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Schedule 2: Private hire vehicles etc

Amendments 95 to 98

Moved by Lord Bates

95: Schedule 2, page 67, line 23, at end insert—

“London Hackney Carriages Act 1843 (c. 86)

(1) Section 18 of the London Hackney Carriages Act 1843 (licences and badges to be delivered up on the discontinuance of licences) is amended as follows.

(2) At the beginning insert “(1)”.

(3) At the end of subsection (1) insert—

“(2) Subsection (1) does not require the delivery of a licence and badge on the expiry of the licence if the licence was granted in accordance with section 8A(2) or (4) of the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 (but see section 8A(5A) of that Act).””

96: Schedule 2, page 68, line 14, at end insert—

“(5A) If a licence granted in accordance with subsection (2) or (4) expires, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after that on which it expired, return to Transport for London—

(a) the licence,

(b) the person’s copy of the licence (if any), and

(c) the person’s driver’s badge.”

97: Schedule 2, page 68, line 22, at end insert “(5A) or”

98: Schedule 2, page 68, line 27, at end insert—

“(7A) The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument amend the amount for the time being specified in subsection (7)(b).

(7B) Regulations under subsection (7A) may make transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(7C) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (7A) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”

Amendments 95 to 98 agreed.

Amendment 99

Moved by Lord Bates

99: Schedule 2, page 69, line 3, at end insert—

“Plymouth City Council Act 1975 (c. xx)

3A The Plymouth City Council Act 1975 is amended as follows.

3B After section 2 insert—

“2A Persons disqualified by reason of immigration status

(1) For the purposes of this Act a person is disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from carrying on a licensable activity if the person is subject to immigration control and—

(a) the person has not been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or

(b) the person’s leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom—

(i) is invalid,

(ii) has ceased to have effect (whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time or otherwise), or

(iii) is subject to a condition preventing the individual from carrying on the licensable activity.

(2) Where a person is on immigration bail within the meaning of Part 1 of Schedule 7 to the Immigration Act 2016—

(a) the person is to be treated for the purposes of this Part of this Act as if the person had been granted leave to enter the United Kingdom, but

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(b) any condition as to the person’s work in the United Kingdom to which the person’s immigration bail is subject is to be treated for those purposes as a condition of leave.

(3) For the purposes of this section a person is subject to immigration control if under the Immigration Act 1971 the person requires leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.

(4) For the purposes of this section a person carries on a licensable activity if the person—

(a) drives a private hire vehicle,

(b) operates a private hire vehicle, or

(c) drives a hackney carriage.

2B Immigration offences and immigration penalties

(1) In this Act “immigration offence” means—

(a) an offence under any of the Immigration Acts,

(b) an offence under section 1 of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 of attempting to commit an offence within paragraph (a), or

(c) an offence under section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 of conspiracy to commit an offence within paragraph (a).

(2) In this Act “immigration penalty” means a penalty under—

(a) section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (“the 2006 Act”), or

(b) section 23 of the Immigration Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”).

(3) For the purposes of this Act a person to whom a penalty notice under section 15 of the 2006 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty if—

(a) the person is excused payment by virtue of section 15(3) of that Act, or

(b) the penalty is cancelled by virtue of section 16 or 17 of that Act.

(4) For the purposes of this Act a person to whom a penalty notice under section 15 of the 2006 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty until such time as—

(a) the period for giving a notice of objection under section 16 of that Act has expired and the Secretary of State has considered any notice given within that period, and

(b) if a notice of objection was given within that period, the period for appealing under section 17 of that Act has expired and any appeal brought within that period has been finally determined, abandoned or withdrawn.

(5) For the purposes of this Act a person to whom a penalty notice under section 23 of the 2014 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty if—

(a) the person is excused payment by virtue of section 24 of that Act, or

(b) the penalty is cancelled by virtue of section 29 or 30 of that Act.

(6) For the purposes of this Act a person to whom a penalty notice under section 23 of the 2014 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty until such time as—

(a) the period for giving a notice of objection under section 29 of that Act has expired and the Secretary of State has considered any notice given within that period, and

(b) if a notice of objection was given within that period, the period for appealing under section 30 of that Act has expired and any appeal brought within that period has been finally determined, abandoned or withdrawn.”

3C (1) Section 9 (licensing of drivers of private hire vehicles) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)—

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(a) in paragraph (a) after “satisfied” insert “—(i)”, and

(b) for the “or” at the end of paragraph (a) substitute “and

(ii) that the applicant is not disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from driving a private hire vehicle; or”.

(3) After subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) In determining for the purposes of subsection (1) whether an applicant is disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from driving a private hire vehicle, the Council must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.”

3D In section 11(1) (drivers’ licences for hackney carriages and private hire vehicles)—

(a) in paragraph (a) for “Every” substitute “Subject to section 11A, every”, and

(b) in paragraph (b) after “1889,” insert “but subject to section 11A,”.

3E After section 11 insert—

“11A Drivers’ licences for persons subject to immigration control

(1) Subsection (2) applies if—

(a) a licence within section 11(1)(a) or (b) is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period (“the leave period”),

(b) the person’s leave has not been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision), and

(c) apart from subsection (2), the period for which the licence would have been in force would have ended after the end of the leave period.

(2) The Council must specify a period in the licence as the period for which it remains in force; and that period must end at or before the end of the leave period.

(3) Subsection (4) applies if—

(a) a licence within section 11(1)(a) or (b) is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period, and

(b) the person’s leave has been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision).

(4) The Council must specify a period in the licence as the period for which it remains in force; and that period must not exceed six months.

(5) A licence within section 11(1)(a) ceases to be in force if the person to whom it was granted becomes disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from driving a private hire vehicle.

(6) A licence within section 11(1)(b) ceases to be in force if the person to whom it was granted becomes disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from driving a hackney carriage.

(7) If a licence granted in accordance with subsection (2) or (4) expires, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after that on which it expired, return the licence and the person’s driver’s badge to the Council.

(8) If subsection (5) or (6) applies to a licence, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after the day on which the person first became disqualified, return the licence and the person’s driver’s badge to the Council.

(9) A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes subsection (7) or (8) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction—

(a) to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, and

(b) in the case of a continuing offence, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds for each day during which an offence continues after conviction.

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(10) The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument amend the amount for the time being specified in subsection (9)(b).

(11) Regulations under subsection (10) may make transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(12) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (10) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”

3F (1) Section 13 (licensing of operators of private hire vehicles) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)—

(a) after “satisfied” insert “—(a)”, and

(b) at the end of paragraph (a) insert “; and

(b) if the applicant is an individual, that the applicant is not disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from operating a private hire vehicle.”

(3) After subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) In determining for the purposes of subsection (1) whether an applicant is disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from operating a private hire vehicle, the Council must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.”

(4) In subsection (2) for “Every” substitute “Subject to section 13A, every”.

3G After section 13 insert—

“13A Operators’ licences for persons subject to immigration control

(1) Subsection (2) applies if—

(a) a licence under section 13 is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period (“the leave period”),

(b) the person’s leave has not been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision), and

(c) apart from subsection (2), the period for which the licence would have been in force would have ended after the end of the leave period.

(2) The Council must specify a period in the licence as the period for which it remains in force; and that period must end at or before the end of the leave period.

(3) Subsection (4) applies if—

(a) a licence under section 13 is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period, and

(b) the person’s leave has been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision).

(4) The Council must specify a period in the licence as the period for which it remains in force; and that period must not exceed six months.

(5) A licence under section 13 ceases to be in force if the person to whom it was granted becomes disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from operating a private hire vehicle.

(6) If a licence granted in accordance with subsection (2) or (4) expires, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after that on which it expired, return the licence to the Council.

(7) If subsection (5) applies to a licence, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after the day on which the person first became disqualified, return it to the Council.

(8) A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes subsection (6) or (7) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction—

(a) to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, and

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(b) in the case of a continuing offence, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds for each day during which an offence continues after conviction.

(9) The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument amend the amount for the time being specified in subsection (8)(b).

(10) Regulations under subsection (9) may make transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(11) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (9) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”

3H (1) Section 17 (qualification for drivers of hackney carriages) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)—

(a) in paragraph (a) after “satisfied” insert “—(i)”, and

(b) for the “or” at the end of paragraph (a) substitute “and

(ii) that the applicant is not disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from driving a hackney carriage; or”.

(3) After subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) In determining for the purposes of subsection (1) whether an applicant is disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from driving a hackney carriage, the Council must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.”

3I (1) Section 19 (suspension and revocation of drivers’ licences) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1) before the “or” at the end of paragraph (a) insert—

“(aa) that he has since the grant of the licence been convicted of an immigration offence or required to pay an immigration penalty;”.

(3) After subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) Subsection (1)(aa) does not apply if—

(a) in a case where the driver has been convicted of an immigration offence, the conviction is a spent conviction within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or

(b) in a case where the driver has been required to pay an immigration penalty—

(i) more than three years have elapsed since the date on which the penalty was imposed, and

(ii) the amount of the penalty has been paid in full.”

(4) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) The requirement in subsection (2)(a) to return a driver’s badge does not apply in a case where section 20A applies (but see subsection (2) of that section)).””

3J (1) Section 20 (suspension and revocation of operators’ licences) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1) before the “or” at the end of paragraph (c) insert—

“(ca) that the operator has since the grant of the licence been convicted of an immigration offence or required to pay an immigration penalty;”.

(3) After subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) Subsection (1)(ca) does not apply if—

(a) in a case where the operator has been convicted of an immigration offence, the conviction is a spent conviction within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or

(b) in a case where the operator has been required to pay an immigration penalty—

(i) more than three years have elapsed since the date on which the penalty was imposed, and

(ii) the amount of the penalty has been paid in full.”

3K After section 20 insert—

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“20A Return of licences suspended or revoked on immigration grounds

(1) Subsection (2) applies if—

(a) under section 19 the Council suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the licence of a driver of a hackney carriage or a private hire vehicle on the ground mentioned in subsection (1)(aa) of that section, or

(b) under section 20 the Council suspend, revoke or refuse to renew an operator’s licence on the ground mentioned in subsection (1)(ca) of that section.

(2) The person to whom the licence was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the relevant day, return to the Council—

(a) the licence, and

(b) in the case of a licence of a driver of a hackney carriage or a private hire vehicle, the person’s driver’s badge.

(3) In subsection (2) “the relevant day” means—

(a) where the licence is suspended or revoked, the day on which the suspension or revocation takes effect;

(b) where the Council refuse to renew the licence, the day on which the licence expires as a result of the failure to renew it.

(4) A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes subsection (2) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction—

(a) to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, and

(b) in the case of a continuing offence, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds for each day during which an offence continues after conviction.

(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument amend the amount for the time being specified in subsection (4)(b).

(6) Regulations under subsection (5) may make transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(7) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (8) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.””

3L In section 37 (appeals) after subsection (2) insert—

“(3) On an appeal under this Act or an appeal under section 302 of the Act of 1936 as applied by this section, the court is not entitled to entertain any question as to whether—

(a) a person should be, or should have been, granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or

(b) a person has, after the date of the decision being appealed against, been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.””

Lord Bates: I beg to move.

Amendment 99A (to Amendment 99)

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

99A: Schedule 2, line 119, leave out “or before”

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, with the leave of House, perhaps I may respond to some points made by the Minister on these amendments. I will be very quick. As to the requirement as regards private hire licensing and alcohol licensing for an applicant who did not have leave at the point when the initial decision was made but gets leave in the interim period before an appeal, it is very hard on that applicant that the licensing of the appeal court—although “appeal” may not be quite the right term for what I am trying to say—cannot entertain the consideration of that situation. The applicant will incur costs and a delay. Businesses

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will be affected and third parties—employees—may be affected. Of everything I have heard, that concerns me particularly. I may be misunderstanding some of the procedures but, if I am misunderstanding them and the language is not completely clear, that could cause a problem for those who will have to operate them. I beg to move.

Lord Bates: To clarify for the noble Baroness, I understand her point. My understanding is that what we are saying is that the applicant should not be making an application for a licence that extends beyond the period in which they have leave to remain in the country. Therefore, the point we are seeking to hold is that they should have the licence for the period which relates to the legal position that they have been given to be in the UK. We are trying to tie up those two points.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I think I follow that—but what if the application for leave has initially been turned down on the basis of a mistake? That would leave the applicant for a licence in a difficult position. I do not think that it will benefit us to take this discussion further now, but I have no doubt that the Minister, in his usual very helpful way, will be able to undertake discussions between Committee and Report. I will certainly look at it again and perhaps we could pursue it.

Lord Bates: I am happy to give that undertaking to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Hamwee: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 99A (to Amendment 99) withdrawn.

Amendments 99B to 99D (to Amendment 99) not moved.

Amendment 99 agreed.

Amendments 100 and 101 not moved.

Amendments 102 to 104

Moved by Lord Bates

102: Schedule 2, page 70, line 12, at end insert—

“(6A) If a licence granted in accordance with subsection (2) or (4) expires, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after that on which it expired, return the licence and the person’s driver’s badge to the district council which granted the licence.”

103: Schedule 2, page 70, line 18, at end insert “(6A) or”

104: Schedule 2, page 70, line 23, at end insert—

“(9) The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument amend the amount for the time being specified in subsection (8)(b).

(10) Regulations under subsection (9) may make transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(11) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (9) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.””

Amendments 102 to 104 agreed.

Amendments 105 and 106 not moved.

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5.45 pm

Amendments 107 to 116

Moved by Lord Bates

107: Schedule 2, page 71, line 22, at end insert—

“(5A) If a licence granted in accordance with subsection (2) or (4) expires, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after that on which it expired, return the licence to the district council which granted the licence.”

108: Schedule 2, page 71, line 27, at end insert “(5A) or”

109: Schedule 2, page 71, line 32, at end insert—

“(8) The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument amend the amount for the time being specified in subsection (7)(b).

(9) Regulations under subsection (8) may make transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(10) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (8) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.””

110: Schedule 2, page 71, line 45, at end insert—

“( ) Section 61 (suspension and revocation of driver’s licences) is amended as follows.”

111: Schedule 2, page 71, line 46, leave out from “In” to “before” and insert “subsection (1)”

112: Schedule 2, page 72, line 4, at end insert—

“( ) After subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) Subsection (1)(aa) does not apply if—

(a) in a case where the driver has been convicted of an immigration offence, the conviction is a spent conviction within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or

(b) in a case where the driver has been required to pay an immigration penalty—

(i) more than three years have elapsed since the date on which the penalty was imposed, and

(ii) the amount of the penalty has been paid in full.”

( ) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2ZA) The requirement in subsection (2)(a) to return a driver’s badge does not apply in a case where section 62A applies (but see subsection (2) of that section).””

113: Schedule 2, page 72, line 4, at end insert—

“( ) Section 62 (suspension and revocation of operators’ licences) is amended as follows.”

114: Schedule 2, page 72, line 5, leave out from “In” to “before” and insert “subsection (1)”

115: Schedule 2, page 72, line 9, at end insert—

“( ) After subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) Subsection (1)(ca) does not apply if—

(a) in a case where the operator has been convicted of an immigration offence, the conviction is a spent conviction within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or

(b) in a case where the operator has been required to pay an immigration penalty—

(i) more than three years have elapsed since the date on which the penalty was imposed, and

(ii) the amount of the penalty has been paid in full.””

116: Schedule 2, page 72, line 9, at end insert—

After section 62 insert—

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“62A Return of licences suspended or revoked on immigration grounds

(1) Subsection (2) applies if—

(a) under section 61 a district council suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the licence of a driver of a hackney carriage or a private hire vehicle on the ground mentioned in subsection (1)(aa) of that section, or

(b) under section 62 a district council suspend, revoke or refuse to renew an operator’s licence on the ground mentioned in subsection (1)(ca) of that section.

(2) The person to whom the licence was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the relevant day, return to the district council—

(a) the licence, and

(b) in the case of a licence of a driver of a hackney carriage or a private hire vehicle, the person’s driver’s badge.

(3) In subsection (2) “the relevant day” means—

(a) where the licence is suspended or revoked, the day on which the suspension or revocation takes effect;

(b) where the district council refuse to renew the licence, the day on which the licence expires as a result of the failure to renew it.

(4) A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes subsection (2) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction—

(a) to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, and

(b) in the case of a continuing offence, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds for each day during which an offence continues after conviction.

(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument amend the amount for the time being specified in subsection (4)(b).

(6) Regulations under subsection (5) may make transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(7) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (8) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.””

Amendments 107 to 116 agreed.

Amendment 117 not moved.

Amendment 118

Moved by Lord Bates

118: Schedule 2, page 74, line 4, at end insert—

“Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (c. 45)

14A The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 is amended as follows.

14B In section 13 (taxi and private hire car driving licences) after subsection (3) insert—

“(3A) A licensing authority shall not grant a licence to any person under this section unless the authority is satisfied that the person is not disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from driving a taxi or private hire car.

(3B) Section 13A makes provision for the purposes of subsection (3A) about the circumstances in which a person is disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from driving a taxi or private hire car.

(3C) In determining for the purposes of subsection (3A) whether a person is disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from driving a taxi or private hire car, a licensing authority must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.”

14C After section 13 insert—

“13A Persons disqualified by reason of immigration status

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(1) For the purposes of section 13(3A) a person is disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from driving a taxi or private hire car if the person is subject to immigration control and—

(a) the person has not been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or

(b) the person’s leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom—

(i) is invalid,

(ii) has ceased to have effect (whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time or otherwise), or

(iii) is subject to a condition preventing the individual from driving a taxi or private hire car.

(2) Where a person is on immigration bail within the meaning of Part 1 of Schedule 7 to the Immigration Act 2016—

(a) the person is to be treated for the purposes of this section as if the person had been granted leave to enter the United Kingdom, but

(b) any condition as to the person’s work in the United Kingdom to which the person’s immigration bail is subject is to be treated for those purposes as a condition of leave.

(3) For the purposes of this section a person is subject to immigration control if under the Immigration Act 1971 the person requires leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.”

14D (1) Schedule 1 (licensing - further provisions as to the general system) is amended as follows.

(2) In paragraph 8 (duration of licences) in sub-paragraph (8) after “paragraphs” insert “8A and”.

(3) After paragraph 8 insert—

“Taxi etc driving licences for persons subject to immigration control

8A (1) Sub-paragraph (2) applies if—

(a) a taxi driver’s licence or private hire car driver’s licence is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period (“the leave period”),

(b) the person’s leave has not been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision), and

(c) apart from sub-paragraph (2), the period for which the licence would have had effect would have ended after the end of the leave period.

(2) The licensing authority which grants the licence must specify a period in the licence as the period for which it has effect; and that period must end at or before the end of the leave period.

(3) Sub-paragraph (4) applies if—

(a) a taxi driver’s licence or private hire car driver’s licence is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period, and

(b) the person’s leave has been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision).

(4) The licensing authority which grants the licence must specify a period in the licence as the period for which it has effect; and that period must not exceed six months.

(5) A taxi driver’s licence or private hire car driver’s licence ceases to have effect if the person to whom it was granted becomes disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from driving a taxi or private hire car.

(6) Section 13A (persons disqualified by reason of immigration status) applies for the purposes of sub-paragraph (5) as it applies for the purposes of section 13(3A).

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(7) If a licence granted in accordance with sub-paragraph (2) or (4) expires, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after that on which it expired, return the licence to the licensing authority.

(8) If sub-paragraph (5) applies to a licence, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after the day on which the person first became disqualified, return the licence to the licensing authority which granted the licence.

(9) A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes sub-paragraph (7) or (8) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(10) This paragraph applies in relation to the renewal of a licence as it applies in relation to the grant of a licence.”

(4) In paragraph 11 (suspension and revocation of licences) after sub-paragraph (2) insert—

“(2A) A licensing authority may order the suspension or revocation of a taxi driver’s licence or a private hire car driver’s licence if the holder of the licence has, since its grant, been convicted of an immigration offence or required to pay an immigration penalty (see paragraph 20).

(2B) Sub-paragraph (2A) does not apply if—

(a) in a case where the holder of the licence has been convicted of an immigration offence, the conviction is a spent conviction within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or

(b) in a case where the holder of the licence has been required to pay an immigration penalty—

(i) more than three years have elapsed since the date on which the penalty was imposed, and

(ii) the amount of the penalty has been paid in full.”

(5) In paragraph 18 (appeals) after sub-paragraph (8) insert—

“(8A) On an appeal under this paragraph relating to a taxi driver’s licence or a private hire car driver’s licence, the sheriff is not entitled to entertain any question as to whether—

(a) a person should be, or should have been, granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or

(b) a person has, after the date of the decision being appealed against, been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.”

(6) After paragraph 19 insert—

“20 (1) In this Schedule “immigration offence” means an offence under any of the Immigration Acts.

(2) In this Schedule “immigration penalty” means a penalty under—

(a) section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (“the 2006 Act”), or

(b) section 23 of the Immigration Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”).

(3) For the purposes of this Schedule a person to whom a penalty notice under section 15 of the 2006 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty if—

(a) the person is excused payment by virtue of section 15(3) of that Act, or

(b) the penalty is cancelled by virtue of section 16 or 17 of that Act.

(4) For the purposes of this Schedule a person to whom a penalty notice under section 15 of the 2006 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty until such time as—

(a) the period for giving a notice of objection under section 16 of that Act has expired and the Secretary of State has considered any notice given within that period, and

(b) if a notice of objection was given within that period, the period for appealing under section 17 of that Act has expired and any appeal brought within that period has been finally determined, abandoned or withdrawn.

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(5) For the purposes of this Schedule a person to whom a penalty notice under section 23 of the 2014 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty if—

(a) the person is excused payment by virtue of section 24 of that Act, or

(b) the penalty is cancelled by virtue of section 29 or 30 of that Act.

(6) For the purposes of this Schedule a person to whom a penalty notice under section 23 of the 2014 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty until such time as—

(a) the period for giving a notice of objection under section 29 of that Act has expired and the Secretary of State has considered any notice given within that period, and

(b) if a notice of objection was given within that period, the period for appealing under section 30 of that Act has expired and any appeal brought within that period has been finally determined, abandoned or withdrawn.””

Amendments 118A and 118B (to Amendment 118) not moved.

Amendment 118 agreed.

Amendment 119

Moved by Lord Bates

119: Schedule 2, page 74, line 4, at end insert—

“Road Traffic Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (SI 1996/1320 (NI 10))

(1) Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Road Traffic Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (SI 1996/1320 (NI 10)) is amended as follows.

(2) After the entry relating to section 1(3) of the Taxis Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 insert—

“Section 2A(8)

Failing to return an operator’s licence

Summarily

Level 3 on the standard scale”.

(3) After the entry relating to section 22(6) of the Taxis Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 insert—

“Section 23A(8)

Failing to return an operator’s licence

Summarily

Level 3 on the standard scale”.”

Amendment 119 agreed.

Amendments 120 to 122 not moved.

Amendment 123

Moved by Lord Bates

123: Schedule 2, page 75, line 18, at end insert—

“(8) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend the amount for the time being specified in subsection (7)(b).””

Amendment 123 agreed.

Amendments 124 to 126 not moved.

Amendments 127 to 130

Moved by Lord Bates

127: Schedule 2, page 76, line 21, at end insert—

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“(8) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend the amount for the time being specified in subsection (7)(b).””

128: Schedule 2, page 76, line 26, at end insert—

“( ) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) Subsection (2)(aa) does not apply if—

(a) in a case where the licence holder has been convicted of an immigration offence, the conviction is a spent conviction within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or

(b) in a case where the licence holder has been required to pay an immigration penalty—

(i) more than three years have elapsed since the date on which the penalty was imposed, and

(ii) the amount of the penalty has been paid in full.””

129: Schedule 2, page 76, line 30, at end insert—

“( ) After subsection (4) insert—

“(5) Subsection (4)(aa) does not apply if—

(a) in a case where the licence holder has been convicted of an immigration offence, the conviction is a spent conviction within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, or

(b) in a case where the licence holder has been required to pay an immigration penalty—

(i) more than three years have elapsed since the date on which the penalty was imposed, and

(ii) the amount of the penalty has been paid in full.””

130: Schedule 2, page 78, line 21, at end insert—

“(1) Section 32 (regulations) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1) after “other than section” in the first place those words appear insert “3A(8), 13A(8) or”.

(3) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) The power to make regulations conferred on the Secretary of State by section 3A(8) or 13A(8) is exercisable by statutory instrument.

(2B) A statutory instrument containing regulations under either of those sections may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”

(4) In subsection (4) after “made under section” insert “3A(8), 13A(8) or”.”

Amendments 127 to 130 agreed.

Amendment 131

Moved by Lord Bates

131: Schedule 2, page 78, line 23, at end insert—

“Taxis Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 (c. 4)

25 The Taxis Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 is amended as follows.

26 (1) Section 2 (operator’s licences) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (4) for the “and” at the end of paragraph (a) substitute—

“(aa) if the applicant is an individual, the applicant is not disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from operating a taxi service; and”.

(3) After subsection (4) insert—

“(4A) In determining for the purposes of subsection (4) whether an applicant is disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from operating a taxi service, the Department must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.”

(4) In subsection (7) for “An” substitute “Subject to section 2A, an”.

27 After section 2 insert—

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“2A Operator’s licences for persons subject to immigration control

(1) Subsection (2) applies if—

(a) an operator’s licence is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period (“the leave period”),

(b) the person’s leave has not been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision), and

(c) apart from subsection (2), the period for which the licence would have been granted would have ended after the end of the leave period.

(2) The licence must be granted for a period which ends at or before the end of the leave period.

(3) Subsection (4) applies if—

(a) an operator’s licence is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period, and

(b) the person’s leave has been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision).

(4) The licence must be granted for a period which does not exceed six months.

(5) An operator’s licence ceases to be in force if the person to whom it was granted becomes disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from operating a taxi service.

(6) If a licence granted in accordance with subsection (2) or (4) expires, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after that on which it expired, return it to the Department.

(7) If subsection (5) applies to a licence, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after the day on which the person first became disqualified, return it to the Department.

(8) A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes subsection (6) or (7) is guilty of an offence.”

28 (1) Section 23 (taxi driver’s licences) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2) after paragraph (a) insert—

“(aa) the applicant is not disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from driving a taxi;”.

(3) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) In determining for the purposes of subsection (2) whether an applicant is disqualified by reason of the applicant’s immigration status from driving a taxi, the Department must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.”

(4) In subsection (8) for “A” substitute “Subject to section 23A, a”.

29 After section 23 insert—

“23A Taxi driver’s licences for persons subject to immigration control

(1) Subsection (2) applies if—

(a) a taxi driver’s licence is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period (“the leave period”),

(b) the person’s leave has not been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision), and

(c) apart from subsection (2), the period for which the licence would have been granted would have ended after the end of the leave period.

(2) The licence must be granted for a period which ends at or before the end of the leave period.

(3) Subsection (4) applies if—

(a) a taxi driver’s licence is to be granted to a person who has been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period, and

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(b) the person’s leave has been extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 (continuation of leave pending variation decision).

(4) The licence must be granted for a period which does not exceed six months.

(5) A taxi driver’s licence ceases to be in force if the person to whom it was granted becomes disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from driving a taxi.

(6) If a licence granted in accordance with subsection (2) or (4) expires, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after that on which it expired, return to the Department—

(a) the licence,

(b) the person’s driver’s badge, and

(c) any other evidence of identification which the Department has issued under section 24.

(7) If subsection (5) applies to a licence, the person to whom it was granted must, within the period of 7 days beginning with the day after the day on which the person first became disqualified, return to the Department—

(a) the licence,

(b) the person’s driver’s badge, and

(c) any other evidence of identification which the Department has issued under section 24.

(8) A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes subsection (6) or (7) is guilty of an offence.”

30 (1) Section 26 (power to suspend, revoke licences or curtail licences) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2) before the “or” at the end of paragraph (a) insert—

“(aa) the licence holder has, since the grant of the licence, been convicted of an immigration offence or required to pay an immigration penalty;”.

(3) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) Subsection (2)(aa) does not apply if—

(a) in a case where the licence holder has been convicted of an immigration offence, the conviction is a spent conviction within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (SI 1978/1908 (NI 27)), or

(b) in a case where the licence holder has been required to pay an immigration penalty—

(i) more than three years have elapsed since the date on which the penalty was imposed, and

(ii) the amount of the penalty has been paid in full.”

(4) In subsection (6) before the “or” at the end of paragraph (a) insert—

“(aa) the licence holder has, since the grant of the licence, been convicted of an immigration offence or required to pay an immigration penalty;”.

(5) After subsection (6) insert—

“(7) Subsection (6)(aa) does not apply if—

(a) in a case where the licence holder has been convicted of an immigration offence, the conviction is a spent conviction within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (SI 1978/1908 (NI 27)), or

(b) in a case where the licence holder has been required to pay an immigration penalty—

(i) more than three years have elapsed since the date on which the penalty was imposed, and

(ii) the amount of the penalty has been paid in full.””

31 In section 32 (return of licences etc) after subsection (5) insert—

“(5A) Subsection (4) does not apply if the licence was granted in accordance with section 2A(2) or (4) or 23A(2) or (4) (but see sections 2A(6) and 23A(6)).”

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32 In section 34 (appeals) after subsection (5) insert—

“(6) On any appeal, the court is not entitled to entertain any question as to whether—

(a) a person should be, or should have been, granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or

(b) a person has, after the date of the decision being appealed against, been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.”

33 After section 56 insert—

“56A Persons disqualified by reason of immigration status

(1) For the purposes of this Act a person is disqualified by reason of the person’s immigration status from carrying on a licensable activity if the person is subject to immigration control and—

(a) the person has not been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or

(b) the person’s leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom—

(i) is invalid,

(ii) has ceased to have effect (whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time or otherwise), or

(iii) is subject to a condition preventing the individual from carrying on the licensable activity.

(2) Where a person is on immigration bail within the meaning of Part 1 of Schedule 7 to the Immigration Act 2016—

(a) the person is to be treated for the purposes of this Part as if the person had been granted leave to enter the United Kingdom, but

(b) any condition as to the person’s work in the United Kingdom to which the person’s immigration bail is subject is to be treated for those purposes as a condition of leave.

(3) For the purposes of this section a person is subject to immigration control if under the Immigration Act 1971 the person requires leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.

(4) For the purposes of this section a person carries on a licensable activity if the person—

(a) operates a taxi service, or

(b) drives a taxi.

56B Immigration offences and immigration penalties

(1) In this Act “immigration offence” means—

(a) an offence under any of the Immigration Acts,

(b) an offence under Article 3 of the Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 (SI 1982/1120 (NI 13)) of attempting to commit an offence within paragraph (a), or

(c) an offence under Article 9 of that Order of conspiracy to commit an offence within paragraph (a).

(2) In this Act “immigration penalty” means a penalty under—

(a) section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (“the 2006 Act”), or

(b) section 23 of the Immigration Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”).

(3) For the purposes of this Act a person to whom a penalty notice under section 15 of the 2006 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty if—

(a) the person is excused payment by virtue of section 15(3) of that Act, or

(b) the penalty is cancelled by virtue of section 16 or 17 of that Act.

(4) For the purposes of this Act a person to whom a penalty notice under section 15 of the 2006 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty until such time as—

20 Jan 2016 : Column 817

(a) the period for giving a notice of objection under section 16 of that Act has expired and the Secretary of State has considered any notice given within that period, and

(b) if a notice of objection was given within that period, the period for appealing under section 17 of that Act has expired and any appeal brought within that period has been finally determined, abandoned or withdrawn.

(5) For the purposes of this Act a person to whom a penalty notice under section 23 of the 2014 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty if—

(a) the person is excused payment by virtue of section 24 of that Act, or

(b) the penalty is cancelled by virtue of section 29 or 30 of that Act.

(6) For the purposes of this Act a person to whom a penalty notice under section 23 of the 2014 Act has been given is not to be treated as having been required to pay an immigration penalty until such time as—

(a) the period for giving a notice of objection under section 29 of that Act has expired and the Secretary of State has considered any notice given within that period, and

(b) if a notice of objection was given within that period, the period for appealing under section 30 of that Act has expired and any appeal brought within that period has been finally determined, abandoned or withdrawn.””

Amendments 131A and 131B (to Amendment 131) not moved.

Amendment 131 agreed.

Amendment 132

Moved by Lord Bates

132: Schedule 2, page 78, line 23, at end insert—

“Transitional provision

(1) Subject to sub-paragraph (2), an amendment made by any of paragraphs 2, 3, 3C to 3H, 5 to 10, 14B, 14D(2) and (3), 17 to 20 and 25 to 28 does not apply in relation to an application for a licence made before the coming into force of that paragraph or a licence granted in response to such an application.

(2) Sub-paragraph (1) does not prevent an amendment made by any of those paragraphs from applying in relation to—

(a) an application for the renewal of a licence where that licence was granted before the coming into force of that paragraph, or

(b) a licence renewed in response to such an application.

(1) Subject to sub-paragraphs (2) and (3), an amendment made by any of paragraphs 3I, 3J, 11, 12, 14D(4), 21 and 29 applies in relation to a licence granted before or after the coming into force of that paragraph.

(2) An amendment made by any of those paragraphs applies in relation to a conviction for an immigration offence only if the person in question has been convicted of that offence after the coming into force of that paragraph in respect of the person’s conduct after that time.

(3) An amendment made by any of those paragraphs applies in relation to a requirement to pay an immigration penalty only if the person in question has been required to pay the penalty after the coming into force of that paragraph in respect of the person’s conduct after that time.

(1) Section 19(1) of the Plymouth City Council Act 1975 has effect in relation to the licence of a driver of a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle granted before the coming into force of paragraph 3I as if before the “or” at the end of paragraph (a) there were inserted—

“(ab) in the case of a refusal to renew a licence, that he is disqualified by reason of his immigration status from driving a hackney carriage or a private hire vehicle;”.

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(2) Section 20A(1)(a) of that Act has effect in relation to such a licence as if after “subsection (1)(aa)” there were inserted “or (ab)”.

(3) Section 20(1) of that Act has effect in relation to an operator’s licence granted before the coming into force of paragraph 3J as if before the “or” at the end of paragraph (c) there were inserted—

“(cb) in the case of a refusal to renew a licence, that the operator is disqualified by reason of the operator’s immigration status from operating a private hire vehicle;”.

(4) Section 20A(1)(b) of that Act has effect in relation to such a licence as if after “subsection (1)(ca)” there were inserted “or (cb)”.

(5) Section 61(1) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 has effect in relation to the licence of a driver of a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle granted before the coming into force of paragraph 11 as if before the “or” at the end of paragraph (a) there were inserted—

“(ab) in the case of a refusal to renew a licence, that he is disqualified by reason of his immigration status from driving a hackney carriage or a private hire vehicle;”.

(6) Section 62A(1)(a) of that Act has effect in relation to such a licence as if after “subsection (1)(aa)” there were inserted “or (ab)”.

(7) Section 62(1) of that Act has effect in relation to an operator’s licence granted before the coming into force of paragraph 12 as if before the “or” at the end of paragraph (c) there were inserted—

“(cb) in the case of a refusal to renew a licence, that the operator is disqualified by reason of the operator’s immigration status from operating a private hire vehicle;”.

(8) Section 62A(1)(b) of that Act has effect in relation to such a licence as if after “subsection (1)(ca)” there were inserted “or (cb)”.

(9) Subsections (3A) to (3C) of section 13 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 apply in relation to an application for the renewal of a taxi driver’s or private hire car driver’s licence granted before the coming into force of paragraph 14B as they apply in relation to an application for the grant of such a licence made after that time.”

Amendment 132 agreed.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed.

Clause 12: Illegal working closure notices and illegal working compliance orders

Debate on whether Clause 12 should stand part of the Bill.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Paddick and I do not wish to see Clause 12 stand part of the Bill. We have other amendments in the group, and we intend to oppose the question that Schedule 3 be the third schedule to the Bill. I have some amendments to Schedule 3 as I am not entirely confident that the Minister will instantly accede to our amendments to and arguments on the schedule.

These provisions are about closing premises if it is thought that illegal working is taking place, followed by the possibility of compliance orders. It seems to us that these are something of a sledgehammer set of provisions. If anyone should be allowed to wield a sledgehammer, it should be the courts, not the Executive. A lot of this Bill—as we have said before and, I dare say, will say again—is about sending messages, which we do not think is the purpose of legislation.

The Bill would give immigration officers powers to close an employer’s premises for up to 48 hours when they are satisfied on reasonable grounds that the employer

20 Jan 2016 : Column 819

is employing an illegal worker. He might, of course, not necessarily actually be an illegal worker, but someone that the immigration officer has reasonable cause to believe is not entitled to work. I accept the phrase “reasonable cause” but, by definition, “reasonable cause” is not fact. A closure notice can lead on a pretty fast track to a compliance order being imposed for up to two years, which is a matter for the court. It seems to me that any closure, including the initial closure, should be a matter for the court. What happens when there are mistakes, poor decisions or bad judgment on the part of an immigration officer? The consequences for an employer can be considerable to both his reputation and financially, as they can be for the employees legally working for a business and, indeed, for other separate businesses operating from the same premises. Why is this measure required, given the criminal sanctions proposed for illegally employing someone? What safeguards are provided to ensure that this power is not used oppressively? What records will be made of the decision-making process and will they be disclosed to the owner of the premises?

As I said, I have tabled specific amendments to Schedule 3. Paragraph 1(12) requires an immigration officer to consult anyone he thinks is appropriate before issuing a closure notice. Amendment 135 would require consultation—which, of course, in this context would mean discussion before issuing the notice—with, as a minimum, the employer, people who live on the premises and anyone who has an interest in the premises.

Amendment 146 was tabled following debate in the Commons on paragraph 15(3)(d) of Schedule 3, which is about the possibility of compensation for loss being ordered by the court if, having regard to all the circumstances, the court is satisfied that it is appropriate. The discussion was around whether other criteria must also be satisfied. The Government consider that the word “and” should be included at the end of the relevant provision, not “or”. This is clearly an important point. The ability to order compensation for an employer is restricted, as are the circumstances in which compensation can be paid to third parties—the sort of third parties I have mentioned—who would be adversely affected. Therefore, I am not happy with the Government’s amendment, but at least it will bring clarity.

If the Secretary of State has presented inaccurate information to the court which has led the court to make an order which it would not otherwise have made, or the Secretary of State has acted in an oppressive manner or otherwise wrongfully, will the court have the power to order the payment of compensation or damages without having to start separate proceedings? And if not, why not? The government amendments remove all possibility of compensation for losses incurred as a result of an illegal working closure notice if that notice has been cancelled. It seems likely that where a notice has been issued wrongly, the Home Office should move to cancel it. I ask these questions to seek clarification on these provisions.

Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con): My Lords, it might be helpful for noble Lords if I speak now to the government amendments to explain them and come to the noble Baroness’s amendments and the stand part debate at the end.

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Government Amendments 136 to 145 and 147 have been tabled in respect of illegal working closure notices and compliance orders. They are technical matters, although they also clarify the circumstances in which a person may apply to the courts for compensation where they allege they have suffered financial loss as a consequence of an illegal working closure notice.

Amendment 136 clarifies that an immigration officer may cancel a closure notice only if either the employer operating at the premises is not employing any illegal workers, or the employer does not have an unspent conviction for the offence of knowingly employing an illegal worker, or has not received a civil penalty for employing an illegal worker which is less than three years old or which remains unpaid. This is because these are the circumstances in which a closure notice may be served, according to Schedule 3, paragraph 1(3) and (6).

Amendment 137 corrects an incorrect cross-reference. Amendment 139 excludes compensation from being available where a notice has been cancelled due to the employer being able to evidence compliance with right-to-work checks only after the notice has been issued. This is to ensure that any deliberate delay by the employer is not incentivised in the knowledge that they could still claim compensation. Amendments 140, 141 and 142 simply delete unnecessary references.

Amendments 143 and 144 make it clear that a compensation order may be made only when there has been a mistake of fact as to the conditions in paragraph 1(3) or 1(6) being satisfied. Employers will be given an opportunity to demonstrate that they have conducted right-to-work checks in relation to any illegal workers found before there is any decision to serve a closure notice. The court has discretion to award compensation where these specified conditions have not been satisfied and the claimant has suffered financial loss in consequence of a closure notice.

Following debate in the other place, Amendment 145 simply confirms that the relevant paragraph has a conjunctive construction. In case some noble Lords do not understand that, it means that we add an “and” to the penultimate sub-paragraph, which means that all the conditions must be satisfied

Amendments 138 and 147 omit paragraph 15(4) as it was felt this contributed to the ambiguity raised in debate in the other place. By preventing compensation for financial loss in relation to a person’s work, it could have been read to prevent all compensation for financial loss in relation to a closure notice, such as the earnings of illegal and legal workers. I can assure the Committee that that is not the Government’s intention. Therefore, the government amendments clarify that the compensation mechanism will apply in cases of mistake on specified grounds. I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Fookes) (Con): My Lords, at the risk of being a pedant, I point out that, strictly, these amendments are not moved; they are spoken to at this time. They are moved only in the order in which they appear in the Marshalled List.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: I apologise. I speak to the amendments.

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Baroness Ludford (LD): My Lords, I react with as much puzzlement to the Minister calling the government amendments “technical matters” as my noble friend Lady Hamwee did when the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, called her Amendments 78 to 91 on licensing, “technical amendments”. These are about people’s livelihoods, whether it is a licence or closing premises. It seems an extraordinary use of Executive power for an immigration officer to be able to close premises—a shop or other place of work—under the conditions that have been cited. I cannot see how this complies with the rule of law. There is going to be no transparency in this process.

6 pm

My noble friend Lady Hamwee asked about what records would be kept of the decision-making process by an immigration officer and whether these records would be available. The whole point of a court process is that there is, as far as possible, transparency in how the decision is made. It simply does not meet the test of adequate due process if the Government, through an immigration officer, can close someone’s place of work for two days. There would then be a certain momentum for the illegal working compliance order. If the immigration officer, or chief immigration officer, has said that there is employment of an illegal worker—although, as my noble friend pointed out, the immigration officer could be wrong; he only has to have reasonable suspicion that an illegal worker is there—there would surely be a certain momentum before the magistrates’ court that would make it very hard to overturn or oppose an illegal working compliance order closing a premises for two years.

I utterly support my noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lord Paddick in opposing that Clause 12 and Schedule 3 stand part of the Bill and their other amendments in that group.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, I thank the two noble Baronesses who have spoken. I start by making the general point that these powers will be used only for repeat offenders. They will not be used widely; they are for the most egregious offenders. As well as employing illegal workers, they must already have had illegal working penalties or convictions.

Clause 12, which gives effect to Schedule 3, sets out the regime for illegal working closure notices and illegal working compliance orders. The clause and schedule provide new powers to deal with businesses that repeatedly flout the law by employing illegal workers. The intention is to use them in the most serious cases, as I have just indicated, where civil penalties or previous convictions have failed to change employer behaviour. Such employers may also be exploiting their workers, including legal workers, by not paying the minimum wage or by breaking health and safety legislation. When immigration officers conduct an enforcement visit under existing powers to an employer’s premises, any illegal workers identified may be arrested and the employer may be liable to pay a civil penalty or to prosecution for an offence. Despite this, the employer may continue to use illegal workers who are not apprehended at the time of the visit or who are recruited subsequently. Furthermore, some businesses dissolve to evade sanctions and then reopen

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in a new name and continue their non-compliance as before. My notes tell me that this is often referred to as “phoenixism” and that may be so. The provisions are designed to break this cycle of non-compliant business behaviour.

The provisions create a new power for immigration officers to close premises for up to 48 hours in certain cases, where the employer or a connected person in relation to the employer has previously faced sanctions for employing illegal workers. An application must be made to a court for an illegal working compliance order, unless the closure notice is cancelled. This compliance order may extend the closure of the premises or make any order the court decides is appropriate to prevent an employer operating at the premises from employing an illegal worker. This might include ordering the business to perform right-to-work checks to ensure that illegal workers are not employed, or to permit immigration officers to enter the premises to ensure that the employer is complying with illegal working rules.

These provisions are loosely modelled on the power to close premises associated with nuisance or disorder, which is in Part 4 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Let me reassure the House that this power will be subject to appropriate safeguards and its use will not be considered lightly. It is designed to be used as a last resort in the most serious cases, where established methods of securing compliance have been unsuccessful, by limiting the duration of the closure notice that may be served by immigration officers; by making the courts responsible for determining whether a compliance order should be imposed; by providing a right of appeal against a compliance order; and by providing a mechanism to apply for compensation, should mistakes be made, we believe that Schedule 3 provides appropriate judicial oversight of the use of these powers and sufficient safeguards and remedies for those who feel that they have been treated unfairly.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Ludford, talked about what records will be kept and the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, talked about the transparency in the process. Guidance may be published under paragraph 16 of Schedule 3, after appropriate consultation, which would provide for guidance for immigration officers in respect of how their immigration powers should be exercised and recorded. We will ensure that immigration officers make operational records in their pocket notebooks, as is standard practice, and that this is supported by guidance issued under paragraph 16. The Home Office will monitor compliance as a matter of course.

On the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, the compensation mechanism in paragraph 15 does not apply where the court has made an order, since an adversely affected party should, in this case, appeal the order. The court, on hearing an appeal, may make any order it considers appropriate under paragraph 9(5) and this might include the award of compensation. The noble Baroness also asked whether compensation should be payable when inaccurate information is presented to a court by an immigration officer. If a court considers that the conditions for issuing the notice under paragraph 1(3) or paragraph 1(6) were not satisfied, the court may award compensation to a

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claimant who has suffered financial loss, if it considers it is appropriate. The compensation mechanism in paragraph 15(3), as I have just said, does not apply when the court has made an order, since the adversely affected party should appeal the order. Compensation may be payable at the discretion of the court if the immigration officer supplied inaccurate information to the court as to whether any illegal workers were present at the property or if the employer had not previously been convicted of an immigration offence or received an immigration penalty. Compensation may also be payable when the immigration officer has not used reasonable efforts to notify people who live at or have an interest in the property.

As to the point that the initial closure order should be issued by a court and not an immigration officer, the Government respectfully disagree. We think that the immediacy of the present approach is designed to serve as a deterrent to employers who have repeatedly flouted illegal working rules. The present approach allows for the trigger conditions to be applied to a particular moment in time. Imposing a requirement for an initial court order would give the employer an opportunity to hide their illegal working, including through dissolving the company.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, mentioned that she thought the powers were oppressive and contrary to the rule of law. I point out that the closure of a business premises by law enforcement officers is not unprecedented and the proposal in this Bill, including the safeguards, is modelled on the approach taken in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. As a result of those remarks, I hope that in due course the noble Baroness will accept that Clause 12 and Schedule 3, to which it gives effect, should remain part of the Bill.

Turning to the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, Amendment 135 would require the immigration officer to consult the employer,

“people who live on the premises … and … any person who has an interest in the premises”.

The officer will already be required by Schedule 3 to consult any person they think appropriate before issuing a closure notice, and this may include many of those interested parties. In addition, immigration officers are already required to make reasonable efforts to inform any person who lives on the premises and any person who has an interest in the premises that the notice is going to be issued. A requirement to also consult such people—who, I remind noble Lords, have already committed an illegal working offence—seems an unnecessary additional requirement. Also, paragraph 1 makes it clear that a closure notice cannot prohibit access to premises to any person who habitually lives on the premises.

The amendment also requires the employer to be consulted. I can reassure noble Lords that employers will be given an opportunity to demonstrate that they have complied with the law in this area. The decision to serve a closure notice will not be taken lightly. If the employer can produce evidence that right-to-work checks have been undertaken, Schedule 3 makes it clear that the notice must not be issued, or if such evidence is produced after the notice has been issued, the notice may be cancelled. The whole purpose of

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serving the closure notice is because the business has repeatedly flouted the law in this area. It will be a serious case where the established civil penalty scheme or previous convictions have not prevented continued illegal behaviour.

Amendment 146 would have the effect of always giving the court the discretion to award compensation, even where immigration officers have acted lawfully and the claimant was responsible for illegal working on the premises. This would frustrate the objective of the proposed scheme of closure notices, which is to strengthen our ability to deal with repeat offenders involved in the use of illegal workers. It would be inappropriate to provide the facility for such persons to obtain compensation for financial loss where the immigration authorities have acted correctly in closing their premises.

In the light of my explanation of these provisions, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able not to press her amendments.

Lord Lucas (Con): My Lords, perhaps I might ask my noble friend a couple of questions. He said several times that this is to deal with people who are repeat offenders—the most serious offenders—but paragraph 1(6) requires only one offence. As with certain members of the Government who make mistakes in employing illegal workers from time to time, as do many people, it seems unfair to lump them in with people who are deliberately flouting immigration rules. It sounds very much from what my noble friend is saying that the guidance would require many more offences to have been committed than just the one in the previous three years. I would be comforted if he could reinforce that that is the case and say why paragraph 1(6) says only once.

The other thing that I wanted to raise with him is the conjunction between paragraph 1(3) and 1(11). Surely if the person who is employing gets even a few moments’ prior notice that this procedure is about to be activated, he has a “Lord Sugar” defence—all he has to say is, “You’re fired”, and he is no longer employing anyone.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, in answer to the first question, the whole point is that it is not just sub-paragraph (6) that has to be taken into account before a closure notice is provided; it is in combination with sub-paragraph (3). The condition is that an employer is employing someone illegally and, in sub-paragraph (6), they have to have previously been convicted of an offence. If an immigration officer suspects that illegal working is going on, they can apply for the closure notice if, and only if, sub-paragraph (6) also applies where they have previous convictions in respect of illegal working.

On my noble friend’s second point about giving notice, that is precisely why for the first 24 hours, which may be extended to 48 hours, we feel that an immediate closure notice can be served, before the court is applied to, to prevent employers doing things which would enable them to continue employing illegal workers. The fact that we can do it immediately, albeit for only up to 48 hours, is an important factor in clamping down on this offence.

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6.15 pm

Lord Lucas: My Lords, when paragraph 1(11) says,

“An illegal working closure notice may be issued only if reasonable efforts have been made to inform”,

that surely says that the person who is running the premises has to be told beforehand that a notice is to be issued and therefore there is a small space of time in which people can be disemployed. I agree that a company could not be closed. I understand how sub-paragraphs (3) and (6) work together, but sub-paragraph (6) is the bit that covers the previous convictions and, in my opinion, it does not match the words of my noble friend that this is for the most serious offences and the really rogue offenders. This catches anyone who has made one mistake beforehand. If we are giving the Executive this power, which I do not disapprove of in extreme cases, we should restrict it to extreme cases and not include a person who makes a second mistake within three years, which in the retail industry is not hard to do.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, we are talking about illegal working by illegal immigrants. It is just a question of what you define as serious. In our view, with employers who have previously been convicted of illegal working offences and who are suspected of employing illegal workers, we regard that as serious. I think it is a question of definition whether you have to have had one, two or three convictions before it applies. At the moment that is where we consider it should be and we consider that serious.

With regard to my noble friend’s earlier point, sub-paragraph (11) says that there is a duty to inform,

“people who live on the premises”—

not necessarily the employer—but we think it is reasonable that people who live on a premises should be informed that a premises might be closed.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, that is exactly the point about the written words matching the oral words which has been concerning me about paragraph 1(6). I do not know whether the Minister can answer this question now. If there has been a conviction, leaving aside for the moment how many offences there have been, and it is a spent conviction under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, it does not apply. But if there has been at any time a requirement to pay a penalty following an illegal working closure notice, and failure to pay that penalty, does that fall within the reference to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act? I suspect it does not. In other words, although there might be a spent conviction, the non-payment of a penalty notice could blight your business for ever. I am not suggesting that penalty notices should not be paid.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: I think that the noble Baroness has made my point for me. If there is a civil penalty and businesses do not pay it, they are not the sort of business which we would necessarily feel that this clause should not apply to. On the concern that the printed words do not match the oral words, I am very happy to write to the noble Baroness to confirm that what I said is correct—and we are of course happy to discuss this at any time afterwards. But in the mean time, I would be grateful if she would withdraw her opposition to the clause standing part.

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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am not suggesting that the Minister is misrepresenting the Government’s intention. I want to see the intention reproduced on paper. A civil penalty should, at the very least for this purpose, be on all fours with a conviction. After all, it is lighter than a conviction. For it to bite for ever and ever, and come up to bite you in 15 years’ time or whatever, seems inappropriate.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: Is the noble Baroness saying that if you do not pay a civil penalty for 15 years, you should get away with it?

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, if you can—in the Minister’s words—get away with a conviction because of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, which is well-respected legislation, then you should be able to get away with not paying a penalty in the terms in which we are discussing them. I am not advocating law-breaking or the non-payment of penalties; I am sure that the Minister really understands that.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: I do understand, and it might be appropriate to continue this discussion between ourselves later, outside the Chamber.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I do not wish to continue that bit of the discussion, but perhaps I might put into a future discussion a question on payment of compensation. The Minister referred to the court being able to pay compensation. Under paragraph 9, it can make any order it regards as appropriate—but a separate paragraph 15, on compensation, requires an application to be made. I think he said that guidance would be given under paragraph 9(5) but I am not sure how paragraphs 9 and 15 work together. I do not expect an answer now; that would not be fair. But I would be grateful if I could have some clarity—others may understand it perfectly—as to how those two paragraphs work together.

I will not test the patience of the Committee by responding to other points. No doubt the Question on Clause 12 is about to be put. We will not at this moment object to it.

Clause 12 agreed.

Amendment 133

Moved by Lord Rosser

133: After Clause 12, insert the following new Clause—

“Protection from slavery for overseas domestic workers

All overseas domestic workers in the United Kingdom, including those working for staff of diplomatic missions, shall be entitled to—

(a) change their employer (but not work sector) while in the United Kingdom;

(b) renew their domestic worker or diplomatic domestic worker visa, each such renewal being for a period not exceeding twelve months, as long as they remain in employment and are able to support themselves without recourse to public funds;

(c) a three month temporary visa permitting them to live in the United Kingdom for the purposes of seeking alternative employment as an overseas domestic worker where there is evidence that the worker has been a victim of modern slavery.”

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Lord Rosser: My Lords, there are two amendments in this group, one in my name and in the names of my noble friend Lord Kennedy of Southwark, the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. There is a second amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, within the group. I intend to be relatively brief because I imagine that a number of others may wish to speak in this debate.

The amendment to which I wish to speak seeks to reverse the 2012 visa changes for overseas domestic workers by allowing them to change their employer and renew their visa for a period of 12 months,

“as long as they remain in employment and are able to support themselves without recourse to public funds”.

It would also provide for overseas domestic workers to be entitled to a temporary visa, permitting them to live in this country for the purposes of seeking alternative employment when there is evidence that they have been a victim of modern slavery.

A similar amendment was pursued during the passage of the Modern Slavery Bill, when the Government declined to go down the proposed road as they were having an independent review undertaken of the overseas domestic worker visa, including those for diplomatic overseas domestic workers. That independent review by James Ewins was, I believe, presented to the Home Secretary on 6 November last year and published on 17 December, when the Commons Minister said that the Government’s response would be announced in due course.

In his review, Mr Ewins considered as his fundamental question,

“whether the current arrangements for the overseas domestic workers visa are sufficient to protect overseas domestic workers from abuse of their fundamental rights while they are working in the UK, which includes protecting them from abuse that amounts to modern slavery and human trafficking”.

His review concludes that,

“the existence of a tie to a specific employer and the absence of a universal right to change employer and apply for extensions of the visa are incompatible with the reasonable protection of overseas domestic workers while in the UK”.

In the light of this finding, he recommends in his review as the minimum required to address the problem which he has identified that,

“all overseas domestic workers be granted the right to change employer … and apply for annual extensions, provided they are in work as domestic workers in a private home … that such extensions do not need to be indefinite, and that overseas domestic workers should not have a right to apply for settlement in the UK in order to be adequately protected”,

and that,

“after extensions totalling up to 2 ½ years, overseas domestic workers are required to leave the UK”,

with this extension being, as I said, the minimum required to give effective protection to those overseas domestic workers who are being abused in the UK.

Mr Ewins also stated in his review that the rights that he is proposing should be granted to all overseas domestic workers, with no different treatment between,

“seriously abused, mildly abused and non-abused workers”,

and that,

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“overseas domestic workers must be given a real opportunity to receive information, advice and support concerning their rights while at work in the UK”,

if the essential changes that he has proposed to the terms of the visa are to be of practical help to such workers. He also comments that implementation of his recommendations,

“will provide data, information and intelligence which will enable the police, Immigration Enforcement or the proposed Director of Labour Market Enforcement, to take intelligence-led steps to investigate and pursue those who abuse overseas domestic workers with criminal, civil or immigration sanctions”.

There are many other important recommendations and points in Mr Ewins’s review to which I have not referred.

During debate on the then Modern Slavery Bill about the overseas domestic worker visa issue and the Government’s decision to have an independent review, the Minister in the Commons said that the Government looked forward to the recommendations of the review. She went on to say that while she could not commit a future Government, the intention was that whoever was in government would “implement the review’s recommendations”.

I do not wish to go over the ground again on the arguments in favour of the terms of the amendment I am moving, as they were spelled out during the passage of what is now the Modern Slavery Act. Since then, the recommendations from the independent review which the Government set up have been published and, in essence, they confirm the validity of the concerns expressed during the passage of that Act, including on the tie to an individual employer. I invite the Minister to say what the Government’s response is to the recommendations in the independent review and what actions they now intend to take, since we need to resolve the issues surrounding the overseas domestic worker visa as part of our consideration of the terms of this Bill. I beg to move.

6.30 pm

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 134B, which is in my name. Last year, on what became the Modern Slavery Act, we made progress even on the long-vexed question of foreign—that is, non-EU—domestic workers coming to this country on the tied, short-term visa or working for diplomats here in London.

The Government appointed Mr James Ewins QC to do an independent review of the effects, in practice, of the restrictive visa. He took evidence and considered whether there was sufficient protection from abuse of those workers’ fundamental rights, such as would amount to modern slavery and human trafficking. In November last year, as has been mentioned, on the balance of the evidence, he found that the tie to a specific employer without the right to change or to apply for a visa extension was incompatible—I repeat, incompatible—with reasonable protection, as was mentioned previously by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. Today, his Amendment 133 goes a long way to meeting the Ewins recommendations. I believe that it repeats the wording of my previous amendment from last year, which was approved by your Lordships on a Division during the progress of the Modern Slavery Bill.

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However, I wish to go just a little further and be a little clearer on the instructions to the Secretary of State. My amendment would implement the improvements by changes to the Immigration Rules, making them variable but without recourse to new primary legislation. Proposed new paragraphs (a), (c) and (f) in my amendment are the same as those in Amendment 133. My paragraph (b) provides for an,

“information session within one month of the commencement of their visa”.

This would allow the workers to be fully informed of their rights. Checks could be made at that time that they had contracts of employment and understood them, that they had access to their passports—a point which has been mentioned very often in previous debates —and that they knew how to raise complaints.

My proposed new paragraph (d) would probably not apply to workers on a six-month visa unless the employers themselves obtained extensions of stay, as does in fact quite often happen. It would also be helpful for diplomatic employees and in some irregular situations where time had passed by but there were strong grounds for allowing settlement. It would, furthermore, make possible applications in this country without the applicant having to return to another country and therefore apply from outside the United Kingdom.

My proposed new paragraph (e) would not apply automatically but would helpfully assist family reunion and parental ties—for example, in cases where small children had been left behind in the country of origin. This is obviously a very hard choice but one into which mothers may be forced by extreme poverty. With these explanations, I trust Amendment 134B will commend itself to your Lordships and provide the Government with satisfactory guidance on how to implement the Ewins recommendations. This protection for highly vulnerable people is urgently needed, and further delays would be quite unacceptable.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, I wish to support Amendment 133, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and to say a word in support of my noble friend Lord Hylton’s Amendment 134B. In March last year, at the last gasp of the then Modern Slavery Bill, your Lordships voted down the amendment that my noble friend has referred to, which would of course have provided greater protection for domestic migrant labour in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, described. My noble friend Lord Hylton has of course persistently championed this cause, and this new legislation gives us an opportunity to rectify what is a long-standing injustice.

In March, those of us who divided the House pressed for the most basic of protections: first, the right to change employer but remain restricted to domestic work in one household; secondly, if in full-time work as a migrant domestic worker in a private household, the option to apply to renew the visa; and thirdly, in instances of slavery, a three-month visa to allow the workers to look for decent work. We argued that without these sorts of provisions, we would leave in place a system found repeatedly over the previous three years to facilitate exploitation, including trafficking of migrant domestic workers.

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One of the foremost charities working with these groups, Kalayaan, described how such workers have literally sacrificed themselves to the well-being of their wider families. They do not self-protect in the way that someone with more choices would expect. Many explain that they are prepared to put up with any amount of mistreatment if they can provide for their children and ensure that the same will not happen to them. Kalayaan reports that 65% of the 120 domestic workers on the new visa who they saw between 6 April 2012 and 6 April 2014 did not even have their own rooms but shared children’s rooms or slept on the floor of communal areas, while 53% worked more than 16 hours a day and 60% were paid less than £50 a week.

In 2009, the Home Affairs Select Committee, quoting Kalayaan, said in its inquiry into trafficking that the visa issue was,

“‘the single most important issue’ in preventing the forced labour and trafficking of such workers”.

I recognise that the wholly unacceptable exploitation of domestic workers will not be entirely abolished by the acceptance of these amendments, but it would certainly be an improvement on the current situation.

In reply to the debate last March, the Minister—the noble Lord, Lord Bates—urged Members of your Lordships’ House to resist our amendment and to await the outcome of the review of James Ewins, which the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, has mentioned. The Minister said:

“Most crucially, the amendment is defective because a serious and considered piece of work is currently going through its process under the widely respected James Ewins. Our argument is that that should be allowed to take its course”.—[Official Report, 25/3/15; col. 1448.]

In the review, which followed the debate, Mr Ewins takes as his fundamental question,

“whether the current arrangements for the overseas domestic workers visa are sufficient to protect overseas domestic workers from abuse of their fundamental rights while they are working in the UK, which includes protecting them from abuse that amounts to modern slavery and human trafficking”.

We now have the result of that review, and Mr Ewins has recommended removing the visa tie:

“On the balance of the evidence currently available, this review finds that the existence of a tie to a specific employer and the absence of a universal right to change employer and apply for extensions of the visa are incompatible with the reasonable protection of overseas domestic workers while in the UK”.

He goes on to say:

“The review recommends that all overseas domestic workers be granted the right to change employer … and apply for annual extensions, provided they are in work as domestic workers in a private home”.

Who are the kind of people we are talking about? The Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit provides a number of examples, of which I will give only one, relating to the plight of an African national caught up in the cat’s-cradle of domestic labour exploitation. She entered the UK as a domestic worker under the rules in place before April 2012. Her visa has been extended a number of times and she has continued domestic work. She worked for an employer for over three years and was mistreated: she was paid less than promised, shouted at and rarely allowed to leave the house, and her passport was taken by her

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employers on arrival—the key point. She of course felt very scared. She managed to gain their agreement to a short holiday after the three years, and when she got her passport back, she changed employers. She was advised about the protection available under the national referral mechanism but has been reluctant to pursue this as she fears she will be sent home to her country of origin by the Home Office. The study shows that a common form of control is retention of documents, psychological abuse and restriction of movement.

However, domestic workers who are allowed to change employer can solve problems that arise with one employer by changing employment and moving away from the problem. The case also shows that the NRM will not be the right fit for everyone, even with advice. Individuals can be frightened of being perceived to cause trouble for others and of repercussions from that.

Although Amendment 133 has provided this welcome opportunity to debate what provision should be made for overseas domestic workers, this can all be achieved simply by amendments to the Immigration Rules, so the full range of options is open to the Government. Either way, Mr Ewins’s recommendations, which he identifies as the minimum necessary to protect overseas workers, should be implemented without delay as an essential first step towards comprehensive protection.

As my noble friend Lord Hylton said, he would go slightly further in Amendment 134B. Maybe these two ideas, which are not in conflict, could be taken together before Report. What is abundantly clear is that the Government must get on with resolving this issue and providing reasonable and basic protection to those caught up in a tangle of exploitation and coercion.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I have my name to the first of this pair of amendments, but I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, on picking up some specifics from the report and spelling them out in his Amendment 134B. We must all thank James Ewins, who was promoted in my speech at Second Reading, according to the Official Report, to coming from the UN rather than Ewins—not an inappropriate promotion. We must also thank the organisations which gave evidence, which have worked so hard for so long and provided so much support to this group of workers.

I was not entirely clear from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, whether he and his party are behind the Ewins recommendations. His tone was certainly warm and supportive, but it may be that when I read his speech I will detect whether they would like them implemented in whole or in part. The Liberal Democrats regard the report and its recommendations as clear, considered, compassionate and to be implemented.

I will not repeat the arguments that have been made, with which I agree very much, but it is telling that Mr Ewins says that,

“this review has not taken such previous proposals as a starting point”,

but,

“has deliberately gone back to first principles and applied those principles to the evidence currently available. The fact that the conclusions accord to a considerable extent”—

not completely—

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“with previous recommendations adds further weight to the argument in favour of the changes proposed”.

I, too, look forward to hearing how the changes he proposes are to be implemented.

Lord Green of Deddington (CB): My Lords, I share the condemnation of domestic slavery, which I am sure is shared by all Members of this House, and I strongly support those organisations that seek to help such workers. In doing so, I speak with some experience on the ground. I was the consul in Abu Dhabi and the consul-general in Saudi Arabia, which is where 50% of these applications come from.

Let me start, then, by welcoming the Modern Slavery Act, which seeks to tackle the worst cases of abuse, providing advice and support for those who seek to escape. However, what is now proposed goes well beyond that. The independent reviewer seems to be suggesting that any domestic servant who is not satisfied with his or her conditions will be able to change employer and then remain in the UK working legally for, I think he says, two years—others say without time limit. At the end of that period, he supposes, I think, that they would simply pack up and go home to their impoverished home country. That seems a very unlikely outcome. It is far more likely that they will continue to work here—illegally, if necessary—so that they can continue to send money home. In many respects, that is understandable, but we must recognise that if that situation were to develop, word would spread very quickly among domestic workers in a number of source countries and it would not be very long before we had a significant loophole in the immigration system.

6.45 pm

I read the independent report rather carefully, because it is a difficult issue for all of us. Obviously, none of us wants a system that leaves domestic workers in the kind of difficult conditions to which the noble Lord, Lord Alton, referred. However, the reviewer claimed in paragraph 174 of his report that,

“this is not a migration issue, and should not be characterised as one”.

I do not agree with that. There is a balance to be struck here between what we can try to do to reduce the risk to domestic workers and, on the other hand, avoiding a very large loophole in our immigration system which would grow and grow.

Mr Ewins based his claim that it was not an immigration issue on the number of grants of indefinite leave to remain made in 2013 to those who had arrived in this country as domestic servants. That number is about 1,500, including dependants. That, he said, was trivial compared to the present scale of immigration. Well it is, but that is not the right number to look at. It says nothing whatever about how many of the 80,000 people who were admitted on domestic service visas over the past five years stayed on illegally. By definition, we do not know what that number is. We know that a balance must be struck between the need to reduce the scale of immigration, legal and otherwise, against concern about domestic workers.

While on the subject of numbers, the report referred to 33 cases of abuse. The noble Lord, Lord Alton, cited a much larger number—I am not sure on what

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basis—but 33 was the number in the report. It was not clear whether they had all arrived in the same year, but let us assume that they did. Thirty-three in 17,000 is about two in every thousand. The author notes that that could be just the tip of an iceberg. Let us assume, therefore, that the number is 10 times larger than the 33 cases that he came across. Even then, we are only at 2%. The proposal in his report is significantly to increase the rate of overstaying by 17,000 people a year or more to improve conditions for domestic servants in the UK beyond what we now have under the Modern Slavery Act.

I am not sure that numbers are entirely the answer to this, but we need to keep an idea of proportion when we consider this quite difficult balance. We also need to consider the effect of the change proposed in the amendments on the rogue employers about whom we are concerned. Would not the knowledge that their servants were in effect being encouraged to escape cause them to tighten still further their grip on these unfortunate women and, sometimes, men? Could there be consequences for perfectly good employers? Such employers in the region frequently complain that when they come to the UK, they lose their servants, even under present conditions. Indeed, some servants choose employers who they know are coming to the UK in order that when they come here in the summer they can leave their employment. So the result might be—and we have to consider it as a possibility at least—that some of those employers will go to other destinations where the risk of losing their servants is much lower. If that were to happen, it would negate the whole purpose of these domestic servant visas.

In conclusion, the report itself has been quoted by a number of noble Lords. In paragraph 20, it acknowledges the,

“distinct lack of cogent or robust data and evidence as to the extent of such abuse”.

It also acknowledges, in paragraph 14, that there is,

“no empirical … data available to show whether the rate of abuse … has increased or decreased since the imposition of the visa tie in 2012”.

Mr Ewins also goes on, rightly, to acknowledge that there will shortly be data from exit controls, which will cast light on whether there is a serious problem here. It will cast light on whether there is a problem of overstaying; of course, it will not cast light on how individuals are treated. So I put it to noble Lords that surely the obvious solution is to wait until we have such evidence before taking a view on whether there is a valid case for changing the visa regime.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: First, I shall clarify the figure that the noble Lord asked about. It is the figure quoted in the Kalayaan report of people that it had interviewed over the course of two years—120 people. The case that I have advanced today is based not entirely on what I regard as the excellent report of James Ewins. I wonder whether the noble Lord has had a chance to read the recommendation of the Joint Committee on the draft Modern Slavery Bill, which looked at this issue and concluded:

“In the case of the domestic worker’s visa, policy changes have unintentionally strengthened the hand of the slave master against the victim of slavery. The moral case for revisiting this issue is urgent and overwhelming”.

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It recommended that the Home Office reverse the changes to the overseas domestic workers visa. That was also a view that the Joint Committee on Human Rights took; in 2014, it said:

“We regard the removal of the right of an Overseas Domestic Worker to change employer as a backward step”,

and urged its reversal. So this is not just Mr Ewins—there is a substantial amount of evidence from highly regarded committees of this House and Joint Committees, which have looked at this matter in detail and come to the same conclusions as Mr Ewins.

Lord Green of Deddington: Yes, I quite see that. I would expect the people whom the noble Lord quoted to say what they said. There is clearly some force in that, and there clearly is a problem. We are not in doubt that there is a problem over the treatment of domestic servants who are brought to the UK; that is entirely understood and not in question. What is in question is the balance between trying to ensure that that problem is alleviated—it will never be removed; we will always have rogue employers—and the needs of the immigration system, which would be considerable because these numbers would go up very fast indeed. If people knew that they had only to get here with one employer and they were here for ever, of course they would come in their thousands. So there must be a balance. That is really my point.

Lord Hylton: But does the noble Lord agree that they cannot come without visas?

Lord Green of Deddington: I do not think that I understand the noble Lord’s point.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I think that my question to the noble Lord may be the same as that asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. The noble Lord said that he knows that currently employers bring in domestic servants but lose them because they go on to other employment. If they come in on a tied visa, how can that be?

Lord Green of Deddington: Well, they come in on a tied visa and then they do a runner and go and work for somebody else. The employer then goes back to his home country and puts in a visa next year for a new servant; he will claim, no doubt, that the servant has been working for a year, because that is one of the requirements, and come with his next servant. So the numbers will certainly increase. If you produce a loophole in these matters, they will increase very fast.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, I hope that we are not moving from waiting for Ewins to looking for loopholes. I was a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights at the time of the legislative scrutiny of the 2014 Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Alton said, this is a matter of human rights. Not only did we say that the removal of the right of overseas domestic workers was a backwards step but we noted that the 2012 regime had been cited internationally as good practice.

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I am not going to make a great speech, because I think the case has already been made admirably by other noble Lords. But my noble friend Lord Rosser pointed out that the Minister in the Commons towards the end of the last Government, but a member of today’s governing party, said as a statement of intent that whoever was in government would implement the review’s recommendations. I simply do not understand why this very important report, which we were all waiting for and for which everything had to be suspended to see what it said, was presented to the Government nearly three months ago with a sense of urgency to it, yet we do not yet have the Government’s response to it, even though we have started Committee stage of this highly relevant Bill. Why do we not yet know the Government’s response and how quickly will we know it—and will it be in the spirit of the statement made by Karen Bradley in the Commons last March?

The Earl of Sandwich (CB): I add one more voice from these Benches in support of the amendment. My noble friend Lord Hylton has already reminded us that the amendments in some form have already been won in this House. The Minister will already understand the strength of feeling on these Benches—with, obviously, some notable exceptions. The Ewins recommendations have sharpened them up, recommending the three-month temporary visa. I tend to support my noble friend’s wider amendment. The evidence being already on the record from Kalayaan and others, I shall not repeat any of that, but has the Minister seen the evidence from Justice for Domestic Workers, in its survey of last August, I think, in relation to the ILO convention 189? I shall give some brief illustrations: 72% of these—mainly—women feel that they have been required to work while they are unwell, while 94% say that they are injured while they are at work, by falling over and so on. One has to appreciate the depth of the suffering of these individuals—but I shall not go on about that. Case studies show how vulnerable they are and how wary they are of seeking help from any authorities, including consulting the NRM, where they should be going. I suspect that the Home Office, like my noble friend Lord Green, sees these amendment as holes in the dyke, carrying risk. But we have to give these domestic workers a way out of their situation in such a way that it will not open the gates to more migration. That is where the Ewins recommendations come in: the workers have to pass the test of exploitation. I see no reason why their case cannot be singled out from the rest.

Lord Bates: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Hylton, for tabling these amendments. It is entirely right that we discuss this important issue; it is something on which, as the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, mentioned, I and the Government are in no doubt whatever about the strength of feeling in your Lordships’ House. What is more, we are in no doubt that there is a problem that needs to be addressed; that is not in question at all. Were it not so, we would not have wasted taxpayers’ money, as it were, on the Ewins review in the first place, nor would we have introduced the measures that we did in the Modern Slavery Act, which sought to address some of these issues.

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Let me be clear at the beginning about what I intend to do at this stage—and I hope that noble Lords will bear with me. My proposal is to set out some of the initial response to the report and address some of the comments that have been made in the debate. I would then be immensely grateful if noble Lords who have an interest in this area might have the opportunity to meet Home Office officials and myself—and possibly Karen Bradley if her diary permits—to go over what we propose to do.

7 pm

Following that discussion, and in the light of reflecting on the report and the contributions which have been made today and at that meeting, we will bring proposals forward on Report to set out what the Government intend to do. I frame things in that way so that we do not have to go through the pain of wondering whether on page 4 I am going to come to a crescendo and announce the position. Rather than a announcing a policy or a position, I am announcing a process which I think will be helpful to us and, I hope, to noble Lords in arriving at the right solution.

The Government acknowledge the need to address the particular vulnerability of those who are admitted to the United Kingdom as domestic workers. The Modern Slavery Act included new protections for this group of workers. It is also why we commissioned James Ewins to review the overseas domestic worker visa to assess whether such workers are sufficiently protected. His findings were published on 17 December. While the Government have not so far commented on his recommendations, we take them extremely seriously. The arguments are finely balanced. We want to ensure that our approach to the issue is right. We are continuing to work on our response, but I will take this opportunity to outline our broad view of the issues.

Ewins’s key recommendation is that overseas domestic workers should be able to change employers, irrespective of whether they have been the victim of abuse, and obtain an extension of stay for that purpose; in other words, he recommends the removal of the employer, or visa, tie. That, of course, is also the chief purpose of these amendments, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, acknowledged. The amendments go further than Mr Ewins’s recommendation, which is that overseas domestic workers who seek alternative employment should be able to extend their stay for a further two years. By contrast, these amendments would provide for those in this position to extend their stay indefinitely, effectively going back to the situation which existed pre-2012 when overseas domestic workers could come in, change employer as frequently as they wished, apply for indefinite leave to remain after a period of five years apply and bring in their dependants. We introduced the change.

In addition, both amendments provide for granting a three-month visa to a victim of slavery. Section 53 of the Modern Slavery Act already provides for a six-month extension of stay where a domestic worker is the subject of a positive conclusive grounds decision under the national referral mechanism. This provision was implemented through changes to the Immigration Rules in October last year.

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Mr Ewins has set out the case for removal of the employer tie. His report brings two key issues into sharp relief. First, it highlights the dearth of hard, quantitative evidence which can be brought to bear on policy-making in this area. Of course it is not in dispute that abuse takes place but, on whether the 2012 changes to the Immigration Rules have made overseas domestic workers more vulnerable to abuse, Mr Ewins concludes that no data exist to demonstrate either positively or negatively that the risk of abuse has increased or to confirm its prevalence. I am aware that other organisations referred to by noble Lords have supplied evidence, but that was James Ewins’s position. That is not to say that there is no evidence to support his prescriptions, but I can only agree with his view that the Government must,

“make serious inroads into the data deficit”.

We will do so. We can now use exit data, to which the noble Lord, Lord Green, referred, to obtain a better picture of how long overseas domestic workers remain here and how many overstay their leave. We will also continue to monitor national referral mechanism outcomes and the take-up of the measures introduced under Section 53 of the Modern Slavery Act to assess how well existing protections are working.

The second, and fundamental, issue that Mr Ewins’s report compels us to confront is how best we protect overseas domestic workers from abuse. Mr Ewins makes the case that if a worker is in an abusive employment relationship, removing the visa tie will make it easier for them to escape the abuse. However—and this comes to the key point potentially of difference between us, but I hope it is not an insurmountable barrier—it is not enough simply to provide an escape route for victims; we also need to avoid creating a revolving door of abuse which allows perpetrators liberty to bring other domestic workers to the United Kingdom who may face similar consequences.

Mr Ewins makes other recommendations in addition to removing the visa tie which could assist with this. Principal among them is a recommendation for compulsory information and advice meetings to be provided to overseas domestic workers who remain in the UK for more than 42 days, funded through an increased visa fee. The amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, would implement this recommendation. Such meetings would go to the crux of the issue by providing a safe place for domestic workers to come forward so that action can be taken against the perpetrators. We are looking carefully at how implementation could take place.

At this stage, I should say that the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, observed that mistreatment occurred before the rule was introduced. He suggested that a system for checking the welfare of domestic workers could have more success in preventing abuse than a simple right to change employer. The Director of Labour Market Enforcement will in future have as part of the broad scope of their remit looking at abuse in the labour market, to which this area is particularly pertinent.

We should not deceive ourselves that the removal of the employer tie would be a panacea. It is undisputed that abuse took place before it was introduced.

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In considering Mr Ewins’s recommendations, we need to assure ourselves that the measures we put in place assist us both to protect victims and to bring perpetrators to justice. We will continue to look at this important issue ahead of Report.

It is deeply concerning that Mr Ewins suggests that overseas domestic workers may have a negative perception of the national referral mechanism, a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Alton. It is incumbent upon us all to encourage potential victims to engage with the national referral mechanism. The Government have already implemented Section 53 of the Modern Slavery Act to provide domestic workers who may be victims of abuse with a period during which no enforcement action will be taken against them and to grant a six-month extension of stay where they are found to be the victim of slavery or human trafficking. If we need to go further, then we will do so.

At this stage, it is worth placing on record that victim support services are provided to individuals when they are referred into the national referral mechanism. Not only do we get a record of employers who are serial abusers but through the contract, which is delivered by the Salvation Army, individuals have access to safe accommodation, emergency medical treatment, material assistance, a complaints service, translation and interpretation services, information and sign-posting, advocacy for specialists services including counselling, assistance at appropriate stages of criminal proceedings against offenders, access to education for dependent school-age minors, and transport services. If victims of abuse are removed from one employer to another without touching the national referral mechanism, we need to make clear to them that they are missing out on a substantial amount of care—care given not by official bodies, which I understand they may be distrustful of, but by a highly respected charity in the UK.

In the light of those remarks and the pledge that we would appreciate the opportunity to discuss these matters further with officials and get views and data before coming forward with proposals for consideration on Report by noble Lords in response to the Ewins report, which we welcome and appreciate, I hope the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: Before the Minister sits down, I would be grateful if he would clarify the nature of the process that he has just referred to. It would be very useful to Members of your Lordships’ House if, for instance, Mr Ewins could also be invited to whatever discussions take place. When we looked at the previous legislation on modern slavery, the Minister was good enough to invite organisations such as Kalayaan to come and give first-hand evidence. Although that may not be appropriate at a joint meeting with Members of the House, nevertheless there ought to be some input from that organisation as well. I hope the Minister might give an undertaking.

Lord Bates: I will certainly give an undertaking to go away and reflect on the point that the noble Lord makes. I understand what he is saying. I am conscious that we met with Kalayaan on many occasions in the

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course of the Modern Slavery Act. It does very valuable work on this and its position is very clear regarding what it wishes to do. More particularly, I was hoping we could outline in a bit more detail than perhaps is possible at this stage where the Government’s mind is on this, and genuinely enter into a discussion about the best way forward.

As to whether it would be appropriate that the authors of the report should be there, I hear very much what the noble Lord says. That may be useful, but he will understand that in the nature of the way that government works, I have, as it were, secured a certain amount of leeway from my colleagues in the course of responding to your Lordships’ concerns, and it would be courteous of me to go back to them and seek their approval for that suggestion. I shall give an undertaking to do just that.

Lord Rosser: Before I respond to the suggestion that the Minister has made, I take it from what he has said that the Government do not actually accept the key part of Mr Ewins’s recommendation, which was that,

“the existence of a tie to a specific employer and the absence of a universal right to change employer and apply for extensions of the visa are incompatible with the reasonable protection of overseas domestic workers while in the UK”.

I take it from what the Minister has said that the Government do not actually accept that fundamental part of his recommendations.

Lord Bates: Were it the case that we did not accept that there was any correlation with the visa tie, we would of course not have made the change that we did in the Modern Slavery Act to say that when people enter the national referral mechanism, and there are reasonable and conclusive grounds, they will have the ability to change employers. I do not think it is possible to draw from that that it is something we are not prepared to move on; we have already moved some way on that in previous legislation.

Lord Rosser: I thank the Minister for that response. I also sense from his comments that the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, Mr Hyland, is also not necessarily fully supportive of the recommendations of Mr Ewins. I thought I had picked up the comment that he thought there might be as much mileage from taking other action as from loosening the tie, which is the key part of Mr Ewins’ recommendation.

Lord Bates: The anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland, is independent, and thoroughly and robustly defends his independence. I would simply quote a remark that he made: he felt that a system, which may be included as part of James Ewins’ recommendations, of checks and periodic meetings to ensure that people were aware of their rights and to check on their safety may have more effect in providing a safeguard of the position.

Lord Rosser: I think there will be a degree of disappointment at the response we have had from the Minister today, although I appreciate the offer that he

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has made, along with the reply that he has given and the detail that he has gone into in order to explain the Government’s position. I also appreciate the contributions that we have had to the debate.

Bearing in mind that the Minister has offered to have the meeting between Home Office officials, himself and interested Peers—as I understand it, I think he said that he would consider whether Mr Ewins might also be there—and that the Government have said they will bring forward proposals in response to the Ewins report on Report of the Bill, I certainly have no intention of declining the offer that he has made. I thank him for making that offer and for giving the detailed explanation of where the Government now stand, and I can only sincerely express the hope that we are able to get to the point where the proposals that the Government bring forward on Report meet the wishes of the House and of those who have been campaigning so hard on this issue.

7.15 pm

I repeated, as did my noble friend Lady Lister, the comment made by the government Minister that, while she could not commit a future Government, the intention was that whoever was in government would implement the review’s recommendations. I hope we are not going to find ourselves in a position where that proves to be a statement of hope rather than a statement of fact. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 133 withdrawn.

Amendment 134

Moved by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

134: After Clause 12, insert the following new Clause—

“Asylum seekers: permission to work after six months

(1) The Immigration Act 1971 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 3(9) (general provisions for regulation and control) insert—

“(10) In making rules under subsection (2), the Secretary of State must provide for persons seeking asylum, within the meaning of the rules, to apply to the Secretary of State for permission to take up employment, including self-employment and voluntary work.

(11) Permission to work for persons seeking asylum must be granted if—

(a) a decision has not been taken on the applicant’s asylum application within six months of the date on which it was recorded, or

(b) an individual makes further submissions which raise asylum grounds and a decision on that new claim or to refuse to treat such further submissions as a new claim has not been taken within six months of the date on which the submissions were recorded.

(12) Permission for a person seeking asylum to take up employment shall be on terms no less favourable than those upon which permission is granted to a person recognised as a refugee to take up employment.””

Lord Kennedy of Southwark: My Lords, Amendment 134 in my name and those of my noble friend Lord Rosser, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, would allow those asylum applicants who have been waiting for longer

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than six months for a decision on their asylum application to be allowed to work. The latest immigration statistics show that about 3,600 applicants have been without an initial decision for longer than six months. The only exception that they are presently allowed is that after 12 months an asylum seeker can apply for permission to work, but only in national shortage occupations.

When this is compared to other countries in the EU, we are certainly not generous. All EU member states, with the exception of the UK and Ireland, permit applicants to work after nine months, and some have gone further: Belgium and Denmark permit work after six months, and in Germany it is after three months. For many asylum seekers, not being allowed to work means that they are unable to develop and maintain skills, and for professional people this can have a very difficult effect on their future employment prospects in this country, if in due course they are granted asylum status and allowed to work, or return to their country of origin or move elsewhere. Allowing asylum seekers to work after six months would also cut the cost to the taxpayer, as those who found work would no longer need to be supported by the taxpayer.

Amendment 134A, in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, would make a small but important change, allowing asylum seekers to work after 12 months as a matter of right without having to apply for permission. I support the aims of that amendment as well. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, as the noble Lord has said, my name is to this amendment. I am particularly delighted that it has been moved from the Labour Front Bench since this was not something on which they felt able to support us during the last Parliament. This is something that we sought to achieve then even though we were part of the coalition Government. We have tabled this amendment to the Bill in these terms in the Commons. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Roberts of Llandudno will have a good deal to say on it, as he has had a Private Member’s Bill on the subject and argued for this proposition many times.

I will not take long, but I do not apologise for the fact that the arguments are not novel. According to the latest immigration statistics, I am told by the Refugee Council, over 3,600 applications for asylum have been without an initial decision for longer than six months. As the Refugee Council comments, when you take into account their dependents, that is nearly 5,000 people living on little over £5 a day in asylum support who are unable to work. It seems to us that applications should not drag on and, as the noble Lord said, six months, which is the Home Office target, is not overly ambitious. In any event, what is to be gained by a restriction that continues up to the 12-month point?

It seems that a lot is to be lost: contribution to the economy through work and taxation; savings for the state on asylum support; and, as for the individuals, the impact on their self-esteem, mental health, possible—probably likely—loss of skills, and the ability to find employment when the period comes to an end. It also seems that this restriction reinforces exclusion. For those

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who stay, their community integration is important and we should not delay it, because more than half of the asylum seekers who come here stay.

This is a very topical point, as a colleague, Suzanne Fletcher, who was a councillor in the north-east and who is still a very active Liberal Democrat, has been all over the media today on the issue of the red doors, on which the Times has reported—doors that were painted red so that the occupants could easily be identified as immigrants. Of course the Minister, James Brokenshire, immediately criticised that, and I believe that the Government are taking steps there. However, from the emails I have seen on this subject today, it has taken years of campaigning to bring this to attention. That shows what power the media have, because Suzanne had taken that matter to the National Audit Office and to one of the Select Committees in the other place.

Would relaxing the current restrictions be a pull factor? Is there evidence of that? I suspect not. If your reasons for coming here are economic rather than to seek asylum, I would have thought that six months would be quite a deterrent in itself.

Our Amendment 134A deals, as the noble Lord has said, with the 12-month period. Currently, if you are here for more than 12 months, although you may be able to work, your work is confined to the “shortage occupations” as designated by the Home Office—for the same reasons, of course, that could be applied to the six months. In addition, however, the list of shortage occupations, which I had a look at over the weekend, seems to be made up almost entirely of technical or professional occupations and often requires references from previous employers, which I suspect are by definition unavailable, or requires UK qualifications. Therefore, asylum seekers would not be likely to get such jobs, because the period of their stay is uncertain, even if they were qualified to do them. They are more likely to get low-skilled jobs that British citizens, frankly, are often unwilling to undertake.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, in supporting the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, and supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, may I first put in a request to the Minister, almost in parenthesis, for when he comes to reply? This relates to an issue that was raised on day one, which is the role of people who are involved in voluntary work and what the legal position is, because contradictory positions were expressed on day one. I was looking at some of the briefing material for today’s debate, particularly about a project called the Brushstrokes Community project in Smethwick in Birmingham, which has been providing services for refugees and asylum seekers for over 15 years. Brushstrokes described one asylum seeker who volunteered with the project for over a year before she received refugee status, and who continues to volunteer to this day. Last year she won an award as volunteer of the year in Sandwell. Another woman volunteered as a teaching assistant for around six months while awaiting the outcome of her application. She has now been granted refugee status and is on the path to fulfilling her aspiration of becoming a teacher in the United Kingdom. What is the legal situation of people who work in a voluntary capacity?

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There are five substantial reasons why the arguments expressed so well by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, should commend themselves to your Lordships’ House. First, these amendments would provide asylum seekers with a route out of poverty. More than 3,600 asylum seekers have currently been waiting more than six months for an initial decision on their case, surviving on just £5 a day.

Secondly, it reduces the burden on the taxpayer, as asylum seekers who are able to work will not need to be supported for extended periods and will instead be able to contribute to the economy through increased tax revenues and consumer spending. It also safeguards their health and prevents them having to resort to irregular work in what some describe as the black economy.

Thirdly, it avoids the negative consequences of prolonged economic exclusion and forced inactivity. During my 18 years as a Member of another place representing an inner-city neighbourhood in Liverpool I often saw that kind of grinding poverty first hand: the detrimental impact on mental health and self-esteem, the break-up of marriages and families—many Members of your Lordships’ House are very familiar with these kinds of arguments. The dignity that work gives should never be underestimated.

Fourthly, what is the experience elsewhere in other European Union countries? With the exception of the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland, other European countries allow asylum seekers to work after nine months and 11 of them grant permission to work after six months or less if a decision has not been made on their asylum application. That has not been a bad experience—it works very well and has not been a pull factor, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, was right to remind us.

Fifthly, for those asylum seekers who are eventually given permission to stay, avoiding an extended period outside the labour market is key to ensuring their long-term integration into UK society and encouraging them to be self-sufficient. Therefore, alleviating destitution amongst asylum seekers is a prerequisite if we believe in the upholding of a person’s human dignity. The right to work is fundamental to this and it also relives the state of having to provide financial support.