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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness. She has reiterated a point that she made firmly earlier. As I said, that would place an unfortunate burden on the registrar. We genuinely feel that it would act as a disincentive to him or her to properly fulfil the duties as set out in the amendment, which, in its effect, broadly has the agreement of your Lordships' House. We rely on the argument that we believe that it is proper and more appropriate for the immigration officer to deal with issues which the couple may raise, having been confronted with the possibility that they have entered into a sham marriage. We believe that our argument has force and conviction.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, I am puzzled by the answer the Minister has given. Can he clarify the following? Clause 20 requires the registrar to have,

If the couple are not to be informed that there is a suspicion about their marriage, then I do not understand the point of inserting the word “reasonable" here. What quality control will there be and who would deal with a registrar who reported a

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matter without there being any reasonable ground for suspicion? I do not understand that part of the Minister's answer.

7 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we have to trust the good sense of the registrars. Registrars are very experienced. They deal with marriages as an every day part of their working lives. It would not be unreasonable to rely on their good judgment that they may have reasonable grounds. That is an important point and it is one on which, I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Lester, it is worth reflecting.

We are content with our amendment. We believe that it satisfies the commitment we gave earlier. I ask the House to reject the other amendments because of their various imperfections and the difficulties in which they would place us. We understand that good advice and guidance will be given to the registrars so that they will be able better to perfect their judgments. I believe that we can rely on their good sense in these circumstances. The clause is important to achieve an effect which, in general terms, the House has approved in the past.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Turner of Camden): My Lords, I cannot call Amendment No. 21 due to pre-emption.

[Amendment No. 21 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 22 to 24 not moved.]

Clause 21 [Provision of facilities for immigration control at ports]:

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 25:

Page 15, line 19, leave out (“free of charge") and insert (“at cost price").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, as I am allowed to speak only once I shall, in moving this amendment, speak also to Amendments Nos. 26, 27 and 27A, which are grouped with it.

Lord Hacking: My Lords, I intend to move Amendment No. 27A separately. It relates to Clause 22, whereas the noble Lord's amendments all relate to Clause 21.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, in that case, I shall not speak to Amendment No. 27A at this point. I shall in any case speak rather briefly because I am aware that other noble Lords have been much closer to this matter than I have myself.

There has been considerable consultation on this subject between the Home Office and the port representatives. The subject concerns what facilities a port or airport should be obliged to supply to the immigration authorities. The ports are not suggesting that they should not supply any facilities. However, at the same time they see that sweeping powers are being taken in this clause to require them to supply all kinds of facilities.

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It is not clear to me that the clause would limit the Secretary of State and the Immigration Service should it require sufficient accommodation to house the whole Immigration Service. Under the clause as drafted, the Immigration Service might conceivably move its headquarters and everything else to a suitable port. It would then occupy an enormous amount of space entirely free of charge. Amendment No. 25 addresses the question of cost. The Immigration Service might also decide to put in one port an area headquarters to cover several ports in that county, area or district of the country, and might require space for that.

This seems to be an extremely wide power, particularly as the Secretary of State and the Immigration Service will not be paying any money for these facilities. The facilities may take up valuable space that the port would otherwise be able to use not only for its own purposes but, as is nowadays the habit, to let out for all kinds of expensive shops. A great deal of the income of airports and some of the income of seaports comes from the letting of retail premises of one kind or another.

Another specific question is that of car parking. Many ports and airports are extremely pushed for car parking space. I understand that in discussions between officials and representatives of the ports it was suggested that no car parking space will be required under these provisions. If that is so, it would at the very least be a good thing if the Minister could say so to the House and we would then have it on the record that the Secretary of State would not use these powers to require space for car parking. If he cannot not do so, we shall wonder why he is not prepared to do that and whether space will be required for car parking in some instances. Of course there may be space at some ports and thus car parking will be no difficulty. In that case the Immigration Service officials could be allowed to park where they wished and there would be no difficulty for the port. But at other ports and airports car parking space is at a great premium. At Heathrow, for example, one has to park a long way away and come in on a bus to catch an aeroplane. That is one demonstration of the difficulty of car parking there.

Underlying the discussions that have taken place, there has been an attempt on the part of the port authorities to achieve some kind of dispute resolution procedure in the arrangements. That need not be statutory, although it would be an advantage if it were. Amendment No. 27, which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Cadman and to which I have added my name, addresses exactly that point. It is difficult to know exactly how far the Secretary of State and the Immigration Service intend to go in this matter but the powers they have taken in the Bill are very sweeping. Given the long discussions that have taken place and, as I understand the position, the relatively unsatisfactory outcome of those discussions, although I have not taken part in them, it is not surprising that

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the port and airport authorities of this country are extremely worried about the prospect of this clause. I beg to move.

Lord Cadman: My Lords, in speaking to my amendments, Amendments Nos. 26 and 27, I make no apology for revisiting this subject. I am happy to acknowledge that, via the Bill, the Government are attempting to address the problems caused by an increasing number of people who, for various reasons, seem to regard our country as one to which they might turn in preference to their own. That said, I am grateful to the Minister for meeting us recently and I am slightly reassured by the suggestion of the emergence of some kind of code of practice or memorandum of understanding.

The problem is that in the Bill the Government have decided that the Immigration Service needs to be able to beef up its facilities to, I suppose, defend us from the aforementioned onslaught. In doing so, the ports and airports are being almost ordered to provide facilities for the Immigration Service carte blanche, or so it would appear. In reply to my concerns at the Committee stage, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, suggested that, in view of the increased prosperity that improvements to control ports' capacity or customer services would generate, they should be responsible for the cost of any increased demand made thereby on the Immigration Service. This has evoked reaction based on the fact that in the past in some cases the Immigration Service, along with others such as the police, when consulted with, have required facilities which are, or have been proved subsequently to be, inappropriate to the task in hand or in excess of what later turned out to be necessary. Some noble Lords may have noticed the not inconsiderable office building to the left of the immigration kiosks at Eurotunnel's Coquelles terminal in France. It was built by Eurotunnel, at its expense, to provide for the accommodation of the Immigration Service at Coquelles. Subsequently, it has remained empty. It is unusable, because it is the wrong side of the theoretical frontier, being in effect in Britain, and is therefore not available by virtue of its redundancy, for occupation by Eurotunnel or the French.

The proposed legislation would give the Secretary of State sweeping powers to demand almost anything. There is presently little requirement to consult, and no procedures to be followed in cases where a genuine dispute arises. My amendments are designed to introduce a measure of cost-effectiveness upon the Secretary of State's determination and, failing that, to provide for an effective system of arbitration should negotiations or consultation break down.

It seems difficult to accept that the consequences of other EC countries' neglect of their responsibilities in this matter, coupled with our correct insistence on policing our borders properly, should be loaded on to the port and airport authorities. It is a matter of public policy, and the cost should be borne by the taxpayer. It is our hope that last week's discussions in Finland will result in some more common approach to immigration

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problems. But it is surely wrong for any government to attempt to finance a public service by using the increased prosperity of a control port, brought about by that port's increases in business efficiency, as an excuse for making possibly over-zealous requirements, especially where no effective method of dispute resolution or definition of service is in force.

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