Clause 2

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Paul Rowen Paul Rowen Shadow Minister, Transport 4:45 pm, 6th March 2007

May I apologise, Mr. Amess, for missing the start of the sitting? I had to attend my Select Committee in order to raise a question.

My party does not support the amendment. We believe, as the Minister suggests, that the powers of a three-hour limit are more than adequate given that we are asking immigration officers only to detain someone and then call the police. On most occasions, the police will be on site and will arrive fairly speedily. I cannot envisage a situation in which an immigration officer will detain someone for longer than that; we are not talking about such people being questioned or interrogated.

The provision is designed primarily to deal with the al-Qaeda suspect who leaves the country in a burqa. If an immigration officer suspects someone of attempting to slip out of the country, this power will allow them to be detained. That is right and proper. If we go beyond three hours, we come back to the earlier argument about whether we should have a border force or whether we should continue to have a separate police force and immigration service. I might agree that a border force would be more effective, but that is not what we are discussing. Given that we are dealing with a very narrow clause about the powers of designated immigration officers, three hours is more than adequate.