Report (1st Day)

Part of Immigration Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 1st April 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat 5:00 pm, 1st April 2014

My Lords, when I raised issues about bail and mental health in detention at the previous stage, the Minister gave me assurances about the Home Office policy presumption in favour of release or temporary admission—a “presumption of liberty”, so called. He said:

“Wherever possible, alternatives to detention are used. Detention must be used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary”.—[Hansard, 3/3/14; col. 1163.]

As this is a more focused debate than in Committee, when we had, I think, six amendments and the Minister had to cover a lot of ground, perhaps I may ask him some questions of which he is aware.

Can the Minister expand on the criteria applied for detention or conversely release, and say something about Home Office guidance and case law? The issue of the periods applied by other EU member states has also been raised. Like the noble Lord, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, I am curious not just about the periods but the legal systems within which those periods sit and how other countries deal with the “abscond” risk. Although I suspect not, does the Home Office have any profile of those who are detained for more than the 28 days that we discussed previously and the more than 60 days we are considering now?

Finally, I cannot resist sharing with your Lordships a case study from the Movement Against Xenophobia, which is one of the many very helpful briefings that we have received. It refers to a man who had been born in the Ukraine and had moved to Poland. He was unable to get a passport and bought a false passport. He was picked up and imprisoned. One might say, “Fair enough”. After his imprisonment, he was held in detention. Post the imprisonment sentence, the detention was 18 months. Eventually, he was successful in challenging that. The irony is that he was trying to leave the UK when he was picked up.