I will not go through the exhaustive list of provisions. Amendments 199 and 200 attempt to take action on the length of time for which someone can be held in detention, with amendment 199 requiring that bail hearings should be automatic and held on a more regular basis than is currently the case.
The Bill does not discuss the use of detention centres in great detail, and it may not be the time and place to have that debate. However, I hope we can use the scope of the Bill to take action to prevent and reduce the inhumane practice of detaining men, women and children in detention centres for over-long periods of time.
In fact, some of the changes that the UK Government intend to make in schedule 5 may prolong the time for which someone is held in detention. Justice and the Law Society of Scotland have expressed concern that the proposals in schedule 5 will have a significant effect on the ability of the first-tier tribunal to provide an effective safeguard against prolonged detention.
Schedule 5 extends the powers of the Home Secretary to unparalleled and worrying levels. The amendments submitted by my party and by the Labour party aim to take that power back from the Home Secretary and place it back in the hands of the correct and appropriate authorities. We should all be concerned that the Bill would provide the Home Secretary with the power to override a decision that has been made by an independent tribunal court. In its briefing, Justice highlighted the views of Lord Justice Neuberger who claimed:
“A statutory provision which entitles a member of the executive to overrule a decision of the judiciary merely because he does not agree with it would not merely be unique in the laws of the United Kingdom, it would cut across two constitutional principles which are also fundamental components of the rule of law.”
For the second time in a matter of days I find myself agreeing with a Lord, and therefore urge the Minister to accept the amendments.