UK Borders Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 27th February 2007.

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Photo of James Clappison James Clappison Conservative, Hertsmere 10:30 am, 27th February 2007

I associate myself with the remark that it is a pleasure to serve under you, Mr. Illsley, and I speak in support of the amendment to the programme motion.

This is not as much of an innovation for me as it appears to be for other members of the Committee, because I served on the Committee considering the Bill that became the Immigration Act 1999. Under the old rules of the House we had the then fairly unusual procedure of evidence-taking sessions beforehand. The present Leader of the House, then the Home Secretary, gave evidence to that Committee. I well remember his saying that he regarded the Bill as the final word. I think that he said that sorting out the immigration system was the greatest challenge then facing him as Home Secretary and that he hoped that the Bill would be the final word.

What appeared to be important then was that different groups should have the opportunity to give evidence, that the Committee should conduct itself at such a pace that it could digest that evidence; and that Ministers should have the opportunity to reflect on what the witnesses had said. My one slight criticism is that we heard some good evidence on that Committee,   but unfortunately not all of it—very little of it, in fact—was reflected in changes in the Bill, because the Government became very resistant to changing any dot or comma of it. I hope that this Committee will proceed in such a way and with such timing that the Government can actually think about the evidence that it hears and then make the changes to the Bill that I apprehend may be necessary to make it a better Bill.