Clause 18

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 13th March 2007.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 6:00 pm, 13th March 2007

The amendments standing in my name fall into two categories. Amendments Nos. 88, 89 and 91 are all similar in intent to the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Rochdale, because amendment No. 88 would require the arresting immigration officer in part 6 of the 1999 Act to be a designated officer under the terms of the Bill. Amendment No. 99 is consequential on that amendment. In relation to immigration officers being able to seize cash, amendment No. 91 would insert “designated” into part 5 of the Proceeds of CrimeAct 2002.

As we have just heard, the amendments take us back to different clauses and earlier arguments about the extension of powers to immigration officers. In particular, they refer to the adequacy of training in what we all acknowledge is a difficult job, the officers’ suitability for the job, and underlying all that, the required level of public confidence in the system. Like the hon. Gentleman, I shall be interested to hear the Minister’s views on whether it would be more suitable to give those enforcement powers to highly empowered designated officers.

Amendment No. 93 addresses a different problem about the cash that can be seized under the clause. The amendment says that

“the designated immigration officer shall deliver the seized cash to a constable within 48 hours of its seizure.”

It would also enable the constable to whom the cash was delivered to treat it as cash seized by him under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. In practical terms, it would require an immediate handover of cash from the immigration officer to the police, and its effect would simply be to save taxpayers money.

The police must quite rightly go through tightly drawn and rigorous procedures when handling cash that they have seized during the course of their work. Given those procedures, the expertise of the police and the amount of cash that passes through their hands, few problems arise from such administration, for which we should be thankful. Amendment No. 93 would allow the police to continue the difficult and sensitive work that they do well and in which they are experienced, and the Government would not have to set up a parallel system for immigration officers.