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We discussed this issue in Committee, when the noble Lord, Lord Goodlad, who I see is in his place, raised an amendment. I appreciate that the Committee posed legitimate questions in terms of the importance

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to the individual of holding a passport and the fact that such decisions are usually made by judicial determination. However, I was struck by the similarities rather than the differences in our positions. There seems to be wide agreement that the surrender of a passport, or in some cases the travel element of an ID card, would be a useful tool to gain compliance from some non-resident parents. That is our key objective, as it will contribute to reducing child poverty and ensuring that parents support their children.

I therefore acknowledge your Lordships’ concerns relating to that provision and accept that the prevailing view at present is that the decision should be made by the courts. Having listened to noble Lords’ concerns I am content to introduce these amendments, which will mean that the commission has to apply to the court in order to disqualify the non-resident parent for holding or obtaining a travel authorisation, rather than being able to take the action administratively.

However, I hope that we can all continue generally to reflect on which decisions need to be made by the courts and which could be made more effectively administratively. To that end, I reserve the right to come back to the House in some future legislation to look again at this decision. I beg to move.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, it may surprise some of your Lordships that my name is attached to this vast raft of government amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie. Supporting government amendments is not something in which I am particularly practised, even after all these years, but in this case I am delighted that the Minister has had the good sense to see that such measures are essential if the Bill is to represent sound practice, which is what we all want.

The amendments revise the provision in the Bill that provides for CMEC administratively to disqualify a non-resident parent from holding or obtaining a travel authorisation should that person wilfully refuse, or culpably neglect, to pay child maintenance. This is an aspect of the Bill that these Benches, both here and in the other place, have strongly opposed from the start. I commend the Minister for listening not only to the Opposition but to the learned ruling of your Lordships’ Select Committee on the Constitution, chaired by my noble friend Lord Goodlad, who championed a series of amendments to this effect throughout the Bill’s passage.

I supported my noble friend in Grand Committee not because I disagree with the Minister that the disqualification of a non-resident parent from holding or obtaining travel authorisation is a powerful and, in some cases, needed tool to encourage compliance with payment of child maintenance; I believe that CMEC should be very tough on those who shirk their responsibilities. However, I considered it lunacy to give CMEC a power that is properly held only by the courts. The Bill may have contravened Section 1(1) of the Immigration Act 1971, which confers a right on British citizens to come and go from the United Kingdom,

which I think I am right in saying are the words that appear in the back of a British—or, these days, EU—passport. However, I stand to be corrected. Whether

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that is the case or not, there was a dichotomy in the Bill that, while passports were to be removed by administrative action, CMEC would still have to go to the courts if it wished to remove the non-resident parent’s passport.

I am only too relieved that the Minister has seen good sense and I fully support this group of amendments, which make the sanction of the removal of driving licences and passports the ultimate responsibility of the courts. I may have been less than fulsome in my praise of the Minister when he moved Amendment No. 9 late on Wednesday night after a difficult day in your Lordships’ House. The amendment was tabled in response to an amendment that I moved in Grand Committee—it was part of a large group of amendments—which concerned what should go in the annual report. He listened to what I said, agreed with it and acted on it. He has done the same today, for which I am extremely grateful.

Lord Goodlad: My Lords, I thank the Minister for taking the trouble to re-examine the policy on this point. Your Lordships’ Select Committee on the Constitution deliberated carefully about the matter. As we discussed in Grand Committee, we were not convinced that the Bill’s policy, which we strongly support, of having an administrative decision followed by a right of appeal with suspensory effect would meet the policy goal of avoiding a drawn-out court process, as opposed to a straightforward power for CMEC to seek an order from a magistrates’ court. The amendments to which the Minister spoke today seek to reflect what we recommended. I note that he reserves the right to come back with future legislation and, of course, no Parliament can bind its successors. We will scrutinise any proposals that come forward pursuant to that intention with the same rigour but, in the mean time, I am extremely grateful and support the amendment.

Lord Addington: My Lords, I join in the chorus of praise for these amendments. The alliance of the noble Lords, Lord McKenzie and Lord Skelmersdale, on the Marshalled List made me feel that I should oppose the amendments as a matter of principle, but I shall not do so. The courts should deal with this matter. It was a step too far for the commission and I am glad that the Government listened to everybody who said that that was the case. These amendments are the way forward. We can all agree on the general objective and, if we can agree on the means, we may well avoid some of the pitfalls that have occurred in this area.

5.45 pm

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I thank all three noble Lords who have spoken. Experience in the US and, I think, Australia, indicates that administrative processes can be effective. However, we have listened to advice. We are a listening Government.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, with the leave of the House, the noble Lord really cannot get away with that. When I got up this morning I did not notice that I was living in either the United States or the Commonwealth of Australia, where conditions are considerably different from those here.



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Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, it is not appropriate to open that debate at this juncture. However, in large parts of the Bill, we have tried to draw on experience and best practice in other countries. Nevertheless, I shall not revisit the debate. We have ended up with unanimity. As I say, we are a listening Government and I am grateful for the support of all noble Lords.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendment No. 20B:

(a) whether the person needs a travel authorisation to earn a living;(b) the person’s means;(c) whether there has been wilful refusal or culpable neglect on the part of the person.(a) the liability order by reference to which the Commission acted as mentioned in paragraph (a) of that subsection; or(b) the maintenance calculation by reference to which that liability order was made.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 21 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendment No. 21A:

“(b) an amount (determined in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State) in respect of the costs of the application under this section.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 22 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendments Nos. 22A to 22C:

(a) makes an order under this section, or(b) allows an appeal against such an order,it shall send notice of that fact to the Commission; and the notice shall contain such particulars and be sent in such manner and to such address as the Commission may determine.”(a) in relation to England and Wales, a magistrates’ court;(b) in relation to Scotland, the sheriff.”

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On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 23 to 25 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendments Nos. 25A to 25H:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 26 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendments Nos. 26A and 26B:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 27 and 28 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendments Nos. 28A and 28B:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 29 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendment No. 29A:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 30 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendments Nos. 30A and 30B:

On Question, amendments agreed to.



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[Amendments Nos. 31 to 34 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendments Nos. 34A to 34C:

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 35 and 36 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendments Nos. 36A to 36D:

“(a) make provision in relation to orders under section 39B corresponding to the provision that may be made under section 40(11);(b) make provision”

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 37 to 41 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendment No. 41A:

(a) the Secretary of State may by regulations make provision—(i) for sections 39C to 39H to have effect with prescribed modifications in cases where a person against whom such an order has effect is outside the United Kingdom;(ii) that a statement in writing to the effect that wages of any amount have been paid to a person during any period, purporting to be signed by or on behalf of the person’s employer, shall be sufficient evidence of the facts stated; and

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(b) the power of the Court of Session by Act of Sederunt to regulate the procedure and practice in civil proceedings in the sheriff court shall include power to make provision corresponding to that which may be made by virtue of section 40A(8).””

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 28 [Curfew orders]:

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendment No. 41B:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 29 [Commitment to prison]:

Lord Tunnicliffe moved Amendment No. 42:


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