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I hope that the Government's amendments will substantially improve Clause 38, but given the shortage of time in which to study them it is difficult to be certain of that. I tabled Amendment No. 84 because I felt that it would be a travesty of bail proceedings for the amount of bail to be set so high that the applicant would have no hope whatever of securing it. If an applicant has relatives, friends or a supporting community in this country, they may be expected to help to provide bail or recognisances. However, in the absence of such support, bail should be set at a sum that is reasonable in the circumstances of the individual.
When the Bill becomes law--and, if possible, before--I ask the Government to make the greatest possible use of voluntary organisations, including but not exclusively the Churches, to ensure that people who might otherwise be detained turn up at the places and times where they are required to show themselves. Such voluntary capacity has been greatly under-used in the past and should be much more fully employed in the future.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: I welcome Amendment No. 80B. Taken together with Amendment No. 80A, it shows that the Government are moving close to what we requested of them. We are grateful to the Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, may take reassurance from the answer that the Minister gave to his amendment when he said that the courts would bear in mind the capacity of the person seeking bail to meet any request for a recognisance. Many of us appreciate that there may have to be a recognisance, but it should be scaled to the capacity of the person concerned to meet it. We accept the Minister's assurance that the courts will consider that factor.
On Amendment No. 86, I accept the Minister's explanation of why the phrase "in a language he understands" may not always be able to be met. I ask simply for an administrative recognition that if notice is given in a language other than the one that the asylum seeker or refugee understands, it is important that it is given sufficiently far ahead to enable it to be interpreted for the person coming before the court. I realise that that is not an appropriate matter for an amendment but for instructions within the Home Office.
I also welcome Amendment No. 80B, especially subsection (2) which reiterates the general right to be released on bail, to which the Minister referred. For all those reasons, Members of the Committee may take
Viscount Bridgeman: I seek clarification of Amendment No. 86, which I understand has not been accepted. The Minister gave a full account of the interpretation arrangements that would be available. Will they appear on the face of the Bill at a subsequent stage?
Lord Hylton: Before the Minister replies, may I refer to Amendment No. 86? The Minister drew our attention to the practice of the Indian courts where there are a multiplicity of languages. However, I would hope that the practice of our courts might be superior to the Indian practice and that every effort would be made to explain the situation to people in a language they understand.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, misheard me. I simply pointed out, as I am entitled to do--as I believe the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, will recognise--that on the Indian sub-continent, not in the Indian courts, there are many hundreds of different languages, sub-languages and dialects. That is why I suggested that the requirement to put in writing would in fact not be of any practical utility. The conditions must be notified in writing, including to the representative as well as the applicant, and then it will be for the interpreter to tell the applicant exactly what they mean in a language the applicant will understand. I am happy to correct that point.
I take entirely the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, about the voluntary organisations. I have paid tribute to them today and on many previous occasions. The noble Lord may take some comfort from the fact that Amendment No. 80B contains in subsection (1)(b) the important words,
I take entirely the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby. All securities, recognisances or bail should be set on a proportionate basis, as they are at the moment. I am happy to say that we give administrative recognition to the need to have anyone leaving a court or tribunal knowing what has been done. It is simply that I do not believe it is practicable or, in the end, of utilitarian value to insist that every language in the known and discovered world should be used to write it all down. It is different in Wales, but of course we have Welsh language legislation.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: That will be covered, first, under the existing regime on security and recognisance; and, secondly, in the Bill. Anyone who is liable to forfeiture of any sum is entitled to make representations. I have never understood the obligation to make sure that someone turns up on time and at the right place to be absolute. It may well be that the person concerned is ill or the bus has broken down or even that the bus lane from Heathrow to London is somewhat congested.
Page 28, line 19, leave out ("may be granted") and insert ("granted under section (General right to be released on bail) may be").
Page 28, line 22, leave out subsection (5).
Page 28, line 27, leave out subsection (7) and insert--
("(7) Subsections (7A) and (7B) apply if, on a reference under section 36, the court has power to release the detained person on bail but is not required to do so by section (General right to be released on bail).
(7A) The court may, instead of releasing him--
(a) fix the amount of any recognizance, bail bond or security to be taken on his release on bail (including the amount in which any sureties are to be bound), and
(b) settle the terms of any conditions to be imposed on his release on bail.
(7B) The person concerned must be released on bail on the recognizance or bond being taken, or the security being given.").
Page 28, line 32, at end insert--
("(8) A person released on bail under section (General right to be released on bail) is to be subject to such restrictions (if any) as to his employment or occupation while he is in the United Kingdom as may from time to time be notified to him in writing by an immigration officer.
(9) Any restriction imposed on a person under subsection (8) has effect for the purposes of this Part as a condition of his bail.").
Page 28, line 33, leave out from ("court") to ("it") in line 34 and insert ("that a mandatory bail condition has been broken,").
Page 28, line 38, at end insert--
("( ) "Mandatory bail condition" means a condition--
(a) to which bail granted under section (General right to be released on bail) is subject as a result of section 38(3), (3A) or (3B), and
(b) in relation to which the court has taken a recognizance under section 38.").