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Leave out Clause 8.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I believe that the Minister is in no doubt that, in common with other noble Lords on this side of the House, I was considerably distressed by her reply to Amendment No. 68. I do not believe there can be any doubt in other quarters of the House of my dislike of racketeers. But my dislike goes further. I dislike the bankrupting of businesses, the creation of unemployment and the increase in racial discrimination.

As I dislike all those factors, I feel, when considering Clause 8, I should attempt to strike a balance as regards how many of them are involved as well as how much I dislike them. In other words, I must try to strike a balance as to whether Clause 8 is likely to create a worse mischief than the one it prevents. That is a stiff test, and I am not certain that the clause passes it.

The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, dwelt eloquently and powerfully from experience, as did my noble friend Lord Thurso, on the burdens that the clause places on business. If I do not develop that line further, it is not because I do not care about it; it is because the points have already been well made and I need only say that I agree with them.

To my great regret I returned to the Chamber about a minute too late to take part in the debate on Amendment No. 68. Therefore, I take leave to say that one reason why the provisions will be more burdensome on small businesses than on others is that, very commonly, those businesses do not have someone working separately who is in charge of the office and who deals with the paperwork.

If someone is working full time on the paperwork, it is possible that a small business can cope. However, when I think of how the legislation will affect someone like my plumber who is all day on the job and does the paperwork late at night, I believe that the chief effect of the clause will be to deter people like him from ever taking on an assistant. In fact, the Bill will prevent the creation of jobs which would otherwise quite possibly have been created. I think that that is an anathema.

However, more seriously, I am concerned about the effects of the Bill on the employment of black British people. Again, I was extremely disappointed by the Minister's reaction to the evidence produced by my noble friend Lord Thurso. It is first-hand evidence and it is not the only evidence available. Indeed, we have information regarding plenty of other cases, a number of which are contained in a report published as recently as last week.

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A citizens' advice bureau discovered a case in December 1995 of a British subject of Pakistani origin who was referred to a bus company by the Employment Service for a work experience course. He was told that he needed to spend £20 to obtain a new passport, which he could not afford to do. The noble Baroness may remember that in Committee I referred her to an almost identical case in the window of my local Jobcentre. I am interested to discover that that case does not stand alone. There is another case of a black British subject, a woman from Surrey, who was told that because she had spent much of her life abroad and had never worked in this country she could not have a national insurance number. That was clearly an erroneous decision but under the Bill it would have prevented the woman from ever obtaining employment.

I do not think the noble Baroness understands quite how intense is the urge to discriminate out there. I take the case reported at the press conference launching the annual report of the Commission for Racial Equality. A major insurance company instructed all those who did business with it that they were to take on no non-nationals. It instructed new staff in training sessions that NNN could be remembered because it stood for "no nignogs". I share the astonishment of Mr. Oustie that that could happen in this day and age. But it did. There are other cases which tend to suggest that this is not as unusual as we might think. There is the case of the black British subject of Asian descent who was called Mr. Birdi. Probably that name was unfortunate, as no doubt mine might be in Gujarat. Mr. Birdi applied for a job and was turned down without an interview and without any consideration. He then applied for the same job with the same qualifications under the alias of John Smith. He was offered the job. The employer was Group 4 security. They really do do it, do they not?

There is another case of an Anglo-Turkish man living in Hertfordshire. He applied for every job in sight. No one would look at him. He was even told he was unqualified for the job of stacking shelves in a supermarket. He then changed his name and used his mother's English name instead of his father's Turkish name. He immediately started picking up job offers all over the place. I think that shows the atmosphere in which these provisions will come into effect. There will be a marginal temptation to discriminate. There will be a tendency to require extra documents. I have said in the past that I think employers are likely to have great difficulty understanding this legislation. The evidence as it is beginning to emerge shows that that is indeed the case. Not only are they having difficulty in understanding the legislation: they are also having great difficulty understanding its commencement date.

I refer not only to casual employers and to ignorant employers. I refer, for example, to the social security Benefits Agency. That agency dealt with a woman from Sri Lanka who had exceptional leave to remain and a national insurance number, and who had already worked for that agency over the past two years. She was told that the Benefits Agency would have to check her employment status with the Home Office when the new regulations were introduced, although she already had all the necessary documentation and her status was in

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order. Her start date was delayed by three weeks. However, she was a lot luckier than most. Employers seem to have great difficulty with the concept of exceptional leave to remain.

Let us take the example of Mr. Dhatt versus McDonald's hamburgers. Mr. Dhatt was an Indian with indefinite leave to remain and had been in the UK since the age of six. He was subject to no restrictions on employment, he did not need a work permit to work in the UK. He showed McDonald's the stamp in his passport: "Given leave to enter the United Kingdom for an indefinite period". It was not accepted and he was dismissed.

There are a great many more cases like that with which I shall not detain the House. However, the Minister may wish to become concerned about the case discovered by the citizens advice bureaux of a woman who produced a German passport. It was not accepted as leave to work. In the present political climate, I can think of a great many people who might wish to take such a case to the European Court. It is not understood that freedom to move within the European Union is exempt from the requirements of the clause. If that is not understood, we run the risk of a great deal of legal action.

There is a depth of incomprehension of the requirements of immigration. As my noble friend Lord Thurso said, people play safe and go white. That is why the clause will do more harm than it prevents. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, it is obvious from the debates we have had over the past one-and-a-half hours that I strongly agree with the arguments which the noble Earl has put forward. We have tabled a number of detailed amendments, one of which was rejected by your Lordships' House on a Division. In these amendments we have covered what seemed to us to be the principal difficulties in this difficult clause. The noble Earl has done the House a service by bringing together these arguments in a single attack on the clause. I offer him my support for his arguments. I only ask him, in pursuit of the orderly conduct of business in this House, whether it would be advisable at the Report stage not to divide the House against the whole clause. We had the opportunity to do that at Committee stage and decided not to. While I agree with what he said, I ask him to consider whether it would be a good idea to take the opinion of the House when he has to make such a decision.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I disagree with the noble Lord. Clause 8 will be a greater benefit than a disadvantage. It is important that people should have a simple card which they may present to any employer and I believe that there can be nothing better than an identity card. I know that many people are opposed to it even though I believe it to be desirable.

I remember that the building industry suffered from people working on "the lump", as it was called. It was easily dealt with when people had to have a card which proved that they were entitled to be self-employed. That

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was a taxation issue but there are parallels and it should be possible to have a clear document indicating that a person is entitled to take employment.

The noble Earl, Lord Russell, made a valid point in the phrase about people not understanding the stamp in a passport stating: "Given leave to remain for an indefinite period". I had the stamp in my passport for some years and I never understood what it meant, I used to find it creepy. Employers do not understand it so it would be useful to have some other phraseology introduced to make the wording clearer. However, I support the retention of Clause 8.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, as the House will know, the amendment proposes to remove Clause 8 from the Bill. I am not certain what the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, meant by appealing to the noble Earl not to divide the House. He spoke for the amendment and against Clause 8 but asked the House not to divide. I shall ask the House not to divide, but if it does, to support the proposal that Clause 8 shall stand part of the Bill.

The Government have made a clear commitment to addressing the problem of illegal working and have therefore brought forward proposals in this clause which seek to make it more difficult for people to work here without permission. The clause seeks to keep the burden on employers to a minimum. That fact has generally been recognised, and welcomed, by employers and employers' organisations.

The scale of illegal working is not, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and from other quarters, insignificant. As we have made clear, the immigration--


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