place.

The provisional list of any amendments received will be placed in the Printed Paper Office on the morning of 24th April and supplemented or replaced as necessary.

23 Apr 1996 : Column 1027

A provisional Marshalled List will be available in the Printed Paper Office on the morning of 25th April and a Marshalled List will be available from 2.30 p.m. Any further amendments tabled before the conclusion of the Second Reading debate will be circulated as manuscript amendments on separate sheets. I hope that those arrangements will be considered satisfactory under the difficult circumstances which I have laid before your Lordships.

Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, before the noble Viscount sits down, perhaps I may clarify one point; namely, if any part of the Bill remains unattended to on Thursday, Friday may be the obvious time to deal with it. However, when the usual channels meet, there may be other circumstances, of which I am not aware, to indicate that, in view of the fact that the noble Viscount has said that the deadline is Tuesday, the remainder of the Bill could be dealt with in this House if not on Friday then on Monday or Tuesday of next week. If it is not possible to deal with the Bill on Thursday and any part of the Bill which is left must be dealt with on Friday, then so be it.

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I am sure that the noble Lord will understand that it will be difficult to go beyond Friday. I am grateful to him for accepting that.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, perhaps my noble friend would deal with one point. If the discussion of the Bill is taken on Friday, that will diminish the time available for discussion of the Finance Bill, which is set down for Friday. As your Lordships know, some noble Lords feel that it is a great pity that the most important Bill of the year should in any case be debated on Friday. I ask my noble friend to say that, if the Northern Ireland Bill obtrudes into Friday, then another separate day in the following week will be found for the Finance Bill.

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I hope and believe that my noble friend raises an entirely hypothetical question which we may not need to address. I keep my fingers crossed that we shall not need to do so, but if the situation envisaged by the Opposition Chief Whip arises on Thursday, clearly we shall have to bear that point in mind. I hope that my noble friend will accept my assurance that we shall do so.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Asylum and Immigration Bill

3.36 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


23 Apr 1996 : Column 1028

Clause 1 [Extension of special appeals procedures]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 1:

Leave out Clause 1 and insert the following new Clause--

Extension of special appeals procedures

(". For paragraph 5 of Schedule 2 to the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993 ("the 1993 Act") there shall be substituted the following paragraph--
"5.--(1) This paragraph applies to an appeal by a person on any of the grounds mentioned in subsections (1) to (4) of section 8 of this Act if the Secretary of State has certified that, in his opinion, the person's claim on the ground that it would be contrary to the United Kingdom's obligations under the Convention for him to be removed from, or be required to leave, the United Kingdom is one to which sub-paragraph (2), (3) or (4) below applies.
(2) This sub-paragraph applies to a claim if the country or territory to which the appellant is to be sent is designated in an order made by the Secretary of State by statutory instrument as a country or territory in which it appears to him that there is in general no serious risk of persecution.
(3) This sub-paragraph applies to a claim if, on his arrival in the United Kingdom, the appellant was required by an immigration officer to produce a valid passport and either--
(a) he failed to produce a passport without giving a reasonable explanation for his failure to do so; or
(b) he produced a passport which was not in fact valid and failed to inform the officer of that fact.
(4) This sub-paragraph applies to a claim if--
(a) it does not show a fear of persecution by reason of the appellant's race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion;
(b) it shows a fear of such persecution, but the fear is manifestly unfounded or the circumstances which gave rise to the fear no longer subsist;
(c) it is made at any time after the appellant--
(i) has been refused leave to enter under the 1971 Act,
(ii) has been recommended for deportation by a court empowered by that Act to do so,
(iii) has been notified of the Secretary of State's decision to make a deportation order against him by virtue of section 3(5) of that Act, or
(iv) has been notified of his liability to removal under paragraph 9 of Schedule 2 to that Act;
(d) it is manifestly fraudulent, or any of the evidence adduced in its support is manifestly false; or
(e) it is frivolous or vexatious.
(5) Rules of procedure under section 22 of the 1971 Act may make special provision in relation to appeals to which this paragraph applies.
(6) If on an appeal to which this paragraph applies the special adjudicator agrees that the claim is one to which sub-paragraph (2), (3) or (4) above applies, section 20(1) of that Act shall not confer on the appellant any right to appeal to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal.
(7) The first order under this paragraph shall not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
(8) A statutory instrument containing a subsequent order under this paragraph shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
(9) In this paragraph--
'immigration officer' means an immigration officer appointed for the purposes of the 1971 Act;

23 Apr 1996 : Column 1029

'passport', in relation to an appellant, means a passport with photograph or some other document satisfactorily establishing his identity and nationality or citizenship.").

The noble Baroness said: During the Second Reading debate, I agreed to reflect on the criticism made by my noble friend Lord Renton, and agreed to by others, of the drafting of Clause 1. Clause 1 operates by amending paragraph 5 of Schedule 2 to the 1993 Act.

As I said at Second Reading, it is not practicable always to proceed by re-enacting the provisions of previous statutes in a revised form. Nevertheless, we accept that, as a result of government amendments made at Report in another place, Clause 1 is now particularly difficult to read. We therefore propose to replace Clause 1 with a new version which re-enacts paragraph 5, with the amendments we proposed incorporated.

I ought also to record that Amendment No. 1 is grouped with Amendments Nos. 24A, 25A and 26. It is my intention to respond to them after they have been presented by the proposers. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page