Clause 8 - Offence of illegal working

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 4:00 pm, 27th October 2015

If I may, I would like to make a bit of progress.

We are also keen to take action in the Bill to address a genuine gap in the law that currently impedes the Home Office’s ability to address the economic incentives behind illegal work and impairs our clear message that those  engaging in such activity should not profit from it. It is already a criminal offence to enter or remain in the UK illegally, as I have highlighted. However, migrants who require permission to be in the UK but do not have it, such as overstayers, may not be committing a separate offence of working illegally if they engage in paid work, including employment and self-employment. That is the gap for overstayers who go on to work. In other words, they have not come into the country illegally, so the courts do not always regard earnings derived from working illegally as the proceeds of crime when considering cash seizure or asset confiscation cases. The new offence tackles for the first time the difficult issue of those in self-employed occupations.

What is important in the context of the Bill is how the offence links to economic incentives and proceeds of crime legislation. As hon. Members will see, there is a specific reference to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in the clause. I would articulate this as focusing on some of the economic benefits that might be derived. We think that there are benefits in how this is framed to assist immigration enforcement officers in their work, because they have identified this specific element in the course of their activities when seeking the removal of people from this country.