Schedule 1 - New schedule 4 to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 20th January 2004.

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Photo of Mark Oaten Mark Oaten Liberal Democrat, Winchester 6:30 pm, 20th January 2004

I beg to move amendment No. 97, in

schedule 1, page 24, line 7, after 'shall', insert

', after consultation with the Lord President of the Court of Session,'.

This is a probing amendment to ask the Minister to clarify what consideration has been given to consultation in relation to the legal system in Scotland, where there is a different procedure. It would make sense to insert the words

''after consultation with the Lord President of the Court of Session'' to take account of the different individuals that need to be consulted in respect of Scotland. I hope that the Minister can deal with that simple, straightforward point.

Photo of Ms Annabelle Ewing Ms Annabelle Ewing Spokesperson (Social Security (SNP Shadow Scottish Minister); Education & Skills; Home Office; Law Officers; Work & Pensions) 6:45 pm, 20th January 2004

I rise briefly to support the thrust of the amendment. The tribunal will have UK-wide jurisdiction and will be required to take into account the principles of Scots law, which differ in many respects from those south of the border. It is entirely proper that the Lord Chancellor should be required to consult the Scottish equivalent, the Lord President of the Court of Session—who holds the highest judicial office in Scotland—about Scottish representation in the composition of the tribunal. I look forward to the Minister's clarification.

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

The Lord President, together with other judiciary and interested parties, was consulted by means of a joint letter from the IND and Department for Constitutional Affairs on 27 October 2003. In addition, my officials have met Lord Cullen to discuss the proposals informally in more detail. On the amendment, the Lord Chancellor has been personally responsible for appointing our adjudicators and IAT members in previous and current legislation.

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

I do not want to pre-empt legislation that is yet to be published, but does the Minister expect this power of appointment eventually to reside with the Commission for Judicial Appointments or with the Secretary of State when the Lord Chancellor's position is no longer available?

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

The hon. Gentleman raises a good point. I do not want to pre-empt legislation, but I would expect the legislation that we intend to introduce shortly to have a bearing on the arrangements that I have set out. They may change, depending on the determinations that are made in another place. He will know that the Government believe that the role of the Lord Chancellor should change as regards his responsibilities and the Secretary of State's relationship with the judiciary and the proposed new statutory body.

It is right that such determinations are made. For those purposes, we have pursued the existing arrangement, in which the Lord Chancellor has personal responsibility for the appointment of adjudicators and IAT members. He also has a statutory responsibility for a wide range of full-time and part-time appointments to the judiciary, including the office of district judge and deputy district judge. Those are the existing arrangements, which are simply replicated.

Photo of Mark Oaten Mark Oaten Liberal Democrat, Winchester

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 113, in

schedule 1, page 24, line 31, leave out 'as its President,' and insert

', who holds or has held high judicial office within the meaning of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 (c.59), as President of the Tribunal,'.—[Mr. Lammy.]

Question proposed, That this schedule, as amended, be the First schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough

How many members of the tribunal do the Government intend to appoint? Will there be tens of members, or just a handful? Will the tribunal sit in groups throughout the country, or will it be confined to London, Birmingham or just one or two major cities? It will be interesting to hear the Government's view of the geographical spread of the tribunal's places of sitting, and of how many people will be members.

As I understand it, the president will be someone of the rank of High Court judge or above. Presumably, he will be the only person of that seniority on the tribunal, but will other judges, such as circuit judges, Crown court judges or county court judges, be eligible for appointment in the event of vacancies occurring that could be suitably filled by experienced judges?

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

The arrangements will broadly reflect those that exist now, in which the Immigration Appellate Authority sits not just in London but also regionally. I cannot recall in which cities, but it sits regionally. Circuit judges are free to sit in the tribunal. I cannot recall whether the hon. and learned Gentleman is a judge of any sort, but that will be the position. Broadly, the numbers, short of a few, will reflect the current arrangements.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.