Clause 1

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 10:45 am, 6th March 2007

I was interested in and, in part, gratified by the Minister’s response. He recognises the need for better oversight than exists at present or will be available through the Bill. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere and the hon. Member for Rochdale said, that is a widespread concern on the Opposition Benches and beyond. The Minister will have heard Keith Best of the Immigration Advisory Service say in his oral evidence that one of the material aspects of accountability, to make it transparent and acceptable, is independence. Without that element of independence, he feared that any system would fall down and would not gain public confidence.

I am sure that the Minister is as interested as anyone in ensuring that there is proper public confidence in the system. With that in mind, I am gratified that he will be introducing Government amendments to allow us to look at his proposals for inspection of the immigration system. I hope that before we conclude the debate on these amendments, he will let us know when that will happen, because I have been around long enough to have seen Bills radically changed in their lordships’ House with only a short amount of time allowed for the Bill’s remaining stages on Third Reading in the Commons. In such cases, legislation is passed that the House of Commons has effectively not scrutinised at all. I am sure that he wants to avoid that happening in this case, not least because he will have seen the widespread concerns. I hope that he can give us some reassurance that this House will have a decent opportunity to look at his proposals.