Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 6th July 2004.

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Photo of The Countess of Mar The Countess of Mar Crossbench 3:45 pm, 6th July 2004

My Lords, when I suggested at Report stage the possible introduction of a measure such as that in the amendment it was because I had a sudden vision of a vast bureaucracy waiting in the wings for the enactment of Clauses 19 to 24. I have been in your Lordships' House long enough to recognise that each time we have a new Act of Parliament we seem to double the number of officials and civil servants. That worries me somewhat.

Would it not be easier to tell all those single people to whom time-limited visas are issued that, should they wish to extend their stay in the United Kingdom, contracting a marriage here would not provide them with a ground to remain? That would be done at the time the visa was issued. I have limited the scope of the amendment to spouses who are British citizens because I recognise that we must observe the terms of EEA treaties.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, for asking two officials from the immigration and nationality department to contact me last week. I was interested to learn that it is now EEA nationals who are a major source of bogus spouses. As the grounds for remaining on the basis of a marriage contracted with a person present and settled in the UK already are enshrined in rule 284 of the Immigration Rules, can the Minister say whether the rule is so ineffective as to require the introduction of Clauses 19 to 24 for all marriages? If not, why are those clauses not restricted to applications for marriages to EEA nationals only? Is there a problem? Would such discrimination go against the terms of the treaty? Is this a problem common throughout the EEA and, if not, why is the UK so disadvantaged?

I have no intention of pressing the amendment to a Division. I realise that the wording is faulty. However, I still suspect that there may be some less cumbersome way to deal with the problem. I beg to move.