Clause 1 - Assisting unlawful immigration

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 8th January 2004.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Citizenship and Immigration), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism)

The clause is a technical amendment designed to include Norway and Iceland as Schengen signatories, and any new Schengen signatories in the future, under the provision in section 25 of the Immigration Act 1971. Section 25 creates an offence of facilitating the commission of a breach of immigration law. Immigration law means a law that has effect in a member state and that controls entitlement to enter, transit or be in the state.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Will the Minister confirm that the clause is needed solely because of an omission or oversight in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002?

Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Citizenship and Immigration), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism)

Yes, it corrects an omission so that countries can be included that cannot formally be designated as member states but that none the less are Schengen signatories.

The clause allows the Secretary of State to make an order prescribing additional states that are to be regarded as member states for the purposes of the section, if he considers it necessary for the purpose of complying with the United Kingdom's European Union obligations. The nationals of these states are also to be deemed to be citizens of the EU for the purposes of section 25 of the 1971 Act. This is necessary to comply with the EU Council directive and the EU Council framework decision relating to these matters. The directive and associated framework decision require member states to create the offence of assisting a person who is not a national of a member state to enter or reside in a member state contrary to the laws of that state. The offence must apply in relation to Norway and Iceland as well as to the member states of the Union.

Subsection (2) makes a minor amendment to section 25C of the 1971 Act to make it clear that the references to ''member State'' and ''immigration law'' in subsection (9)(a) have the same meaning as in section 25.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am grateful for the Minister's explanation and her confirmation that this should have been in the 2002 Act and that its omission was an oversight. I am not absolutely clear about the necessity for subsection (2), given that section 25(2) and (7) are there. Why has that wording any significance? Can she enlighten me? It seems entirely otiose, as the wording already says

''within the meaning of section 25''.

Both definitions are contained within section 25, so why is the legislation changed in that respect?

Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Citizenship and Immigration), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism) 9:45 am, 8th January 2004

I can only say to the hon. Gentleman that our legal advice is that, to ensure that we get it right on this occasion, we need to make it clear that those two definitional phrases, ''member state'' and ''immigration law'', have the same meaning as in section 25. If it is helpful, I shall write to him with a detailed explanation.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.