Clause 28

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 20th March 2007.

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Photo of James Clappison James Clappison Conservative, Hertsmere 10:30 am, 20th March 2007

I beg to move amendment No. 56, in page 14, line 32, at end add—

‘(8) A person convicted of an offence and made subject to a deportation order either under the provisions of this section or otherwise may not be awarded compensation in respect of any period spent in custody following their conviction, whether the period in custody formed part of their sentence or not.’.

The purpose of the amendment is to place a bar on offenders made subject to a deportation order receiving compensation. Part of the background to it is that Lin Homer, the director general of the immigration and nationality directorate, recently wrote to the Chairman of the Select Committee on Home Affairs, the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), on the subject of foreign prisoners facing deportation. She told him that

“since 1 April 2006 the Department has paid or payments are being processed to 9 claimants and the sum total of these taken together is £55,000...Typically, compensation has been paid out in these cases due to technical deficiencies around serving the detainee with appropriate legal documents.”

The amendment would prevent any prisoner rightfully convicted from receiving compensation in respect of time spent in custody. Two points support that proposition: first, that the prisoners are the architects of their own misfortune, and whatever else might happen to them and whatever other rights they enjoy, they have only themselves to blame for committing offences. Secondly—and even more saliently—for them to receive compensation is unacceptable to the general public, and particularly to the victims of their offending. They must find the receipt of compensation by the perpetrators most offensive—not least because the victims of the crimes might not receive any compensation themselves. It is unlikely, in many cases, that the offenders will have the means to pay compensation to their victims.

If the victims have to use the criminal injuries compensation scheme for compensation, they will find that its ambit is very limited and that the amounts of compensation that are paid—and that is not applicable in every case—are often relatively modest, even by the standards of today’s compensation culture. That is one part of the legal world where the compensation culture does not seem to have taken root. I invite Members to consider the tariff set down by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority—I think that most people would come to the conclusion that it is somewhat modest.

It is unacceptable that rightfully convicted foreign offenders receive compensation. I believe that the Government will welcome the provision where the operation of deportation is concerned because, with the best will in the world, it does not always run smoothly, as the Minister knows. There are sometimes difficulties regarding the country to which the person is to be deported. Sometimes, for their convenience, the Government do not want to be put under the pressure of facing a claim for compensation, in respect of decisions that they take about the fate of individual prisoners. The courts might come to a different  conclusion under the relevant treaty provisions and decide that compensation is payable.

It is hard to see circumstances in which the public will find it acceptable that those criminals should receive compensation. If the Minister is not with me on that, will he tell me exactly why not and if there is any legal reason why a bar on compensation for foreign prisoners cannot be put in place, or if there is a policy reason why this cannot be done, and if so, what that is? I hope that this is a way of solving a problem that the Government have come up against in the past and might come up against in the future, and that they will welcome the amendment.