Clause 28

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 15th March 2007.

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Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley 4:15 pm, 15th March 2007

This is a complex area, with which the Bill tries to deal with too few words, unless discretion is given to the courts. A lot of different circumstances could arise. Reference has been made to EEA citizens, but the Bill refers only to British citizens. The legal position of EEA citizens with a legal right to be here is unclear. Furthermore, it is entirely unclear whether suspended sentences count as periods of imprisonment.

We face an odd situation. The clause provides for a simple process of automatic deportation when certain conditions are satisfied. Where else should that apply? What approach should we take? In a couple of words, we could specify whether any sentence of imprisonment, or one of a year or more, would be necessary. Alternatively, would it be best to leave that decision to the discretion of the judge who can consider all the issues on the hearing at first instance? In effect, the judge could apply a number of sanctions: fines, imprisonment—suspended or otherwise—or he could press the button for deportation, although, obviously, the Secretary of State would actually order the deportation. Under the previous system, the Secretary of State could consider deportation. The newer one says that it will ensue, unless the Secretary of State pulls back.

Let us consider the example of a repeat burglar, which was a good one. Clearly, we do not want such a person in this country: they have come in on a visitor’s  visa and carried out burglaries. There is no reason for that person to remain in this country and, frankly, there is no reason to lock them up for three years and then deport them when we could lock them up for six months, save ourselves a lot of money and then deport them.