I remind the Committee that with this we are taking the following: Government amendments Nos. 117 to 119.
Government new clause 6—Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Establishment—
(2) The Chief Inspector shall monitor and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Border and Immigration Agency; in particular, the Chief Inspector shall consider and make recommendations about—
(a) consistency of approach within the Border and Immigration Agency,
(b) the practice and performance of the Border and Immigration Agency compared to other persons doing similar things,
(c) practice and procedure in making decisions,
(d) the treatment of claimants and applicants,
(e) certification under section 94 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (c. 41) (unfounded claim),
(f) compliance with law about discrimination in the exercise of functions, including reliance on section 19D of the Race Relations Act 1976 (c. 74) (exception for immigration functions),
(g) practice and procedure in relation to the exercise of enforcement powers (including powers of arrest, entry, search and seizure),
(h) the provision of information,
(i) the handling of complaints, and
(j) the content of information about conditions in countries outside the United Kingdom which the Secretary of State compiles and makes available, for purposes connected with immigration and asylum, to immigration officers and other officials.
(3) In this section “the Border and Immigration Agency” means—
(a) immigration officers, and
(b) other officials of the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State, in respect of functions relating to immigration, asylum or nationality.
(4) The Chief Inspector shall not aim to investigate individual cases (although this subsection does not prevent the Chief Inspector from considering or drawing conclusions about an individual case for the purpose of, or in the context of, considering a general issue).’.
And the following amendment thereto: (a), Leave out subsection (4) and insert—
‘(4) The Chief Inspector shall have the power to investigate individual cases.’.
Government new clause 7—Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Chief Inspector: supplemental.
Government new clause 8—Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Reports—
‘(1) The Chief Inspector shall report in writing to the Secretary of State—
(a) once each calendar year, in relation to the performance of the functions under section [Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Establishment] generally, and
(b) at other times as requested by the Secretary of State in relation to specified matters.
(2) The Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament a copy of any report received under subsection (1).
(3) But a copy may omit material if the Secretary of State thinks that its publication—
(a) is undesirable for reasons of national security, or
(b) might jeopardise an individual’s safety.’.
And the following amendment thereto: (a), after ‘State’, insert ‘and the Information Commissioner’.
Government new clause 9—Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Plans.
Government new clause 10—Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Relationship with other bodies: general.
Government new clause 11—Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Relationship with other bodies: non-interference notices.
Government new clause 12—Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Abolition of other bodies.
Government new clause 13—Border and Immigration Inspectorate: Prescribed matters.
Government new clause 14—Senior President of Tribunals.
When we adjourned, I was dealing with my amendment to new clause 8 and specifically with the Minister’s reason for thinking it unnecessary for the Information Commissioner to have some kind of oversight of material that should be deleted from the report given to Parliament by the proposed new inspectorate. I was about to say that I found his explanation somewhat unconvincing. It appeared to rely on the fact that rather than have the Information Commissioner exercise some kind of oversight in advance, it would always be possible for him to do so after the publication of the report.
That is simply implausible. By definition, the material that had been kept out by the Home Secretary would, at least on the surface, have been kept out for reasons either of the personal security of individuals or of national security. In that case it is hard to see how in practice the Information Commissioner would have access to that information, still less that anyone could make a successful freedom of information request that might trigger some activity by the Information Commissioner. I just did not follow why the Minister thought that that would be an effective second line of defence of the ability to scrutinise the material that the Home Secretary thought was unsuitable to be given to Parliament. As with my amendment to new clause 6, I hope to press my amendment to new clause 8 to a vote.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his amendments. They have given us the opportunity to explore one or two issues in some helpful detail. My concern remains that the new arrangements that we are putting in place can conduct their business efficiently and effectively, without being drowned by bits of paper from Government Departments seeking pre-clearance from the Information Commissioner before we put things into the public domain, particularly where they relate to issues of personal security or national security. On the other hand, I do not want the new regulator to be snowed under with cases put up by people who are simply trying to avoid removal or deportation from this country. We are broadly in a similar place. I will reflect on his comments before thinking through whether further Government amendments should be brought forward. I understand that the hon. Gentleman wants to press the amendments to a vote in order that I do not forget that point.
Amendments made: No. 117, in schedule, page 25, line 7, column 2, at beginning insert—
No. 118, in schedule, page 25, line 8, column 2, at beginning insert—
No. 119, in schedule, page 25, line 12, at end insert—
‘Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007
In section 43(3) the word “and” after paragraph (c).’.