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: I thank the Minister for his kind remarks about official Opposition Front Benchers and agree that we have had a measured and constructive discussion.
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Because I am at the Dispatch Box this evening on Third Reading, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Malins), who has done sterling work on this Bill. The Government's timetabling placed him in some difficulty because he was working on the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 at the same time.
We have had a reasonable examination of the Bill. As the Minister knows, there is much that Conservative Members agree with. I was happy with the way in which the Government introduced the late clauses because of the need to tidy up some of the provisions relating to terrorism. I thank the Minister for making his officials available to brief me and my Front-Bench colleagues, because that enabled us to approach the amendments in a slightly different fashion from what would have been the case had we been unsighted.
The Bill moves this whole area forward. It includes some good measures on fingerprinting, passenger and crew information, information sharing, searches, and the deprivation of citizenship and right of abode, which the Government have understandably felt it necessary to propose in response to the current situation.
However, the Minister always has to spoil things a little by having a political dig at the Conservatives. He should be more magnanimous in victory; after all, his party won the election. I will not take any lessons from him or hang my head in shame, because whatever an individual may have said in the heat of an election, it does not represent my party's views. He does a disservice to the whole business of politics by raising that here.
More refinements may be made to the Bill in another place, perhaps in the light of current events or the way in which we have conducted ourselves here. I see that the Minister is nodding. I hope that the pattern of Conservative Members' voting indicates to another place those areas where we have concerns. If truth be told, the Minister would also have some concerns were he not tied by his office.
The current drafting of the provisions on appeals is a muddle, and that will cost us in terms of our reputation at home and abroad. There is probably good reason to retain in-country rights of appeal in some cases, where people will be in the country having entered legally with leave. The disruption if they are forced to leave the UK will be sufficiently enormous not only to create administrative chaos, but potentially to give rise to successful human rights applications in the courts and compensation claims. The effects on our universities and higher education institutions have been laid out pretty well in Committee and on Report.
"It is a shame that the plan to leave refugees living in limbo for five years before giving them the right to settle in Britain has been included. This measure contradicts other helpful stepssuch as the extension of integration loanswhich assist refugees in building new lives in this country."
That reflects its view of some of the Bill's other provisions. The Government say that they wish to have a one-stop appeals system, but I should have thought that there were alternative ways of achieving that. I hope that the other place will examine that carefully, because improvements could be made.
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The quality of the decision making on entry clearance appeals has been identified as being poor, even in the report by the Constitutional Affairs Committee from which I quoted earlier. We are pleased that there is scope for review and monitoring. However, as additional efforts to improve quality control do not substitute for what is already in place, particularly for appeals, we hope that that will be examined in another place.
As regards employment, there are real risks that employers, not least because of the heavy burden of checking placed upon them, will be reluctant to employ people who are, or whom they think might be, subject to immigration control. That could result in an increase of discrimination in employment. The proposed code of practice certainly holds no magic answer to this problem.
The ongoing obligation on employers to check the immigration status of employees will cause difficulties in practice. For example, at the time when a person's leave is due to run out, their documents are usually with the Home Office. There has been criticism from the Immigration Advisory Service and even from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, whose chief executive has said that part of the Bill is asking employers to do the Home Office's dirty work, and that people migrate here because there is work for them to do. There are warnings there, as well as in the views of the CBI and the National Farmers Union about the employment of agricultural workers.
I was pleased that the Minister accepted some of our suggestions, particularly the amendment relating to the period of 28 days. We thank him for looking with favour on that. On the powers of search and arrest, it is extremely risky to give private contractors the right to detain. The Government say that the contractors will only be searching lorries, but what would happen if they found someone? I am still worried about the scrutiny, accountability and oversight of private contractors, on whom I am actually very keen. Concerns have also been expressed in that regard about the potential for ill-treatment during detention and escort, and those concerns must be dealt with at some stage. There is certainly no case for giving powers to detain, arrest or search to anyone other than professionals. The Minister must ensure that the people who are employed in this area are trained, skilled and accountable. Perhaps that issue will be considered in another place.
I would like to acknowledge the people who have briefed us on these issues. There have not been as many lawyers, officials and rafts of people coming to our door to brief us as the Government have had, but we have been very impressed by the calibre of the organisations that have sought to have their views aired. I hope that they will consider that we have done justice to their views, even though in some cases we do not entirely agree with them.
I also want to acknowledge the work of all members of the Committee. As I said at the end of the Committee stage, the Bill will make our borders safer and make our country a better place for people to come and live in and to visit. We hope that the legislation, in whatever form it finally appears, will help the people who defend our country to do a better job and to make it a place that provides us with a safe and sure environment.
The Bill will go to the other place, where I hope it will be refined in some of the ways that I have outlined today. However, in the light of the way in which we have
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conducted the proceedings on the scrutiny of the Bill, I would like to tell the Minister that, should a vote be called on Third Reading tonight, I shall ask my hon. Friends who are present in the House to join the Government in the Lobby, to ensure that both parties stand four-square against terrorism. The message must go out clearly from the House that, regardless of rhetoric and political differences, when it comes to the safety and security of our citizens the Conservative party will stand behind the Government in this instance.
Mr. Gerrard: I see that we have about a minute left, so it will be difficult to make much of a contribution. I want to make the point that, for some of us, there are still areas of serious concern in the Bill, especially on appeal rights. I know that a lot of what has to be done on appeal rights will depend on secondary legislation, and I say to the Minister that I hope that he talks to Members of the House before that legislation is introduced so that we are clear about where we can and cannot maintain some appeal rights.
I am grateful for what the Minister said about unaccompanied minors, and I hope that we can make more progress on that. Will he make absolutely sure that there is a clear relationship between what the House finally agrees on the Terrorism Bill
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