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Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 52:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause--

Registration of Immigration Practitioners

(" .--(1) It shall be an offence for a person who is not a qualified person within the meaning of this section to undertake for reward (whether by himself or through his servants or agents, or otherwise) the business of giving advice to, making representations on behalf of or acting as the representative of a person in respect of a matter to which subsection (2) of this section applies unless he is registered as an immigration law practitioner with the Immigration Practitioners Registration Authority ("the Authority") established under this section.
(2) This subsection applies to applications to--
(a) an immigration officer, or
(b) the Secretary of State for the Home Department, or
(c) the Department for Education and Employment,
made by or on behalf of another person who does not have the right of abode in the United Kingdom for--
(i) leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom,
(ii) asylum in the United Kingdom,
(iii) revocation of a decision to deport that person from the United Kingdom,
(iv) a residence permit or document, or
(v) a work permit.

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(3) For the purposes of this section, "qualified person" means a person who is--
(a) a lawyer who is subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Law Society or Bar Council in respect of any services which relate to a matter to which subsection (2) above applies;
(b) an employee of an advisory organisation or registered charity approved by the Authority; or
(c) an employee of a qualified person who is registered under this section.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) above shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
(5) Proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) above may be brought only by the Authority.
(6) It shall be the duty of the Lord Chancellor to appoint such person or persons as he considers to be fit and proper to constitute the Authority.
(7) It shall be the duty of the Lord Chancellor to make regulations to give effect to the establishment of the Authority under this section, which may include provision for--
(a) fees payable for applications for registration;
(b) requirements for registration, including requirements as to--
(i) how the Authority is to be satisfied of the competence of a registered person to act as an immigration practitioner,
(ii) the proper management of the business of a registered practitioner,
(iii) the keeping of records,
(iv) the supervision of employees, and
(v) such other professional standards in the carrying on of a business as are considered necessary;
(c) powers to impose conditions on registration and to cancel registration where there has been a failure to comply with any such conditions;
(d) the giving of written notice of lists of approved organisations, decisions to register, refusals to register and revocations of registration; and
(e) such other matters so as to regulate the procedures to be adopted where the Authority is minded to refuse a registration or revoke a registration.
(8) Regulations under this section shall be made by statutory instrument which shall be laid before Parliament in draft and shall be subject to approval by resolution of each House.
(9) Where the Authority has reasonable grounds to suspect that--
(a) the terms of registration have been breached, or
(b) an offence under subsection (1) above has been committed by a person who is neither a qualified nor a registered person,
it may apply by written information to a circuit judge for a warrant to enter premises occupied by or on behalf of such a person, or other premises specified by the Authority where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that documents or other records will be found belonging to or held by such a person which relate to matters to which subsection (2) above applies.
(10) Any written information made under subsection (9) above must state the grounds for suspicion and the class of documents or records that the Authority considers will be relevant to the discharge of its duties under this section.
(11) Where the Authority has entered premises pursuant to a warrant issued under subsection (9) above it may take possession of any such documents or other material found on the premises as are specified in the warrant; and it may hold such material solely and for so long as is necessary to discharge its duties under this section; and it may not disclose such material to any person other than in

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the course of discharging its functions under this Act save to the owner of the documents or to such other persons as the owner may have authorised.
(12) There shall be a right of appeal to the High Court against a refusal of registration or the imposition of any condition on registration or the revocation of registration by the Authority; and no revocation of registration shall have effect while any such appeal is pending.
(13) In this section, "to undertake for reward" means to carry out an activity in return for payment to which the person carrying out the activity is entitled, whether by contract or otherwise.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, here we are concerned not with racketeers but with people who give advice to those seeking help with our immigration and asylum procedures. The people who give help may be qualified lawyers--usually solicitors--or they may be other types of advisers. One of the difficulties in trying to bring some sense and an element of regulation into this area is that the advisers range from those who are legally and professionally qualified to those who are unqualified but may still provide a very high standard of help and advice.

It is probably right that the regulation, the control, of qualified solicitors should be left to the Law Society. There are individual solicitors, a minority, who do not give good advice. Anyone who has dealt with individuals who have had difficulty with our immigration and asylum procedures will occasionally find, as I have, a solicitor who is not sufficiently experienced in this area to give proper advice to applicants. We all know that this is the case and we know that such people are outweighed numerically by those who are excellent lawyers. But it is not easy for a person seeking help to know who is or is not good when the individual seeking that help is a stranger to this country. But the question of qualified solicitors who are not as good as they might be in that regard is better left to the Law Society rather than setting up another regulatory system.

Amendment No. 52 is therefore concerned with advisers, but those who are exempted from the proposed new system are what are called qualified persons; and qualified persons would be lawyers or barristers, employees of an advisory organisation or registered charity, approved by the new authority to be established, or an employee of a qualified person registered under this section.

The intention of this new clause is that a new authority should be established, entitled the immigration practitioners registration authority, and that would be for individuals not covered by the provisions regarding qualified persons, to which I have already referred. The purpose of this authority would be to oversee the work of individuals and organisations that give advice, to make sure that they conform to certain standards. The authority would have the power to prevent individuals or organisations from practising if they did not meet those standards. They would have power to impose restrictions on registration and also to cancel such registration.

I know this is a very difficult area. Some individuals may not be qualified but I know from personal experience that individuals who work for organisations, and do so voluntarily, provide a high and excellent

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standard of advice. Often they have the additional advantage of being able to speak the language of the claimant they are advising. I do not say for a moment that individuals who do not have a formal qualification in this field cannot give good advice: many of them do. Unfortunately there are others who exploit the situation. All people who take an interest in these matters--I have come across them myself--know that there are people who charge money for referring people in need of help to a Member of Parliament. They say that they alone have access to Members of Parliament, which of course is not true. There are others who charge money for giving poor advice or misleading information, missing appeal dates, and so on. It is these people who exploit innocent, unsuspecting asylum seekers. They take their money but do not provide the help. This new clause would therefore provide an element of regulation so as to ensure that when people go for advice they at least get advice which meets a minimum standard, that they are not exploited and that the system works reasonably properly.

Our immigration and asylum laws are very complicated--they become more complicated with each new piece of legislation--and so it is not surprising that people should need professional help and advice all the way through, and know what their rights are. This new clause would help significantly in this, leaving the regulation of solicitors to the Law Society, as I said before. I beg to move.

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