New Clause 10 - Fingerprinting

Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 27 October 2005.

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(1) Section 141 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (c.33) (fingerprinting) shall be amended as follows.

(2)In subsection (7)(d) for “arrested under paragraph 17 of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act;” substitute “detained under paragraph 16of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act or arrested under paragraph 17 of that Schedule;”.

(3)In subsection (8)(d) for “arrest;” substitute “detention or arrest;”.

(4)At the end add—

“(17)Section 157(1) applies to this section (in so far as it relates to removal centres by virtue of subsection (5)(e)) as it applies to Part VIII.”.’.—[Mr. McNulty.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Question proposed, That the Chairman do report the Bill, as amended, to the House.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office

On a point of order, Sir Nicholas. You will know that this is a not a point of order, but we have reached the end of our deliberations and it is traditional to make some passing comments before we dispatch the Bill back to the House.

First, I thank you enormously for all that you have done as Chairman, Sir Nicholas, in as exemplary a style as ever. I am sorry, given that we have finished our deliberations, to have missed all the Bills that you have chaired between the Greater London Authority Bill of 1998-99 and now. I am sure that they would have been enormous fun. In passing, I apologise first for having verbally deprived you of your knighthood and subsequently for having deprived you of it in a letter today, which starts “Dear Nicholas” rather than “Dear Sir Nicholas”. That is not a matter of disrespect and I hope that you will forgive me. I also thank Mr. Illsley, who covered and dispatched proceedings with equal charm and efficiency.

I also thank, as Ministers used to forget to do when I was a Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Joan Ryan) on her conduct of matters. At least in part, those dark arts to which I was privy in a previous manifestation are reflected in the temperate—or otherwise—nature of a Committee as it carries out its proceedings. Although we have dealt with complex issues, we have done so in a harmonious and, for the most part, thoughtful and informed way.

I thank, too, all colleagues on both sides of the Room, particularly those on my side. This is a new experience for most of the hon. Members on the Government side, and I have to say that this is as good as it gets—they have been blessed in having a good experience on their first Committee. I have debated plenty of Bills that have been either far more boring or far more hostile—that is fun for about five minutes, and then it gets worse. That is not to imply that it is all downhill from here, but perhaps we can hold a conference once my hon. Friends have sat on a couple of other Committees. They can then come back and say that I was right.

I have also to say—and entirely mean—a huge “thank you” to those on both Opposition Front Benches for the way in which they have conducted matters. It could almost be considered strange, given the nature and tone of the election, that we managed to look at these very serious matters in a far more grown-up way than would have been the case had those on the Opposition Front Bench reflected people’s deliberations during the election. I shall take the Front Benchers as they are any time rather than those who would be here doing rather pale imitations of Alf Garnett and Enoch Powell in the way that the Leader of the Opposition did during the election. I am very grateful for that.

I would also say in passing, and again sincerely, a thank you to the Home Office officials—I am a little pedantic in that three or four years on as a Minister, I still scribble through letters and utterances that are supposed to go out in my name, crossing out “my officials”. They are not mine; they are the country’s. As the Committee has seen, they have been, to-ing and fro-ing rather like an American football team with the offensive team and the defensive team going on and off. A huge amount of time and many officials have been involved, and I am grateful to all of them.

Finally, I am enormously grateful to Hansard for recording what I freely accept has—occasionally, and only occasionally—been my drivel. It looks quite nice the next day. While I try to avoid giving the Committee the impression that I do not have a clue what I have just said or what it meant, I know the next morning when Hansard has done its excellent work. I must also thank the Doorkeepers, whom we have not troubled that much with locking and unlocking the doors, for which I am grateful to everybody. The Bill is dispatched after a good deal of informed deliberation, for which I thank the entire Committee and particularly, again, you, Sir Nicholas.

Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Shadow Minister, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

Further to that point of order, and briefly, Sir Nicholas, may I repeat from these Benches those thanks to you and your fellow chairman, Mr. Illsley, for the very courteous and efficient way in which you have chaired the Bill? We would like to couple that with our thanks to the excellent Clerks, Dr. Benger and Mr. Cranmer, who have been of such assistance to us all. Our thanks to the police, the Doorkeepers and Hansard for the excellent work that they do, and to the officials, who have been so kind as to brief us through the Minister’s good offices on a number of matters.

I thank my hon. Friends, the Members for Ilford, North (Mr. Scott) and for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski), for their support. It would be wrong of me not to thank my Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham); otherwise I should be in great trouble. I thank him most warmly for his support and help. I particularly thank my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham, who has shouldered a great deal of the work on the Bill and has spoken so well on behalf of international students and educational institutions. She has worked terribly hard and I am most grateful. I am sure that we will revisit all those matters on Report.

I thank the Minister for the way in which he has conducted himself, and the hon. Gentlemen on the Liberal Benches likewise. It has been a good-tempered Bill. The Minister said that those hon. Members who have served on a Standing Committee for the first time would have found this Committee an easy experience because it was good-tempered and the Bill was interesting. Both facts are true, but he failed to add that the Bill has also been dispatched in a couple of weeks, whereas you, Sir Nicholas, the Minister and my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham will know that, in the past, many Bills have taken months to be considered in Committee, which has always been an enormous pleasure to those who have taken part in such proceedings. Who knows what will happen in the future? With those thanks, I shall now resume my seat. I give final thanks to the Minister for his courtesy throughout the proceedings.

Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris Science, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

Further to that point of order, Sir Nicholas. Without repeating the thanks that have just been made to the officials, the Doorkeepers and police by the hon. Member for Woking, I wish to endorse what he said. I thank you, Sir Nicholas, in particular, for making our proceedings a pleasure. I used to be scared of Chairmen but, given the past couple of weeks, I cannot understand why. You have been helpful in guiding me and other hon. Members, especially those who are new, Sir Nicholas. The same applies to Mr. Illsley.

I share the endorsement of the Minister for the efforts made by those, including Labour Members, who are relatively new to their positions and to the House. I pay a particularly warm tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington who led several clauses for the first time in Committee and did so sometimes in isolation. I thank the Minister who, in both good moods and bad moods, has made concessions. I have sat through proceedings in which no concessions were made whatever, and I certainly endorse his view about the difference between this Committee and the Committee that considered the Greater London Authority Bill, which I was told lasted for weeks and had hundreds of clauses.

Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris Science, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

Yes, three months. I remember my hon. Friend the Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) being delighted that the insertion of a comma proposed in one of his amendments was accepted, although precious little else was.

I compliment the hon. Member for Walthamstow for surviving what was a traumatic occasion for him, given the risks that he runs in being too closely identified with Opposition arguments and Opposition Members. He conducted himself with great skill. I wish finally to thank Conservative party spokespeople and the Labour Whip for the way in which they kept me informed about the timings with which we have had to deal.

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Further to that point of order, Sir Nicholas. I wish to bring up the rear by associating myself with the remarks that have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Woking, with the exception of those that he made about myself. I, too, wish to thank both Ministers for the way in which they have conducted the proceedings on the Bill. Last night in the Smoking Room, I said to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality who has led on the Bill that I was impressed by his command of the brief. I now put that on the record. It is important to do so, even if we have differences of opinion. It is a pleasure to listen to Ministers who seem to understand what they are talking about rather than always hearing them reading out the words of support that have been written by their admirable officials.

I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Woking. He has been serving on two Standing Committees at the same time. He has put in a formidable performance. Given his work in the other proceedings, as well as his contributions to this Committee, it would be remiss if I sat down without acknowledging that phenomenal effort. These proceedings are very much the unsung part of our work in this place, but they are so important.

I want to acknowledge, in particular, members of organisations and those individuals who have briefed us. They have been thorough and have worked extremely hard. I hope that they consider that we have done justice to their views. Even though they may not be the views that we personally hold, I hope that we have at least given them a suitable airing. We look forward to further briefings for our debates on Report and Third Reading, stages that are still important.

Lastly, I wish to acknowledge that what we have been doing in Committee will affect many people during the years to come, not only visitors to this country, but people who work on our behalf and who will be enforcing what will eventually become law throughout our ports and at our borders. I say a big “thank you” to those immigration officers and staff who help to keep this country safe. Even though we might not agree entirely with the details of the Bill when it reaches the statute book, we hope that, in whatever form the Act finally appears, it will help them to do their job better to defend this country and its people.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

The final word will rest with the Chairman. The proceedings in this Standing Committee have been an example of Parliament working at its best. I congratulate those on the main Front Benches on their commitment, work and ability. I include in those thanks the Liberal Democrats. The proceedings have been exceptional. I say to the Whips that it is a pleasure to see the way in which they have sought to work well together for the benefit of Parliament. I hope that each member of the Committee has enjoyed the proceedings. They have certainly been enjoyable from the Chair’s point of view. Like others, I thank my Clerks, in particular, for   the advice and support that they have given to me in the Chair and the advice that they have given to members of the Committee. I also thank the Hansard writers, the police and the Serjeant-at-Arms staff, who have ensured that the Committee proceedings have been effective and efficient. I congratulate all members of the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose at sixteen minutes past Three o’clock.