Clause 5 - Section 4: supplemental

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 13th January 2004.

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Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Opposition Whip (Commons) 5:00 pm, 13th January 2004

I beg to move amendment No. 22, in

clause 5, page 4, line 35, leave out 'and'.

Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe Conservative, Broxbourne

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 23, in

clause 5, page 4, line 36, at end insert

', and

(g) any other person entitled to reside in the United Kingdom.'.

Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Opposition Whip (Commons)

These appear to be technical amendments. Amendment No. 22 seeks to delete ''and'' from the end of subsection (2)(e). Subsection (2)(e) and (f) say that

''a person who is a British subject under the British Nationality Act 1981 . . . and . . . a British protected person within the meaning of that Act.''

I am not a lawyer, and I assume that there is a technical distinction between those two descriptions. I assume that the reason for deleting the word ''and'' is that one person need not necessarily comply with both descriptions. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough will be able to elucidate that point.

Amendment No. 23 would insert the phrase,

''any other person entitled to reside in the United Kingdom.''

I assume that it is necessary to add that to the list of definitions, once subsection (2)(f) and (e) have been separated. I apologise for the fact that I cannot provide further legal interpretation, but those are my assumptions of what the proposals would do.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough

My hon. Friend need not be embarrassed. For once, common sense and statutory interpretation coincide. Amendment No. 22 is dependent on amendment No. 23. If amendment No. 23 is made, the word ''and'' at the end of subsection (2)(e) will become redundant and move to the end of the next subsection. Therefore, the meat of the amendments is to be found in amendment No. 23, which is designed to cover all people who are British citizens, or their equivalents, or those entitled to live in the United Kingdom. There is nothing magic about

the amendments; it is a belt and braces exercise, and my hon. Friend explained it properly and clearly.

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

Perhaps I can help both the hon. Lady and the hon. and learned Gentleman. Amendments Nos. 22 and 23 would give the UK jurisdiction to prosecute anyone entitled to reside in the UK for offences committed inside or outside the UK. If such a person, who would by definition be a foreign national with permission to reside in the UK, committed an offence inside the UK, they would already be covered. If such a person committed an offence outside the UK, the amendments would set a precedent for how we define our jurisdiction for all criminal offences. They seek to give us power to prosecute a foreign national who commits offences abroad.

Although I understand some of the thinking behind the amendments, I respectfully suggest that it would be more appropriate to act as we already do in cases of foreign nationals with permission to stay in the UK committing offences abroad. The prosecution would more appropriately take place in the country in which the offence took place. That is a more appropriate and feasible course of action for offences involving immigration. We work closely with other countries, particularly in Europe, on the identification and investigation of such offences, and the feasibility of prosecution in a foreign country can be readily understood.

Similarly, if a person entitled to reside in the UK, who is not covered by the categories listed in clause 5(2), committed an offence in the UK and left the country, normal extradition laws would apply and it would be appropriate to bring them back. The amendments are therefore unnecessary.

In summary, the amendment would introduce a completely new precedent, for this offence only, in the way in which we treat foreign nationals who commit offences abroad.

It being fifteen minutes past Five o'clock, The Chairman proceeded, pursuant to Sessional Order D [28 June 2001 and 6 November 2003] and the Order of the Committee [6 and 13 January 2004], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Amendment negatived.

The Chairman then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that time.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.