Clause 1

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 11:15 am, 6th March 2007

I enjoyed the sting in the tail of the hon. Gentleman’s remarks, about affirmative resolutions. I am sure that the Minister will want to respond at the appropriate time, perhaps when he moves the amendments later this week. I am grateful for his response. Obviously he wants designated immigration officers to have proper training, but I sense that he accepts the other half of the thinking behind the amendment, which is about the transparency and the accountability that we all want. I hope that his proposed amendments will achieve that too. One aspect that he did not discuss was the cost. Clearly if we are to have something like 25 per cent. as an initial target for designated immigration officers, the Department must have some figures about what sort of training costs will be needed. I hope that as this Committee progresses we can discuss that too.

The Minister will be aware from submissions that have been made that there is concern not just about the costs of training but about the necessity for it because of the patchy nature of the Department’s current reputation. Members on both side have rightly paid tribute to those on the front line of the immigration service, who work at our ports and airports doing a vital job. The Minister will be aware as anyone that it would be an exaggeration, and indeed untrue, to say that there is huge and widespread public confidence in the IND. The Secretary of State himself famously described it as not fit for purpose. Therefore this combination of proper training and transparency is particularly essential if public confidence in the new system is to be maintained.

I take what the Minister has said at face value. I am sure that he said it in good faith. We will look forward to the Government amendments that will be moved later this week. In eager anticipation of those, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.