Clause 2

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality) 5:15 pm, 6th March 2007

The nub of schedule 2 of the 1971 Act—the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for not having memorised the details of the Act, as it was passed not long after I was born—is that those who are arrest-trained are able to pursue and arrest foreign nationals. The point that I want to underline is that there is an inconsistency between the Committee’s argument that only those who have satisfied the Home Secretary as fit and proper people are able to detain people at a port, but that anybody can then undertake hot pursuit. Those who are fleeing from a port are more rather than less likely to be individuals who will create difficulties. Therefore, if anything, we should argue that there is an even stronger case for saying that a designated officer should be the only officer who should be given that task.

The hon. Member for Ashford made an entirely reasonable point in the later stages of his argument. It is essential that the immigration service understands what the right number of designated officers should be at different ports. We heard Tony Smith, the director of border control, say last week that he thought that in the first instance about 25 per cent. of immigration officers should be designated. That is across the entire service, which is not, of course, to say that 25 per cent. at every port should be designated, so I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has a point in suggesting that it might make more sense for 100 per cent. of the immigration officers to be designated at some smaller ports.

Larger ports, such as Heathrow, have quite robust and extensive detention facilities, so being able to ensure that a greater fraction of immigration officers is designated and able to undertake hot pursuit at smaller ports may be a sensible and reasonable operational consideration.