Report (1st Day)

Part of Immigration Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 1st April 2014.

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Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Conservative 4:45 pm, 1st April 2014

My Lords, nobody could be against the spirit in which this amendment was moved so persuasively and reasonably by my noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby, but I have one or two points to make. The Minister may wish to deal with them in summing up.

First, in relation to the European Union, there is probably a very good reason why the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are the two countries which have not signed up to the return directive. That is because of our common law tradition. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, very reasonably said, indefinite detention is unlawful, which is the position at the moment. People are able to apply for habeas corpus; to make, admittedly subject to the law, applications for bail; and are able to use judicial review. That is one reason at least why we appear to be out of line with other European Union countries on this point.

Secondly, as my noble friend Lady Williams very fairly set out, this amendment goes well beyond the return directive in its time period. Under the return directive, there is six months, and exceptionally 18 months, to deal with these issues, whereas this amendment proposes 60 days. I have concerns with that. Admittedly it is in a minority of cases but there are exceptional cases where individuals seek to play for close of play knowing that there is an automatic cut-off which is not subject to judicial process. If they can draw out the process for six months, they are automatically released, as it were, irrespective of the fact that a removal may be pending or that they may abscond. I have great sympathy with an automatic period, but 60 days is too short. It is in that spirit I put forward those points.