Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill

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Simon Hughes: I want to flag up the fact that the hon. Member for Woking and I are unhappy about aspects of the clause. We have made the point, but will not reject the clause as a whole. We hope that the Government will try to improve it on Report.

As soon as practicable, will the Parliamentary Secretary provide the Committee with a list of current initial charges for immigration services, so we can assess costs effectively? We will come later to the improved position on appeals, for which we are grateful.

Ms Winterton: I am happy to do that.

Clause 63, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 64

Consolidation of appeals

5.45 pm

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take Government amendment No. 368.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Angela Eagle): If an appellant raises additional reasons for staying in the UK in the course of an appeal, they can be argued as part of a one-stop appeal and incorporated into that, rather than treated as a separate decision with a separate right of appeal. If, unusually, a further decision attracts a separate right of appeal, it should be possible for them to be linked pursuant to rules made under clause 84.

The clause is unnecessary, and consequently clause 84 should be amended, as it refers to the clause. We are therefore in the odd position of asking members of the Committee to vote for the amendment, and then to oppose that the clause stand part of the Bill.

The Chairman: For the benefit of members of the Committee, let me point out that the decision on amendment No. 368 will be taken when we discuss the clause to which it is relevant.

Simon Hughes: I was not confused, but I am now.

I make this comment and the next in a non-confrontational manner. Clause 84 relates to the rules that the Lord Chancellor may make. Amendment No. 368 amends subsection (2)(m) on page 42, which I marked in anticipation. I believe that the Minister is

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saying that all the things that were to be covered in the clause will be shipped into the rule-making powers in clause 84. I am happy with that if that is correct.

The Bill as a whole would benefit from consideration at the end of the Committee stage to ensure that we separate immigration and asylum where that is possible. I always try to make the point to the great public outside, as well as to the Committee, that the two are different. We are obliged to grant asylum, but not to allow someone in as an immigrant. One is governed by international law, the other by domestic law. The public need to understand that, as they often get confused.

Part 5 is entitled ''Immigration and asylum appeals''. Clause 61 is headed ''Appeal: claim for asylum''. Clause 62 is headed ''Grounds for appeal'', which I believe relates only to immigration and should therefore be headed ''Grounds for appeal: immigration''. I believe that clause 63, ''Matters to be considered'', relates only to immigration, not to asylum. The title of clause 64, ''Consolidation of appeals'', also relates only to immigration appeals. Under the clauses, therefore, one could not consolidate an asylum application in an immigration case, although both bounce around in theory at the same time, as the Minister knows. Will the Ministers consider reordering this part of the Bill with advice from colleagues, so that we can separate the asylum and immigration processes?

We should separate immigration appeals, not consolidate them. I do not think that it is technically possible to consolidate asylum appeals, because only one of them can be alive at any given time. If we are talking about consolidation of Home Office matters about status, at the end of this clause it would be logical to pull those together. I am merely making a request. We are trying to get clear clauses and clear headings to clauses, so that everyone can find what they are looking for.

Part 1 is about nationality and citizenship. It is entitled ''Nationality'', but when we went through it, we agreed that it is about citizenship and nationality—that some bits of the clause deal with the one subject, and other bits with the other. We argued for different names, but the Government took a contrary position. However, we should try to ensure that there is consistent language throughout the Bill, so that people following it can find their way through it more easily. I am sure that that could be done if people were to apply their minds to the task.

Angela Eagle: I confirm the hon. Gentleman's view that clause 84 effectively subsumes the need to have clause 64. I hope that we can move on to discuss clause 84 before today's deliberations come to an end, so that he can talk about that.

The hon. Gentleman asks for everything to be separated, but at the same time he wants us to consolidate. We are trying to consolidate. It is not always possible both to separate and to consolidate; he can use both words in the same sentence, but it is not always possible to achieve that. We are doing what we can about how the Bill is ordered, but, as he said—to borrow the memorable phrase of the hon. Member for

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Woking, who made the same point—the tackle sometimes gets mixed up. That is certainly the case in some of these areas, where people have immigration cases, appeals and asylum cases running at the same time. In such circumstances, those cases will be considered together. Therefore, there is some consolidation, but there is also some separation. We will make that as neat as possible, but it will never be perfect.

I will move that amendment No. 368 be incorporated into clause 84, but I ask the Committee to disagree to clause 64 standing part of the Bill.

Clause 64 disagreed to.

Clause 65

Successful appeal: discretion

Angela Eagle: I beg to move amendment. No. 350, in page 35, line 15, after '60', insert 'or 61'.

The amendment widens the scope of the clause and gives the adjudicator the power to give directions by including provision for the power to be used in appeals against a rejection by the Secretary of State of a claim for asylum in circumstances in which the appellant has been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for a period exceeding one year. That ensures consistency across appeal types, so it is a kind of consolidation, but it is also a simplification. As the clause stands, adjudicators have the power to give a direction to give effect in some decisions, but not in others. This merely makes that consistent across the piece.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 65, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 66


Mr. Malins: I beg to move amendment No. 404, in page 35, line 37, leave out paragraph (c).

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 405, in page 35, line 39, leave out paragraph (d).

Mr. Malins: The clause sets out the categories of persons who are to be denied a right to appeal. It is criticised as extremely vague. For example, the Immigration Advisory Service is worried about the meaning of

    ''seeking to be in the United Kingdom''.

Will the Minister explain whether that includes people who are appealing from within the UK as well as those who are outside the country? Why is the language different from that used in subsection (2)(d), which refers to a person

    ''seeking to enter or remain''?

It could just be sloppy drafting or there may be a reason for the different wording.

Amendment No. 405 would remove the prohibition on appeal against a decision that a person is

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    ''seeking to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a purpose other than . . . in accordance with immigration rules.''

That is a technical point under the law, and I am advised that the provision would remove an appeal right from people who make applications under important concessions outside the immigration rules. Such people include women who have been victims of violence in marriage and want to take advantage of the domestic violence concession; the families of children who have lived for seven or more of their formative years in the United Kingdom; and those who would benefit from the 14-year and the 10-year concessions because of their long residence here.

As subsection (2)(d) precludes such refused applicants from appealing a decision to an adjudicator, they have no option but to appeal via judicial review, which is a slow and costly remedy. It seems more appropriate to allow those who come within the ambit of such concessions a statutory right of appeal under the Bill. The Immigration Advisory Service is another body that regards the category of persons to be denied a right to appeal as being too broad. Can the Minister give an assurance that the Bill as drafted does not exclude asylum seekers who are claming that to remove them would be contrary to the United Kingdom's obligations under the refugee convention in part 2 of the current immigration rules that deal with asylum seekers? Among the people who may lose out under the clause will be those relying on existing policies to enable them to bring in family members to join them, when they have exceptional leave to remain for what may be compassionate reasons. The probing amendments were drafted by persons more skilled than me to tease out answers from the Government to some important questions.

Simon Hughes: The hon. Member for Woking and I have the same worries, and those with whom we have discussed the matter have pointed out certain defects that would be dealt with by the removal of subsection (2)(c) and (d).

As the hon. Gentleman said, we have now reached the clauses that deal with exceptions and limitations. There are 12 such clauses, compared with seven clauses that deal with substantive proposals. It is sad that it is not the other way round. Furthermore, we are all suffering from the disadvantage of the absence of a Special Standing Committee. The previous Immigration and Asylum Bill was not perfect, even after deliberations by a Special Standing Committee. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam said—he is at present discussing a statutory instrument on Home Office business down the Corridor, but will be back here shortly—it was an extremely valuable exercise. Advice could have been taken and proposals tested through such a proceeding. I make a plea that, whenever possible, unless there is an overriding reason why not, we must have a White Paper, a draft Bill and a Special Standing Committee to deal with technical matters before the final version of the Bill is discussed.

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