Report (1st Day)

Part of Immigration Bill – in the House of Lords at 3:25 pm on 1st April 2014.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:25 pm, 1st April 2014

My Lords, in Committee I gave a commitment to give consideration to amendments tabled by a number of noble Lords and to the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee regarding the definition of family members and the regulation-making power in Clause 1, and to return to it on Report.

Amendment 1 removes the discretion that was previously set out in the regulation-making power as to whether we notify family members of removal. We previously stated our intention that family members will always be given notice when they are to be removed but, in recognition of the arguments so eloquently made in Committee, we have now placed this firmly in the Bill.

We have accepted the recommendation of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that it was “inappropriate” to delegate the power to define a family member for the purpose of administrative removal within the regulations. We have therefore defined in Clause 1 those family members who might be removed because of their dependency on the principal.

The first condition of the definition sets out the relationship of the family member to the principal. I am grateful for the point made by my noble friend Lord Avebury during our previous debate on this issue that the definition of family member should be dependent on the principal’s leave to enter or remain, and this is what we have sought to achieve within the second condition. The third condition is that the family member is neither a British citizen nor a person entitled to be in the United Kingdom by virtue of an EU treaty right. As I have previously stated, our aim is to give new clarity to families so that they will know exactly who may be liable to removal.

My noble friend Lady Hamwee noted in Committee that the draft regulations contained a provision that the giving of notice to family members acted to invalidate any leave to enter or remain previously held, and asked why this was not included in the Bill itself. We have taken on board her concern and moved this provision out of the regulations and added it to Clause 1.

In Amendment 2 we have sought to reduce the power to make regulations about the removal of family members to matters such as time periods and the service of notice. Further to the DPRRC’s 24th report, published yesterday, we will make a further amendment at Third Reading to take out the reference to “in particular” from line 27 so that it will be completely clear that the scope of the regulations cannot extend beyond these two provisions. This limits them to procedural matters that should be subject to the negative resolution procedure by virtue of Section 166 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Amendment 3 simply clarifies the definition of a child in this context as someone under the age of 18.

Other amendments in this group, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, concern the return of families and children to their country of origin. This Government have transformed the approach to returning families with children, in line with their commitment to end child detention for immigration purposes. I hope that I will be able to explain any further issues as we debate the amendments in this group. Meanwhile, I beg to move.