Clause 2

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of James Clappison James Clappison Conservative, Hertsmere 4:30 pm, 6th March 2007

I congratulate my hon. Friend on tabling the amendment; he has raised an important subject and I am sympathetic to the arguments that he has advanced.

The onus is on the Minister to explain to us the genesis of the period of three hours. I note, for a start, that that is a maximum period. Looking at the Bill, it is obviously hoped that the police will come as soon as possible and take into their detention the person who has been detained by the immigration officers. However, I wonder why we need to have a maximum period of three hours. The Minister must explain where this period of three hours came from. Did it come from the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, in order to align the powers of immigration officers with those of police officers? Did it come about as a result of consultation? Where exactly has the period of three hours come from, bearing in mind that it is a maximum figure and one would naturally want to give immigration officers as much flexibility as is reasonable in such circumstances? Obviously, balances must be struck, but if we are designating immigration officers, training them and, as was described this morning, going to all the trouble that we are going to—apparently rightly—one would ask why this limit of three hours has been set. Perhaps the Minister would also explain what will happen if immigration officers hold a person for three hours and a police officer is not able to attend within that period of three hours. We all know about the many demands that are made on the police these days, so we need to hear from the Minister as to what would happen in such circumstances. The onus is on the Minister to explain where the figure of three hours comes from.