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Earl Russell: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, can she tell the House where the amendment says that the Home Office should not have regard to credible documentary evidence of age?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the first amendment states that we should not give weight to it. We are saying that it is very important that we should give weight to documentary evidence given in good faith by an asylum seeker.

Lord Brightman: My Lords, I am not particularly wedded to Amendment No. 61 but I am wedded to Amendment No. 62 which seems to me to have all the virtues for which we look. It is a speedy way of settling a child's age when there is no documentary evidence of that age. The child comes perhaps from a country in which no register is kept and the age of the child must depend, particularly if the parents are not available, on circumstantial evidence. It seems to me that Amendment No. 62 could only be helpful to the Government. It gives the Government a chance to produce finality and prevent endless litigation and so forth in order to ascertain the age.

I should have thought that the amendment was totally in the interests of the Government. I have heard arguments to the contrary. I should like to consider those arguments before Third Reading and perhaps bring back the matter. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 62 not moved.]

Clause 8 [Restrictions on employment]:

[Amendment No. 63 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 64:

Page 6, line 22, leave out from ("employs") to ("as") in line 30 and insert ("a person subject to immigration control ("the employee") who has attained the age of 16, the employer shall be guilty of an offence if--
(a) the employee has not been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom; or
(b) the employee's leave is not valid and subsisting, or is subject to a condition precluding him from taking up the employment,
and (in either case) the employee does not satisfy such conditions").

24 Jun 1996 : Column 654

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I should say that it is coupled with Amendments Nos. 65 and 66.

Amendment No. 64 responds to concerns expressed during Committee stage when we discussed Clause 8. The amendment does not in any way change the substance of the clause, but I believe that, as amended, the clause will be easier for employers and others to understand. While we shall, of course, be providing employers with guidance, I agree that it is desirable for the legislative provision itself to be as straightforward as possible.

I informed the Committee that the Government recognised that unease had been expressed in this Chamber and elsewhere about the use of the word "immigrant" in this Bill. We made clear that the term was used as a neutral term to refer to a person subject to immigration control. Its use did not in any way affect anyone's immigration status. In particular, nothing in the Bill affects the immigration status of those who are settled here. Nevertheless, we accepted that, however irrationally, the word "immigrant" is perceived by some as having a pejorative connotation and there were suggestions that the use of the term could give rise to anxieties.

We also recognised that the term might be seen by the layman as referring to anyone who has come here from abroad to live rather than only to a person subject to immigration control under the Act.

The Government therefore have come forward with a series of amendments, including this amendment to Clause 8, which removes the term "immigrant" and replaces it with the phrase "a person subject to immigration control". I am satisfied that that phrase, which simply reflects the scope of the Bill, is a technical definition with no pejorative connotations. I beg to move.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Strabolgi): My Lords, if Amendment No. 64 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 65 to 67.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for listening to what the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, and many on these Benches have said about the wording of the amendment. I take the point that the use of which we complained is irrational. People have been known to be irrational before and will continue to be so.

This amendment softens the image created by the Bill and makes it less misleading. As to the substantive effect of the provision, I understand that there is no significant difference. So I give the amendment a welcome by looking forward to continuing the major arguments on the issues of the Bill.

7 p.m.

The Earl of Balfour: My Lords, I am concerned about only one thing in this government amendment; that is, the words,

    "who has attained the age of 16".

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I do not believe it is legal to employ anybody under that age. I therefore wondered whether between now and Third Reading my noble friend would consider those words.

The Lord Bishop of Ripon: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for tabling this amendment which arises in part from a conversation I had with her right honourable friend the Home Secretary and herself, as well as out of debates in your Lordships' Chamber. Perhaps I may ask one question which I am sure arises out of ignorance. I listened carefully to the Minister but was not sure at the end precisely who is,

    "a person subject to immigration control".
My noble friend said it is those who are subject to the Bill. Perhaps she could elaborate on precisely who are the people "subject to immigration control". Is there not a sense in which we are all "subject to immigration control"? What is the specific category referred to?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, my understanding is that a person who has applied for entry, is awaiting some part of the appeal procedure or is waiting to have a case heard but has not had a proper determination of his case is subject to immigration control. Other people who are here with conditions attached--it may be time-limited conditions; they may be here without permission to work or here with permission to work which is also time limited--are also people to whom the provision applies.

Lord Renton: My Lords, would it not also include a person who has been granted a work permit to be in this country for a limited period or somebody who has been granted leave to be here for a limited period without a work permit?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, it includes both categories. In response to my noble friend who queried the age, I shall continue looking at the wording of the amendment between now and the next stage. I believe the wording is correct. We are talking of people who are of working age, 16 and above. However, I take the point about those under 16 and will come back to my noble friend on that.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I take it that this toing and froing has been interventions in the speech of the right reverend Prelate. I apologise to the House for not being present during the Minister's opening speech. She will understand in a few minutes why I was not present.

First, I thank the Minister for fulfilling her undertaking made at Committee stage to remove the word "immigrant" from the Bill. However, I want to take those thanks three-quarters back because the amendments which begin with Amendment No. 64 are about the minimum she could possibly have put forward in the face of the considerable opposition expressed to the use of the word "immigrant" and, above all, to the definition of the word "immigrant".

Noble Lords will recall that at Committee we were concerned not just about the use of the word "immigrant", but at the fact that in Clause 12 immigrant was defined as,

24 Jun 1996 : Column 656

    "a person who under the 1971 Act requires leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom (whether or not such leave has been given)".
We argued that that was a much wider definition than it was intended should be covered by the provisions of Clauses 8, 9 and 10. Unfortunately, if we look at Amendment No. 100, the Government have changed "immigrant" to,

    "person subject to immigration control".
However, they have not changed the offensive inclusion of those who have been given leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom. It was and still is our view that those people should not be included in any definition in the Bill. It does not help for them to be called,

    "person subject to immigration control",
rather than being called "immigrant".

I am sorry to say that we have a change of wording but in most of the cases in which it occurs not a change of substance. I do not propose to suggest to the House that we vote against Amendment No. 64 at this time. But I am not happy about it. It is nothing like as good as our Amendment No. 80 moved in Committee. It contains the same faults as the Bill as printed contains; that is, it gives and it takes away. It has the same fault in that it requires conditions to be specified by order by the Secretary of State, which makes life difficult for employers who have to try to interpret who is covered by the provisions of the Bill. Although to some extent it is simpler and reduces to one subsection the original wording, it is only a marginal improvement rather than a major one.

We are grateful for what we have; but it is a small amount compared with the intentions of many of us who opposed the use of the word "immigrant" at the Committee stage. I fear that the implications of unnecessarily and undesirably identifying and isolating hundreds of thousands of people who have a right to be in this country, who have leave to be here or remain here, still exist.

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