Clause 16

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 13th March 2007.

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Photo of Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:30 pm, 13th March 2007

If my memory serves me correctly, the sanctions are a fine of up to £5,000 and a prison sentence. They will operate as an effective deterrent to anyone who seeks to avoid meeting the conditions on their leave.

I know that Liberty has said that residency conditions could breach article 8, “Right to respect for private and family life”, and article 11, “Freedom of assembly and association”, of the European convention on human rights. The hon. Member for Ashford was seeking reassurance on those concerns. I can assure him that that is not the case. Some interference with articles 8 and 11 is permitted when it is in accordance with the law in the interests of the permissible aim of the state and when it is proportionate to that aim. Case law has established that the maintenance of effective immigration control and public safety are permissible aims and that decisions taken pursuant to those aims should be proportionate in all but a minority of exceptional cases.

In response to amendment No. 86, tabled by the hon. Member for Ashford, and the question of reporting to Parliament on the operation of clause 16, I have some  sympathy with what he said about the need to report to Parliament on these matters. We intend to be open about the operation of this clause and about the work of the new border and immigration agency as a whole. In this instance, I do not think that effective post-legislative scrutiny would be best achieved by the requirement of an individual report, which, from the wording of amendment No. 86, would be a one-off.

I understand that these amendments were probably written before our new clauses on the independent inspectorate were tabled. The introduction of that inspectorate will ensure that Parliament can scrutinise the work of the new agency. The remit of the independent inspectorate will include a number of key themes relevant to the operation of the border and immigration agency, including practice and procedure in making decisions, consistency of approach, the information it provides and the treatment of those that use its services. The inspectorate will report annually to the Secretary of State, who will have to lay that report before Parliament. Therefore the terms of the independent inspectorate’s remit meet the objectives of the amendment and I hope that, following that reassurance, it will be withdrawn.