Clause 7 - Restriction on exercising functions in relation to individual cases

Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 27th October 2015.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

Clause 7 prevents the director getting involved in individual cases. This is to allow the enforcement bodies to preserve their operational independence, a theme that was also highlighted in earlier contributions on the Bill. It is not appropriate for the director to have the power to influence decisions about the enforcement action to be taken against individual businesses. However, the clause allows the director to consider individual cases where these provide useful information in relation to general issues and to inform the director’s strategy or other work. Sometimes the individual parable, or the experiences of an individual can be important to understanding the reality of the abuses that take place. It is in that context that the clause has been introduced; we do not seek to encroach on the operational independence of other agencies in pursuing cases against particular employers or in particular circumstances.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I have, as it were, a genuine question; perhaps assurance on this will do the trick. At the moment, clause 7(1) would prevent the director making a recommendation after completion of a case, whatever legal proceedings were contemplated. Therefore, it may be over-narrow. In other words, the director may see a completed individual case and want to make a recommendation about whether it was good, bad or indifferent.

I can see the point in a provision that prevents interference in ongoing proceedings or the carrying out of functions by other bodies. A simple assurance or explanation may help, but at the moment the clause may be read as preventing a recommendation after the event about a particularly good way of doing something or a problem that needed to be avoided in future.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

It will be open to the director, in looking at individual cases, to make broader recommendations on strategy or the manner in which agencies conduct their duties. We have to be careful, which is why we have structured the director role in this way, that there is operational independence for each of the agencies to pursue a case using their expertise and their chosen manner.

The position is more strategic. The director should not be drawn into how an agency should or should not have acted in a specific case. It is still open to the director to look at individual circumstances and cases, hence my earlier comment, and to make recommendations for the future. I do not think that that strays in relation to the language that we have here, into making a recommendation in an individual case; that would be to second guess the operational thinking of the different agencies. That is the intent behind the drafting, and I hope that is helpful.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 7 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.