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Immigration Bill

Part of Bills Presented – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough 4:26 pm, 13th October 2015

The point is that if someone has a full British passport, it is very easy to say that they are entitled. The Residential Landlords Association predicts, rightly in my view, that the consequence of this measure will be that people who do not have a British passport, even those who are British—we should remember that some 12 million people in Britain do not carry a passport—will find themselves discriminated against because the landlord thinks that the situation is difficult.

We need to make sure that the only landlords prosecuted are those to whom Ministers have referred, who are sometimes complicit in illegal migration and the exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers. Can the Minister point to a provision saying that only people like the pimps who are exploiting trafficked workers in brothels will be prosecuted but innocent landlords who make a mistake and do not understand the documents will not? I do not believe that this Bill is going to help these women. The clause 8 offence of illegal working will apply to them, as my hon. Friend Paul Blomfield clearly explained. Will the Minister give specific details about what action he will take to make sure that victims who are coerced by others to work are not criminalised by the offence? Will they have a statutory defence under the Bill? We know that the results of the assessment of landlords experiment will not be available until after this debate, but has he conducted an assessment of the impact of these measures on victims of modern slavery?

This Bill is horribly un-British. It gives immigration officers extreme powers without submitting them to abiding by protections like the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984—protections that police officers have to abide by. It forces people to appeal from overseas, and by doing so ignores the rights of children who will be separated from their parents. The Children’s Commissioner has said that the current arrangements already fail to meet our obligations on children’s rights.

Overseas appeals will not deal with cases such as the one in my constituency of a husband whose documents showed that he lived in Slough while his wife lived in Bradford, so the Home Office said, “This is a marriage of convenience.” In fact, Slough was the only place he could get work, so he was coming down there to work from Monday to Friday and then returning to his family at the weekend. Without an oral hearing, he would not have been able to win his case. He did win it, and the immigration judge praised him for working so hard to support his family. This Bill is going to lead to un-British injustice, and we should reject it.