Schedule 3 - Repeals

Part of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 25th October 2005.

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Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office 10:00 am, 25th October 2005

I shall make a few general remarks, and then I shall try to deal with each issue in turn.

The Bill is about immigration, asylum and nationality law, and the new clauses are about changes to that law in terms of what is happening now in our wider counter-terrorism initiative. The idea that we subscribe in any way to the notion that asylum seekers are problematic, and that it is appropriate to include these amendments in the Bill because asylum seekers are inextricably linked to terrorism, is   nonsense. People should understand that this is the appropriate place to amend those parts of the legislation in terms of the wider backdrop of what we are doing. I am therefore more than happy to associate myself with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Woking about uncoupling the spurious notion that asylum seeker equals terrorist equals problem. That is nonsense. It is just that this is the appropriate place to put the amendments in terms of the scope of the Bill. It would not have been appropriate, given the scope of the Terrorism Bill, to include them in that Bill. They sit more appropriately in this Bill, but the idea of a causal link is wrong.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) for moving his probing amendments in the way that he did. As the hon. Gentleman accepted, his amendment concerning statelessness is not needed, because that important issue is dealt with elsewhere.

In the wider sense, and with reference to my introductory remarks, in legislation such as this there is, and will continue to be, a debate on whether to include a pithy little remark that one hopes will catch everything, such as in the 1981 legislation initially and then in 2002, in terms of a test, or a partial, indicative list of what might form unacceptable behaviour but that is not meant to be exhaustive, or a list that is as exhaustive as possible. As I said at the beginning of the debate, in as much as we can align what results from our consideration of the Bill with what is going on in the Terrorism Bill, we will try to do so, because that makes perfect sense. I have no doubt that this is one area in which matters will evolve. I hope that we will reach a common place where people accept that pithy little remarks à la 1981 and 2002 are no longer enough. One has to go further than that, but trying to be exhaustive in the Bill is probably not appropriate.

I shall give one example. If I were to accept the hon. Gentleman's amendment, the notion of terrorist murder would not form part of unacceptable behaviour. That is not the intent behind his amendment but, as it is drafted, that is what would result. I accept the spirit of the amendments. This is an evolving matter that we may return to and, in that spirit, I ask that the amendments are not pressed to a Division.