Clause 40

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 20th 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 12:15 pm, 20th March 2007

It is unnecessary and disproportionate because relevant identity documents are more likely to be found at the home of the individual arrested, or where the individual was when arrested. However, in cases where a person is not a British citizen and may be liable to be deported, in principle, where the Secretary of State has deemed their deportation to be conducive to the public good, or where the person has been recommended for deportation by a court following conviction for an imprisonable offence, such persons may be liable for deportation even if they do not fit the threshold in criteria set out in our clauses on automatic deportation.

In amendment No. 152, the hon. Gentleman asks about the purpose. That is, indeed, to be able to facilitate deportation at an appropriate time by ensuring that when they enter the criminal justice system we are able to establish at an early stage the nationality of an individual who is suspected of not being a British citizen. Clause 40 gives powers to search for nationality documents but does not have bearing on powers for deportation, whether they exist under this Bill or not. This is about establishing nationality where necessary so that deportation can take place in appropriate cases at a later stage.

On amendment No. 149, we feel that a decision has to be taken about how proportionate the power is, and about what evidence there is of the need to widen that power. The evidence is that the scope of the power as drafted will be appropriate and proportionate, but I also point out to the hon. Gentleman that, following legislation, we intend to run a number of pilots. Clearly, that will be instructive on how these powers and their use are working operationally. Should there be an issue about scope, I am sure that we will acquire information from those pilots that could be looked at again in future. However, on the clause before us, we are convinced that we have got it about right in terms of the proportionality of the power and in terms of ensuring that we meet our responsibilities under article 8 of the ECHR.

I have addressed the amendments, which I understand are probing amendments. I also understand the hon. Gentleman’s concern that we are able to search appropriately for evidence of nationality; like him, we understand the importance of acquiring that evidence as early as possible so that deportation, if appropriate, is also possible later in the process. With that, I hope that the hon. Gentleman is able to withdraw his amendments.