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 Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Minister of State (Regeneration and Regional Development), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) (Regeneration and Regional Development) 3:45 pm, 6th July 2004

My Lords, I appreciate that. I am speaking from experience and I am trying to help the Government. We have placed ourselves in a difficult position. I believe that an interim response in writing ought to be made available and I have said that from this Dispatch Box, so that is it.

A noble Lord raised the point about people's changing status once they are in the UK. Persons who have been granted six months' leave or less since entering the UK may not switch into marriage. Those may be people on short-term visas, such as students. Anyone else can switch into marriage if he or she has been granted over six months' leave since entering the UK. However, those provisions apply only to persons marrying British citizens and persons settled here; they do not apply to European economic area nationals exercising treaty rights.

I was asked about Clause 19(3)(c) and who would be exempt. We envisage that persons with settled status in the UK will be exempt under subsection (3)(c). Thus the clause is being left to secondary legislation under the negative resolution procedure, and will be subject to the usual Parliamentary scrutiny procedure. I am not clear whether that answers the point about paragraph 46, which the noble Lord, Lord Lester, asked me about. A note has not winged its way to me, and I shall see if I can get one before we finish tonight, because I can refer to it on another amendment, as I did in our earlier debate on Zimbabwe.

I hope that is a sufficient explanation, that this apology is accepted, that noble Lords will not, therefore, push their amendments to a vote and that, in due course, they will support the amendments I shall move on behalf of the Government.