Clause 26

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

As we discussed under the previous clause, there were in fact 42 convictions last year, so that shows the scale of what we are dealing with. We shall seek to increase that. As the hon. Gentleman says, this is one of the fastest growing areas of global organised crime, if not the fastest growing. We hope that the powers that we are taking and the ability to so extend our reach will make a big difference—a 50 per cent. increase in convictions. The figure of 42 is for last year, and we want the level of convictions to be much higher in future.

I shall give an example of how the new powers might help by giving the hon. Gentleman a scenario. A Singaporean national seeks leave to enter the United Kingdom as a business visitor. The immigration officer is not satisfied with the stated reasons for the visit and thus decides to interview the passenger further. At the same time, a female passenger presents a Singaporean passport to another immigration officer and is found to be an imposter. Evidence is obtained showing that the female imposter and the male Singaporean national have arrived on the same flight and hold consecutive tickets. Checks confirm that the passengers have a joint booking and that the tickets were paid for using a credit card in the name of the male Singaporean national. Airline staff in Singapore confirm that the passengers checked in together and claimed to be newly-weds. They were allocated adjoining seats and checked in their luggage under the same name.

The Singaporean male did an act to facilitate the arrival of the female imposter, but he could not currently be charged with facilitation as all the above acts took place abroad and he is not within our jurisdiction as a non-British national. Under the new legislation, we would for the first time be able to take account of those acts of facilitation in making a case against that person. In the past we have only been able to do that in respect of British nationals.

I also draw the hon. Gentleman’s attention to the use of extradition in relation to these measures. With that, I ask the Committee to support the clause.