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Lord Dholakia: I thank the Minister for that. I am still rather confused by one aspect of the previous immigration legislation. Immigration officers are given wide powers. In some aspects, they can be compared with the wide powers that the police have
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above the rank of superintendent. Why do they need to have powers to search and arrest, and so on? Why is that distinction drawn here? I am not clear on that.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I apologise, but I am not quite sure that I understand the noble Lord's question.

Lord Dholakia: Under the powers being granted to police officers at the rank of superintendent, which also arises in Clause 33, the police are now being given the additional powers of searches et cetera, which were previously available to immigration officers. I cannot see why that is being brought in.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: These powers apply to the ability to ask for information about passengers and so on. It is not the same as going on board to check or search. It is about asking for information in advance. My understanding is that it is different, but perhaps I may confirm that to the noble Lord in writing.

Lord Dholakia: I thank the Minister for that. Perhaps we may have a conversation later. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 54 not moved.]

Clause 29 agreed to.

Clauses 30 and 31 agreed to.

Clause 32 [Passenger and crew information: police powers]:

[Amendments Nos. 55 to 58 not moved.]

Clause 32 agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 33 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Hylton: I wish to resist this clause on the grounds that it goes far beyond the Long Title of the Bill. The Title is succinct and makes provision for "immigration, asylum and nationality" only. I argue that ships, aircraft and vehicles and their freight arriving at or leaving the United Kingdom are not a connected purpose. I accept, of course, that such means of moving goods may be misused for purposes of terrorism. The remedy for that, however, is for the Government to include their provision in the current Terrorism Bill. This Bill is simply the wrong place for it.

I am glad to say that I have the support of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association, which states that the Minister in Committee in another place gave a non-answer on the matter of the Long Title. The association also points out that this clause is almost certainly unnecessary because paragraph 17 of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 gave the Secretary of State power to make orders specifying the information that had to be provided. That was done in the Terrorism Act 2000 (Information) Order 2002, which called for information to be given about goods entering the country. I wonder whether any lawyer can detect a difference between goods and freight. I would
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rather rely on accepted parliamentary convention and on the Long Title than on the strict necessity of this clause. I beg to move.

Lord Avebury: We support the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, in seeking to leave Clause 33 out of the Bill. We already require information to be provided about goods, as he says, carried on a ship or aircraft, whether in a vehicle or otherwise. But this clause widens the net to cover any freight arriving by ship or aircraft and allows the Secretary of State to prescribe whatever information he likes to be provided by the carrier within the broad limits of Section 21(3) of the 1999 Act, which are the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences, safeguarding national security and any other purposes that may be specified.

What purposes have been specified in the six years since that Act was passed and where can that information be found? That section deals only with the transfer of information held by the Secretary of State in connection with the exercise of his functions under the immigration Acts, whereas here we are dealing with new powers conferred on the Secretary of State for more or less any purpose that comes into his head. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, first, that such a wide power goes beyond the Short Title of the Bill, and, secondly, that it should be taken out of this Bill and inserted in the Terrorism Bill, where it properly belongs.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: As the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, has afforded us the possibility of discussing this clause, I will be interested to hear the Minister's reply. I can find no information whatever in the Explanatory Notes on why vehicles appear in Clause 33 when they do not appear in Clause 32. The Explanatory Notes on Clauses 32 and 33 are a little ambiguous about matters relating to time and the type of ship or aircraft concerned. I realise that, in the ultimate analysis, what is in the Bill is what matters, but it would be helpful to know why vehicles are included in this case, but not in the previous one. One can readily think of occasions when vehicles would enter the country.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Of course, we took advice from parliamentary counsel on whether this clause is within the scope of the Bill. We were advised that it was. The Public Bill Office is content. Therefore, all that I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, is that this is within the scope of the Bill. If the noble Lord wishes to take that up, he is entitled to, but we are acting properly, having done all that is necessary to ensure that it is within the scope.

The purpose of the e-borders programme is to get the right amount of intelligence available to the border agencies on people entering and leaving the country. But movement of people is only part of the issue. When we look at how criminal organisations achieve their purpose, it is important to look at how they move property associated with their activities across international borders. It is there that those wishing to import or export goods have to surface and give
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account of themselves and their property to the UK Government. Members of the Committee will not be surprised to know that ports present the best opportunity to intercept illegal consignments and obtain intelligence on the people moving them.

5.15 pm

Currently, there are constraints on how the police can access freight information. A police officer can get access to freight data obtained by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs for those purposes via a Revenue and Customs officer on only a case-by-case basis. The police need access to routine data in advance in electronic format to help them gain good intelligence on the movement of goods connected with terrorism as well as organised crime. It is essential that they have access to freight data in their own right. The industry recognises that and is working with them to agree the best way forward for providing such information. As the noble Lord knows, Clause 33 enables a police superintendent to request freight data from anyone involved in the import or export of goods.

These are important issues, which are also important in terms of the movement and the trafficking of people, with which the noble Lord is concerned. We have taken the view that the provision of this information is essential for immigration controls because of people smuggling or trafficking, for example, even though it is also relevant to Customs and police functions. It is included in the Bill because it is relevant to it and within its scope. We have used the opportunity because it is relevant and within the scope also to recognise broader issues. I hope that on the basis that this is an important part of our border controls and in establishing those who seek to abuse people by smuggling or trafficking, the noble Lord will allow the clause to stand.

Lord Avebury: Can the Minister give me an answer to the question about the exercise of powers under Section 21(3) of the 1999 Act? What purposes have been specified in the six years since that Act was passed? Where is this information to be found—for instance, on a departmental website? The URL would be most helpful.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I apologise. The answer is none.

Lord Avebury: None! So why are we asking for these powers? If the noble Baroness has never used the powers that exist, why ask for more?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The fact that the powers have not been used and the reasons why they have not been used stand separately to the need for this provision. When we look at how we deal with immigration controls and the issues that I know are particularly pertinent to the amendments to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, it is important that we are able to work with the industry to establish issues and areas where information will be of value.
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I will happily talk to colleagues in the Home Office about why none have been specified since 1999—the noble Lord would not expect me to know the answer. But regardless of that, these powers are important and form an important part of our controls and ability to deal with terrible examples of distress and how people are treated. Therefore, they should stand as part of the Bill.

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