Clause 3

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

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Photo of Paul Rowen Paul Rowen Shadow Minister, Transport 6:00 pm, 6th March 2007

I have listened to what the two hon. Gentlemen have said about the amendments, and I believe that they are in danger of attributing to the Bill a range of faults and misdemeanours that might apply to our immigration system in general.

We need to go back to clause 1 to see what we are dealing with, which is a very narrow power—an extension of the immigration officer’s existing power to detain someone at a port. Whether or not there are too many asylum seekers in this country, and whether or not those people are clogging up the system and causing problems for genuine asylum seekers, is, in my view, totally irrelevant. We are dealing with a situation where someone fails to stop when a designated immigration officer asks them to do so and then commits an offence against that immigration officer. As the hon. Member for Hertsmere has said, such people may well be British nationals. It is clearly nonsense to talk about deportation, if it means sending someone back to Liverpool, Birmingham or wherever for committing a misdemeanour. We must concentrate on the law that we are being asked to consider, so that does not work.

If we are talking about increasing the offence, there are already sufficient powers on the statute book. For example, I believe that if someone physically assaults an immigration officer, they can be charged and dealt with under existing laws. Will the Minister confirm that?