Schedule 5 - Immigration bail

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:14 pm on 3rd November 2015.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 4:14 pm, 3rd November 2015

I think I had just got pretty much to the end of amendment 211, dealing with additional conditions. The concern here is that there has been the ability, obviously, to impose conditions for a significant period of time under an understood regime. That now includes a power to impose additional conditions that are unspecified. At the moment, as I understand it—unless the Minister says otherwise—judicial review is the only opportunity to challenge in many cases. There is a concern about what the likely additional conditions are. What is the need for them, given that the current regime has been in operation for some time, and what assurances can be given on challenging the conditions without going to the High Court through judicial review, which is a long and expensive route and only for those who can get support or otherwise afford to go that route?

I shall take amendments 201 to 203 together. They deal with removing Executive power to override the judiciary on bail conditions, a similar point to the one that I was making before our short adjournment about the Secretary of State’s ability to override the judiciary on detention. These amendments focus on the override relating to conditions, particularly electronic tagging or residence conditions. The point that we make in support of the amendment is that there is not much point in an individual going before a tribunal to argue about conditions of detention, and in the tribunal faithfully going through  the prescribed test on the face of the Bill in an independent way and coming to its own view on the facts of the case, having assessed the individual and the risks, only for the Secretary of State to ignore and override the tribunal’s decision and impose the conditions that the tribunal decided were not appropriate based on the facts of the case.

I shall take amendments 212 to 214 together. They address the different and controversial issue—controversial in the sense that it does not just crop up in the immigration field—of the ability to withhold bail on the basis that it is in the best interests of the individual. In the past, that ability has been used in relation to those with mental health issues, for example, or where there is considered to be a risk of suicide. The powers have been used in other areas—the criminal justice context is the obvious one—to detain someone for their own good, as it is understood or perceived. The provision is certainly wide enough for that unless assurances are given to the contrary. The other example of its use in a criminal justice context is where the person might be vulnerable to attack or abuse, and the detention is for their own protection.