Clause 1

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality) 11:30 am, 6th March 2007

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reminding me that I must follow up on my commitment last week to respond to the hon. Member for Monmouth.

If we accept that there are problems with the application of PACE to the functions conducted by immigration officers, not least the practical costs that we would impose on ports that would be required to make PACE facilities available, it would still leave us with the question of what is the most appropriate and transparent form of oversight and scrutiny of the immigration service—an issue to which the hon. Member for Peterborough rightly drew attention.

An important triple check is in place to provide guidance to steer immigration officers in carrying out their duties, and to scrutinise their conduct when doing so. It is important for independent monitoring boards and for the prison and probation ombudsman and Her Majesty’s chief inspector of prisons to review detention facilities, and to provide detailed and frequent reports to Ministers and to the House about what they find, and for the Home Office and the IND to state clearly how they intend to respond to them.

Secondly, section 41 of the Police and Justice Act 2006 provides for an augmented role for the IPCC in specified functions. I had the privilege of taking the Bill through its Report stage in that heady fortnight in May last year during my brief sojourn as the Minister with responsibility for police and counter-terrorism. It is important that the scope of that remit is not just something that the Home Office or the IND makes up, but that it is subject to public consultation. Having secured Royal Assent to the 2006 Act, we plan to embark on that consultation to open up a debate on what precisely the IPCC’s remit should be. As I said, we hope those regulations will be commenced, debated and scrutinised by October.

The third check is the single regulator on which my arguments greatly rely: I underline that it is important that the regulator is given the chance to scrutinise the enforcement activities that immigration officers perform in relation to foreign nationals and British citizens.