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Policing and Crime Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 7th December 2016.

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Photo of Lord Paddick Lord Paddick Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:00 pm, 7th December 2016

My Lords, I support Amendment 169B in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Kennedy of Southwark.

I accept the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, about reasonable cost as opposed to full cost recovery—or, at least, I could accept it if it was an approach the Government took across the board. However, in Committee I drew a parallel with the Immigration Act, where the Government proposed a philosophy of full cost recovery for visa applications and for the Immigration Service generally. I asked the Minister then, if she was not going to agree with amendments tabled to ensure full cost recovery for the issuing of firearm certificates, to explain why a different approach is being taken to the principle of full cost recovery when it comes to immigration. In particular, I asked her to refute the obvious allegation that the Government are discriminating against foreign nationals as against those who go hunting with guns for sport. I cannot recall the Minister specifically responding to that question; perhaps she could address it today.

Having apparently agreed in Committee to the principle of full cost recovery for firearms certificates, the Minister went on to say that there was a public consultation on these issues and that,

“there might be good reasons not to set fees at full cost recovery levels, either for a transitional period or for certain categories of licence holder”.—[Official Report, 9/11/16; col. 1163.]

There are very good reasons why visa applications and the like should not be set at full cost recovery levels, yet the Government appear determined that they should be, without any public consultation or a transitional period. Can the Minister explain why foreign nationals are being treated differently from those who possess firearms?

I asked the Minister in Committee what consultation there had been with groups that represent immigrants or those who might apply for visas before the Government implemented full cost recovery for immigration visas. Can the Minister please answer that question for the record, as she was unable to do so in Committee?