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Lord Avebury: I wished to remind the noble Lord that I asked where the definition of "relevant rail freight wagon" was, analogous to the definition of

in Clause 31.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I will check that before the end of this evening's business. In any event, apart from informing the noble Lord informally, of course I shall write to him and put a copy in the Library. It is a matter of more general importance than his specific inquiry.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: Before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may ask one question on Amendment No. 61. He said that the Government were not minded to accept the affirmative resolution. However, he did not respond to the point relating to whether a code of practice with regard to the railway industry would be introduced soon. If so, part of our concern would be met.

With regard to subsection (1)(b) of Amendment No. 56, can he say anything about what steps might be taken in the case of a genuine refugee to permit him or her to travel? I believe the Home Office is trying to install some kind of hot line procedure. It may be that the Minister would rather leave the matter to a later stage of the Bill.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am grateful for the noble Baroness's consideration. That is certainly one aspect to which we are giving a good deal of thought--not least following the helpful conversations that the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, had with myself and Home Office officials.

I said that the code of practice would be placed in the Library before Report stage. I am not sure whether the noble Baroness was questioning me about that.

4 p.m.

Earl Russell: I enjoyed the Minister's remarks about bicycles and was reassured by them. I thank him and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brightman, for their helpful comments. If the Minister will forgive me, I would like to probe further the question of clandestine entrants who are also genuine asylum seekers.

The Minister said that the Government are under no obligation to facilitate the entry of clandestines. Those words are clearly correct but they are also carefully chosen. I understand that the Government are under an

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obligation to give a hearing to people who wish to claim asylum in this country. It could be argued--I put it no higher--that to establish a regime that makes it extremely difficult for people to exercise that right might be construed as an evasion of that right. The Minister knows that courts are not charitable institutions and they occasionally construe people's actions in ways that do not give them pleasure. Can the Minister be certain that we will not lay ourselves open to that construction?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I can give a degree of reassurance because both my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer and I have been concerned with the general spectrum of questions that the noble Earl and others on his Benches have been asking.

At present, if the carrier brings inadequately documented passengers to the United Kingdom, there are two relevant concessions. The charge otherwise payable under the Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Act 1987 is waived or repaid where the captain of the ship or aircraft has allowed aboard a person whose life or limb was in imminent danger and where the inadequately documented person successfully claims asylum. Both concessions apply in respect of all fare-paying passenger transport subject to the charges for carrying inadequately documented passengers, and they are to be continued in Clause 32. If a carrier openly brings genuine refugees to this country, he will not be subject to a charge--or the charge they have paid will be refunded.

The more focused question centres on what is to happen if genuine refugees are brought here on a clandestine basis. I repeat something that I do not think is a philosophical evasion or a linguistic ploy. If someone brings clandestines here, self-evidently he does not know nor has any interest in whether or not they are genuine. He cannot, in the nature of things. We have given thought to that issue and if prosecutions are about to be launched, Article 31 of the convention will be considered to decide whether it is in the public interest to prosecute persons who have used false documents.

The noble Earl has raised that question in the past. I do not think that it is capable of being brushed aside. The noble Earl's point, which I accept is valid in some cases, is that a person genuinely fleeing from persecution is more likely to come here with false documents than otherwise.

The Lord Bishop of Hereford: May I press the Minister on the proposed subsection (2)(c) and (d)? Does he really believe those penalties are appropriate and proportionate? Also, the Minister did not respond to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, in relation to Amendment 60 and the costs and delay to rail freight traffic.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate. I did not do so deliberately. The oversight was genuine. As to whether the penalties will be proportionate, if such activities are part of a well-organised racket for carrying clandestines that brings in several thousand pounds, I personally have no sympathy with those who are carrying clandestines.

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As to my noble friend Lord Berkeley's questions, if vehicles have to be searched to find out whether clandestines are hidden, significant delay will be inevitable. Many illegal clandestine entrants into this country are preyed upon by organised gangs that charge them thousands of pounds but dump them in this country, leaving them virtually destitute. If remedies include the seizure of vehicles, I, for one, would regard that as entirely proportionate.

Lord Berkeley: I thank the large number of noble Lords who have contributed expert debate. They are concerned not only about immigrants but carriers who may unwittingly be exposed to extra cost or delay. I am grateful for the answers given by my noble friend the Minister who has gone a long way to answering some of the questions.

It is possible that in future rail freight will come in by ship again--but I expect that has been covered elsewhere. My noble friend the Minister was asked how he intends to get Italian railways to pay up. If Italian railways has an office in London, will he send round the bailiffs or sequester its assets?

As to impounding and selling off rail freight wagons, where will that be done? Will a new government railway impounding centre be built? Who will pay for it? The Bill does not say. It may do so in the code of practice. I would be surprised if the Government did not ask the industry to pay, which would be an additional cause of concern.

My noble friend has produced the best solution--asking the French Government to help. When they helped, the number of illegal immigrants per month fell from 117 to 33. Surely, we can co-operate with the French Government to that extent? It is in the interests of both countries to reduce the number of illegal immigrants. Perhaps the French security people who already look at the trains in Calais ought to add searches for illegal immigrants to their searches for bombs.

I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister for offering consultation. There has been only one meeting with the industry so far. Consultation needs to be much wider. The recess will provide a period to consult and, I hope, to make available the draft code of practice. It is much easier to consult on a document than on a blank sheet of paper. We have had an interesting debate. There are many more amendments, so I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 57, as an amendment to Amendment No. 56, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 58 to 61, as amendments to Amendment No. 56, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 56 agreed to.

Clause 32 [Charges in respect of passengers without proper documents]:

Lord Clinton-Davis moved Amendment No. 61A:

Page 23, line 12, after ("operator,") insert ("aircraft operator,").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 61A, it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak also to Amendment No. 61B. Amendment No. 61A is concerned essentially with the disparity of treatment between different modes of

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transport. I believe that it is appropriate to try to equalise the application of the clause to all sectors of transport rather than simply road and rail. The shipping and aviation industries are perplexed as to why they should be excluded from the provisions of the clause when both have worked closely with the immigration service to reduce the incidence of documentary violations.

It is plain that airlines and shipping companies have good controls in place to deal with those who board their aircraft and ships. An element of risk is involved in both cases if someone wants to alight in mid-voyage. In theory, it is easier for those industries to control who lands on our shores from aircraft and vessels than for the owners of road vehicles because stops throughout such a journey may enable aliens to jump on board without their knowledge.

I believe that on our only cross-border rail service, Eurostar, the doors remain locked during any unforeseen mid-journey stops. Therefore, the opportunity for any passengers to board at any point except the point of origin is as unlikely as it is for both ships and aircraft. I declare a fairly peripheral interest as president of the British Air Line Pilots Association. I believe that the case has been made out by both industries and is worthy of a careful response from the Government. I beg to move.

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