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 Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:00 pm, 15th March 2007

That would depend on a number of factors, not least that person’s behaviour in prison. It is not something on which I can give the hon. Gentleman an answer in years or months, as he is probably aware. I accept that he listened to the evidence. We have not only listened to the evidence but we had a significant amount of discussion on the matter while constructing the Bill. Like all those who gave evidence, we recognise the crucial significance of dealing with illegal employers, and particularly the notion of “knowingly.” That brings me to the points made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley.

There are civil penalties for those who are careless and employ an illegal worker but do not do so knowingly. Employing illegal workers is a serious matter—a criminal offence with a criminal conviction. A prison sentence of two years is significant and we should not lose sight of the fact that an unlimited fine can also be applied. On that basis, and because we do not have evidence that four years would be a greater deterrent than two, we are not able to support the amendment. I urge hon. Members to support the clause as it stands.