Clause 1

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality) 12:00 pm, 6th March 2007

I am grateful for the thoughtful way in which the hon. Members for Rochdale and for Ashford spoke to the amendment. I am particularly grateful to the hon. Member for Ashford for his sympathy about some of the decisions that we have to make and for the reminder about the number of predecessors that I have enjoyed as an Immigration Minister. Indeed, the Home Secretary advises me that when I go along to meetings I am to introduce myself as the Immigration Minister for now. I am not quite sure what he means by that.

My remarks fall under three headings. My first heading comes by way of clarification. I will not roam too widely on the subject of refugee children, because I understand that the provisions of the clause do not apply to such children. I anticipate that they will apply to British children. The powers that we are asking for in clauses 1 to 4 relate to the detention not of foreign nationals—those powers are already on the books in the Immigration Act 1971—but of British children.

There is also a helpful distinction to draw between the immigration service and the police. The police have a far more wide-ranging set of responsibilities than the immigration service. Police officers may arrest children, and they may have to visit children in their home. They may be investigating crimes that involve the abuse of children. My final remark under this heading is that it is a highly unusual for immigration officers to detain British children. My expectation would be that the number would be extremely low.