Clause 17 - Offence of advertising services

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 22nd January 2004.

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Photo of Beverley Hughes Beverley Hughes Minister of State (Citizenship and Immigration), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism) 3:30 pm, 22nd January 2004

I beg to move amendment No. 149, in

clause 17, page 19, line 14, at end insert—

'( ) A complaint charging the commission of an offence under this section may in Northern Ireland be heard and determined by a magistrates' court if—

(a) it is made within the period of six months beginning with the date (or first date) on which the offence is alleged to have been committed, or

(b) it is made—

(i) within the period of two years beginning with that date, and

(ii) within the period of six months beginning with a date certified by the Immigration Services Commissioner as the date on which the commission of the offence came to his notice.'' '.

This is similar to amendment No. 147, in that it is technical, and ensures that, as is the case in England and Wales, proceedings in Northern Ireland relating to an offence under the clause can be heard up to two years after the commission of the offence. That will be possible provided that it is within six months of the date certified by the commissioner as the date when the commission of the offence first came to his notice. Similar provisions will need to be made for Scotland, and that will be part of our discussions with Scottish colleagues. An amendment may be required on Report

to cover the Scottish situation. However, the amendment relating to Northern Ireland is straightforward.

Amendment agreed to.

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

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:45 pm, 22nd January 2004

I shall be brief because I entirely support the clause. Will the Minister clarify where the offence is committed? That is crucial to understanding the prosecution of the offence. I understand that the clause affects those who purport to offer advice services in the United Kingdom. However, is the offence committed at the point of the advertisement being made? If the advertisement is made and arranged in another country, has an offence been committed? That is pertinent because many people will advertise not in the UK but in communities from which they hope to gain business, and which fall under another jurisdiction. We must phrase the clause so that it covers UK advisers seeking to advertise their services in such communities. Causing the advertisement to be made should be the offence, regardless of whether it is arranged in another country.

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Labour, Glasgow Cathcart

Is the hon. Gentleman also concerned about the possibility of advertisements being posted on the internet, perhaps using a server that is outside the jurisdiction of the UK?

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

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and I intended to raise that point. I believe that, for the purposes of the law, if someone puts something on the internet, it counts as publishing within UK jurisdiction. If someone has taken no action to arrange an advertisement in this country, but their cousin in Bangladesh takes out an advertisement purporting to offer advice services, I am not clear whether an offence has been committed under the Bill. I think that that should be an offence, and I hope that it is possible to phrase the clause appropriately.

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

Since the Bill was drafted, the immigration services commissioner has considered the issue of advertisements that appear only in another country or on the internet. As far as I recall, the clause only covers advertisements in the UK. The commissioner is examining that because primary legislation would be required for that to be extended. The commissioner has already brought the hon. Gentleman's point to our attention, and we are examining it.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.