Clause 119 - Power of entry

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:45 pm on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Conservative, Woking 6:45 pm, 16th May 2002

I beg to move amendment No. 311, in page 62, line 32, after '(c)', insert

'with a warrant issued by a magistrates' court and'.

This is a probing amendment to decide whether, on occasions such as this, we should have a magistrates court warrant issued as well as the other safeguards. Can the Minister comment?

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Parliamentary Secretary (Home office)

The power of entry by warrant already exists, but the whole point of the clause is to render a warrant unnecessary in the case of business premises. The Government are committed to increasing the number of failed asylum seekers removed each year. We are also committed to cracking down on illegal working. In many cases, those who go to ground after the failure of an asylum claim, or who have perhaps never brought themselves to the attention of the authorities and claimed asylum, are working illegally and using false names and forged or altered documents, making it extremely difficult to trace even when they entered employment.

Many employers are prepared to co-operate with immigration service personnel when information suggests that an immigration offender may be working on their premises. However, some are not, and increasingly employers who were formerly prepared to assist are taking a similar line.

The clause means that the employer will not be able to refuse entry to an immigration officer or constable making an arrest under the new powers. There are already powers in the Immigration Act 1971 that allow a constable or immigration officer to apply to a magistrate for a warrant. The novel effect of the amendment would be that, having satisfied the magistrate that an offender is on the premises, the individual would have to go back for explicit permission to use the warrant. That would make an already difficult process even more difficult.

We know that illegal employment occurs. It is often exploitative in nature. The purpose of the clause is to allow immigration officers who suspect a particular, perhaps non-co-operative, employer to go into a

premises without a warrant in order to search for immigration offenders. With that explanation, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Conservative, Woking

Following that explanation, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 255, in page 63, line 7, leave out ''arrests'' and insert ''detains''.—[Angela Eagle.]

Clause 119, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.