Report (1st Day)

Part of Immigration Bill – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 1st April 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Smith of Basildon Baroness Smith of Basildon Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 7:15 pm, 1st April 2014

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his full explanation. He is right: there has been some movement to address the concerns that we raised in Committee, and I welcome the Government’s new clause. I must admit that he has gone further tonight than I thought when I read the new clause when he said in response to the noble Baroness that the chief inspector would look at the substantive issues and not just those such as the effectiveness mentioned in the amendment. That is certainly welcome. I wonder whether the inspector will be able to deal with possibly thousands of cases every year.

Although the Minister says that the majority of applications are successful, it remains that a third of all appeals succeed due to casework errors. I take his point about speed. It seems that the Government are more concerned with the cost and speed of decision-making than with accuracy and fairness. I would point to the system at the Department for Work and Pensions, where there is a process for administrative review but that does not prevent an appeal taking place as well if that remains the decision of the person who was refused. I have already said that I think the Government’s reliance on the overseas system of administrative review is flawed for a number of reasons. I am also surprised that the Minister seems to be at odds with the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who referred to case working decisions being a judgment decision on a balanced decision, yet the Minister referred to it as following rules. We seem to be being informed about two different systems.

As much as I welcome the comments that the Minister has made—and I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, who is unable to be with this us at the moment—I feel that the Minister has not really addressed the reasons why the Government are removing a fundamental right of appeal for judicial review. The explanation and the evidence were not there and I feel that I have to test the opinion of the House on this issue.