Clause 16

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 13th March 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 4:45 pm, 13th March 2007

If we are not to have a clause stand part debate, I wish to respond to the Minister’s remarks about my amendments. In a sense, there is a reflection of the problem with our debate on this clause: it is almost happening on twin tracks that do not meet each other. The Minister is dealing with the current Government intention of the clause, which is to deal with foreign prisoners or former prisoners and unaccompanied children, but that is not what the Bill says; as the Minister has honestly admitted, the Bill could be used for different and much wider groups of people—indeed, it could be used for any group of people.

The amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Rochdale and I sought in part to pin down this or future Governments on what this clause could achieve. It is worth pausing to think about that, because the Minister has acknowledged that the provision could be applied to anyone. It has already been stretched; in the original regulatory impact assessment it was supposed to apply only to foreign prisoners, but Ministers then briefed the various interested bodies that it would also apply to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. So,  even before the Bill was discussed the purpose of the clause was being expanded. Who can tell how it will be expanded in the future?

The breadth of the clause means that the use of the powers could not simply be confined to the two particular groups that I mentioned. In their present form, the provisions could be used to impose a curfew requirement on anyone, including someone who is here as a refugee and who has been a model citizen.