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New Clause 7 — Appeal from within United Kingdom

Part of Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, Etc.) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:57 pm on 1st March 2004.

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Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Conservative, Woking 9:57 pm, 1st March 2004

The Home Secretary is quick to condemn lawyers, but if he had heard today's debate he would realise that the rule of law is under attack from an illiberal Government. If any of us had been asked to accept that, one day, the Executive—the Government of this country—would be exempt from judicial oversight or scrutiny, we would have been, first, amazed, secondly, angry and thirdly, ashamed.

All the people within this country's jurisdiction should be treated equally under the law. The Government have been universally condemned by their own supporters. Speaker after speaker from the Labour Benches condemned the Government's proposals. Not one hon. Member supported the Government's approach; even the Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Mr. Lammy was lame in his support.

On Second Reading, Conservative Members said that we wanted the Bill to be improved in Committee, but it has been improved only a little. The Government have made far too few improvements. Lest it be believed that we debate matters sensibly in the House, I stress that the Government tabled 64 amendments and new clauses today. Many aspects of the Bill have simply not been debated in the House of Commons, either in Committee or the Chamber.

Appeals provisions are vital for the freedom of the individual, whether he or she is of our nationality or from abroad. All deserve equal treatment. The Bill remains seriously flawed and we cannot actively support it. We shall try to amend it as best we can in the House of Lords. We hope that the Government will have the sense to permit some form of judicial oversight of the Executive.

The Bill is not only illiberal but grossly unfair to tens of thousands of people. I hope to goodness that I speak for all Conservative Members and most of the Labour party when I say that the Bill needs to be improved in the House of Lords.