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Lord Hylton: My Lords, I regret that nothing the Minister has said tonight makes one feel that the Government appreciate the gravity of the offences committed by the employers, which have been going on for many years.

The noble Baroness said that pre-entry checks are applied. Experience shows that they are simply not sufficient; they do not achieve the purpose for which they are intended. She went on to say that domestic workers coming in with these restrictions on them enjoy the benefit of the protection of British law. That is fine in theory; again in practice it simply does not work out, particularly when the domestic worker is confined to his or her employer's premises. I could speak at length giving examples of where the worker has a limited knowledge of the English language and other practical difficulties which exclude such a person from normal legal protection.

In relation to the scale of the problem, one single voluntary organisation working in central London is still, in this year and last year, receiving 15 to 40 new cases per month--it varies from month to month.

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I should have thought that that was enough to arouse serious concern. This is undoubtedly a matter to which I shall have to return at Third Reading and, if there is no further help from the Government, then at all possible subsequent opportunities. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 105:

Page 10, line 40, leave out ("approvals to work") and insert ("equivalent documents").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment to Section 14(2A)(c) of the 1971 Act contained in paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 1 to this Bill is a minor, technical amendment. The Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993 removed the right of appeal for certain categories of mandatory refusal. Examples of the type of case where the right of appeal was removed include where a visitor seeks to remain beyond the six-month permitted maximum, where a person does not meet the requirement as to age set out in the immigration rules, for example, as an au pair or working holiday maker, or where a mandatory entry clearance has not been obtained prior to arrival. The right of appeal was also removed in cases where the applicant does not hold a relevant document required by the immigration rules. Relevant documents are listed in Section 14(2B) of the 1971 Act, as amended by the 1993 Act, and work permits are included in the list of relevant documents. It was originally believed that the phrase "work permits" would include both the permits required to be presented on entry to the United Kingdom and also approvals of particular employment issued by the Department for Education and Employment where the applicant is already in the United Kingdom.

Subsequently, it was held that a work permit is solely an on-entry document. That produced an inconsistency between the appeal rights available to those seeking to take employment for the first time and those refused further approval or a change of employment by the Department for Education and Employment.

The current print of the Bill includes the phrase,

    "approvals to work issued after entry".
To resolve that inconsistency, however, further consideration has suggested that that phrase does not fully meet the needs of the situation. The approval provided by the Department for Education and Employment is approval of particular employment. It is the Home Office who provide permission to work.

The amendment would replace

    "work permits, or approvals to work issued after entry"

    "work permits or equivalent documents".
This construction more accurately meets the needs of the situation and I am satisfied it will provide the effect we are seeking. I commend this essentially minor, but complicated technical amendment to the House. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 106:

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Page 11, line 40, at end insert--

("Recovery of expenses incurred in detaining persons refused leave to enter

. In sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 19 of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act (recovery of expenses incurred in detaining persons refused leave to enter), for the words "at any time" there shall be substituted the words "for any period (not exceeding 14 days)".
Recovery of expenses incurred in detaining illegal entrants

.--(1) In sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 20 of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act (recovery of expenses incurred in detaining illegal entrants), for the words "at any time" there shall be substituted the words "for any period (not exceeding 14 days)".
(2) After that sub-paragraph there shall be inserted the following sub-paragraph--
"(1A) Sub-paragraph (1) above shall not apply to expenses in respect of an illegal entrant if he obtained leave to enter by deception and the leave has not been cancelled under paragraph 6(2) above.".").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the first part of the amendment will restrict the liability of a carrier to pay detention costs to a period of no more than 14 days. The second will exclude from a carrier's liability for detention costs those cases where a passenger obtained leave to enter by deception and the leave has not otherwise been cancelled.

In Committee the House showed considerable sympathy for the concerns of my noble friend Lady O'Cathain about the open-ended commitment on carriers for liability to detention costs. I undertook to bring forward an amendment limiting liability. Ministers have confirmed that they are now content with the proposition that the carriers' liability for detention costs should be confined to 14 days in total and not be an open-ended commitment for the airlines. This is a substantial concession but one which should not result in the loss of too much revenue. In addition, it will tighten up administrative practices enabling the Immigration Service to recover debts more effectively.

The Government cannot accept a proposal which would shift the burden of these costs so fundamentally from carriers to the taxpayer, leaving the Home Office to find the shortfall from existing provision. If carriers were to be exempted from detention costs for passengers carrying valid documents, there would be no financial risk and no disincentive for unscrupulous operators to bring dubious visitors to the United Kingdom on cheaper charter flights.

My noble friend knows that we must start from the premise that the costs associated with the detention and removal of people who are not to be admitted to the UK should be met by carriers unless such people arrive with a certificate of entitlement, entry clearance or a work permit.

Carriers profit from bringing passengers to the UK, and the taxpayer has only limited control over who is brought here. Therefore, it is right that carriers should bear some responsibility for the costs where their customers do not qualify to enter this country. The Act already limits liability to some extent. Carriers do not have to meet detention costs while an appeal under the Act is in progress; for example, a concession extends this principle to cases where judicial review has been sought.

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The fact that a passenger is properly documented does not mean that he is necessarily admissible. A large proportion of the 19,000 people refused entry and removed at the ports in the last 12 months were indeed properly documented. The decision to refuse them leave to enter is based not on documentation but on their intention or undesirability.

But although the principle that carriers should meet their liabilities is a sound one, we accept that the present system contains some elements which can seem unfair. That is why I undertook in Committee to review the scope for limiting carriers' liability in this area. We now, as I have already said, propose to amend the Bill to limit liability for detention costs to a period of 14 days in total. We believe that this is equitable. It gives carriers a clear and unambiguous statement of where their liabilities lie without putting at risk an important area of government policy and without an open-ended commitment.

But this was not my noble friend's only concern. She raised the point that carriers should be exempted from detention costs where the passenger arrives with adequate documentation. Once again, her intentions are laudable, but the Government cannot accept an amendment of this kind. The reasons are very important. Many nationalities do not require visas to come here. All they need to travel is a valid passport. As I said a few moments ago, that does not make them admissible. A number of national airlines take their responsibilities in this area very seriously. They work with the Immigration Service to provide proper advice and training to their staff and play no small part in reducing the number of inadmissible passengers who arrive at our ports. But not all carriers exercise their responsibilities as conscientiously as the best.

Some carriers have been persuaded to bring to the UK large numbers, particularly of non-visa nationals who are proved to be inadmissible. If we agreed to exempt detention costs for passengers carrying valid documents, there would be no financial risk and no disincentive for unscrupulous operators to bring dubious visitors to the UK on cheap charter flights. If there is no disincentive for carriers to bring non-admissible non-visa nationals, there would be a greater pressure to introduce more visa regimes around the world. I do not believe that this is what the carriers would want since it would make the burdens on them even greater.

But I recognise that if a passenger has already been granted leave to enter by an immigration officer, it might seem unfair to expect carriers to foot the bill if the person is subsequently found to have obtained that leave to enter by deception and is detained. The Government therefore propose an amendment in the Bill to make clear to carriers that they will be exempted from any liability whatsoever for detention costs where leave to enter has been granted on the subject's last arrival in the UK and has not been withdrawn within the 24 hours permitted under the Act. We believe that this will address the main grievance which carriers feel about current arrangements. We believe that the proposed measures will in some cases significantly reduce the liability of carriers for detention costs.

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Taken overall, we believe that these measures will clarify for carriers where their liabilities lie and reduce the uncertainties and perceived unfairness which my noble friend mentioned in moving her amendments at Committee stage. I commend them to the House. I beg to move.

1.15 a.m.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, it will come as no surprise that I am grateful for this amendment which addresses the issue at the core of the amendments which I moved at an earlier stage and which drew such widespread support in the House. I am sure that noble Lords will recall me saying previously that my awareness of this situation was heightened by my joining the board of British Airways. I therefore declare my interest once more.

My noble friend has been most generous both in the time that she has set aside to discuss with me the principles underlying the amendments which I proposed in Committee and in the sympathy that she has exhibited over the iniquities of the existing legislation. But perhaps I may gently chide her because it was not merely a "perceived unfairness"; it was an unfairness. However, I have been greatly heartened by my noble friend's grasp of the situation and her willingness to seek a practical and meaningful way forward.

The climate which has evolved in the past two decades has resulted from the vast increase in international travel which has conspired to create a situation where the staff of airlines and, indeed, of shipping companies have found themselves in the front line of the UK's defence against illegal immigration, with ever-increasing burdens put on them to detect fraudulent travellers. Today not only are carriers fined for failing to spot forged or expired documents, which is not as easy a task as it might sound when one considers the many international permutations, but they are also expected to pay the detention costs indefinitely of anyone detained by UK immigration, irrespective of whether that person has faulty or entirely proper documents. It seems to me--and to many people--that UK immigration has hit upon a marvellous way of policing that activity without it costing it a penny. As a taxpayer, I have thought about applauding that, but I cannot say, hand on heart, that I feel comfortable with it. It is a deep injustice, rooted in the 1971 Act, which was not created to deal with the mass travel which we now experience.

I return to my noble friend's generosity because I am extremely grateful--I am sure that other noble Lords will feel the same when they read Hansard--that an important point of principle has been conceded in this amendment. By accepting that UK immigration should share the cost of, and therefore accept responsibility for, detaining illegal immigrants, my noble friend has admitted that the existing legislation is flawed, that it has been iniquitous and that the burden has until now fallen on the carriers' shoulders.

The fight for recognition of this principle has gone on for many years. I am the last in a long line of those who have been pursuing it. It is good that some progress has

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been made in this respect. I think that it would be dishonest of me, and disloyal to those noble Lords who have fought so stalwartly in the past for this unfair legislation to be amended, to express complete satisfaction with what my noble friend has proposed. I am disappointed that it fails to address the issue of carriers being expected to pay potential costs in respect of correctly documented passengers detained for some unforeseeable reason, such as an immigrant officer's sixth sense.

I continue to believe that this is a deep injustice and hope that my noble friend may be open to further meaningful discussions on the point, especially in respect of those carriers who take their responsibilities very seriously. I note what my noble friend has said about some being much more responsible than others. One always finds cowboys in any type of organisation or business. I believe that this particular sector has had its fair share of cowboys. But those who take their responsibilities seriously will wish to continue to discuss these matters.

I had hoped to have a more generous cut-off point than 14 days after which carriers cease to be responsible for paying detention costs. My noble friend will recall that my original amendment proposed a 72-hour cut-off point. That was the point at which the transportation industry in the UK in general felt it would be fair for UK immigration to take over. I then proposed seven days. It almost became a matter of bargaining. That was the period of time that my noble friend had herself referred to in Committee. The significance of seven days' detention was that that was the point at which any detainee could apply for bail. I felt that that provided some kind of link. I was disabused of that idea when I went to see my noble friend in her office early one morning. It seemed to me to be an entirely logical point at which UK immigration should take over the cost of further detention. I am surprised that my noble friend and I cannot agree as to that. However, I am very encouraged that the Government have conceded the point of principle. It gives me cause to hope that at some future date there may be an opportunity to revisit the issue and re-examine the justification for further refinement. I am pleased to support the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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