Report (1st Day)

Part of Immigration Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 1st April 2014.

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Photo of Lord Mackay of Clashfern Lord Mackay of Clashfern Conservative 6:00 pm, 1st April 2014

My Lords, I have the disadvantage of not seeing this matter quite in the way that my colleagues have seen it. This tribunal is an appeal tribunal from a judgment of the decision of the Secretary of State. This clause deals with a situation in which it appears, in the course of the proceedings or perhaps before they start, that there is a new ground of decision that has not as yet been dealt with by the Secretary of State. It is the Secretary of State’s jurisdiction to decide that, and the appeal tribunal’s jurisdiction is to consider appeals that arise from the decision of the Secretary of State. Therefore the essence of this particular procedure appears to be that a new decision is called for from the Secretary of State on a matter which has not been before the Secretary of State previously.

I do not see how that is in any way a breach of principle, but I know from experience long past that the way in which immigration tribunals deal with these matters has been a cause of great difficulty.

During my time there were great accumulations of arrears in the immigration tribunals, and all sorts of efforts were made to try to deal with that. One of my successes, which I cherish, was to get money from the Treasury to set up new immigration appeal tribunals in the hope that that would reduce the number of cases waiting. Like all such efforts, that does not seem to have worked, as the list of appeals still seems to be pretty long.

That seems to be the essence of this issue. I agree that there are problems when this sort of thing arises in the course of an appeal on an earlier decision, but the fact that that happens is something which has to be dealt with. One of the difficulties that my noble friend Lady Berridge referred to was that it is often very difficult, in the course of these proceedings, to get in touch with the Home Office representative before the case starts; the case goes ahead without anyone getting in touch with them. That is not a new difficulty, and I suppose that this amendment is intended to deal with it to some extent. There is an underlying difference in principle between the way in which my colleagues look at this and the way I think it is possible to look at it.