Clause 1

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 11:45 am, 6th March 2007

I am grateful to the Minister for clarifying what he meant, but I disagree with his clarification. First, as a matter of principle, I become extremely uneasy when representatives of the Executive say that they want to change something but that it would be inefficient to allow Parliament to approve it. After all, that is what we are here for. It is why we are sent to this place: to approve or disapprove of proposals by the Executive. It seems to me that, if the Minister would listen to his own words, he would recognise in private moments that they are not an acceptable expression of the balance of power between the Executive and the legislature in this system.

However, I should like to return from the theoretical to the practical. The Minister argued that, if good practice were to appear anywhere in the system, the need to have parliamentary approval for a code of practice would, in some way, inhibit the immigration  service from spreading that good practice around. I just do not believe that argument; in practice, that would not happen. Clearly, any code of practice would be written with a degree of generality that would guide officers into proper streams of activity as they carried out their job daily, but it would not restrict them from producing innovations or adopting innovations that had been successful at other ports or airports.

The Minister is setting up a straw man to knock down; I do not think that there would be any reduction in operational efficiency. Also, the doctrine that he has espoused, of unnecessary delay being caused by the need for parliamentary approval of regulations, is quite dangerous.

Having aired those views, I do not wish to press the amendment to a vote, so I will beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment. However, I hope that the Minister has taken note of my remarks.