Clause 19

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 7:00 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 7:00 pm, 13th March 2007

Thank you, Mr. Amess. It is not the intention of the points-based system that where there are skills gaps and specialist skills are needed, we are unable to avail ourselves of those specialist skills. Of course that will be possible through the points-based system and we would want to ensure that that was the case. There are situations in which individual skills are required and we need to be able to and will take account of those.

Amendment No. 136 would mean that instead of being laid down in primary legislation, the circumstances in which new evidence would be excluded in an appeal would be contained in regulations. Parliament could not amend such regulations, so there would be a significant reduction in parliamentary scrutiny of the proposed changes to the appeals process. Also according to the amendment, we would have a statutory obligation to consult stakeholders before regulations could be laid.

Secondary legislation would make the appeals system more complicated; our long-term goal is to simplify legislation. Parliamentary procedures, as we have seen during proceedings on this Bill, give interested parties plenty of opportunities to make their views known throughout the legislative process. The involvement of stakeholders is possible at a number of points in the process. For instance, Ministers met  representatives of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association before the Bill was introduced, and ILPA, along with other interested organisations, gave evidence at the recent public evidence session at which the hon. Member for Rochdale was present. Such groups can also lobby MPs, expressing their views on proposals in a Bill and offering amendments.

We have shown in the course of proceedings on this Bill just how much involvement stakeholders can have, so I see no additional benefit from the latter aspect of amendment No. 136. Overall, the amendment would reduce parliamentary scrutiny of the changes to the asylum and immigration tribunal’s jurisdiction, without improving the opportunities that stakeholders have to contribute to the law-making process. I hope that the hon. Gentleman has had sufficient reassurance that he feels able to withdraw amendment No. 136 and not to press amendment No. 132.