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In my view, the very least that would be acceptable is that the country in which the person claims to have a fear of persecution, which may involve him being tortured if he is returned there, should be a country named in a report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees or possibly named in a report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. I do not know whether that point can be considered at this late stage; in my opinion it is extremely important.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, we have debated the safeguards for victims of torture at length during Committee and Report. Sub-paragraph (5) exempts applicants from having their appeal accelerated if it is reasonably likely that they have been tortured in the country to which they are to be sent.
During Report, I argued against an amendment to cover countries from which applicants had come. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, now returns to this point. Her amendment, to which the noble Lord, Lord Soper--who is not in his place--also put his name, proposes to extend the scope of sub-paragraph (5) even wider, so that it would apply regardless of the country in which the applicant had been tortured.
The case for sub-paragraph (5) is that where torture has occurred there is likely to exist a sufficiently strong prima facie case that the appeal ought not to be accelerated. But that argument cannot be advanced if the torture has occurred in a different country. The fact that the applicant has been tortured elsewhere has no bearing on whether he is at risk in his own country.
I return to the example I gave at Report. If we are returning an Indian national to India, the fact that he may have been tortured in a third country--say Iraq--is irrelevant to whether he is at risk in India. In other words, if after examination an asylum claim is refused and meets one of the criteria in Clause 1--for example, because it is manifestly unfounded--the accelerated appeal procedure should normally be available. The fact
The noble Baroness raised the case of an applicant who has been tortured in his own country but whom we are sending elsewhere. Might not the country to which we are sending him return him to his own country where he was indeed tortured? The answer to that is that we are discussing Clause 1 and Clause 1 is concerned only with removing people to their country of origin. Removals to third countries are governed by Clause 2. The Secretary of State has to certify that the third country will not itself remove the applicant elsewhere otherwise than in accordance with the 1951 convention. The great majority of such removals would be to other European Union countries or to other designated safe third countries with highly developed legal and asylum systems. Where the third country has not been designated and is not a member state of the European Union, the applicant will have a non-accelerated in-country appeal.
The noble Baroness said that I had not responded to her questions. Indeed I have, but I shall do so again because it is important that I should. Applicants do not have to prove on entry that they have been tortured. On entry they are making their claim for asylum. That is important. If they make their claim for asylum on entry, that claim must be considered. If, however, as part of that claim, part of their case is that they have been or are in fear of being tortured, it is important that they establish that at the first hearing. It is not until after that first hearing that the certification process applies.
If somebody needs to find medical evidence to support his claim, then time for that evidence to be found is given. That has nothing whatever to do with the three-day amendment that we passed earlier. The three days relate to making the claim for asylum, not to providing substantive evidence that the person has been tortured. The same explanation applies to establishing a likelihood. The point at which an applicant needs to establish the likelihood of having been tortured will be at the adjudication point. Where the adjudicator has given time for the applicant to amass his evidence, he will consider it and then make one of three judgments. First, he may dismiss the case because it is manifestly unfounded; secondly, he may take the view that the evidence is so overwhelming and what has been said in support of the claim is such that he believes that torture has taken place--in which case Clause 1 would be disapplied; or, thirdly, he may believe that a likelihood has been established, in which case again Clause 1 would not apply.
The problem the noble Baroness introduces in regard to time to provide the evidence is taken into account. However, as a caveat to that, judgments will have to be made about somebody who takes an unreasonable amount of time and clearly is not showing signs of producing or securing evidence. All reasonable accommodation is made at the adjudication point.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her further explanation. I read carefully through all stages of the Bill and now the noble Baroness has made the situation clear beyond peradventure. I am grateful to her for that.
We mentioned the case of Mr. Igbinidu, about which we were particularly concerned. Perhaps I may take another example from my noble friend Lord Avebury. He has an instance of an asylum seeker who came from Iraq. He was returned to France as a safe country and was then sent from France back to Iraq, where we understand he has again been tortured. It is that kind of case that led me to ask these questions in such precise terms. I hope the noble Baroness will forgive me for pressing her for more clarity. I am sure she will understand that these are precisely the kinds of case about which the House is concerned.
In the light of the Minister's response I shall not press the matter to a Division. I thank her once again for her answer and will send her details of the specific case that I mentioned. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I beg to move that consideration after Third Reading be now adjourned. In moving this Motion, I suggest that proceedings on the Bill begin again at five minutes past eight.
In moving the Industrial Tribunals Order, I shall speak also to the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order. The purpose of these interrelated orders is to consolidate by re-enactment the Northern Ireland provisions dealing with industrial tribunals and employment rights. At present these provisions are scattered throughout eight much amended enactments, the earliest of which dates back to 1965.
Recently, your Lordships dealt with the consolidation of the provisions covering industrial tribunals and employment rights in enactments relating to Great Britain. In Northern Ireland the legislation on industrial tribunals and employment rights is in line with
As regards the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order--that is, unfair dismissal, maternity, redundancy and entitlement to detailed statements associated with wages--the law in Northern Ireland is completely in line with that in Great Britain. That order follows the form and terminology of the Great Britain consolidation but there are differences in the content of the Northern Ireland orders.
One difference between the Employment Rights Act and the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order concerns Sunday working. In Northern Ireland, there is no legislative provision for Sunday betting and at present Sunday trading law is the same as it was in England and Wales prior to the Sunday Trading Act. There is therefore no need in the order to reproduce those important rights for shop workers and betting office workers which were introduced in England and Wales when Sunday trading and betting provisions were amended.
Another difference arises from the fact that in the Northern Ireland statutes the right of an individual under trade union legislation has always been regarded as an integral part of an individual's employment rights. Those rights include access to employment, action short of dismissal, rights in relation to trade union duties, interim relief upon complaint of infringement of those rights and procedures for handling redundancies.
Before turning to the Industrial Tribunals Order, I would draw your Lordships' attention to the minor new provision amidst what is otherwise the re-enactment of extant provisions. Article 14, paragraphs (7) to (9), makes special provision for the reckoning of the period of continuous employment for those whose professional training of necessity requires successive periods of employment with different health service employers. With the special provision, the move from one health service employer to another will not break the continuity of employment in calculating a period of continuous employment for a health service employee undergoing professional training.
I now turn to the Industrial Tribunals (Northern Ireland) Order, which re-enacts the industrial tribunal provisions scattered throughout the present legislation. There are no new provisions and the Northern Ireland ones are in line with the Great Britain provisions for industrial tribunals in the Industrial Tribunals Act 1996. However, in Northern Ireland there is no equivalent of the employment appeal tribunal. A person in Northern Ireland may take his or her case to the Court of Appeal on a point of law by way of a case-stated. In 1995, I initiated a review of the industrial tribunal procedure which elicited comment on the lack of a Northern Ireland employment appeal tribunal system. Consideration of the review is under way and more work is needed before a decision can be made on the advisability of changing the Northern Ireland system.
Together these orders consolidate for Northern Ireland the present legislation on industrial tribunals and employment rights in a convenient form, making it more accessible to the individual, the professionals and the tribunals. I commend these orders to your Lordships as a worthwhile and significant step in simplifying a code which should be available to all. I beg to move.