Clause 22

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 15th March 2007.

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Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley 3:00 pm, 15th March 2007

The amendment goes to the nub of an issue that was raised previously by the trade unions but is also a concern of the CBI. The question is how we enforce immigration regulations. There is an element of consensus in both the trade unions and the employer organisations that we should crack down on those people who intentionally go out to employ undocumented workers—the example cited was supposed to be from Leicestershire.

The challenge is to distinguish between those people and the ones who get trapped in a situation where what is known in one part of the organisation is not necessarily known to the management. The challenge is to identify mens rea—the strategy of going for undocumented workers because they have no employment rights and therefore they can make more money out of them, or potentially not pay taxes and so on.

I am inclined to support this provision on the explanation given, but the challenge actually does not necessarily rest in the Bill. The view of the CBI is that these issues will be addressed in future circumstances. But it is very important indeed that we get the balance on this right; because otherwise one ends up with the situation that Jack Dromey referred to, which causes a lot of problems when you have legitimate employers but the balance between the work force and the employer changes. The subtleties here have a substantial impact.