Clause 45

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

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality) 4:30 pm, 20th March 2007

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.