Clause 28

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 20th March 2007.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality) 10:45 am, 20th March 2007

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Hertsmere for his exercise in lifting me off hooks that I find myself on in my day job. I am enormously sympathetic to the ambitions of the amendment. The hon. Gentleman, as a member of the Home Affairs Committee, has followed the evidence on this question in some detail in both the evidence sessions and the written correspondence that the director general of the immigration and nationality directorate has provided.

The points that I would make fall into two halves. First, IND should not be operating a business in such a way that results in actions being taken that then create claims for compensation downstream. I am doing this from memory, but I believe that those nine cases were some time ago and it was a deficiency in IND’s technical process at that time that led to the papers being served inappropriately. That simply should not happen. It is a further argument for much stronger oversight of the way that IND operates its enforcement capability across its business. These are very often situations that simply should not be allowed to arise.

At the moment individuals have the defence of the courts if they are being held. It is quite permissible for somebody to apply to the AIT for an immigration bail hearing. There are judicial remedies such as the ability to seek judicial review or habeas corpus protection, if an individual believes that they are being unlawfully detained. It is perfectly possible for the individual to invoke the right of the courts. It is down to the courts to decide whether we are detaining someone lawfully or not. If we are detaining someone lawfully, they will not be entitled to compensation, but if we are detaining people unlawfully, the courts should let people out. I would like to be able to deport people faster to certain parts of the world. However, we need only look at what is happening in Zimbabwe, for example, to see some of the arguments for why enforced returns are difficult.

In my office, we think that there are few, if any, no-go zones for deportations. The hon. Member for Monmouth is right that parts of the world were traditionally thought of as hard to remove to, but to where, through the efforts of my noble Friend Lord Triesman, we are now opening up routes back; Somaliland is a very good example. I have recently received an enormous amount of correspondence about an enforced charter return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, because people were saying that it is not a safe place to return people to. However, the DRC is a landmass the size of western Europe. There are parts of that country that are perfectly safe and where international evidence shows that it is perfectly safe to remove people to, but sometimes the court will arrive at a different view. That is why the AIT   is currently reviewing whether we should be allowed to return people forcibly to Zimbabwe. We continue with voluntary returns, but the courts have currently put a bar on forced returns.