Clause 45

UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 20th March 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Exceptions

Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality)

I beg to move amendment No. 29, in clause 45, page 24, line 3, leave out ‘Sections 1 to 4 and 21’ and insert

‘Sections 1 to 4, 21 and 27(1) and (2)’.

Photo of Eric Illsley Eric Illsley Labour, Barnsley Central

with this it will be convenient to consider Government amendments Nos. 30 to 32.

Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality)

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Joan Ryan), flags up an issue on trafficking that did not emerge until after publication of the Bill. The amendment seeks to bring the Bill perfectly in line with our devolution arrangements. It proposes the simple remedy of delimiting the extent of the relevant clauses to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The effect of the amendment is limited. My hon. Friend and I needed some reassurance of what the practical implications would be. The amendment will allow us to preserve the existing situation. If there is people smuggling or human trafficking into the United Kingdom, or from Scotland into England or from England into Scotland, an offence would still be committed in each of those three situations regardless of whether the offence was undertaken by a British national or by a foreign national and of whether the crime was organised in the UK or abroad.

If the clause remains unamended, prosecution of the trafficking offence would need to be undertaken in a court in England. We therefore look to the Scottish Executive, at some time after the elections, to bring forward proposals to ensure that the remit of the Bill, and particularly of clause 45, is extended to Scotland so as to ensure that the offence can be prosecuted in Scottish courts as well as English courts. I am satisfied that there is no practical diminution of our intent to prosecute the offence in the UK. We have devolution arrangements in place, and it is important that Bills passed by the House should be in line with them.

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 4:45 pm, 20th March 2007

The issue of devolution has bedevilled the Bill from the start of its Committee stage almost to the finish. If I understand the Minister, he just said that for the provisions of the Bill to be effective, the Government will have to plead with the Scottish Executive after the elections to pass them.

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I misspoke. I, too, meant to refer to the clause. Presumably, until that happens the protections afforded by the Bill will not be fully available to the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland or, presumably, Scotland. As he said, he will depend on the good will of the Scottish Executive after the Scottish elections to agree to the things that the current Labour-led Scottish Executive has failed to agree to. I find that position, as I have done throughout, a slightly unusual one for a Government to find themselves in. However, many of the provisions of the Bill are useful, so I hope that, whatever the make-up of the Scottish Executive after the Scottish elections, Ministers will find that their powers of persuasion are more effective with the new Executive than they appear to be with the current one.

Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of  devolution. The key issue for me is that the provisions of the Bill will be given effect in the United Kingdom. We will be able to seek and deliver prosecutions under the offences of people trafficking and human smuggling. If the party that I think is going to win the Scottish election does win, it will not be long before the provisions apply in Scotland too.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 30, in clause 45, page 24, line 6, after ‘extend’, insert ‘(subject to subsection (3))’.

No. 31, in clause 45, page 24, line 10, leave out ‘But’.

No. 32, in clause 45, page 24, line 10, after ‘shall’, insert ‘(subject to subsection (1))’.—[Mr. Byrne.]

Clause 45, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 46 ordered to stand part of the Bill.