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Lord Avebury: The quotation was:

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Quite so. It made me think of the updated version—a new single by Robbie Williams, called "Make me pure, but not yet"—which is a particular favourite of mine, for reasons that I shall not go into.

The noble Lord quite rightly raised the issue in this Bill, but as he knows, it is not the right vehicle for his amendment. However, I am the Minister responsible for the Law Commission; therefore, perhaps more than anyone, I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has raised this. I have a ministerial group responsible for looking at the work of the Law
 
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Commission and I will invite the Home Office Minister at our meeting to raise with the Law Commission whether we might take this forward.

In my discussions with the Law Commission, I will find out whether it has a view on that. Having done that, if I may, I shall send a note to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, or discuss it with him and put a note in the Library of the House. He has picked the right Minister to address this and I hope that that will be of some use to him. I am perfectly happy to do that for him.

I hope that I have given a good enough explanation. I will pick up the points made by the noble Baroness properly and deal with any other issues that need to be raised. My final point is that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, considering how the clause was laid out, asked why the word "purpose" was used in various places. It is important to maintain that description in legislation, because it reflects existing different circumstances. Parliamentary counsel on the Bill is the parliamentary counsel with whom I have worked on several Bills and it would be unheard of for him to include things in Bills that he did not think were needed. It is because it is important effectively to reflect the existing position that it looks as if we have repeated ourselves. I will confirm that with him, but that is my understanding at this stage. I hope that that has given the noble Lord some answers to his questions.

The Earl of Sandwich: I listened carefully to what the Minister said in response to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, about passports. I still feel dissatisfied. I have heard of a number of cases in which passports have been unnecessarily withheld. I attended the Commons committee that discussed those case studies. Will the noble Baroness send back the message very strongly that organisations that are concerned with detainees, especially, are not satisfied that justice is being done in respect of passports?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I am happy to pass on the message, but I wonder whether the noble Earl would explain a bit further. He talked about detainees and I wondered precisely to whom he was referring, so that I can make sure that I pass the message back effectively.

Lord Hylton: In connection with the point just raised by my noble friend, can the Minister give us an assurance that where someone's passport is retained and they want to leave the country, they will always be immediately provided with an adequate travel document?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: As I understand it, where the passport had been retained and someone wanted to leave voluntarily, it is not our desire to hold them up. Passports are retained where there is a question of forgery or of criminal proceedings. We would seek to get such people re-documented as soon as possible. We would need to ensure that the documentation was valid for wherever they sought to go and would suffice for their purposes. I imagine that
 
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that would normally require us to refer to the issuing country. There may be circumstances in which we could issue other documentation. I can assure the noble Lord that it is not our desire to hang on to people who wish to leave voluntarily. They are perfectly at liberty to go. That is a critical point that we should put on the record.

Lord Avebury: If I may take the noble Baroness's reply in reverse order, I say first how grateful I am for her assurances on consolidation. Until she told us, I was not aware that she was the Minister responsible for the Law Commission, so I am delighted to have had her ear this afternoon and to have received her assurance that she will ask the relevant Home Office Minister to see whether that can somehow be sandwiched into the Law Commission's programme. When she does that, will she ensure that, if the Home Office says that it is an Everest too far and that, with the rest of the programme that it has under way, it cannot guarantee to undertake it immediately, that the Home Office Minister in question makes my subsidiary point that it may well be worth undertaking the partial task that we attempted in the amendment: to consolidate Schedule 2? That is constantly being amended; it has been amended several times in the Bill. If the Government were unable to undertake the full job, it would have some value at least to consider how we could bring Schedule 2 into either this Bill or, if that is too much to ask, whatever is the next government Bill.

As I said, it is impossible to envisage the state of affairs projected by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, when we were last discussing the matter, where everything that one could conceivably want to do in the field of immigration, nationality and asylum had been accomplished and the Government could stand back to admire their handiwork with no intention of coming forward at the next election with a manifesto undertaking new commitments. I cannot see that ever happening, and I do not imagine that the noble Baroness can either. We cannot wait for perfection, we need the Law Commission to get on with the job now. I hope that after this afternoon's discussion, we will be able to do that and that the note that the noble Baroness promised me, may be sent before Report, so that we can consider whether there is anything further that we need to do on the subject.

4.15 pm

We had a very useful discussion on the earlier amendments, especially on the question of fingerprints. I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for putting her finger on this point. From what we heard, it seems that fingerprints already include scans of fingerprints and that the digitised copy of the image would come within the definition referred to by my noble friend in Clause 43 of the Identity Cards Bill. That point needed to be cleared up. We look forward to examining what the Minister said with care to see what further steps we need to take.

Several Members of the Committee have asked what happens when a passport is retained beyond departure. I am not entirely happy with what the
 
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Minister said. I cannot envisage why a passport would have to be retained for criminal proceedings other than against a person who was not the departing immigrant. If that is the case, perhaps we can amend the clause to make that clear. The two instances in which the passport needs to be retained beyond his departure are, first, when the documents were fraudulent or forged and are therefore replaced by another document issued by the country of origin. The second is when they are required in proceedings against a person other than the immigrant. If those are the two cases, they should be specified in the Bill. We can think about that at our leisure but, meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 27 agreed to.

Clause 28 agreed to.

Clause 29 [Attendance for fingerprinting]:

Lord Dholakia moved Amendment No. 53:

The noble Lord said: There are several amendments. Perhaps I may disseminate the information before me. Amendments Nos. 53, 54, 56, 57A, 58 and 62 are in the names of my noble friend Lord Avebury and me. Amendments Nos. 55 and 57 are Conservative amendments with Liberal Democrat support. Amendments Nos. 59 and 61 stand in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, and the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman. At this stage, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 53, 54, 56, 57A, 58 and 62, and allow the noble Baroness to put her case on the amendments for which, I am sorry, she cannot have our support.

The purpose of our Amendments Nos. 53 and 54 is to ensure that those claiming asylum are treated in the same way as other applicants. They preserve the current position, whereby all those required to attend for fingerprinting, including those seeking asylum, are given seven days' notice of the requirements to attend, while allowing the modification that people may be given a specific time for an appointment. The amendments are intended to raise the difficulties that may be caused to applicants by giving them only three days' notice running from the date given in the notice as the date of issue, which could easily take more than three days before it reaches the applicant.

The people for whom it is proposed that three days, rather than seven, from the issue of the document should be the minimum notice period are those who have sought recognition as refugees or asserted that removal would break their rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and their dependants. The people who will get a minimum of seven days' notice are those who have failed to produce a valid passport or identity document on arrival; people refused leave to enter but who are on temporary admission and who, it is feared, will not comply with residence conditions; and those in whose cases a decision has been made to make removal directions or to deport.
 
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The combination of a fixed date and time to attend, with very short notice periods, will lead to missed appointments and inefficiency. What will happen if a person can prove that the document did not reach him or her until after the date on which they were required to attend—for example, because it was delayed in the post? I make no reflection on our postal services here. Perhaps they were temporarily absent from their accommodation for a couple of nights and did not have the money to travel to attend. This could also happen to those given seven days' notice if the documents were lost in the post; it is not an impossibility. The consequence of failure to attend can be arrest without warrant. Our Amendments Nos. 53 and 54 are designed to protect against those circumstances.

Amendments Nos. 56 and 58 would prohibit the Secretary of State from making orders that apply generally. They provide an opportunity to probe the safeguards that will be associated with the exercise of these powers by inviting the Secretary of State to envisage a situation in which he could make an order that not only applied generally, but also complied with subsection (7), which requires that information be sought without breaching human rights. Passenger information orders under paragraph 17(2) of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000, as amended, and the Terrorism Act 2000 (Information) Order 2002 do not include the power to make orders that apply generally.

Amendment No. 57A rewrites the subsection so that instead of stating:

it would instead read:

The amendment seeks to probe the drafting of this subsection. The drafting appears to permit the Secretary of State to make an order if he can envisage circumstances in which requiring the information would not breach human rights, even if in the particular case he knows that this is not so.

Amendment No. 62 would remove the power to share information with,

The specific point we wish to probe is what safeguards will be in place to ensure that information is not shared in a way that breaches the UK's obligations under the 1951 UN convention relating to the status of refugees by putting a person at risk of persecution. However, there are also concerns about the loose definition of a "foreign law enforcement agency" and the lack of safeguards in the clause. I beg to move.


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