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 that extremely useful clarification.

The hon. Lady said that the removal of discretion would reduce the error rate in the appeals system under the clause. It is hard to believe that any Minister could make that assertion with a straight face, given the constant stream of abject failures that result from an over-reliance on technology; this may well be another one.

My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough mentioned the health applications, which is the most recent example, but one does not need to go beyond the Home Office to know that it has happened before. The search for an automatic, form-filling solution in which everything will go through perfectly smoothly is a chimera. The Government have failed in that search many, many times and the clause is yet another example of it. I fear that, once again, human misery will be increased by that search, as it has been before. Far too often, the individuals involved find themselves faced by a system that appears to them to be Kafkaesque in its inability to respond to individual human circumstances. If the clause ends up by establishing yet another system like that, it will not just be Ministers who regret it but everyone, particularly those who get sucked into having to use this appeal system. I put that warning on the record to Ministers.