My Lords, we gained assurances that measures enacted by President Trump’s executive order of
I thank the Minister, but what measures have the Government taken to ensure that, at the point of entry into this country, passport controls focus on the legitimate passports of individuals and do not ascribe an assumed identity to visitors in terms of their dress code, assumed nationality or religion?
My Lords, with regard to visitors to this country, I can give the noble Baroness that assurance. With regard to the access of visitors to the United States, its guidance says that those same factors should not determine the decision that is made: the decision is made on an equality basis.
My Lords, I welcome the Minister’s comments, but can she reassure the House that on the executive order that we expect either this week or next week, the department will be prepared to offer proper advice immediately and the Foreign Secretary will not waste any time in seeking urgent clarification, unlike the last time?
My Lords, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary did seek urgent advice the last time. The difficulty was that there was some confusion in the United States’s systems, as was evident from the changing nature of its travel advice online. Therefore, early engagement by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in this country and by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister meant that we were able to get the earliest advice to British passport holders that they would not be adversely affected.
My Lords, can I flag up the astonishing position whereby the noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, who was born in Iran and is a former professor of politics at the University of York and much else besides, might herself be at risk in Iran and not welcome in the United States? Does the Minister agree that we should never go down that road, and that both countries are missing out, potentially, on an absolute treasure?
My Lords, that is an extremely important question because of the problems, as we have discussed over the past six to seven months, which ensue when one country does not recognise the validity of dual nationality. Iran is just such a country. We continue to have discussions at ministerial and ambassadorial levels with Iran to try to resolve some of the consequences of its refusal to accept that one can ever revoke one’s own Iranian nationality. Iran is not the only country involved and we continue those negotiations with other countries, too.
My Lords, what representations is the Foreign Office making to the American embassy on cases such as Mr Miah, the maths teacher born in Swansea who was accompanying his class to go to the United States? It seems that he was blocked in Reykjavik from boarding a plane for no other reason than that he is a Muslim. He was denied entry and then humiliated; he said that he “felt like a criminal”. Are these sorts of cases being monitored and followed up, and what representation is being made about this outrage?
With regard to the particular case of Mr Miah, who was removed in Reykjavik from a flight to New York, he has not been given a reason for the entry refusal by the US authorities. On the wider question, naturally when we were advised by Mr Miah of his position we gave consular assistance in position, in Iceland. More broadly, a really important issue underlies the noble Baroness’s question: namely, that we are not always notified when somebody holding a British passport is denied entry or, indeed, detained upon entry. We can only be sure of knowing about it if they notify us, given that the US does not commonly hold those records and there is no international rule that any country must do so.