I am grateful to the Minister for the manner in which he has replied to the debate. My hope throughout has been that he would at least indicate a preparedness to think constructively about the amendments, which highlight problems that must be tackled and would improve the Bill if they were implemented.
I want to get one little disagreement out of the way and then I shall move on to more constructive matters. The Minister deftly fudged the distinction between facing deportation and automatic deportation. When the Home Secretary was speaking about facing deportation he was clearly talking about these provisions for automatic deportation. There would have been no point in his making those statements if he was going to leave the existing system as it was in the spring of last year.
We all know about the existing provisions for deportation; one could say that somebody was facing deportation in those circumstances. But when the Home Secretary talked about facing deportation he meant automatic deportation, as is clear from the context and the words that he used. However, we will not get far by going over that ground again. I am trying to improve what is presented as automatic deportation.
On the person who is here illegally, the Minister is quite right; I was talking about the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth. The amendments that address people who are illegally present in the country relate to the commission of an offence. However, I would ask the Minister to reflect on that. I listened to the example of the lady who comes to this country in the sad circumstances of a marriage that does not turn out to be happy and has problems of domestic violence; if she does not have leave to remain, such a person would be liable none the less for administrative removal.
Such a person would have rights to have that case considered, but I believe that those rights would be on all fours with what is contained as a protection in the existing Bill—namely, the right to have the case considered against the background of the European convention. Such a case would be covered by the exception of the person’s rights under that convention. As I have already pointed out, if the sentence that the person received happened to be more than 12 months, quite likely in those circumstances, that person would face automatic deportation in any case. I would invite the Minister to think about that.
Would the Minister also think carefully about the position of repeat offenders? He has been trying to find examples which might give a little wriggle room on these questions. His point was about repeat offences which were a long time apart, of somebody who commits an offence as a young man and then later commits another offence.
I would respectfully remind the Minister that this amendment is about somebody who is being sentenced on the same occasion for a number of offences. It is not a question of repeat court appearances; it is about someone who is sentenced on the same occasion and the court chooses to impose consecutive sentences for each offence.