Clause 20

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 15th March 2007.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 2:30 pm, 15th March 2007

I beg the Committee to pay attention, as amendment No. 92 gives effect to amendment No. 93, which was considered with clause 18. I am sure the Minister will know that, as he will have remembered every detail of our debates on that clause. However, I will briefly repeat the points that we made about the amendments to clause 18.

The intention of the amendment is to save taxpayers’ money, as it would remove the unnecessary duplication of immigration officers rightly having to go through the various difficult and bureaucratic procedures involved in handling cash that has been seized. All members of the Committee will agree that it is a particularly sensitive area in which the reputation of the police is high, and we should do nothing that might affect it. The amendments would let the police do the work that they do at present, without replicating the systems for the immigration service.

Amendment No. 94 is similarly consequential on the previous amendments, and it would remove the powers of forfeiture from immigration officers. If the other amendments were accepted, the cash would be handed over within 48 hours, so the powers in subsection (2)(g) would not be necessary.

In a previous debate, the Minister made an interesting point about whether it would be operationally difficult to hand over the cash within 48 hours. It would be unfortunate if that were the case, given what we have heard about the tremendous integration of all the different services. On reflection, the Minister’s argument was not particularly compelling. The amendment would be a practical way forward that could remove a small risk that would be added to the system if the clause remained as drafted.