Clause 9 - Offence of employing illegal worker

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 27th October 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 4:30 pm, 27th October 2015

It will depend on the circumstances. It is about the distinction between negligence and having reasonable cause to believe. The legal tests are slightly different, and I do not want to hasten into issues of law as I am sure that the hon. and learned Member for  Holborn and St Pancras will be well enough equipped with his knowledge and expertise in those matters to be able to underline the distinction, as will the Solicitor General. I will not hasten to stray into matters of law with such august representatives in the room.

At the moment, if a document that looks legitimate and real is presented to someone, that is often a defence in relation to the negligence argument. The employer has not been negligent. They have checked. We are not trying to make employers, or landlords—we will come on to them, I am sure, under the right to rent—into some sort of extension of immigration enforcement teams. If it is shown that the basic checks have been conducted in good faith, the civil penalty regime would not apply, even on the test of negligence—let alone the criminal sanction in clause 9. On that basis, the measure is an important step forward and fits within the broader enforcement strategy. I hope the clause will stand part of the Bill.