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Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Cope. I was not aware that he was about to make such a point. I had informed the Government of my intention to do so.

I share completely the objection expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley. We have had innumerable amendments and major clauses--as the noble Lord has pointed out--tabled over a very short period of time.

I had imagined that such a situation would occur. Towards the end of July there were two major judgments--one by Lord Justice Simon Brown and one by Lord Justice Woolf--both of which directly affected the central tenets of the Bill. I was concerned that the Government may not have time to consider those judgments and redraft the Bill accordingly, so on 5th August I wrote to the Home Secretary. I stated:

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No such delays were allowed before the Report stage. Consequently, we find ourselves dealing with major consequences with virtually no notice at all.

On the morning that I saw the last group of major government amendments, which was the morning of the debate of the most reverend Primate in this House, I was replying on behalf of my party to that debate and I found myself having to draft amendments as I sat in the House listening to the most reverend Primate. I do not believe that that is a satisfactory way in which to run the House.

I wholly agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, has said about the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation. Some of the new clauses--in particular the new clause after Clause 11, new Clause 25 and others--have deep constitutional implications. They lead to legislation on major issues being covered by secondary legislation, not by primary legislation. On that matter many noble Lords would have welcomed the views of the Select Committee, which are intended to assist the House. The Select Committee said that it considered it necessary, if there is to be adequate Parliamentary control over the exercise of substantial powers conferred by the Bill, that careful consideration is given to the issue of secondary legislation.

For all those reasons, I believe that the Bill is in considerable trouble. I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, and regret that we shall have to return to the matter on Third Reading. We do not want to do that, but we have no option as this Bill will affect the civil liberties and the lives of a great many people. Therefore, I strongly endorse what the noble Lord has said about the unsatisfactory nature of the handling of the Bill and the fact that this means that as a revising Chamber, with the best will in the world--I have reason to thank the Government for their willingness to listen to many points that we have made--we cannot fulfil the functions we are charged with fulfilling if we do not have more time in which to consider these major issues.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I want to speak in support of the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, and my noble friend Lady Williams. During the Second Reading of the Immigration and Asylum Bill I raised the issue of the substantial number of provisions in the Bill that would require secondary legislation. I believe that that was backed by the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation. We now find ourselves in a similar situation.

A large number of amendments have been introduced, some of which reached me only this morning. I understand they were not available earlier. I am grateful to the new Minister, who arranged everything last Friday, but even then some of us were not aware of the amendments proposed. Now we have these amendments which have implications for the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee.

I want to stress the need for this House to have the opportunity to promote legislation which has the co-operation of all sides of the House and for legislation

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not simply to be pushed forward on the basis of the Government's programme. Let me give an example of my anxiety. It seems extraordinary that the definition of “class" in the Bill, in relation to family visitors, is being given a new statutory right of appeal. We welcome that. Yet it does not appear on the face of the Bill; it has to await secondary legislation.

Rights of appeal should not be subject to such changes without full scrutiny. The danger is--it has happened in the past--that if refused family visitors are too successful, the definition may be changed by the Government and that alters the whole purpose of the Bill. I hope that the new Minister will take that into account and that in the course of Third Reading we have the views of the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee.

3.30 p.m.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, it seems extraordinary that we should be having a general debate whereas I thought we were going to get on with the business.

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My Lords, perhaps I may answer rather than my noble friend Lord Bassam because I was involved in the Bill at the previous stage.

I apologise for the number of amendments which have come so late. There are a number of reasons for that. First, a number have been caused by decisions in court cases and we cannot dictate the time at which court cases come up. Secondly, a number of them result from consultation papers issued during the summer. Thirdly, it is a long and complex Bill. Those are the problems. I accept that they do not explain the huge volume of amendments which came late; I wish they had come earlier. I apologise to the House for that.

The point in relation to the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee is a point of substance which must be addressed. I suggest we address it in this way. Any provision which should have gone to the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee we debate today and on the second day of the Report stage. The Government will then formally withdraw the amendment so that it is not on the face of the Bill. That will ensure that the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee will have an opportunity to consider it between now and Third Reading. We will not then be deprived of two debates in relation to it. That was a suggestion made to me by the Chief Whip but it seems to me to be eminently sensible.

I apologise to the House on behalf of the Government Front Bench for what happened, but this seems to be a practical way of dealing with the problem.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I thank the Minister for what is clearly a helpful proposal. I recognise his apology and accept it with grace.

On Question, Motion agreed to; Report received.

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 1:

After Clause 3, insert the following new clause--


(“. The Secretary of State may provide, or arrange for the provision of, facilities for the accommodation of persons--
(a) temporarily admitted to the United Kingdom under paragraph 21 of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act;
(b) released from detention under that paragraph; or
(c) released on bail from detention under any provision of the Immigration Acts.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 1, perhaps I can speak also to Amendment No. 289 because the two cannot be dealt with separately.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble and learned Lord so early, but I asked that we might leave Amendment No. 289 until the second day when it would arise in the normal course of the Bill. That provision provides for making this into formal quasi-detention. We cannot avoid discussion on Amendment No. 1 and I am prepared not to oppose it, as will emerge in due course. But the detail of Amendment No. 289, particularly the quasi-detention, I should like to leave until Wednesday.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I am more than happy to do that, but I cannot explain why we are dealing with Amendment No. 1 without referring to Amendment No. 289. Perhaps I may do it that way while accepting that they have been effectively de-coupled before I start.

Amendment No. 289 provides a power to extend by regulation the residence conditions which may be imposed when those seeking leave to enter or remain in this country are given temporary admission, or are released from detention on temporary admission, while their application is considered.

I am sorry that we were not able to give your Lordships earlier notice of these amendments. There was a large influx of asylum seekers over the summer months and the problems that that influx created in some parts of the country led us to the conclusion that existing powers to impose residence conditions on temporary admission are too narrow.

There is already power in the Immigration Act 1971 to impose residence restrictions on those granted temporary admission. Our legal advice is that, as currently framed, the restrictions should be those necessary to maintain contact and prevent absconding. So the only reason we can impose these powers at the moment is to maintain contact and prevent absconding. Such objectives are important but we believe that they are too narrow. The events of the summer suggest that we may need wider powers to impose residence conditions which are necessary not just to maintain contact but possibly also to prevent potential public order problems or to ensure full and rapid consideration of claims.

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For example, it was clear that the large number of asylum seekers residing in the Dover area as a result of the summer influx was giving rise to public order problems. Similar problems could arise in the future, whether at Dover or elsewhere. While the Bill provides for a support scheme for asylum seekers which will provide for dispersal to other parts of the country, we believe it will be prudent to take powers in this Bill to enable conditions to be imposed prohibiting residence in specific areas of the country or, if the need arose, in specific types of accommodation.

We may also need to require asylum seekers or others given temporary admission to reside at accommodation provided by the Secretary of State to enable proper and rapid consideration of their claims. We are examining the possibility of establishing a reception facility at which asylum seekers would reside while their claim was examined and a rapid decision taken. The aim would be to deal with the claim in a matter of days rather than weeks. Applicants would reside at the reception centre for a comparatively short period for that purpose. As such residences have a wider purpose, we believe that we need the wider power that Amendment No. 289 provides.

I hope that that explains the background and purposes of these amendments. Amendment No. 1 is essentially consequential to the amendments providing the wider power to impose residence conditions. It establishes a clear statutory basis for the provision of accommodation by the Secretary of State to persons on temporary admission. It is clear that any new power in this area must be flexible. That is why it is necessary to proceed by way of a power to make regulations. The use of the powers will depend on changing events and changing pressures. One of the problems with our current system of control is that we cannot respond quickly or flexibly enough to deal with the pace of events.

The Bill is intended to provide a more modern, flexible system. The amendments will contribute to that overall objective. The regulations will ensure that additional residence requirements are proportionate and relevant to the circumstances which may arise. They will also provide the opportunity for Parliament to scrutinise the types of condition that may be imposed and also the purposes for which they may be imposed. Under the Human Rights Act 1998 any regulations made will have to comply with the convention rights.

At this stage I invite the House only to support Amendment No. 1. For the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, Amendment No. 289 will be dealt with at the other end of Report stage. I beg to move.

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