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Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I too wish to pursue the issues contained in this new clause a little further, not least because it is a new clause of a kind in which one would have thought the Select Committee on delegated legislation might be interested as regards a negative procedure on a matter that affects the liberty of movement of a number of people. We may want to obtain a recommendation on that matter from the committee before Third Reading so that we can consider whether such an issue is raised. I follow what the noble Lords, Lord Alton and Lord Cope, have said on another matter too. I take it that the reference to,

is a reference to the Council of Ministers, or possibly to the European Council. It is not completely clear which of the two it is.

However, in the light of the Tampere Summit, of which we do not yet have details--I understand that a Statement will be made on that tomorrow when the House of Commons reconvenes--we need to know whether the names of people excluded as a result of the new co-operation that is to be established on matters of criminal justice, and in particular organised crime, could lead to the exclusion of a number of additional people by the Council. Will that point be embraced by the new clause? In other words, we could be contemplating the exclusion of a number of people in terms of co-ordinating the fight against organised crime. We on these Benches fully support that fight, but it is important for us to know just how open-ended this new clause is, and whether it would involve the possibility of people being excluded by the Council without further reference to this House. Thus the lack of an affirmative procedure is much more serious than would be the case if this measure could not be applied to additional numbers of people whom we cannot at present discuss.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I thought that this would be a relatively simple amendment but the House has proved me wrong! I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, on the way in which he has conducted some difficult negotiations involving his noble friends. I fully acknowledge the seriousness of the matters that he raises.

The example of Sierra Leone that the noble Lord mentioned is unfortunate. That involved an error by the authorities and not a problem with the travel ban system itself. As to the question of secret lists which the noble Lord quite properly mentioned, we must

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obviously comply with an international obligation. We shall make every effort to ensure that there are no secret lists. As I say, we must comply with those obligations. It seems only right and proper that we do so. We must share our part of the international burden. I am sure that the noble Lord will accept that point.

The noble Lord asked about the Commonwealth. We are generally concerned with United Nations and EU travel bans. We see no need to include Commonwealth bans. We undertake to consult our colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on this matter before Third Reading as we think that it is absolutely right to do so. The results of that consultation may more fully answer the point that the noble Lord has raised. To date, colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office do not believe that we necessarily need to involve the Commonwealth.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, how does the noble Lord explain the fact that the Commonwealth, through the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, has imposed travel bans, such as the one I mentioned on the members of the Nigerian military junta? Presumably we complied with that ban. As far as I know, we never admitted anyone who belonged to the Nigerian military regime as long as the ban that was imposed by CMAG lasted. Why are we treating the Commonwealth differently from the European Union and the UN?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, it is difficult to give a precise answer. These matters are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. We shall consult further and return to this matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Alton, asked why we need to deal with this matter now. We take the view that it is for the good of the public. I should have thought that the drafting of the amendment and the explanation I have given have clearly set out the public good. I am happy to try to give the noble Lord more detail as and when we can. Clearly this is a sensitive matter which we view as important. It is very much an important part of our international obligations.

The noble Baroness, Lady Williams--

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, before the Minister leaves that point, for the purposes of debate in the House, I believe that the House is entitled to know whether there has been any example of Her Majesty's Government ever being censured by any international body for admitting someone into this country, or permitting them to travel, in circumstances of which those organisations did not approve.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I shall have to write to the noble Lord on that point because I cannot produce immediate facts as I speak. I am, however, quite happy to provide the noble Lord with more detail on the matter.

In response to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, we shall withdraw this new clause, as we said we would, to enable the matters

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within the amendment to be considered fully by the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee. I trust that your Lordships will accept what has been said about this new clause in the context of the arguments that we have put forward this afternoon.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, is this new clause covered by the undertaking given earlier by the noble and learned Lord and, if so, will he not therefore withdraw it?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I thought that I had made that point clear; I apologise if I did not. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 [Treatment of certain overstayers]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 4, line 42, leave out from beginning to (“overstayers") in line 43 and insert (“During the regularisation period").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 8, 9 and 10 put into effect an undertaking given by my noble and learned friend Lord Williams to the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, to bring forward an amendment requiring Clauses 8 and 59 to come into force together. This would ensure that overstayers could not be removed without an in-country appeal on human rights grounds simply because Clause 8 came into effect before Clause 59 which depends on the Human Rights Act for its force and thus might possibly be delayed. I understand that such an amendment was not strictly necessary because Clause 7 and Clause 164(4) already provide that Clause 8 will come into force on the day after the day prescribed as the end of overstayers' regularisation period.

Clause 59 will be brought into force on 2nd October 2000 to coincide with the Human Rights Act. Regulations under Clause 7 would have set the prescribed day as 1st October 2000 and thus Clauses 8 and 59 would have come into force together. If there was a delay in the Human Rights Act coming into force, a new end date for the regularisation period could easily be prescribed. As this is not, however, easily apparent from the clauses themselves, we have to recast Clause 7 so that it sets out the interrelation of Clauses 7, 8 and 59 more clearly. I invite your Lordships to agree to these amendments. I beg to move.

Lord Renton: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down I think that it is rather important for him to give us some idea of the extent of Clause 7 and the number of people to whom it will apply. If he could do so, we could then better evaluate these amendments.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, the House may remember that at Second Reading there was an extensive debate about the provisions in this clause. We on these Benches are still unhappy with the way things are left.

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It may help the House to recollect the history of this particular control on those who overstayed when they originally had leave to come here. In the Immigration Act 1971 there was no limitation at all on the right of overstayers to appeal later if they wished to extend their right to remain. The Immigration Act 1988 then restricted that right. The only group that would have a right to apply to remain were those overstayers who had been here at least seven years. If this provision is agreed, that right, too, will be removed. All that that group are left with will be the regularisation period, which currently is to be three months or until the Human Rights Act comes into effect.

Many of the organisations which try to help immigrants and those caught up in the trammels of this complex legislation are unhappy at the way this proposal will work for the following reasons. First, how do the Government propose to adequately publicise this major change in the regulations? In effect, how will they get across to those who will have their rights diminished and removed the fact that they have three months, we anticipate, within which to lodge their application to remain? That is a very serious problem because, by definition, one is dealing only with a finite group of individuals who will have been here already seven years. They will have established themselves in their way of life here and will probably have lost contact with the immigrant organisations.

We suggest to the Government that they should give further consideration to amending the three-month provision. They should do so in one of two ways: either they should greatly extend the period to two, three or four years rather than three months; or they should perhaps bring in a provision such as that in Clause 70(3)(b) of the Bill which deals with the failure of someone to disclose his or her grounds of appeal. In that clause there is the provision that such people will not lose their rights if there is a “reasonable excuse". We suggest to the Government that, at the very least, there should be a reasonable excuse clause for those who are not aware of the three-month provision. Much more, we would prefer to see the three-month period extended. Admittedly, under the clause as drafted, there is a right to extend the period to more than three months, but I am afraid one always suspects that the least will be the fact.

Finally, I should draw to the Government's attention the administrative repercussions of what appears to be in train here. Already there is to be an attempt to meet the two-month target for dealing with applications to come here under the new legislation. If the Government persist, the likelihood is that there will be an additional flood of applications within the three-month period. We see no grounds at all for not amending and liberalising the process. It is not as if one is extending the right to any future group of

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individuals. I repeat: it is a finite group of individuals with which one is dealing. We urge the Government to think again.

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