3 Mar 2014 : Column 1095

House of Lords

Monday, 3 March 2014.

2.30 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Chester.

Introduction: The Lord Bishop of Durham

2.37 pm

Paul Roger, Lord Bishop of Durham, was introduced and took the oath, supported by the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Chester, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Reading Clerk

Appointment of Simon Peter Burton

2.41 pm

Moved by The Lord Speaker

That this House do approve the appointment by the Lord Speaker, pursuant to the Clerk of the Parliaments Act 1824, of Mr Simon Peter Burton to be Reading Clerk on the retirement of Mr Rhodri Havard Walters.

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza): My Lords, as I informed the House on 11 February, I have appointed Mr Simon Peter Burton to be Reading Clerk in place of Mr Rhodri Havard Walters. I therefore beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. The Question is that this Motion be agreed to.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford) (Con): My Lords, we often talk in this House of the debt we owe to the staff. Today we have the opportunity to pay tribute to one who served us with great distinction for more than 38 years, Rhodri Walters—or perhaps I should say, using that well known phrase from our Letters Patent, our trusty and well beloved Dr Rhodri Havard Walters. Over those 38 years Rhodri served the House in many senior roles, including as private secretary to the Viscount Whitelaw; as Establishment Officer—now less elegantly known as Director of Human Resources; and as Clerk of Committees. He has also overseen the recruitment and development of many of the younger clerks in this House, a task which I know he much enjoyed. But he is perhaps best known to most of us as the Reading Clerk who so beautifully read out our punctuation-free Letters Patent as we were each introduced to the House. It was in this guise that he was described by a parliamentary sketch writer as the,

“master of ceremonies … A figure almost from Dickens. With his wig and spectacles and parchment voice, he was the learned town mouse, nose twitching as he waited”.

Dickensian, perhaps, but how reassuring to us as we stood there nervously.

Beyond the House, Rhodri has many interests, including rowing, skiing—indeed, he is on the slopes of St Anton as we speak—singing, gardening and his native Wales, where he has a house at which he will now be able to spend more time. I know the whole

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House will want to join me in thanking him for his long and loyal service and in wishing him a very happy retirement.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, on behalf of these Benches, I thank and pay tribute to Rhodri Walters for his excellent and indefatigable work throughout his career communicating the work of Parliament to a wider audience. He has led in the delivery of learning materials for the parliamentary studies module, an innovative educational partnership between the Houses of Parliament and universities which was launched in 2012. As many noble Lords will know, he was the author, together with Sir Robert Rogers, of How Parliament Works, a uniquely authoritative yet accessible account of how Parliament works. The seventh edition, I can tell noble Lords, will be available in all good bookshops soon. The sixth edition, labelled a “a rare treat” by one commentator, was described by Andrew Marr as,

“clear, elegant, invaluable, bang up-to-date and full of dry wit”.

I can think of no better way of describing one of its authors, Rhodri Walters, and I wish him well in his retirement.

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) (LD): My Lords, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats I wish to associate myself with the words of the Leader of the House and of the Leader of the Opposition in thanking Rhodri Walters for his long and distinguished service to the House, not just as Reading Clerk but in the many offices that he held in the House.

As the Leader of the House said, we have all become very familiar with Rhodri Walters reading out the Letters Patent. After a bit of research, I discovered that I was possibly the first Life Peer whose Letters Patent he read out when I was introduced in November 2007. I once asked him whether he could do that blindfolded after all the times he had done it. He replied that he probably could but would never dare try.

We should also recognise the many different roles that the Reading Clerk plays. One of Rhodri’s roles was as Clerk of the Overseas Office, where he helped the first two Lord Speakers build their roles as the House’s ambassadors overseas. He also helped the House to deepen its ties with Commonwealth Parliaments and to forge new links elsewhere, most notably with Russia, having organised a very successful visit to Westminster of the President of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation.

Rhodri Walters was also instrumental in the House’s engagement with Parliaments of European Union member states, culminating in organising a very successful meeting of the Association of European Senates last year, when this House played host to the Speakers of 15 European upper Chambers.

Reference has also been made to Rhodri’s recreation. I am told by a former member of his staff—it is right to say that those who worked for him held him in highest regard—that he was able to jump, both feet together, from a floor on to a table. For the past six and a half years, his feet were very firmly under the

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table except when he was standing up reading. For his loyal service we are very grateful and we wish him well in his retirement.

2.45 pm

Lord Laming (CB): My Lords, on behalf of my colleagues in the Cross-Bench group I associate myself with the warm and very well deserved tributes already paid to Rhodri Walters. Throughout his career Rhodri displayed a quite remarkable understanding and knowledge of Parliament. Among his many responsibilities he was the clerk to a number of Select Committees. They were far too many to record but I mention just two of what might be called rather controversial Bills. The first became the Constitutional Reform Act, which, among other things, created the role of the Lord Speaker. The second, and more recent, was the Joint Committee on the draft House of Lords Reform Bill. Neither task could possibly be described as being straightforward. The House liked to give Rhodri a real challenge.

Rhodri was a real professional in all that he did, and one who was solidly committed to the service of this House. He can be rightly proud of what he achieved. He takes with him our warmest good wishes and our warm and sincere thanks.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I want to associate these Benches with all the remarks made so far. I think that Rhodri Walters introduced more than 200 Members into the House, including the rare distinction of introducing the Archbishop of Canterbury twice—first as Bishop of Durham and then as Archbishop of Canterbury. He may have been able to deal with the Letters Patent in his sleep, except that when a Bishop comes along he is liable to trip up the Reading Clerk as it is a different form of words.

Perfectionist that Rhodri was, three or four weeks ago, when the first of the current flood of new Bishops arrived, he said to me, with a fallen face, “I don’t think I have got it quite right”. I do not think that anyone else had noticed anything other than perfection because he was a perfectionist—a perfectionist in the parliamentary choir and in every aspect of his life. There was always a particular resonance between the Bishops and Rhodri because he is used to looking after bishops as he is a church warden of one of the parishes here in London. As a good church warden, he forgave us our sins when we did not do exactly as we were told.

Motion agreed nemine dissentiente.

Scottish Independence: Faslane


2.48 pm

Asked by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their best estimate of the cost of moving the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent from Faslane if Scotland votes for independence.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): My Lords, we are confident that the Scottish people will vote to remain part of the United Kingdom. Therefore, we are not making any contingency plans for a yes vote. Moving the deterrent and its facilities would be an enormous exercise. Faslane is the largest employment site in Scotland, with around 6,700 military and civilian jobs, increasing to around 8,200 by 2022, with hundreds of millions of pounds of planned investments as it becomes the home to all Royal Navy submarines.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, why are the Government prepared to anticipate what the effects of Scottish independence will be on the currency but not on our national security and our defence policy, given the threat that this represents to the independent nuclear deterrent? Is not the truth of the matter that, if Alex Salmond achieves his nuclear-free Scotland, the practical consequences will mean the end of the British nuclear deterrent at a time of great economic and geopolitical uncertainty? Do the Government have a plan B?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, we do not want Scotland to leave the United Kingdom. We have achieved so much together and are very proud of the contributions that Scotland makes to United Kingdom defence. The United Kingdom’s integrated approach to defence protects all parts of the UK. Our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate safeguard for our national security. We have made a clear commitment to maintain that. There is absolutely no question that the UK will unilaterally disarm.

Lord Wigley (PC): My Lords, while he and I might disagree with regards to the outcome of the referendum and even with regards to nuclear weapons, does the Minister not realise that the attitude that he has shown on behalf of the Government could well go down as arrogance by the Government towards Scotland? Also, does he not feel that the rest of the United Kingdom are entitled to have an answer to this question, as it is a matter that is relevant to us all?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I absolutely was not being arrogant. I began my response by saying that we do not want Scotland to leave the United Kingdom. We have achieved so much together. In the Ministry of Defence we are very proud of the contribution that the Scots and Scotland have made to defence in the United Kingdom.

Lord Boyce (CB): My Lords, will the Minister agree that if it becomes necessary to remove the independent nuclear deterrent from Faslane, we must also take into consideration the fact that we must move the other nuclear attack submarines? That must also be counted in the cost.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, the noble and gallant Lord makes a very good point and we are well aware of that.

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Lord Palmer of Childs Hill (LD): My Lords, my honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said in July of last year that,

“the Trident alternatives review shows that there are credible and viable alternatives to the United Kingdom’s current approach to nuclear deterrence”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 17/7/13; col. 1219.]

Can my noble friend, despite his earlier words, say how much could be saved if these viable alternatives had to be used if there were, sadly, a move from Scotland?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I am sorry to disappoint my noble friend but I do not have any costs on the alternatives with me. I will check on them and write to my noble friend.

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, it seems that it is a dereliction of duty not to be looking at alternatives on such an important issue. We all know that our ability to defend our islands, should Scotland separate, will be dramatically reduced. Whatever happens, should they separate, there will be huge costs for our defence budget. Does the Minister agree that the real special relationship with the United States is the nuclear and intelligence relationship? Even this speculation is damaging that. Does he agree that in a nuclear alliance—the NATO alliance—our withdrawing part of the NATO deterrent, effectively unilaterally, will be something that causes huge damage?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, the United Kingdom Government are not planning for Scottish independence and cannot pre-negotiate the details of independence ahead of the referendum. To start planning now for a United Kingdom without Scotland would be to start to unpick the fabric of the UK before people in Scotland have had their say and would require UK Ministers to prioritise the interests of one part of the United Kingdom over those of others. In the event of a vote to leave the UK, the referendum would mark the beginning of a lengthy and complex set of negotiations between the Scottish and UK Governments.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas (Con): My Lords, will the Minister accept that there is no evidence that the majority of the Scottish electorate want to see the disintegration of the British armed services and neither do they wish to see the extra costs that would certainly go with it?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I agree with every word that my noble friend says.

Lord Rosser (Lab): My Lords, we want to see Scotland remain a key player in the United Kingdom, to the mutual benefit of each country within it. Defence is a vital component of the United Kingdom. Can the Minister say what the size is of the UK defence footprint in Scotland?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, the Ministry of Defence spent over £20 billion with UK industry in 2011-12. It would be for the Scottish Government to explain clearly what their armed forces would look like. However, to date, they have failed to provide sufficient clarity. At some £34 billion, the UK’s annual

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defence budget is one of the largest in the world. As part of the UK, Scotland benefits from the full range of the UK’s defence capabilities that its budget provides.

Lord Desai (Lab): My Lords, would it be charitable to believe that the Government, as a responsible agency, may have scenarios up their sleeve but the noble Lord is not willing to take the House into his confidence?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, even if I did know that I could not possibly tell him about it.

Lord Trefgarne (Con): My Lords, is there not a major defence manufacturing activity in Scotland, much of which may well be lost if Scotland chooses to become independent?

Lord Astor of Hever: My noble friend makes a very good point. The Ministry of Defence spent more than £20 billion with UK industry in 2011-12, with a £160 billion, 10-year equipment programme. Companies based in an independent Scotland would no longer be eligible for contracts that the UK chose to place domestically for national security reasons. Where they could continue to compete, they would be pitching for business in an international market dominated by major economic powers.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister not understand that this is an important matter, and that there is a big difference between pre-negotiation and contingency planning?

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I cannot add anything to what I have already said.

School Pupils: English Speakers


2.56 pm

Asked by Baroness Sharples

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the number of children starting school for whom English is a second language.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, the latest school census in England in January of last year showed that 19% of pupils in year one, 113,000, and 14% of pupils in year seven, 75,000, have English as an additional language. More than 1 million pupils in schools, 13% of the total, have English as an additional language.

Baroness Sharples (Con): Is my noble friend aware that certain schools are involved in considerable expense because they have to employ interpreters? What is being done to help parents learn English, so that it can be spoken at home?

Lord Nash: My Lords, it is for schools to determine how to respond to the needs of pupils with EAL, including how they support pupils’ families. We do not hold centrally a figure for the number of interpreters employed in schools. Local authorities have the freedom to allocate EAL funding to schools as they see fit.

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Schools may well choose to spend this on interpreters or on employing bilingual staff. For example, we know that in 75 local authorities, primary school pupils with EAL attract between £250 and £750 each. The Government are investing £210 million per annum in community learning language programmes to support families with EAL. We are also funding English courses for 24,000 adults with the lowest levels of English through the £6 million English language competition. There is no specific duty for schools to teach English to parents; however, schools have a key role to play in this. Parents of new pupils at, for instance, Millbank Academy—one of the primaries up the road, which is in my wife’s group—where 85% of pupils have EAL, are introduced both to other parents and a member of staff who speaks their home language, and are invited to the school every week to be updated on their pupil’s progress.

Baroness Coussins (CB): My Lords, a recent British Academy report highlighted the importance of the diverse languages of the UK’s minority communities for our diplomacy, national security and defence needs. Will the Minister therefore acknowledge the data, which suggest that the presence in schools of children who are bilingual or have English as an additional language tends, in fact, to raise overall school performance at GCSE, not damage it? What action will the Government take to recognise and improve these language skills for the benefit of the whole country?

Lord Nash: The noble Baroness is quite right. In fact, pupils with EAL progress very well and have higher EBacc scores. Indeed, sadly, it is many white, working-class British boys with English as a first language who do particularly badly. We recognise the importance of language skills, which is why we have introduced them as a compulsory measure into primary schools. Under this Government, the number of pupils doing languages at secondary school has risen substantially.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, my noble friend will be aware that many children who begin school with little or no English go on to become successful students and have a very positive work ethic that they contribute to the school. But is he aware that there are successful schemes in some authorities whereby bilingual students are trained to provide additional support to young people and their parents who do not have English as a first language to adapt quickly to school life and to the English way of life?

Lord Nash: I am aware of what the noble Baroness said. These programmes are excellent and we encourage all schools to do the same.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister join me in celebrating the role that teaching assistants can play in helping these particular children integrate quickly, particularly if the teaching assistants are drawn from the local community and share the child’s first language as well? Will he reassure

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all those hard-working teaching assistants around the country that the Government do not have any plans to phase them out?

Lord Nash: The noble Baroness is quite right that teaching assistants can play a vital role, particularly in this area. As we have discussed, the use of teaching assistants can sometimes not be done well—but, properly used, they are vital. We believe that it is for the head teachers to decide how they employ teaching assistants. It is entirely a matter for them.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab): The House will be grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for the statistics that he has given us. More importantly, what is the estimate of the number of children who are now going to school who cannot eat properly, have not been toilet trained properly and cannot cope with healthy foods by comparison with what they are accustomed to eating? What are the Government doing to help parents to train those children to make sure that they have a better standard and to stop the closure of the Sure Start centres, which were aimed at trying to prevent that difficulty?

Lord Nash: The noble Lord is quite right that we unfortunately see an increasing number of pupils entering primary school with very challenging social skills. Primary teachers and assistants have to spend several terms socialising them. Meals are very important, which is why we have introduced compulsory meals. On early years training, in fact we have invested substantially in early years and continue to support childminding.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): Does the Question not highlight the additional challenges that certain teachers and schools have? Will the Minister assure the House that in the inspection and evaluation of schools, full appreciation of the job that teachers do and the distance that each child travels, as well as their achievement in academic league tables, are taken into account to stop demoralising teachers who work in particularly challenging areas and do a wonderful job taking children forward through their education?

Lord Nash: The noble Earl is quite right; teaching is the most noble profession and we should at all times recognise that and constantly try to raise the status of teaching in all our lives. Teachers do a wonderful job. Our new Best 8 progress measures will track the progress of all pupils of whatever ability throughout their school careers. We think that that is very important.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): Can I share with the Minister an experience that I had? A London taxi driver was talking to me about his daughter’s education? His daughter had a first class degree and had gained a job in India in IT. He said, “You see, my daughter was very fortunate. She went to a school where she was able to learn Urdu and Gujarati”. The availability of such languages in our schools should always be seen as an asset and an opportunity for English first-language pupils.

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Lord Nash: I agree entirely with the noble Baroness. Additionally, we are now introducing computing into our schools, which will help in this regard as well.

Flooding: Agricultural Areas


3.04 pm

Asked by The Earl of Shrewsbury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to improve flood defences in agricultural areas.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): My Lords, we are spending £2.4 billion in this four-year period on national flood risk management and much of the 1.3 million hectares of agricultural land at flood risk benefits from this investment. Over the past two years, our capital investment has provided improved protection to more than 150,000 hectares of farmland and many agricultural areas also benefit from the Environment Agency’s flood defence maintenance work.

The Earl of Shrewsbury (Con): My Lords, while I welcome the creation of the farm recovery fund to support bringing flooded land back into production, is my noble friend aware that the impact of the flooding means that the majority of crops in the current production season will be totally non-productive? This causes considerable hardship in many agricultural communities. I ask my noble friend what plans the Government have to alleviate this hardship.

Lord De Mauley: Before I answer my noble friend’s question, I remind the House that I have a farm and that I am not unfamiliar with being flooded. The £10 million farming recovery fund will help farm businesses bring flooded agricultural land back into production as quickly as possible. In addition, £10 million is available under the farming and forestry improvement scheme—part of the rural development programme—which will provide support for farm business resilience. One hundred per cent rate relief is available to flooded businesses for three months. There are also, more generally, grants of up to £5,000 for households and businesses in affected areas to improve resilience of premises to future flooding.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean (Lab): My Lords, I declare an interest as my own village, Vernham Dean in rural Hampshire, has been very badly affected by the flooding. In our village, some householders have been told that although their insurance is valid if there is rising river water, it is invalid if flooding is as a result of rising water through the water table. This is preposterous on the part of insurance companies. Will the noble Lord do everything he can to ensure that insurance companies live up to their responsibilities to the people who have been paying their dues?

Lord De Mauley: First, I extend my sympathy to the residents of the noble Baroness’s village and, indeed, the many other people who have suffered as a result of flooding in the last couple of months. I suspect that

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the specific answer to the question she raises is that unfortunately it depends on the drafting of the specific insurance contract. However, I sympathise strongly and I assure her that we are looking very carefully at the issue of insurance—as she will know—particularly in the context of the Water Bill currently before your Lordships.

Baroness Knight of Collingtree (Con): My Lords, has my noble friend seen reports stating that where there are trees, managing flooding control is very much easier—apparently they aid the removal of water from the surface very effectively—but that the EU encourages our farmers to cut down trees? I do not know whether this is true, but if it is has he any comment to make about it?

Lord De Mauley: My noble friend is right that trees planted in the right places can do much to help with flooding before it happens, as it were. I am not aware that the EU encourages people to cut down trees. Specifically, though, through the RDPE, the funding that we get from the common agricultural policy has been used to plant many millions of trees.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the noble Lord will be only too aware of the huge contribution that British agriculture makes to food security. Could he therefore tell us what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made concerning the risk to food security due to poorly planned flooding amelioration and prevention schemes, which are allowing considerable areas of high-grade agricultural land to be taken out of production due to flooding?

Lord De Mauley: I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for coming to see me the other day to talk about these things. There is currently no evidence that flood events such as those experienced in 2007, 2009 or 2012—or, so far, in recent events—represent a threat to food security in the United Kingdom. According to the UK food security assessment, the UK enjoys a high level of food security as a developed, stable economy. I think it is more likely that disruption to transport links could impact access to food supplies, but we are watching this carefully.

Lord Clark of Windermere (Lab): My Lords, can the Minister advise the House whether any money is available from the European Union to offset these costs on the British Government? If so, have the Government drawn down any of that money?

Lord De Mauley: I think that the noble Lord might be referring to the EU solidarity fund, which is designed to support recovery if a country is in an area that has been affected by a major natural disaster. The UK applied to the fund once before in 2007 when flooding affected over 48,000 households and 7,000 businesses. The threshold for a national disaster is still €3 billion, in 2002 prices. Recent events, although locally severe and certainly very traumatic for local residents, cannot

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be compared in terms of impacts or categorised as a major natural disaster. However, we will keep the matter under review.

Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville (LD): My Lords, in a Somerset village completely cut off by water, a woman who normally works 45 to 50 hours per week to support her family is having to rely on a boat to get in and out. She is therefore not able to work nights and her working week has been reduced to 20 hours. Her income has dropped dramatically and she is now in rent arrears. Her house, however, is on high ground and well above the flood-water. Can the Minister assure us that this woman and others like her will be able to gain access to the grants announced by the Government?

Lord De Mauley: My Lords, as my noble friend knows, we have huge sympathy for those who have been affected and we are doing what we can to help. In my supplementary answer to my noble friend Lord Shrewsbury, I outlined a number of the schemes that are available. I suspect that I am going to need a bit more information about this specific case, and if my noble friend would like to get in touch we will see what we can do to help.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, is there not an argument for turning agricultural land that floods into reservoirs, thereby providing upstream storage of water which would help alleviate flooding problems, particularly in the Thames Valley?

Lord De Mauley: My Lords, we are looking at a number of possible ways in which we can do this. The noble Lord will know that these things are not simple. I will have to ask him to have some patience while we look at the various options.

Education: Vocational Education


3.12 pm

Asked by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the approach taken by Germany and Austria in promoting vocational education; and what lessons they have drawn for the United Kingdom and UK competitiveness.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, in Germany and Austria, vocational education is of high quality and closely involves all local employers, which in Germany is sometimes on a compulsory basis. Of course there are differences between our countries, but there is much we can learn from them. This has informed our reforms of vocational education and Professor Alison Wolf’s review. By introducing the tech bacc and tech levels, reforming apprenticeships and through our UTCs and studio schools, we are expanding high-quality technical education while at the same time ensuring that industry is involved at every step of the way.

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Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con): My Lords, I thank the Minister for that welcome news. We all valued the visit of Chancellor Merkel to Parliament last Thursday, during which she spoke of competitiveness. The German education system does a better job for the nation’s economy and for the less academic partly by ability streaming in schools with the possibility of switching between streams. This provides better educational outcomes and a larger, better pool of talent that can be apprenticed to German business, which is very actively involved. Can we improve our PISA scores and our business performance by doing the same in our schools?

Lord Nash: My noble friend is quite right that the PISA results were a stark wake-up call for all of us about the need to improve our education system across the board in order to compete internationally. In comparison with Germany, we do particularly badly on maths and science. To achieve improvements, we are continuing to introduce a whole suite of reforms, as noble Lords know. As for streaming, we believe that all pupils need a core body of knowledge and indeed I understand that Germany is now extending the period during which their pupils have this. However, there is much that we can learn from Germany. Our UTCs and studio schools, of which we have now approved almost 100, are modelled closely on the success of German technical schools, as are our higher apprenticeships.

Lord Bilimoria (CB): My Lords, the Minister mentioned studio schools in both his responses. I have recently been appointed a patron of studio schools. Since they were first started in 2010, how many schools have opened and what progress has there been on this excellent initiative that encourages employability skills and a more hands on approach? The CBI says that employers want employability skills. Will the Government be funding more studio schools?

Lord Nash: I am delighted to hear of the noble Lord’s involvement in studio schools. It is fantastic for someone with his experience to be giving back in this way. There are 46 studio schools, 28 of which are open with a further 18 in pre-opening phase. More than 400 employers are involved in studio schools. We welcome all high-quality applications for studio schools.

Baroness Wall of New Barnet (Lab): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness on the points that she made, with which I agree totally. Could we not emulate Germany in another way by recognising vocational qualifications such as apprenticeships? Apprenticeships are celebrated in Germany very much like graduate degrees are celebrated in this country. For instance, engineers who have come up through an apprenticeship route are held in much esteem, much more than they are in this country. What can we do to make sure that we emulate that?

Lord Nash: The noble Baroness is quite right. The first thing we can do is to reform the standard of our previously existing vocational qualifications, which were nowhere near good enough, with far too many

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that were not doing our pupils any favours. However, for the first time we now have a high and equal status pathway for pupils through the tech bacc.

Lord Baker of Dorking (Con): My Lords, is the Minister aware that in Germany 60% of school children enjoy some form of technical education? The figure in Britain is 15%, and that is one of the reasons why at the moment Angela is the rooster in the walk. Will he ensure that the expansion of UTCs continues? We have 50. There should really be 100 as these colleges are the only colleges that produce employable engineers and technicians and so far none of their students has joined the ranks of the unemployed.

Lord Nash: I pay tribute to my noble friend’s passionate enthusiasm and drive in support of the UTC programme. It is admirable. As he knows, we welcome as many high-quality UTC applications as we can get.

Baroness Morgan of Ely (Lab): My Lords, many further education colleges encourage young people who have already attained five GCSEs at school effectively to resit vocational courses at the same level as GCSEs—level 2—rather than pushing these students to a level 3 —A-level standard—qualification. What steps are the Government taking to give incentives to colleges to push students to progress and to deliver quicker and better the vocational skills that our economy desperately needs?

Lord Nash: I am grateful for that question. We are looking closely at the attainment targets for FE colleges and we will be focusing, with Ofsted, much more closely on this.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford (LD): My Lords, does my noble friend agree that high-quality careers education and properly trained careers advisers are necessary so that young people in schools know the full range of opportunities available to them from vocational education?

Lord Nash: I agree that they are extremely helpful, but my noble friend will have heard me say before that the technology has moved on from the careers adviser being the gold standard. The gold standard must be the active involvement of all schools with business so that all their pupils have a clear, direct line of sight to the workplace.

Lord Flight (Con): My Lords, have the Government looked at the Swiss model of higher education? Of the order of only 20% of young people attend universities, which are essentially academic, but virtually everybody else gets seven years of sandwich training. Moreover, Switzerland is assessed to have the highest general level of education for its citizens in the world.

Lord Nash: I am aware that the Swiss have a very successful education model. We have studied models around the world and happen to have taken note of this, although Switzerland is a specific country. I shall look at this in more detail and would welcome a discussion with my noble friend about it.

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House of Lords Reform (No. 2) Bill

First Reading

3.19 pm

The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Immigration Bill

Order of Consideration Motion

3.19 pm

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to which the Immigration Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clauses 1 and 2, Schedule 1, Clauses 3 to 8, Schedule 2, Clauses 9 to 15, Schedule 3, Clauses 16 to 47, Schedule 4, Clauses 48 and 49, Schedule 5, Clauses 50 to 54, Schedule 6, Clauses 55 to 58, Schedule 7, Clauses 59 to 61, Schedule 8, Clauses 62 to 66, Schedule 9, Clauses 67 to 70.

Motion agreed.

Immigration Bill

Committee (1st Day)

3.20 pm

Relevant documents: 22nd Report from the Delegated Powers Committee, 8th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Clause 1: Removal of persons unlawfully in the United Kingdom

Amendment 1

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

1: Clause 1, page 1, line 10, at end insert “and the Secretary of State has given the person notice in writing of the date and approximate time of their removal”

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, in moving Amendment 1, I shall speak also to Amendment 4. The group includes Amendments 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8 as well. This is a point at which I feel I should be instigating some sort of cabaret to retain your Lordships. Maybe a tea dance would be more appropriate for this company; I do not know.

Clause 1 provides for a new section to go into the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act for the removal of persons unlawfully in the United Kingdom. It replaces the current Section 10 of that Act, which is headed, “Removal of certain persons”. That change is significant, and the new section would certainly give rather broader powers. Amendment 1, my first amendment, would require the Secretary of State to give notice of the removal, which should be in writing and give the date and time of the removal. At this stage, at any rate, I have referred to this as the “approximate” time in order to anticipate, and therefore not waste time on, an argument that a plane might be delayed. Talking about time without qualifying it was therefore inappropriate—that is not of course the point of this.

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Amendment 4 is about notice to a family member, which new Section 10(6)(c) in effect makes optional. New Section 10 gives powers to remove the individual and family members who are not defined. None of the amendments in this group is about not removing persons who are unlawfully here, which is a different argument, but about who is to be removed and how. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has expressed concerns about the provisions not being in the Bill. We have of course already seen draft regulations. They are in the pack that my noble friend has arranged for noble Lords to see, which contains a whole group of statements of intent, regulations, codes, statements of fact and so on. I thank him for that. I forgot to take it home with me on Friday but I read it, or the right bits, before tabling these amendments.

The Delegated Powers Committee found it,

“difficult to understand why operational experience should have any effect on who is to be treated as a family member”,

and recommended that the definition in the draft regulations be placed in the Bill. That seems to be an appropriate provision. Draft Regulation 4 requires notice to be given to a family member facing removal, which reflects what is currently in the 1999 Act, but the Bill provides only that regulations “may” provide for that notice. I hope that the Minister can explain to the Committee why this should not be a requirement. It seems an absolutely fundamental point and other noble Lords will have seen briefing to the effect that it has been made by the judiciary as well.

There is also a draft regulation providing that the giving of notice invalidates any leave to enter or remain, in the case of the family member previously held, that is currently in Section 10(8). Again, why should safeguards currently in primary legislation not be included in the Bill?

There are always provisions about service of notices in the draft regulations, although I do not know whether they are usual. It may not be a point for debate in Committee today but I could not help noticing that the draft regulations provide for recorded delivery of the notice that requires signing for, but there is deemed service. There must be a risk, for instance, that someone else in the house will sign for receipt of notice of something that is crucial to the person who may not actually receive it. There are deemed service provisions elsewhere in the regulations.

Less technically perhaps, there are directions for removal ceasing to have effect if the family member ceases to belong to the family. Again, that is a current provision and it would be absolutely appropriate for it to be in the legislation. In the Commons Committee, the Minister gave a number of assurances. Of course I accept them, but Governments change, as sometimes do regulations as well.

I cannot recall if the sword of Damocles fell at the end of the tale, but I am concerned about how long it may hang—perhaps for a very long time—and whether it may hang at all over a family member who has a right to leave, enter or remain in the country in his or her own right. This group extends further than these two amendments. Although we may appear to be starting the Bill almost half way through the journey—in

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the philosophical as well as the practical sense—that someone seeking to enter or remain in our country will make, these are very important issues. I beg to move.

Baroness O'Loan (CB): My Lords, I wish to speak to Amendments 5, 6 and 7 in my name, and in that of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. I speak as a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. These amendments were recommended in the eighth report of that committee on the legislative scrutiny of this Bill. Following the Government’s response to the committee, it produced a further legislative scrutiny report and again recommended these amendments.

The intention in Clause 1 is very simple: to simplify processes for removing people who are in the United Kingdom unlawfully and provide for removal of members of the person’s family, which provides a new Section 10 to the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The question of which member of an individual’s family can be removed following the removal or planned removal of an individual is to be decided in accordance with a number of policies. For example, a family member who has been a victim of domestic violence in accordance with the definition in the Immigration Rules will not be removed. Similarly, a member who is no longer in a family relationship will not be removed. There will undoubtedly be debate in your Lordships’ House about who can and cannot be removed under these provisions. Of course, the Government have stated that removals will be in accordance with existing immigration law and our international obligations.

3.30 pm

New subsection (6) provides the Secretary of State with the power to make regulations about who is a family member and the period within which such a family member may be removed. New subsection (6)(c) provides that regulations may be made about,

“whether a family member to be removed is to be given notice and, if so … the effect that being given notice has on the person’s leave, and … how notice is to be served”.

The Government have stated that family members will always be notified if they are facing removal. In those circumstances, it is legitimate to ask why the Bill contains a provision enabling the Secretary of State to make regulations about whether notice should be given to such a person. As drafted, this clause indicates that regulations could provide for circumstances in which notice would not be given. Going by the Government’s response, that is not what they intend to do.

Amendments 5, 6 and 7 would remove the uncertainty about whether a person is to be given notice; they would provide that where a family member is to be removed, he or she is to be entitled to notice, and that regulations may then provide for the effect of being given notice and how notice is to be given. It is very simple: this would reflect the Government’s stated intention. It is profoundly important that people who are already in a state of some uncertainty are not left in unnecessary further uncertainty.

I will now refer to the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, referred. I am a member of that committee. In its 22nd report, the

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committee referred to the delegation of the power to make regulations about when a person is considered to be a member of a family. That power is delegated under new subsection (6) to the Secretary of State. The committee’s report notes that the Government “have helpfully produced” the draft regulations to which the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, referred, and that they contain a definition of family members for the purpose of Section 10 of the Immigration and Asylum Act. It is the view of the committee that it is “inappropriate” to delegate the power to define a family member in these circumstances. No case has been made to exclude from the Bill this very important provision. I therefore ask your Lordships to consider very seriously the report by the DPRRC and to contemplate why such a fundamental and basic provision does not appear in the Bill.

Finally, Amendment 8, in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, gives effect to the recommendation of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that the broad powers contained in new Section 10(6) be subject to the affirmative procedure because the powers delegated are not merely in relation to procedural powers, when a negative procedure is appropriate, but are capable of very wide application. I support this amendment, which retains the necessary powers for your Lordships’ House.

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, there are some very welcome amendments to this Bill, and I will speak shortly to Amendments 1 and 4.

As someone who owes his life to a country that was willing to provide sanctuary at a time of extreme danger, as my wife and I secretly left President Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda, I feel strongly about these matters. This is not to say that I do not recognise the need for proper border control. States have the right to guard their citizens from any real negative impact—social or economic—of excessive immigration. Nevertheless, Amendments 1 and 4 are actually very helpful in a number of ways.

First, I apologise that I was not in the House for the Second Reading on 10 February, but I was pleased to see the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that day. He said:

“The Bill does not undermine individual rights; rather, it strengthens them. The arbitrariness of whether the family life threshold has been met is replaced by clarity and consistency”.

He went on to say:

“It streamlines the process of removing illegal migrants while protecting the vulnerable. … Families being removed will continue to benefit from the coalition’s commitment to end child detention. … We will protect the vulnerable”.—[Official Report, 10/2/14; cols. 416-18.]

However, undue haste is rarely in the interests of fairness, especially when people are disorientated, confused and fearful. While I can see the merits of bringing the decisions together, giving people only 72 hours to access the legal support and advice necessary to make an appeal is not helpful. What if someone is unwell or on holiday? I can hear those responsible having no answer to make other than, “'Tough luck”. It is only fair that if a person is to be removed they be given adequate notice. The amendment in the name of the

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noble Lord, Lord Avebury, would have it that the date of removal was given at that point. This is perhaps better than receiving a letter simply saying that you are liable to removal, although either makes it clear that preparations must be made, which is better all round. Of course, some will say that giving notice gives the opportunity to abscond, but, on balance, it is more humane to give notice. The determination is there for those who are regarded as at risk of absconding: they can be detained.

Amendment 4 is another vital amendment that is consistent with the earlier amendment. It would remove the possibility that a family member being removed might receive no notice. It seems to me that, if they did not receive notice, in a society like this that would be not good. I therefore support Amendments 1 and 4.

Lord Ramsbotham (CB): My Lords, I shall speak particularly to Amendments 1 and 2 but also to Amendments 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, as I shall explain.

At Second Reading, I explained to the House that the whole business of enforced removals was by no means new as far as examination from outside was concerned. Indeed, in 2008, I handed the Home Secretary a document called Outsourcing Abuse, which referred to 78 cases where injuries or death had been inflicted on people who were being removed forcibly from this country. I was then a commissioner on the Independent Asylum Commission, which made some far-reaching recommendations about the whole process. In December 2012, I handed the Home Secretary the report of a commission on enforced removals, which made another series of recommendations relating to the Home Affairs Committee report published earlier that year.

Although Part 1 of the Bill has the sub-heading “Removal Directions”, what is lacking from the whole enforced removal process is overall direction. I was very grateful to the Minister, who was accompanied by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, for meeting me last week with the Bill team, when I gave him what we had in effect drawn up in December 2012, which was a draft code of practice laying down precisely what should be done in the Home Office as well as by the contractors who are responsible for the removal. The draft also provided for oversight of the whole process, which is sadly lacking at the moment. I was grateful to the Minister for saying that he would take away the document and study it, having referred it to the Minister for Immigration, because it is further reaching in the whole enforced removals process than the content of the Bill. Therefore, I did not table it as an amendment.

However, I should like to inform the House about the content of that document, which is really three codes of practice. The first is all about the actual conduct and the preparation of the case. It refers to duties of the Home Office, which we suggested should establish a complex returns panel to deal with single returnees who refuse either a voluntary or an assisted return in the same way that the Independent Family Returns Panel deals with families. I am very glad that Amendments 4, 5, 6 and 7 deal particularly with the families, and the Independent Family Returns Panel has been a qualified success ever since it was appointed. However, I do not think that that is good enough for

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the whole process, because the vast majority of people taken back are single people, some of whom have very complex cases indeed.

The document also refers to a group of people who have suffered from totally inadequate supervision and direction for years: the case owners in the Home Office. Frankly, I reckon they are both inefficient and incompetent. I do not reckon that they have ever truthfully told Ministers exactly what has gone on. That has meant that Ministers have not been in possession of the facts. Therefore, we put in the code of practice a lot of things that must be done to oversee the case owners and make certain that they are competent to carry out their task, including having a detailed understanding of immigration law.

Then we come to staff in the immigration detention centre, because that is where the returnee is based. Frequently, the detention centre staff know quite a lot about the person being returned which is not passed on to the case owner and is therefore never taken into account. That causes some of the problems in returns. We believe that immigration detention centre staff must be brought into the process.

Finally come the contractors—the people who provide the detention custody officers taking the person back. Again, this is a sadly neglected part of oversight at present. The contractors have behaved appallingly badly, in public and in front of the Chief Inspector of Prisons when he was accompanying a flight. That they are prepared to do that in front of him suggests that for years they have got away with—literally—murder. It is time that that was stopped. We suggest what must happen to them.

The next part of the thing is oversight. We believe that the Home Office must establish a clearer description and direction of oversight. It has the ideal person to do that in the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. I have met the chief inspector on a number of occasions and know that he is very keen to improve on what he has done already. The difference he has made since he was appointed in 2007 is enormously marked, as I note from when I was Chief Inspector of Prisons and responsible for doing detention centres. If he is given oversight over the process, particularly the practicalities of it, Ministers will find that a lot of the problems that currently appear and are listed under their names will disappear because somebody is responsible and accountable for making certain that those problems do not arise.

I will not speak to the final part of the code of practice at this moment because it refers to the use of restraint, which comes under Clause 2 and Schedule 1. However, my purpose in all this is that underlying everything that has gone on for far too long in the whole conduct of immigration has been what we described in the Independent Asylum Commission as a “culture of disbelief”. It is time that that was eliminated. I find very worrying at the moment that, although the UK Border Agency has been eliminated, I do not detect in the Home Office the leadership of the three silos that have been appointed to take over those jobs. The intentions of this Bill will be achieved only with

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leadership and drive of the whole process, starting with a determined attack on the 500,000 backlog—it will be defeated only by a determined attack.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, I hesitate to follow such a powerful speech and will speak only briefly because important points have already been raised about the amendments. Briefly, I support Amendments 5, 6 and 7, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, on behalf of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. As she pointed out, in their response to our eighth report—our first legislative scrutiny report on this Bill—the Government said that they would give consideration to the amendments suggested by the JCHR. That is about as good as it gets: the Government will give consideration. They gave away very little indeed in response to our report. We were optimistic that at least something would have happened on this, but nothing has happened. The case has been made as to why it is so important that this provision is placed in the Bill itself. It is not sufficient for it simply to be in regulations or for there to be the very welcome ministerial assurance. It should be in the Bill.

I simply ask the Minister whether he is still considering the case, or has he considered it and decided against it? If so, why? It seems such an eminently reasonable amendment that was proposed by the JCHR and had been supported in various ways by noble Lords.

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The Earl of Listowel (CB): My Lords, I am reminded in this debate of a conversation I had in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre several years ago with a mother—a black woman—who had been removed. Unfortunately, in the process of removal from her home for detention she was injured. Ten months on she was still suffering from the injury that she received. Her 16 year-old daughter—a child with a younger sister of eight years of age—spoke to me about her anger at the injury on her mother and her frustration at being detained for 10 months without trial.

Perhaps this is not the appropriate amendment to bring this in, for which I apologise, but listening to this discussion I commend the coalition Government for their decision early on to minimise as far as possible the detention of families prior to removal. I warmly congratulate them on taking that move.

My other point—again it is probably not the right place to ask about it—is that I am concerned about the training and development of those officers who go to homes to remove families with their children. I would be interested to know how far they have social childcare training akin to what a residential childcare social worker might have, and how far they are supervised by a child and family social worker. It might be helpful on a regular basis that they should be so.

I would be interested in the answers to that sort of question, perhaps not at this point but later in the course of the discussion.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno (LD): My Lords, I support everything that has been said by the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. In particular, the words of the former Chief Inspector of Prisons must carry very serious weight in this particular discussion.

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I am looking at what is happening to the outsourcing of many of these functions and thinking of the question asked by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, just now. What are the qualifications and the development of those who are now involved in these private companies with this particular action? How do they exercise their duties?

The Minister made a statement last year concerning the call from Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons not to use force against pregnant women. He told the House that:

“The recommendation in the report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons on Cedars pre-departure accommodation that force should never be used to effect the removal of pregnant women and children was rejected by the UK Border Agency”.—[Official Report, 10/4/13; col. WA 313.]

At the moment, the powers of forced removal—I hope I am not misinformed here—apply only to the immigration Acts of 1999 or 1971. Enlarging this and making it applicable to any immigration inquiry is a very dangerous move. I ask the Minister for his assurance on these matters.

Also, as mentioned already, the culture and the evidence we have of the methods used do not show any change. What are the Government doing to make sure that when this enforced departure has to be undertaken it is done in a humane way?

Lord Avebury (LD): My Lords, I agree with what my noble friend has just been saying, particularly about the failure of the Home Office to deal with the serious criticisms of the case owners that were referred to earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham. The whole point about disbanding the UKBA and returning these functions to the control of the Home Office itself was that by common acknowledgement, including that of the Home Secretary herself, the UKBA had become dysfunctional and something had to be done. However, what has in fact been done since it was disbanded is that the case owners are not the same persons who were making decisions before and were manifestly incapable of doing the right thing, by reason of the fact that a very large number of the appeals against their decisions were upheld by the tribunal. It would be useful if we had an answer to both that question and the noble Lord’s further question about the consideration of Outsourcing Abuse, the report to which he referred, which never had the consideration that I believe it deserved in the Home Office but is crucial to the future health and efficiency of the people who are making these fundamental decisions, which affect the lives of so many people.

On these amendments, I agree with the Delegated Powers Committee that the definition of “family members” must be in the Bill and limited to those whose leave to enter or remain in the UK is expressly dependent on the principal’s leave to enter or remain. For example, a family member who came to the UK for work or study, not as the dependant of the principal, should not be included in the definition. That seems to be the effect of Regulation 3 of the draft Immigration (Removal of Family Members) Regulations 2014 but, as has been said, it should be in the Bill. As the Delegated Powers Committee found, the justification for placing both this and the time limits for removal in

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secondary legislation—that they may have to be amended from time to time—is not borne out by experience over many years and through a good many immigration Acts.

Draft Regulation 4 has the same effect as Section 10(1)(c) of the 1999 Act, providing that notice has to be given to any family member who is liable to removal, but the Bill provides only that notice “may” be given, as my noble friend Lady Hamwee pointed out in moving the amendment. This is partly covered by our Amendment 4, but the Minister may wish to consider placing the obligation to give notice firmly in the Bill. As ILPA makes clear in its briefing, quoting the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, giving notice is vital for the legality of the decision to remove a person so as to give him the opportunity of challenging the decision before the courts. The Secretary of State’s attempt to remove certain persons without notice has been ruled unlawful by the High Court and the Court of Appeal. In short, the powers and safeguards dealing with the identification of family members who may be removed, the question of when the powers may be exercised and the notice to be given should all be in the Bill, as should the provisions of Section 10(5) of the 1999 Act, providing that removal directions should cease to have effect against a person who ceases to be a family member.

Lord Rosser (Lab): My Lords, I will not at this stage make any comments relating to the extension of enforcement powers but will wait until we discuss Amendments 12 and 13. We are not opposed to the principle of Clause 1 but we have questions to raise. We cannot see what the problems for the Government would be in accepting Amendments 5, 6 and 7, and we await the Minister’s response with interest.

We have Amendments 2 and 8 in this group. Amendment 2 is not dissimilar to that moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and provides that a person should be given written notice of their liability for removal. According to the Government, there are approximately 14,000 enforced removals a year, with people being arrested, detained and then removed, and about 29,000 people depart voluntarily to a greater or lesser degree. Apparently, an enforced removal costs about £15,000.

The Immigration Act 1971 requires written notice of decisions to give, refuse or vary leave to be in the United Kingdom. Currently, migrants are told if they are not allowed to be here, and they are then told separately about their removal. Under the Bill, the Government want to be in a position to serve only one decision that gives, refuses or varies leaves and, following that decision, where notice has been given, those who do not have leave to remain will be subject to removal without a separate removal decision or notice being required. It seems that the notice giving the decision on leave to remain will tell the immigrant of their destination for removal, advise them to seek early legal advice and place them under a duty to raise any asylum, human rights or European free movement issues with the Home Office. It is not clear why this is not stated in the Bill. No doubt the Minister will explain why and indicate what else will be required to be included in this decision notice. Apparently, the decision notice will be issued at least 72 hours before

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any removal is attempted, which is in line with the amount of notice given currently when a removal decision notice is issued. Will the decision notice make clear the individual’s liability to removal, and will it state when, where and how that removal will take place? I look to the Minister to give a response to that question when he replies. Will the minimum 72 hours apply to family members? The draft regulations refer to,

“at any time prior to … removal”.

I hope the Minister will respond to that question. Included in the decision notice will be options for voluntary departure and the consequences of not so departing. Will the Minister say what the consequences of not departing voluntarily will be that will be set out in the notice and, once again, why that should not be in the Bill?

Since financial reasons appear in part to be behind the provisions in Clause 1, will the Minister say what the Government anticipate those savings will be and what impact the change to not having a separate removal notice will have on the number of enforced removals and on the number of people departing voluntarily? Perhaps he will also say what impact the Government expect the change to having no separate removal notice will have on the net migration figure each year, since one assumes that one key purpose of the Bill, as far as the Government are concerned, is to have an impact on that overall figure. It seems unlikely that the current system will be strengthened if the time gap between an individual receiving notice that they do not have leave to be in the United Kingdom and the time they are removed if they do not leave voluntarily is longer than under the current arrangements, under which a separate notice of removal decision is issued. Will the Minister say how long it currently takes, on average, for an attempt to be made to remove a person following a refusal to grant or vary leave being made, how long it takes following the removal decision being sent, and how long the Government intend it should take under the proposed arrangements with only one decision notice being issued in the light of the intention that a decision notice will be issued at least 72 hours before a removal is attempted?

Amendment 8 provides that the regulations that the Secretary of Sate can make about the removal of family members under Clause 1(6) should not be made unless a draft has been made before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament. The Bill does not provide for this to be the case in respect of regulations under Clause 1(6), which would not be subject to the affirmative procedure. Clause 1(6) enables the Secretary of State to enable regulations that, in effect, define who should be considered a “family member” and the period during which they may be removed. Surely legislation should be clear about the people who are subject to the powers it contains. The Secretary of State’s definition of a family member, which could be wide-ranging, should be subject to full discussion and affirmative approval by both Houses.

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As has already been said, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee considers that this clause conferred an important power, enabling the removal

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of persons from the United Kingdom, and that it should, in the absence of very good reasons to the contrary, be clear in the primary legislation who is subject to it. That committee was not convinced by the Government’s argument for placing the definition of a family member in regulations.

The Government have stated that matters relating to family members are detailed and potentially require change in the light of operational experience. The committee commented that this purported justification is undermined by no such change having been needed over very many years during which there have been numerous immigration Acts and a litany of Immigration Rules changes. I have no doubt that the Minister will wish to comment on that.

The committee said that it found it difficult to understand why operational experience should have any effect on who is to be treated as a family member, and that it could see no reason why the draft regulations should not be set out in the Bill. Accordingly, the committee considered the delegation of the power to define a family member to be inappropriate, but accepted that it was appropriate for other matters relating to the removal of family members to be set out in regulations, particularly procedural matters relating to the exercise of the power of removal. However, since the powers in this clause are not limited to procedural matters but are expressed in very wide and general terms, the committee recommended that the broad scope of the powers conferred should be subject to the affirmative procedure, which is what Amendment 8 would achieve.

I can see no reason why that should not be the case and good reasons why it should. I hope that the Minister will reconsider the Government’s apparent stance on this point.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, this has been a welcome start to the Bill. Although we have strayed into some of the subsequent elements in discussing this, that is inevitable because the Bill knits elements together. It is proper that we see how the provisions of Clause 1 fit into the other aspects of the Bill.

I think that we can all agree that our current system for removal is too complex. It requires a number of decisions and notices to be made and served. Separate refusal and removal decisions can cause confusion to migrants as to when they need to leave the UK and lead to legal challenges being made later in the process

I start by considering the two amendments so ably moved by my noble friend Lady Hamwee. We know that she works assiduously on these Bills, whether or not she has taken home the guidance brochure this past weekend. Amendments 1 and 2 would ensure that a person must be given written notice of their removal. Amendment 1 also mandates setting out the date and approximate time of that removal. While I understand the broad intention behind Amendment 1, this would inadvertently reintroduce a layer of complexity, which the whole purpose of the clause is to reduce.

The intention behind Clause 1 is to move to a system where only one decision is made and served,

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giving, refusing or varying leave. Following that decision, those who require leave but do not have it will be removable.

I can confirm to my noble friend Lady Hamwee, and indeed to other noble Lords, that such people will all receive notice of the decision in writing, in accordance with Section 4 of the Immigration Act 1971, so it is unnecessary to place an additional notice requirement within this clause. This notice will inform them of the decision on leave, of their liability to be removed if they do not depart voluntarily, and the proposed destination for any enforced removal.

It would not be feasible to provide a date or approximate time of removal in this notice. Not all those who become liable to removal will be facing an enforced removal, as we—and, I think, all noble Lords—would always prefer that those who do not have valid leave to be in the country should return home voluntarily. This allows the migrant to depart on their own terms, is more cost-effective for the taxpayer, and, if the migrant leaves without the use of taxpayer resources, they can reduce the likelihood of, and possibly avoid, a re-entry ban.

I turn to the comments of my noble friend Lady Hamwee on the deemed service of the decision. She will be well aware that “deemed service” replicates the existing notice provisions, which have been shown to work effectively and are interpreted with a degree of flexibility, such that if the person can show that they received the notice at a later date, we will accept that as the date of service. There are established procedures on the delivery of notice and, indeed, they are set out in the regulations.

All migrants will be given the opportunity to raise with the Home Office any asylum, human rights or European free movement reasons why they believe they are entitled to stay in the UK. They will be informed that they are under a duty to do so at the earliest opportunity if their circumstances change, and will be advised to seek any legal advice as early as possible.

I hope I can reassure the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York, who I am delighted is participating in our debates today, that the common law principles of access to justice mean that migrants will be given sufficient time—a minimum of 72 hours—to raise such grounds before any removal can be enforced. They will be reminded of the fact that they may be removed from the UK if they do not depart voluntarily during any contact management events. If the migrant’s removal is enforced but they are compliant with the process, they will be informed of when to check in to the port of departure. If the migrant is not compliant, they will first be detained, where they will be informed when removal is imminent.

The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, mentioned our very productive meeting. Although I cannot share his view of the hard-working people we ask to handle this difficult task on our behalf, I note what he says about oversight. I should say that quality assurance checks are part and parcel of the process. However, we recognise that there is room for further improvement. As such, we have an ongoing programme of work to continue to monitor and progress our decision quality.

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Amendments 4 to 7 seek to remove the discretion in the regulations as to whether we notify family members of removal. We have already stated our intention that family members will always be given notice where they are to be removed. I hope that it pleases the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, and my noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lord Avebury, that it is our intention to work out how to address the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Human Rights on Clause 1. We will amend the Bill on this subject. However, I remind noble Lords that it was only on 21 February that we received the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, making some similar recommendations. We are working out how to address both issues on Report. I hope I will return on Report. I reiterate that we will amend the Bill to meet the issues raised by these reports.

I now turn to Amendment 8. I appreciate the concerns raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, about the processes surrounding the removal of family members which have led to his tabling this amendment. At the risk of jumping ahead of ourselves, Clause 67 sets out the proposed parliamentary procedures in respect of various order and decision-making powers provided for in the Bill. It already specifies that any power to make an order or regulations is exercisable by statutory instrument and that, for this particular power, it is under the normal process of negative rather than affirmative procedure. The draft affirmative procedure is normally reserved for those orders or regulations that amend or repeal primary legislation, or develop policy in a way to require significant parliamentary debate, or where the intention behind the power to make them is not clearly set out in the Bill. This Bill is clear on the intent of the regulations. The scope for a Government to construct anything that would require significant debate in a statutory instrument deriving from it is limited.

The existing removal powers that are in force allow the removal of family members. Unlike in deportation cases, there is currently no statutory definition of what constitutes a family member. That is a matter left to the Home Office. By defining this in regulations—noble Lords have referred to the draft regulations that have appeared in the memorandum that has been circulated—the Bill will give new clarity to families so that they will know exactly who may be liable to removal. It will also provide further parliamentary oversight that has until now been absent. Following scrutiny of this clause in the House of Commons, and at the request of the right honourable Member Mr David Hanson, my honourable friend Mark Harper, the former Immigration Minister, arranged for a draft of these regulations to be published and a copy is placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Lord Rosser: Perhaps I might ask the Minister a question. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee referred to the Government’s argument that these matters are best placed in regulations because the definition of “family member” or the time limits for removal may change within a limited extent. It commented that this purported justification is undermined by no such change having been needed over a period of very many years during which there have been

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numerous immigration Acts and a litany of immigration rules changes. Since the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, subject to what the Minister may say, appears to have shot the Government’s arguments to bits, why is the Minister still resisting ensuring that this is done by the affirmative process?

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I think that I have made it clear that the affirmative process is used where there is an opportunity for the Government, in effect, to change policy through a statutory instrument, which then gives rise to a reasonable demand by Parliament for the opportunity to debate the measure. As I have said, we are going to bring forward more explicit changes to the Bill to reflect the concerns shown by the comments of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. It would probably be best if we waited until then to see what they say before we rush to change the procedure by which these matters have been considered in the past. It would be helpful to the House to wait until these changes are produced.

The draft regulations are designed to reflect the immigration rules. If a person can come to UK and be granted leave on the basis of a family relationship with another migrant, it is only right that such a person could be removed along with the lead person who has no leave to be in the UK. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee made recommendations about this clause that I am considering further. I will respond in detail on these recommendations before we consider the matter again on Report. That would be the right time, and I urge noble Lords to wait and see where these considerations lead us.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked a number of questions. If I do not cover them all now, I will certainly write to him. We will write to address his questions about the timescale of decision-making on removals and the carrying out of those decisions because I understand that this matter is of interest to a number of noble Lords. As to the impact on the number of removals, Clause 1 does not permit new categories of people to be removed; all those who can be removed under the clause can already be removed. It does not extend the powers to remove people but there is currently a more complicated set of procedures than will exist through the measures in the Bill. Clause 1 is about making removals more efficient.

Lord Rosser: Is the Minister saying that the provisions in Clause 1 about what the Government would regard as streamlining the procedure are not actually designed with the intention or hope that they will lead to more people who are not entitled to stay here and do not have leave to remain in the United Kingdom leaving the country than at present? Is that not the purpose of these changes?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: No, the purpose of the changes is to make sure that people who are subject to removal leave voluntarily rather than through enforced removal. I am sure that the noble Lord and most noble Lords would agree with that proposal.

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We will ensure that family members who have valid leave to remain in the UK in their own right will not be removed. We propose to remove only dependants of persons with no right to be in the UK. Where dependency is broken, such as when it involves a victim of domestic violence, the former dependant is expected to apply for leave to remain in their own right—and, if necessary, they will be removed if they were unsuccessful as a main applicant. We will also look at the best interests of the child in making any decision under our obligations—of which noble Lords are well aware—regarding victims of human trafficking.

This has been a helpful debate. I hope that I have been able to whet noble Lords’ appetite for a government response on this important clause before Report. I can reassure them that family members will always be notified if they are facing enforced removal. The draft regulations underscore this and make it clear how notice is to be given. In the light of those points, I hope that the noble Baroness will agree to withdraw the amendment.

The Archbishop of York: I still have not understood the Minister’s logic. I appreciate and want to commend the removal of the two-stage approach—the fast-forward immigration decision and then the removal decision. That has caused difficulty to a lot of people whom I have been representing and the Secretary of State knows that because we have had wonderful conversations. Therefore, I applaud that. But if there are 72 hours in which you can appeal the decision, what is the problem of giving notice in writing of the date and approximate time of the removal? People could still appeal within 72 hours. Why not state that? I cannot understand the logic. Can the Minister please help me?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The purpose of the notice is not to put people under notice as to the exact timing of when they will go. It is intended that they should be informed of where they will be removed to because that might have a bearing on human rights considerations. But the actual timing of their removal is an administrative matter. To my mind, it would be a complication that might reduce the effectiveness of these measures if the actual timing of their removal also had to be part and parcel of that notice.

If experience shows that it is possible to be more precise in working this new arrangement, I have little doubt that we will come back to the House to seek ways in which that can be done. But for the time being, it is expecting too much to be able to be precise about the actual time and date of a person’s removal when serving this notice.

The Archbishop of York: Is the Minister quite sure about that in the light of what the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, said about the way that this thing will work—that it will not be very efficient and that people will not be very good at it? Now the Minister is saying that there will be an administrative decision by the Secretary of State. How can we be certain that the kind of problems that the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, drew our attention to, which are real experiences that everyone knows about, will not affect the changes we are looking for?

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I can be certain that when people get a decision about the refusal of their right to remain they will be removed if they do not make arrangements to go voluntarily. That is a step forward. I hope noble Lords will appreciate that much of what the Government are trying to do, including bringing Border Agency activities into the Home Office, is designed to make sure that as we develop better oversight of decision-making within the Home Office and within UKVI we will have a more efficient process in the detail that the most reverend Primate suggested.

Lord Rosser: How long will those who have been told that they no longer have leave to remain be given to make arrangements to leave voluntarily and how long will it be before a decision is made that they are not going to leave voluntarily and that enforced removal is required?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: It will be for them to make arrangements with UKVI on the basis of the notice that they have been given. We are not looking for enforcement as being the primary objective of the policy. I think the noble Lord would agree that voluntary departures are what we would prefer to see happen.

Lord Ramsbotham: Following what the most reverend Primate said, perhaps I may say how pleased I was to hear the use of the word “better” just now in terms of oversight. I ask the Minister to accept that, hard- working though they may be, case workers have not been very good at their task and neither has there been oversight. If they had been and there had been oversight there would not have been this endless history of problems and complaints for years and years, which have been ignored. The time has come for that ignoring to stop. Therefore, I am relieved to hear mention of better oversight.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, the critique of what happens in practice from someone experienced as an inspector has clearly resonated around the House. We have already talked during the passage of the Bill—and I am sure we will talk again—about the importance of practice. Whatever is on paper, whether in the Bill or in regulations, is a precaution against bad practice, but it is the good practice that is important. Given the Minister’s assurances about coming back at the next stage, more formally we hope, with responses in the form of amendments to the comments of two committees, it would obviously be inappropriate for me to spend very long at this stage responding to the points that have been made. However, I will say that, like others, I read between the lines: three days does not seem very long in which to decide what to do about a decision that has been handed down and to make arrangements. But there we are.

The Minister suggested that my first amendment would reintroduce complexity. I was actually seeking to provide more clarity. When he referred to there being a provision somewhere else in the raft of immigration legislation that deals with notice in writing, I could not help thinking that consolidating all this legislation has defeated Government after Government, but it is something that is sorely needed.

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I make one perhaps tiny point just to clear the undergrowth before the next stage. The noble Lord referred to Clause 67 of the Bill as providing for the negative procedure. I would have thought that it was the regulations and orders section in the 1999 Act—which actually takes us to the same point as it being negative—that would apply as Clause 1 is replacing a section of the 1999 Act. It would be helpful if before Report we could understand what the relevant provision is so that those of us who might be minded to suggest amendments know that we are proposing amendments to the correct section or clause. However, I am glad that we will have amendments on regulations which the Minister talks about as changing policy. Regulations set policy before it gets changed by subsequent regulations. That is what many of us are concerned with. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 1.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Amendment 2 not moved.

Amendment 3

Moved by Lord Wallace of Tankerness

3: Clause 1, page 2, line 16, at end insert—

“( ) paragraph 18B (detention of unaccompanied children);”

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) (LD): I rise to move the amendment standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach and will speak to the other amendments in the group. We believe that the Government have transformed the approach to returning families with children in line with their coalition agreement commitment to end the detention of children for immigration purposes. We now propose, through these amendments, to give legislative effect to our current policies on family returns by putting key elements of the new process into primary legislation.

Ending child detention was previously debated during Committee in the House of Commons as a result of amendments tabled by my honourable friend Julian Huppert MP. In Committee, the then Immigration Minister, my right honourable friend Mark Harper, agreed that the department would see whether it was possible, either in whole or in part, to put some or all of current government policy into primary legislation. On Report in the House of Commons, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced the proposal to reinforce the commitment to end the detention of children for immigration purposes by putting these four key elements into primary legislation.

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The new family returns process was established in March 2011 after extensive consultation across government and with a wide range of children’s experts. It ensures that families with no right to be here are given every opportunity to leave without the need for enforcement action. Where families do not co-operate, it enables officials to take steps to ensure that they leave. This may include a short stay in pre-departure accommodation, but this would be as a last resort and always for the shortest possible time.

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While we have transformed our approach to managing family cases, detention powers derived from immigration legislation are needed to place families in our new pre-departure accommodation. They are also needed to hold a family for a few hours at the border when they have arrived without the appropriate leave and are awaiting their return flight. Exceptionally, we may also need to hold unaccompanied children: for example, where it is in the public interest because of a risk of reoffending or a risk to national security. They may also be held for a very short period on arrival pending collection by social services.

We believe that the new process works well, but could be reversed through a simple policy change. These amendments provide for four statutory locks which guarantee that the fundamental elements of this approach cannot be changed without full parliamentary oversight and debate. I turn now to the four locks.

First, we will prevent families being removed for 28 days after any appeal against a refusal of leave has been completed. Currently, following the conclusion of an appeal, families are placed into the returns process, which gives them time to consider voluntary return. This 28-day restriction will ensure that these families will always have an opportunity to consider their options and avoid enforced return. We always seek to ensure that families remain together during their return, but in exceptional circumstances we may need to remove an adult family member during this 28-day period: for example, where there is a public protection concern or a risk to national security.

Secondly, we will place a statutory duty on the Secretary of State to appoint and consult the Independent Family Returns Panel for advice on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in every family returns case where return is enforced. This will mean that the panel is never sidestepped. Thirdly, we will provide a separate legal basis for pre-departure accommodation independent of other removal centres. We will ensure that it can be used only for holding families with children and we will lock in the existing maximum time limits for holding families there.

Fourthly, we will provide specific legislative protection for unaccompanied children so that they are not held in immigration removal centres when we are trying to return them. Unaccompanied children may need to be held for short periods in transit to a port of departure or at the port awaiting departure, but in line with current policy we will provide that they are not held in these short-term holding facilities for more than 24 hours. These removals are fortunately rare, and, wherever possible and in line with existing policy, removals would always be carefully planned so that children are held for as short a time as possible.

It is possible that a removal attempt will be unsuccessful for reasons beyond our control: for example, if a plane develops a technical fault. Where this happens, children will not be held beyond 24 hours. It may be necessary, however, after a suitable period, to attempt removal again, which may require holding them for a further period. While it is vital that we enforce immigration

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decisions in these circumstances, we will not hold children for multiple 24-hour periods to achieve this. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I welcome these amendments. There is frequently talk in this House, and rightly so, about caring for the interests of children, reference to Section 55, the paramountcy principle and so on—but sometimes it is easier to say it than to put it into practice. These amendments articulate the practice and are about more than just principle.

In 2009 I was refused a visit to Yarl’s Wood by the Home Office. I never discovered whether I was thought to be subversive or whether I was thought likely to be someone who might attempt to spring a detainee, but I have visited Cedars. Yes, it is for detention for the reasons we have heard, but it is also about caring for people and preparing them for return. Having seen the facilities there and talked about the work that goes on, I have to say that the Cedars centre is a great deal preferable to scooping up a child and putting them straight on a plane out of the country. The care that is given and the thought that goes into the preparation impressed me very much. When I was there, I asked about the boundary wire round the premises. Although it was quite inconspicuous, it seemed to give the feel of detention, and I had observed it going in. I was told that it was to keep out local troublemakers.

I have a number of questions. One is about allowing one parent to be returned within the 28-day period, which might mean that a family is split and a child is separated from one parent. Will my noble friend tell the House about the circumstances in which separation would occur? Secondly, subsection (2)(b) of proposed new Clause 78A talks about a single parent or a carer. Is a carer a local authority foster parent? What is a carer in this context?

As regards the family returns panel, will my noble friend give the Committee assurances about how its independence will be assured? Secondly, for reasons that I think will be obvious, will he give assurances about whether the individuals concerned will have a means of giving information or making representations to the family returns panel, or checking that the information that it receives from others is accurate? These are important provisions.

As regards unaccompanied children, other noble Lords may remember the very effective and impressive Member of this House who died some years ago, Baroness Faithfull—Lucy Faithfull. I recall her talking about meeting an unaccompanied child arriving from, I think, Somalia. She told the story of having gone to Heathrow to meet this child in a social work capacity with a bar of milk chocolate to give to the child as a present. This child had never encountered milk chocolate before and was really scared about what she was being asked to eat. That story has remained with me as an example of the cultural gulf that has to be crossed and the hard work needed in dealing with children who arrive here unaccompanied.

In what circumstances is this provision used and what change in policy does it indicate? We have had confirmation that multiple 24-hour periods will not be applied, but will my noble friend say something—I do

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not know whether I missed it—about monitoring the use of the provisions and publishing data on the number of occasions, the circumstances and the length of time an unaccompanied child is detained, and so on?

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I, too, pay tribute to government Amendments 10, 14 and 15; 10 because of the Independent Family Returns Panel about which the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, spoke. I agree with the importance of independence. There is no doubt that the Independent Family Returns Panel has made marked improvements to the process since it was formed, and that it is very well led and well worth listening to. I commend the coalition on the determination with which it has pursued the detention of children. Having served on the advisory board early in 2010, soon after the election, I am glad to see this clause in the Bill.

Finally, I am very glad to see the place of detention at Cedars, and I commend Barnardo’s for the way that it has conducted the care of families who have been in that place.

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I, too, welcome this amendment. The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, and I visited Yarl’s Wood when he was Archbishop of Canterbury. We were quite surprised and shocked, and made very clear representations about this particular question of the detention of unaccompanied minors. I am very grateful for what is happening here but again, like the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, I want to know whether the Minister can give us an assurance that there will be monitoring of the 24-hours issue and that it will not turn into a norm that nobody can question, so that we can find out whether this is healing a very difficult problem. However, for all of that, I welcome this particular amendment.

Lord Judd (Lab): My Lords, this amendment is certainly a move in the right direction, but the one anxiety I have is that it still leaves matters very much in terms of systems and the responsibilities for ensuring systems are running properly. If we put ourselves in the position of the unaccompanied child, who may be going through all sorts of mental turmoil and agony—bewildered, uncertain and desperately in need of friendship and help—it would be good to hear a little about the Government’s thinking on how these real psychological, and consequently very often physical, needs of the young person are being dealt with. We have debated the policy in this Bill in previous years and, ideally, the child in this situation needs a personal champion, who is there throughout the process, advising, talking to and consulting them—if you like, a counsellor, who is there to enable the child to make sense of what is happening and being proposed and to enable the child to start developing his or her own views about what they really want to take place.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, these amendments, which are all concerned with the detention and removal of children, either on their own or as part of families, are a reflection of existing government policy, which, in the absence of these amendments, could be reversed without parliamentary oversight, as the Home Secretary

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observes in her



Ending the Detention of Children for Immigration Purposes

, issued last month. In fact, children are still to be detained, but in places described as “pre-departure accommodation”. The only place identified as such so far is, as has been mentioned, Cedars near Heathrow, which has hitherto been included in the list of short-term holding facilities to be discussed in the next amendment. It appears to me that holding children in Cedars is still detention, as I think my noble friend Lady Hamwee remarked, because the families are still deprived of their liberty, albeit in far more congenial surroundings than in immigration removal centres and even though they are no doubt looked after far better by child-friendly Barnardo’s than the impersonal money-making subsidiary of Capita that runs the IRCs.

Amendment 9 allows for a 28-day grace period following the exhaustion of appeal rights before a child and the relevant carer may be removed, during which it is hoped that agreement can be reached on their voluntary departure. This system is already operating on a non-statutory basis, but it would be useful if my noble friend could say what statistics there are on voluntary, as compared with forced, departures up until this point. In addition, are any resettlement grants available to families who agree to voluntary departure and what are the details of the organisation through which the voluntary departures and any associated grants are organised? They used to be organised by the International Organisation for Migration, but I think that that has changed in recent years.

4.45 pm

One assumes that, where Amendment 9 confers power on the Secretary of State to issue removal directions or a deportation order within the 28-day period, the directions or order will not come into effect before the expiry of the 28 days. However, should that not be made explicit in subsections (4)(a) and (4)(b) of the new clause?

The Independent Family Returns Panel, whose functions are defined in Amendment 10 and which has been referred to by my noble friend and others, advises the Home Office on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in a family that is to be returned. We see, however, that the Secretary of State will appoint all the members and decide the status and constitution of the panel. Any other matters concerned with the panel’s operation will be determined by secondary legislation, which is also under the Secretary of State’s control. We have not received advice on how the label “independent” is to be made a reality, but perhaps my noble friend will have some suggestions when he replies.

We would also like to know whether, in the regulations, it is intended that means will be provided whereby families and their legal representatives can present information directly to the panel—a matter that was raised by my noble friend Lady Hamwee—or whether they can verify or challenge the information presented to the panel by the Home Office or others. We would like the family to be given copies of the Home Office’s immigration factual summary and family welfare form routinely, without having to make a subject access request. In fact, copies of all forms or documents connected to a case, and of the conclusions reached by

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the panel, should be made available to the family. I would like my noble friend to consider that point in his reply.

The new clause proposed in Amendment 14 is headed “Restrictions on detention of unaccompanied children”, which acknowledges that there are still circumstances in which children need to be detained. There is no way of avoiding detention pending the transfer of a child to social services or where there is a reasonable suspicion that the child is being trafficked. ILPA suggests that, in cases of that sort, the power in Section 46 of the Children Act 1989 for police to remove a child liable to suffer significant harm to suitable accommodation should be used, but I understand that that would require an immigration officer to explain the situation to a police officer rather than act on the information that he has. That would take time and cause delays.

We are told that returns of unaccompanied children are extremely rare and it would be useful again if my noble friend could tell your Lordships what the number in the latest convenient year for which the information is available was. Could he also tell the Committee what the Home Office is hoping to do as regards the return of unaccompanied minors to Afghanistan and Albania in particular, a matter that we understand is under consideration by the Home Office?

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, with whom I had the honour to sit on the House of Lords European Union Sub-Committee F, when we looked particularly at issues around immigration. He may have been with us when as a committee we visited Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre to take evidence. I am interested in the answers to what the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked when referring to encouraging voluntary return and in having some detail about what incentives are being offered on that. I share his concern about gaining some reassurance about the independence of the Independent Family Returns Panel, and I am also interested in what he said about the need for figures on the detention of unaccompanied children in the past.

My chief wish at this point—using this as the right place this time—is to pay tribute to the coalition Government for this huge change in the safeguarding of children. It was harrowing to visit the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre both as a member of the House of Lords European Union Sub-Committee and on two previous occasions early in the centre’s existence. Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, which took these families, was based very much on a category C prison, so it was very familiar to me, having visited Feltham young offender institution. One would see a mother, with her young child, coming through the admission room—just like Feltham, with the barred gate—and what would a child be thinking, having that experience, walking through this prison?

I pay tribute to the first Children’s Commissioner, who produced a number of important reports, which highlighted, for instance, how in going from admissions to the family wing there might be seven or eight separate doors that had to be opened with keys by the warder. There were important improvements to the

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regime under the Labour Government. However, towards the very end, as I said, I met a 16 year-old girl. Can your Lordships imagine what any girl or young woman would feel who was detained for 10 months, through no fault of her own or any action that she did wrong, separated from the pleasure of being with her peers? What can that be like? Of course, one understands why she was so angry with me and with us for allowing this to happen to her and her family.

I express my heartfelt thanks to the coalition Government for improving this situation so greatly, and I welcome these amendments.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, there are many things that show exactly what the heart of a nation is. One is the way in which we treat children of all races and all different backgrounds.

I remember 30 years ago at the time of the Ethiopian famine being in Tel Aviv and then in the Galilee and receiving the children and the folk from Operation Solomon. They came with nothing at all: the adults in their white gowns and the labels on their foreheads indicating who they were, and the children—well, I held one or two of them in my arms and they were so different from my own grandchildren. I am so grateful that my grandchildren are robust and enjoy life; these little children had nothing to enjoy.

Children are children wherever they are, whatever their background, and they need to be treated with respect and kindness wherever they happen to be. One reason I supported the coalition when we had those votes in 2010 was that the declaration came that we as Liberal Democrats would end the detention of children for immigration purposes. I am not sure that I would be in the coalition if it was not for that promise. Now we are on the last lap, I think, of showing that we really believe that.

In 2009, 2,000 children were detained for immigration purposes. In December last year, 22 children were detained some time or other during the month—not for days but for hours. There is the last lap, as has already been mentioned, where no child should be detained, but we are on the right course. I do not often compliment the Minister—although I hope he is a very good friend—on what is happening with the end of detention of children for immigration purposes.

Imagine a child—one of my own or your Lordships’ grandchildren, whoever they might be—waiting with their parents. The stress that their parents feel, which of course is transmitted to them, is terror. We are removing that terror. There is more to be done. Looking at the measures proposed, is this still the last resort, as it was previously? How and where can we bring this to fruition, so that our nation—I should say four nations: Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland—will be shown to be a nation with real heart and real concern? I will be so happy if that can be the case.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, I associate myself with the comments that have just been made on this important area by my noble friends Lord Avebury and Lord Roberts and by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who always speaks so eloquently on these matters. I apologise in advance if the points have already been

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covered, but I think that they need to be underlined further and made very clear.

We have had excellent briefings from Barnardo’s, which we know does so much work for these children. We know that unaccompanied children have been temporarily admitted to the United Kingdom, but they are not routinely detained prior to their return. There is concern, and government assurances have been sought, as to whether this situation could change in the future. It is worth making sure that unaccompanied children who are admitted temporarily will not start being routinely detained. I speak as somebody who in their previous role was a councillor in a local authority which had to deal with a fair number of unaccompanied children. All councils have responsibility as corporate parents to those children because they come into their care. My experience of those children who came into our care was always positive. I remember attending award ceremonies for children some of whom had come from worn-torn countries in a vulnerable and traumatised state but had gone on to become academically so proficient that they gained places in universities. They had turned their lives around with the right support. As the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, when these children go before any panel that is to decide their future, it is important that councils in their role as corporate parents ensure that they are properly supported and represented, as any parents would do for their own children. They should get the right support and advice when it is being determined whether they remain or are returned, or whatever is best for their future. I would like an assurance on that.

Baroness Benjamin (LD): My Lords, I always say that childhood lasts a lifetime, and all children need the best start in life. These amendments will give these children the best possible start and I congratulate the Government on putting them forward. I want to raise just one point on behalf of Barnardo’s—I speak as a vice-president of that organisation. I congratulate Barnardo’s on having made an important effort to make sure that all children are taken care of if they happen to come to this country in unfortunate circumstances. Although Barnardo’s welcomes the 28-day reflection period being enshrined in the law, it is concerned about the drafting of the clause, as it would allow one parent to be returned within the 28-day period as long as there is another parent to care for the child. This in effect allows any family to be split and for the child to be separated from one of their parents, with no restrictions on the circumstances in which it should happen. Barnardo’s believes that a child should be separated from their parent against their will only if it is in the best interest of the child; for example, if there are safeguarding concerns such as domestic violence. It wants appropriate safeguards to be put in place to prevent children being separated from their parents and traumatised in any way. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response on this issue.

Lord Northbourne (CB): My Lords, I am not entirely sure that this is an appropriate intervention; if not, I apologise and I shall be very brief. I happen to live near Dover. My wife has chaired a considerably large housing association in the area. It received a frantic

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call one day from the county council, saying, “We simply can’t cope. We’ve got all these unaccompanied minors arriving”. Those children came and it got to know them and so on. The majority of them were absolutely intentionally unaccompanied immigrants. Having been put on a boat in Calais and told to throw their passport into the water as they went across, they came into this country and there was nothing that we could do to change it. Is that situation still the same and, if so, can the Minister perhaps comment on that aspect of it also?

Lord Rosser: We welcome the Government’s amendments, which lay down requirements in the Bill in relation to the removal of families with children and also unaccompanied children. We will consider the objectives of the Government’s amendments, which the Minister gave in moving Amendment 3. No doubt we will do so in more detail in response to the questions and points that have been raised today.

5 pm

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I acknowledge the welcome that has been given to these particular moves. I assure your Lordships’ House that the Government take very seriously our duty under Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to carry out our functions,

“having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in the United Kingdom”.

As I indicated in moving the amendment, the intention is to lock in, on a statutory basis, what has been an administrative change in policy. I assure my noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece that that is the purpose here; it is not to lay the pathway towards a change in policy. We believe that we have implemented a good policy, one that has commanded support from all quarters of your Lordships’ House. We wish to ensure that that cannot be undone in future except by a change to primary legislation.

Noble Lords commented on Cedars. I confess that I have not been there; that is something I maybe ought to do given what has been said about it in the course of this short debate. My understanding is that it could not be further in look or feel from an immigration removal centre such as Yarl’s Wood. It is important to emphasise, again, that families are held there only as a last report, for only a short period prior to their return and only after safeguarding advice has been sought from the independent family returns panel. Since Cedars was established, Barnardo’s has provided dedicated social work, welfare services and family support to children and their families there. I echo the compliments and praise paid to the work of Barnardo’s by a number of those who have contributed to this debate.

I will try and respond to a number of points. First, my noble friend Lord Avebury asked some questions about numbers. There are published data on voluntary returns, enforced returns and other outcomes in the family returns process. I will certainly send those data to my noble friend. I do not have details as to what the voluntary packages look like but if I can I will try to set out some of those, too. I think everyone would agree that if a voluntary arrangement can be made it is

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a far better outcome, not least for the dignity of the family. However, published statistics show that, under the old system, 1,119 children entered detention centres such as Yarl’s Wood in 2009, and 436 in 2010. By contrast, the latest statistics show that in the first three-quarters of 2013, seven children—at that time believed to be adults—were held in immigration removal centres and subsequently released following an age assessment. Some 64 children have been held briefly at the Tinsley House family unit after being stopped at the border and 68 children have been held at the new pre-departure accommodation for very short periods prior to leaving the United Kingdom.

On Amendment 9, my noble friend Lady Hamwee asked who a carer is in proposed new Section 78A(1)(b) and whether that included the local authority. No, the carer must be someone who has been living with the child and subject to removal as well. That rules out local authority carers but captures a situation where, for example, a child is part of a family unit with an aunt. In those circumstances, the family unit would benefit from the protection here.

My noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lady Benjamin raised the possibility of families being separated during the 28-day reflection period. As I sought to emphasise when moving the amendment, we will always seek to ensure that families remain together during the return. However, temporary separation may sometimes be necessary to safely ensure the family’s return. We would not separate a family solely for a compliance reason. It would always be where it was considered in the best interests of the child to be temporarily separated from their parent or where the presence of one of the parents or carers was not conducive to the public good. We would never separate a child from both adults for immigration purposes, or from one in the case of a single-parent family, if the consequence of that decision is that the child would be taken into care.

My noble friend Lord Avebury asked whether we can always give families a copy of the factual summary in the case. We have been working on making these documents more readily available. I am sure your Lordships’ House will readily appreciate the sensitivities involved in sharing these documents and the timings of the returns process. Indeed, one of the particular concerns is that individual members of a family may have provided information in confidence. There is a level of sensitivity around this, although as I indicated we have been working on making those documents more readily available.

My noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lord Avebury asked about the independence of the Independent Family Returns Panel. Appointments to the panel are made in accordance with the code of practice published on 1 April 2012 by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. This ensures that panel members are appointed on merit following a fair and open selection process, and the process does not compromise the panel’s independence. It includes an independent chair and other members with safeguarding and medical expertise, and provides independent advice to the Home Office on the method of return of individual families when an enforced return is necessary. The advice provided

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by the panel helps ensure that individual return plans take full account of the welfare of the children involved and that the Home Office will fulfil its responsibilities under Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.

I was also asked about the situation regarding the detention of unaccompanied children. I sought to make clear when moving the amendment that it is possible that a removal attempt will be unsuccessful for reasons that may be beyond the Government’s control. For example, a plane may develop a technical fault. When this happens, we accept that children should not continue to be held in a short-term holding facility for more than 24 hours. They should be released and given time to rest and recuperate. But the fact that a removal attempt is unsuccessful should not mean that such people are automatically entitled to stay in the UK. It should still be possible to enforce immigration decisions. It may therefore be necessary, after a suitable period, to attempt removal again and this may require a further, short, period of detention.

I reiterate what I said earlier. While it is vital that we enforce immigration decisions in these circumstances, we will not hold children for multiple 24-hour periods in order to achieve this.

One of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, relates to holding unaccompanied children who arrive at the border. Where a child is travelling alone or is identified as a potential victim of trafficking, we may need to hold them for a very short period while we arrange for them to be taken into the care of local children’s services. I do not have figures as to how often this has happened, but all border force officers are given training on trafficking and child protection, so they know what to look out for. To support this we use a system of risk profiles, alerts, and intelligence tools to give officers the information they need to intervene in cases of suspected trafficking.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, asked about a counsellor for unaccompanied children. It is the view of the Government that the child’s needs and interests are best protected by all the professionals already involved in the care-working. It is better that they do this together and that they each perform and fulfil their statutory responsibilities. Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that they safeguard and promote the welfare of children under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 regardless of the immigration status of the children. I rather suspect that some of the valuable work done by Barnardo’s also helps support children, who I accept are at a very difficult time in their lives.

I think it has been recognised by those who have contributed to this debate that, in view of how difficult and sensitive this could be, the Government have taken great strides to try to put this on a proper basis. It is very different from what it was in the past. I recommend these amendments to your Lordships’ House.

Lord Judd: My Lords—

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall) (Lab): I believe it is time for the amendment to be agreed.

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Earl Attlee: My Lords, it is in order for the noble Lord, Lord Judd, to speak.

Lord Judd: My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister for his response to my observations on unaccompanied children. I wonder whether it would be possible for the Government to make provision whereby it was required that every unaccompanied child subject to a removal process should have a qualified and transparently independent counsellor specifically allocated to them to guide them through what may be a nightmare situation.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I hear the noble Lord’s point and I think I understand what lies behind it. I was trying to make a point about what our view has been. We should probably also recognise that unaccompanied children may arise in a number of different circumstances. For example, as I was indicating, some might potentially be the victims of child trafficking, which might raise a different set of considerations from others. If a professional team has already been involved in a case, we would not want to cut across that by bringing in someone new at that stage. I recognise the importance of what the noble Lord is saying; I will reflect on it and if there is more that I can add to the answer that I have given, I will write to him.

Amendment 3 agreed.

Amendments 4 to 8 not moved.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed.

Amendments 9 and 10

Moved by Lord Wallace of Tankerness

9: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Restriction on removal of children and their parents etc

After section 78 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, insert—

“78A Restriction on removal of children and their parents etc

(1) This section applies in a case where—

(a) a child is to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom, and

(b) an individual who—is also to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom (a “relevant parent or carer”).

(i) is a parent of the child or has care of the child, and

(ii) is living in a household in the United Kingdom with the child,

is also to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom (a “relevant parent or carer”).

(2) During the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the relevant appeal rights are exhausted—

(a) the child may not be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom; and

(b) a relevant parent or carer may not be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom if, as a result, no relevant parent or carer would remain in the United Kingdom.

(3) The relevant appeal rights are exhausted at the time when—

(a) neither the child, nor any relevant parent or carer, could bring an appeal under section 82 (ignoring any possibility of an appeal out of time with permission), and

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(b) no appeal brought by the child, or by any relevant parent or carer, is pending within the meaning of section 104.

(4) Nothing in this section prevents any of the following during the period of 28 days mentioned in subsection (2)—

(a) the giving of a direction for the removal of a person from the United Kingdom,

(b) the making of a deportation order in respect of a person, or

(c) the taking of any other interim or preparatory action.

(5) In this section—

“child” means a person who is aged under 18;

references to a person being removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom are to the person being removed or required to leave in accordance with a provision of the Immigration Acts.””

10: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Independent Family Returns Panel

Before section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, insert—

“54A Independent Family Returns Panel

(1) The Independent Family Returns Panel is established.

(2) The Secretary of State must consult the Independent Family Returns Panel—

(a) in each family returns case, on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family, and

(b) in each case where the Secretary of State proposes to detain a family in pre-departure accommodation, on the suitability of so doing, having particular regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family.

(3) A family returns case is a case where—

(a) a child who is living in the United Kingdom is to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom, and

(b) an individual who—is also to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom.

(i) is a parent of the child or has care of the child, and

(ii) is living in a household in the United Kingdom with the child,

(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about—

(a) additional functions of the Independent Family Returns Panel,

(b) its status and constitution,

(c) the appointment of its members,

(d) the payment of remuneration and allowances to its members, and

(e) any other matters in connection with its establishment and operation.

(5) Regulations under this section must be made by statutory instrument.

(6) An instrument containing regulations under this section is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

(7) In this section—

“child” means a person who is under the age of 18;

“pre-departure accommodation” has the same meaning as in Part 8 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999;

references to a person being removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom are to the person being removed or required to leave in accordance with a provision of the Immigration Acts.”.”

Amendments 9 and 10 agreed.

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Amendment 11

Moved by Lord Avebury

11: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Short-term holding facilities rules

(1) Within six months of the passing of this Act, the Secretary of State must make rules for the regulation and management of facilities maintained for the purpose of the detention of a detainee for a period up to 7 days (“short-term holding facilities”).

(2) Short-term holding facilities rules may, among other things, make provision with respect to the safety, care, health, activities, discipline and control of detained persons.”

Lord Avebury: My Lords, as the Minister is aware, we have been concerned about the disgraceful conditions of the short-term holding facility at Heathrow Airport for some time. These facilities and others like them are not subject to any rules making provision for the health, safety, care, activities, discipline and control of the persons detained in them, unlike immigration removal centres, which have been subject to a set of rules of this kind since 2001.

The short-term holding facilities are defined in Section 147 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 as places,

“used solely for the detention of detained persons for a period of not more than seven days or for such other period as may be prescribed”.

These facilities are needed for persons either arriving in the UK whose status is being investigated by an immigration officer or being returned to their country of origin, having exhausted their rights of appeal. All 36 of them are managed by contractors on behalf of the Home Office. The main provider used to be G4S but that role has now been taken over by another private contractor, Tascor, highlighting the fact that the Home Office itself no longer has the expertise in-house to resume the management of operations that have been privatised and are no longer effective.

Since 2006, when the UN’s optional protocol to the UN convention against torture came into effect, we have been required to provide inspections by an independent expert body to routinely visit and report on all places of immigration detention to prevent the inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees. This task is being performed both for immigration removal centres and for short-term holding facilities by the Chief Inspector of Prisons, whose remit extends well beyond that of the convention to detainee welfare, the need for a decent and respectful approach to detainees by staff and the physical conditions of detention. In the case of the IRCs, there are detailed rules governing such matters as welfare and privileges, religion, communications, healthcare, requests and complaints, and it has been the Government’s intention, ever since 1999, to publish an equivalent set of rules for short-term holding facilities. Drafts of the rules were published in 2006 and there was a consultation on them, but a final version was not presented to Parliament. In 2009, the same thing happened again: there was a draft followed by a consultation, but no sign of the finished product from that day to this. When inquiries were made of policy officials in the Home Office on my behalf, those officials said,

“the rules have been subject to various delays and as such have yet to be finalised”.

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That was more or less the same as the answer the Minister gave when the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, asked him about when the rules would appear.

5.15 pm

In October 2010, the detention user group was told that a reason for the delay was that two of the five HMRC custody suites at Colnbrook and Gatwick would potentially be used to hold immigration detainees, and it was necessary to go through the draft rules to see which of them could or could not be applied to these suites. It was proposed to get the Minister’s agreement in principle the following month. Unfortunately, the detention stakeholder group was then disbanded by the UKBA early in 2011, and since then the DUG’s repeated requests for an update have been met with a wall of silence.

I expect my noble friend will agree that a delay of five years following two sets of consultations is unprecedented in the history of secondary legislation, and I wonder whether the reason for the delay is that at both Gatwick terminals the family room is not fit for purpose while at Heathrow the conditions under which children are being held are degrading and disgraceful, according to the independent monitoring board.

Taking all the STHFs at Heathrow together, I estimate that 17,400 people, including 1,300 children, were detained in the year ending 31 January 2014, an increase of 16% on the previous year, and a slight contrast with the figures given by the Minister in the previous debate when he was talking solely about children being detained in the IRCs. Unfortunately, none of the accommodation at the Heathrow terminals, Cayley House or the Cedars is residential, so detainees who are held overnight either have to sit up in hard chairs or be taken to Tinsley House near Gatwick and back again, a journey that can take the best part of two hours, depending on the time of day. The Cedars pre-departure family STHF near Heathrow is high-standard but little used, and I wonder whether it might be upgraded for overnight stays. I estimate that last year some 2,600 people were held at Heathrow for more than 12 hours, and it is profoundly unsatisfactory that we provide nowhere accessible where families can sleep.

Publication of the rules would expose the fact that the Immigration Control (Provisions of Facilities at Ports) Order does not require the provision of showers, family rooms or screened lavatories, and that airport authorities—Heathrow Airports Ltd in the case of Heathrow—have dragged their heels in providing the space for basic amenities. My noble friend now tells me that HAL’s budget for redevelopment of facilities at terminal 4 will be released on 1 April and that the best target date for completion of all the works recommended by the independent monitoring board is the end of the year.

My noble friend said that he could not let me have a copy of the plans because they were due to be revised, though I am aware that others have received copies, which presumably are only provisional. He also omitted to answer my question about whether the additional space needed for the expanded facilities had been secured. The Minister for Immigration visited Heathrow on 27 February, and I hope he was assured that the

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area occupied by the port medical inspector would be freed because arrangements are being made for TB screening overseas, and this means that the PMI will move to terminal 3, releasing the space for the short-term detainees. I would be grateful if my noble friend would confirm this agreement, and if he would place a copy of the plans in the Library of your Lordships’ House.

The Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees is concerned that men and women are held together in STHFs; for example, at Pennine House near Manchester Airport. This is an issue which has been raised frequently by the chief inspector, and it may be another reason why the rules remain unpublished. AVID highlights three gaps in the protection regime arising from the absence of rules. There is no equivalent of rule 35, which applies in IRCs and is the mechanism which prohibits the detention of a person making a plausible claim to have been a victim of torture.

Rules 40 and 42, dealing with the removal from association and temporary confinement of a detainee, do not apply in the STHFs, and neither does rule 41 on the use of force, or rule 43 on special control and restraint. There is no statutory guidance on the provision of healthcare, on admissions and discharges, detainees’ property, welfare regime, clothing, food, hygiene and religion. There is no guidance on the role of the independent monitoring boards. Indeed, not all STHFs even have independent monitoring boards, Gatwick South being a glaring example.

The amendment is generous in allowing the Government yet another six months from the passing of the Bill to produce a set of rules which has been delayed for so long. I beg to move.

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I stand again to support this wonderful amendment with its mover. What is going on here? This makes sense to me. There are detention centre rules which govern immigration removal centres, but the short-term holding facilities in airports, as has already been mentioned, are very different. In some of them—for example, Pennine House in Manchester where, sadly, a Pakistani man died last July—people can be held for up to seven days. There need to be published rules to provide a sound governance structure. Without that, we will not be reassured. People can be held at times of great personal and familial stress. The intention behind the amendment is to make sure that these facilities make good provision, with clear rules, for safety, care, health, activities, discipline and control of detained persons. Who would argue against that?

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I support the amendment so ably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. When I took over as Chief Inspector of Prisons and was given the responsibility for immigration detention centres, I was horrified to find that all of them were geared only for the short term and had no long-term arrangements for people who were there for a long time. When I went into it, I discovered that the reason for this was the lack of direction from the Home Office. There was at that stage the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, which was meant to be running the centres, and they were all let out on contract, but there was no overall drive, no direction.

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The fact that we have now been waiting for longer than World War II for this matter to be resolved suggests that that lack of direction and drive obtains across the whole immigration detention centre system anyway. I am still told by members of immigration monitoring boards that, in fact, the centres where people are held—sometimes for years, let alone months—are not geared to look after their needs in any more than the short term, about which I asked last October and which has been so ably described by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. It is important not just that the Government do this in six months, but that they appoint someone responsible and accountable for overseeing these centres, and seeing that things actually happen.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I appreciate the concerns of my noble friend Lord Avebury, the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and the concerns of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York. They have caused my noble friend to table the amendment, and caused us to debate not just the rules but the provision of facilities.

I start by reassuring the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, that in the past year the Home Office has been in acute dialogue with Heathrow Airport Ltd about the Heathrow Airport facility to progress accommodation units. That is now bearing fruit. My noble friend Lord Avebury asked me if I could place information on the design of these facilities in the Library. I understand that HAL, the Border Force and, for that matter, the Home Office are in final discussions on the detailed design stage and, indeed, are going out to contractors for quotes in March of this year—that is, now. If that is the situation, I am sure that I will be in a position to satisfy my noble friend’s request to place a copy of the design in the House Library, and I will seek to do that for him.

I am aware that there has also been a lack of legislative framework governing the operation of the short-term holding facilities. As has been pointed out by noble Lords, this has been a matter of concern for years to a number of interested parties, including Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, who has responsibility for inspecting the UK’s detention facilities. The delay in introducing these rules is regretted, but it has been a case of unavoidable delay being caused by a number of different reasons, including, most recently, the discussions surrounding the legislative framework that should apply to Cedars, which we have just discussed, which initially had been classified as a short-term holding facility and, as such, would have been covered by these rules. We have just debated those amendments. Accordingly, today, I give my noble friend a commitment that separate sets of rules governing the management and operation of short-term holding facilities and the Cedars pre-departure accommodation will be introduced before the Summer Recess. With that, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Avebury: It remains only for me to thank the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York and the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, for their powerful support for this amendment. I also thank the Minister not only for the very welcome reply that he has given

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to this debate but for the close attention that he has paid to the correspondence that we have had over the past few months, particularly on the facilities at Heathrow. I am delighted to hear him give the assurance that we will have separate sets of rules for the short-term holding facilities and the pre-departure accommodation within a shorter space of time than I asked for in the amendment. It is rather an unusual experience to have a Minister grant something better than that for which the amendment asks—I think it is probably unique in my 52 years in one House or the other. I can only say how grateful I am to my noble friend and how much we look forward to the implementation of his kind undertakings. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 11 withdrawn.