Clause 1

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of James Clappison James Clappison Conservative, Hertsmere 12:15 pm, 6th March 2007

I rise briefly to support the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford and to reinforce them for the Minister. My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Rochdale have made some important points, which the Minister, who has been very patient, has sought to address. It is important that he does so to ensure that the powers in the Bill are exercised successfully and that the intention that lies behind them is fulfilled. I am confident that it will be, as I have confidence in the immigration officers themselves.

The immigration service is a great asset. During my membership of the Home Affairs Committee, I have visited a number of immigration posts in this country in Dover, Heathrow and several other places and overseas in Nigeria and Ghana. I never fail to be struck by the professionalism of the immigration service and how its officers bring their experience and judgment to bear upon particular situations. That experience and judgment is used in the interests of us all, and those qualities will assist immigration officers in discharging the powers in clause 1.

We already place a great deal of reliance on immigration officers, and I hope that we will value and cherish their experience and judgment, particularly in reaching a decision about admissions to the United Kingdom and granting visas to the UK. It is implicit in the Government’s proposals for a points-based system, which many immigration officers fear will downgrade their role, that there will be a challenge to the immigration service’s independence of experience and judgment. I will not pursue that matter too far now, Mr. Illsley, as we will return to it later, but it will need careful debate. The experience and judgment of immigration officers in dealing with issues on the ground in posts here and overseas is invaluable, and we would be foolish not to take advantage of it.