New Clause 18 - Responsibilities of masters of vessels, etc

Part of Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 27th January 2004.

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Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 3:45 pm, 27th January 2004

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

We are nearly there, Mrs. Roe. The new clause deals with some of the problems relating to the destruction of documents, but places on an individual a clear responsibility to deliver the people whom he

transports to the United Kingdom to the immigration services, so that they can properly be interviewed and, if appropriate, admitted to the UK.

I am prepared to accept that some parts of the new clause may be unnecessary, but I wrote it in response to earlier debates, in which we concluded that it was possible for people to disappear airside and at airports, only emerge a considerable time later and then possibly bypass immigration control. If that is true in airports, I am sure that it is equally true, or perhaps more true, in sea ports and, particularly, areas that are not canalised.

Subsection (1) asks for a manifest—a list of people, whether passenger or crew, from wherever they come—which is dealt with to a certain extent in the Government's new clause 16. It also suggests that an immigration officer should be able to control the removal of a vessel.

Subsection (2) makes it an offence not to provide the manifest and subsection (3) gives certain instructions about when a vessel might be removed. They are not exclusive and they do not prevent an immigration officer granting permission for a vessel to be removed under other circumstances. Their purpose is to ensure that those people who disembark could be re-embarked if they do not have the necessary papers, do not claim asylum and are therefore not admitted to the United Kingdom.

Subsection (4) provides the masters of vessels with some authority over people to ensure that they are delivered to immigration control. It is built on the hypothesis that anyone who disembarks should either report to immigration control or re-embark. The Minister might say that other people control matters airside sufficiently well to ensure that when people disembark an aeroplane, they reach immigration control and do not find their way around it. If she can provide that assurance, she will have demonstrated that the new clause is unnecessary.

Subsections (5) to (7) describe some of the powers that masters of vessels have, whether their vessels are ships provided for both in common law and in the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, or aeroplanes covered by section 94 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982. For the most part, those powers would need to be extended, and subsection (5) provides the Secretary of State with the power to make that extension. Subsection (6) provides him with the power to amend regulations. I have been unable to find any enactment that addresses the situation of the master—if that is the appropriate word—of Eurostar or the driver of a bus, so I have included them in subsection (7).

The purpose of the new clause is to elicit from the Minister whether she is satisfied that the situation between the time when somebody leaves a vessel and arrives at immigration is foolproof, and whether she accepts that those people who deliver people to the United Kingdom have some responsibility for ensuring that they reach not only these shores, but, where provided, immigration personnel.