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Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, it has become clear again, as it became clear in our earlier debates, that the way the Bill has been thrown together has made it difficult for British Airways and others to keep up with what is happening and to make valid points to your Lordships. It is not a satisfactory way to put together legislation with, in this case, considerable effects on airlines and other people. I almost said "cobbled" together but I thought that that might be unfair to shoemakers, whose art is important to me at the moment.

On a similar point, when we dealt with the facilities to be provided free to the immigration authorities at airports by airport authorities, the Government were urged to provide for arbitration. Instead, they decided to build in a system of independent advice to be given to the Secretary of State in case of dispute. I should have thought that that was quite a good way to deal with this question rather than the more formal arbitration suggested in the amendment.

I suspect that the answer to my noble friend Lord Bathurst is yes. I believe that these provisions apply to Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel and to all other carriers, not just the airlines although we have concentrated on them in this debate.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who have asked questions and opened up the debate. It has been helpful and constructive.

The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, did not think that BA was consulted. I can confirm that, in absolute terms, that is the case although we announced at, I think, Second Reading that we would be introducing these provisions. BA is somewhat on the side of the angels in this issue. It meets the costs reasonably charged and asked for in these cases. Having heard what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and my noble friend Lord Hacking about consultation, it is clear that we ought to talk more with the aviation companies. I can undertake to do so in order that they are fully aware of the effect of the provisions we intend to introduce.

I can tell the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, that the measures may well apply to Eurostar and the Channel tunnel. That enables us to extend the provisions to Eurostar and we may well wish to look at them in the future.

It is important to keep a sense of proportion about what we are trying to achieve. I assure the House that we shall be proportionate and reasonable in the way in which we seek to introduce these measures.

I turn to some of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, in moving his amendment. He seeks to address in a slightly different way the issue of possible disputes about the need for an escort. At first, I thought that his amendment was being extremely generous to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. First, the terms of the amendment are

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discretionary, not mandatory. He may appoint an arbitrator, but he does not have to do so. Secondly, according to the noble Lord's amendment, the Secretary of State is a party to the disagreement, but can appoint the arbitrator. That is another generous move.

However, the terms of the amendment do not make it clear whether the carrier has to agree to a case being referred to an arbitrator in the first place or whether the carrier has a right of veto over the choice of arbitrator as well.

On closer inspection, perhaps the proposals are not so generous. First, the arbitrator's recommendations are binding only on the Secretary of State. He has to amend the recommendations if the arbitrator says so, but there is nothing that compels the carrier to accept them. It is even possible, although unlikely, that the initial directions would stipulate an escort of two people and the arbitrator could increase that to three or four. Presumably, the carrier would object even more strongly to that number of escorts, but the Secretary of State would be obliged to insist on that number even though he considered it excessive.

Secondly, and more importantly, the amendment would apply to an objection to any part of the directions and could apply to the fact that the person was being required to remove someone rather than the fact that the person would be escorted. There are no arbitration arrangements for the majority of removals and I see no reason to introduce such arrangements piecemeal, as would the noble Lord's amendment.

Thirdly, the arbitration system could presumably be invoked to cover cases where the cost of the removal and escort were being met by the Secretary of State. Presumably, the Secretary of State would be required to meet the costs of arbitration and in some circumstances might find it cheaper to arrange for removal at public expense, even though in all fairness it would be reasonable to expect the carrier to meet the costs in that case. I assure your Lordships that it is not our intention to be unreasonable in the application of costs for escorts.

Finally, the carrier would still be able to apply for judicial review of the arbitrator's conclusions. I can understand why the noble Lord has tabled the amendment, but I have to say that in my view it is a detour, a diversion, rather than a solution to the problem. I hope that in the light of that explanation he will not seek to press the amendment.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, he mentioned that there had not been adequate consultation with the airlines and the carriers. Will the consultation take place before the matter is considered by the Commons when the Bill returns to them and, if an amendment is necessary, will the Government consider it?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I could not possibly give an absolute confirmation that that would be the case. However, I am prepared to say that we shall discuss these matters as appropriate with British

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Airways and other airlines and shall seek to take their views on board as far as we can. We are content with what we are proposing. We believe that it is reasonable in the circumstances. After all, airlines operate for commercial gain and carry passengers for that very purpose. They accept in general terms and in most cases that this is not an unreasonable charge on their commercial activities. I trust that your Lordships will accept that argument.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, I am surprised to hear the Minister say that there are arbitration arrangements for the majority of removals. That was not the impression I gained from British Airways. The company expressed anxiety about parts of the new clause which appear to be open-ended. The number of escorts was an important point, but anxiety was expressed about the subsection referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, which states:


    "requiring him to bear such costs in connection with the escort ... as may be prescribed".

That is totally open-ended.

We do not have the faintest idea what the Government have in mind and what kind of costs are involved. Will they include the escort's drink on board the aircraft? Will he stay in a five-star hotel in Tangier? What kind of costs might the Secretary of State prescribe in connection with subsection (3)(b)? What kinds of expenditure will count in calculating costs incurred in connection with escorts?

The open-ended nature of the provisions in the new clause worries the airlines and I seriously believe that there is a necessity for urgent consultation with British Airways and all the other carriers. I wish that the Minister had been able to give the House an assurance that if the consultations disclosed a serious gap, and the arbitration arrangements which he says already exist do not cover any of the provision of the subsection, the matter will be dealt with when the Bill returns to another place.

That is one of the disadvantages of such an issue being raised at the 59th minute of the 11th hour. There is no time for consultations to take place, for your Lordships to consider them, or even for Members of another place to take them into account. We must accept the Minister's assurances that in applying these powers, it is not the intention to be unreasonable.

I hate to rely on such an assurance given across the Floor of the House because, as has been said on many previous occasions, although one may be certain that assurances given by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, will be honoured, we are legislating for other circumstances and future governments who may not be quite so scrupulous. Therefore, it is with the greatest reluctance that I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 13, as an amendment to Amendment No. 12, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment No. 12 agreed to.

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Clause 13 [Protection of claimants from removal or deportation]:

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 14:


Page 8, line 29, leave out ("during that period") and insert ("at the same time as, or after, notice of the decision on the claim is given to him").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment refers to Clause 13, which is surprisingly entitled "Protection of claimants from removal or deportation", but which actually relates to the arrangements for the removal or deportation of people whose claim for asylum has failed.

The point addressed by the amendment is small, but when we discussed it earlier there seemed to be some sympathy for it. A notice of removal or a deportation order should be able to be served at the same time as, but not before, the notice of the decision to refuse asylum.

I acknowledge that often it will be desirable that the notice of the decision to refuse should be accompanied by the arrangements for the removal and the notice of removal or the deportation order. It is not right that those documents should be served on someone before he has been told that his asylum claim has been refused. That is the purpose of the amendment. I beg to move.


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