Report (1st Day)

Part of Immigration Bill – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 1st April 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat 3:30 pm, 1st April 2014

My Lords, I welcome the Government’s amendments here. I commented on the need for these issues to be on the face of the Bill at the previous stage, as my noble friend said. I sought clarity and certainty, and it is right that those points are in the Bill. I have a number of questions, but I will not repeat the questions that the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has asked—I have just crossed through that bit of my notes—although the questions are no less valid for that.

In Committee, the Minister gave assurances that removal would not happen where the dependency between the individual and the family member was broken, for instance when the former dependant—as he called him—was a victim of domestic violence. Could my noble friend confirm that that would be covered by the new subsection (2B)(b)? I would be grateful if he could say anything about how it will operate when the immigration officer or Secretary of State considers how a matter would have been dealt with had it been put to him or her.

New subsection (2A)(b) refers to a child,

“where P has care of the child”.

I had a look to see what the phraseology was in the draft regulations we were sent before Committee—I presume they will not go ahead now. They referred to “parental responsibility”. I warned my noble friend that I would ask these questions and realise this might be a technical one, but I would be grateful if he could explain the distinction between having care of a child and having parental responsibility. This may be in the same area as the question of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, about not being in the same household. It is certainly related to that.

I want to take advantage of these amendments to say how much I welcome the Government agreeing to pin down provisions for conditions at short-term holding facilities—a matter that my noble friend Lord Avebury raised—and the consultation, which I understand is to be undertaken. However, like other noble Lords, I feel strongly that the 24 hours that is referred to must not become the norm: it is a maximum.

On Amendment 8, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, how can the term “last resort” be demonstrated practically or legally? Is it a term found in legislation? Certainly, it was used at the Dispatch Box and is in Home Office policy. I warned my noble friend that I was going to ask about that but, since then, I have found the answer. It is used in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is reproduced in Welsh legislation. It is also used in Northern Ireland justice centre rules and—I hope this will appeal to my noble and learned friend who was previously Justice Minister in Scotland—in Scottish primary legislation. I say that in support of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, because I want to pre-empt the criticism that this is not the sort of language one should put in a Bill but is simply descriptive.