Clause 19

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 15th March 2007.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 10:00 am, 15th March 2007

I am grateful for the Under-Secretary’s last remark. It will be interesting to know how long it will be before we have the impact assessment, and how detailed it will be. I am glad that she has taken note of our point.

The Under-Secretary started by committing the Government to transparency and openness, a deathbed conversion that will be very welcome if it turns out to be true. However, in the context of those remarks, I observe that she carefully avoided answering the salient point that my hon. Friends and I made about whether the migration advisory committee will advise on the numbers of people who will be allowed to enter in any year.

The hon. Lady returned repeatedly to the point that Ministers, not the migration advisory committee, would take the final decision. Of course that is the case; advisory committees advise, Ministers decide. But on what basis are Ministers making that decision? Will the advisory committee really say, “We need more nurses, teachers or IT technicians this year,” or will it say, “Overall, we reckon the number for this year is x”? That is absolutely central to the workings of the migration advisory committee and the Under-Secretary notably failed to respond to that point.