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Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I have a point of concern on this matter. My noble friend Lord Avebury has raised the matter of the cost of escorts. Some deportees, who may have settled illegally in this country, cause considerable anxiety in the community. In some cases people have been bound and gagged and death has occurred.

I am interested in the legality of this issue. If someone escorts an illegal immigrant and that illegal immigrant dies in the country to which he has been deported, what would be the position of the escort? There have been cases where, once deported, such a person has been taken out of the airport and shot dead. There have been cases of people who have never been found again. A considerable onus could be placed on the escorts if they could be charged with matters such as manslaughter.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, this may be a convenient moment for me to raise a point that, to my knowledge, has occurred in certain cases where escorts have accompanied deportees back to their countries of origin. Such problems have occurred, particularly when the country in question has a despotic government or where the political situation is chaotic.

Can the Minister give me an assurance that the duties of escorts will be carefully and precisely defined? I have in mind the fact that they should have a duty to take the deportee as far as the steps of an aircraft or the gangplank of a ship, when landing in the appropriate country, and no further. I say “no further" because if the escorts go further, there is a risk, particularly with political dissidents or people who have opposed the government in their country of origin, that the deportee will be identified and immediately arrested.

In my view, similar considerations apply to such matters as aircraft or ship passenger manifests. In cases of political dissidents or political opponents of certain regimes, the manifests should not make it clear that the individual is being deported from the United Kingdom, otherwise suspicion will immediately be aroused.

I realise I have not given notice of this slightly arcane matter, but I ask the Minister to consider it fully.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I rise primarily to express gratitude that the Government are treating this new clause as one to which the undertaking given at the start of our proceedings applies. It seems to me that the regulations that can be made under this new clause are extremely wide and permit the Secretary of State to do all sorts of things to quite a lot of people, should he take it into his head to do so. The powers are not

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restrained. They are extremely wide. For that reason I believe that we should be cautious about giving the Secretary of State carte blanche in this respect.

I have not had any representations from carriers. They may not have noticed this clause. It was handed in on Wednesday and appeared in the Order Paper on Thursday so they have not had a lot of time to notice it and decide whether they have views on it. Perhaps between now and Third Reading we shall think of some suitable restrictions which may be placed on this to make sure that the Secretary of State cannot extend its use beyond the more restrictive words that were used in the covering letter to me and to others which described the clause and confined it to captains of ships and persons of that class.

Lord Desai: My Lords, while travelling I came across the case of a passenger who, after boarding an aircraft, proceeded to destroy his passport by flushing it down the toilet. The people in charge of the carrier had accepted that person, believing that he had proper proof, but he destroyed that proof and hoped to claim asylum when he landed in London. Carriers may object, but they should be trusted to do the best that they can, and not be held responsible for matters when they are manipulated.

6 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, all the points raised were reasonable ones, which is why it was agreed earlier that the appropriate scrutiny should be given. Perhaps I may touch generally on one or two matters of detail.

The level of payment by carriers for escorts will be settled by regulations, not set out on the face of the Bill. Carriers will not always have to pay. The circumstances will be set out in regulations. If one looks at the amendment in the name of my noble friend--Amendment No. 15--after Clause 11, one sees in subsection (3)(c) that there are some cases in which the Secretary of State will have to bear certain costs.

A point specifically raised by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, was that the number of escorts should not be unreasonable or unlimited; that they must be appropriate to the circumstances. If they were unlimited, the matter would be subject to judicial review. The question of escorts raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, is important. They are trained in safe procedures. That point was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. I am happy to reaffirm that escorts will be subject to the normal restraints of the criminal law in just the same way as anyone else who is acting in restraint of any person in this country.

All the questions raised were prudently raised. I am grateful for the indication given by the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley. That is the reason the understanding was arrived at and I am happy to deliver on it. Accordingly, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 15.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, I endorse the gratitude expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, to the

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Minister for dealing with this point under the general undertaking that he gave at the beginning that the matter would be referred to the Select Committee.

A number of points were raised during the course of this short debate which require further examination, including particularly the question the Minister dealt with in part; that is, the training of the escorts referred to by my noble friend Lord Dholakia and the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. It seems to me from looking at the list of matters on which the Secretary of State can make regulations, that the training of escorts is not among them. Perhaps that matter too can be considered before the clause comes back.

The noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, is probably right that the reason carriers have not made representations to your Lordships on this provision is because they have had inadequate time to consider it, bearing in mind it was tabled only on Friday morning. This may result in quite a lot of representation as to why they should not be asked to bear the costs, even though, as the Minister said, there are circumstances--not defined--where the Secretary of State has to pay the charges.

If the clause had said that the Secretary of State would always pay the charges in cases where the carriers had used their best endeavours to ensure that the person was a bona fide traveller, we would not have been so anxious about it. But the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Desai, is a telling one. It may frequently happen that a passenger boards the plane with documents which appear to be in order and the people responsible for examining the documents for the airline do everything they possibly can to satisfy themselves that that is the case, but it then turns out that the person intended to enter by irregular means or without proper documentation and the carrier is faced with the burden of carrying the costs, not only of taking the person back to his own country, but also for the escorts.

Although I take the Minister's point regarding opportunities for judicial review if the number of escorts is unreasonable, the new clause refers to,


    “one or more persons specified in the directions".

That means that the number is, on the face of it, unlimited, although it could be challenged, as the Minister explained.

For all those reasons we are legitimately anxious about the wording of the new clause and hope not only that it will be looked at by the Select Committee during the interval between now and Third Reading, but also that the Minister will take the opportunity to go through the clause and see whether points have been raised during the debate which lead him to feel that some modification should be made on Third Reading. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 15A, as an amendment to Amendment No. 15, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 15, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 [Security on grant of entry clearance]:

Lord Dholakia moved Amendment No. 16:


Page 8, line 6, after first (“clearance") insert (“as a visitor").

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, when this matter was debated in Committee, the concern I was expressing at the time related to the provision of financial security; that is, that we hoped it would not be a norm for visitors coming to this country and that it would not adversely affect a large number of people whose financial resources may not be adequate to sponsor a visit.

I read the clause carefully and discovered that it was extremely wide. The initial discussion related to visitors. But nowhere in the clause do I find it restricted to visitors. It goes much wider. Amendment No. 16 seeks to ensure that the payment of securities will not be widened to other categories. Why did we feel it necessary to table the amendment? The categories of person who would be made to pay securities are those who want to come here for a short visit. The entry clearance officer abroad may not necessarily believe that. Sponsors would then be asked for a proper surety in this country.

Many sorts of people enter this country. We want to ensure that other categories of people--for example, businessmen, people coming here for the purpose of marriage, dependants, au pairs, and those who come for a working holiday--will not be asked for a deposit or a surety as a basis for their entry.

I hope that the Government will accept this small amendment to restrict the scope of this clause to visitors so that it does not include also other categories of people. I beg to move.


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