Clause 19 - Powers in connection with examination, detention and removal

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 3rd November 2015.

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Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General 2:15 pm, 3rd November 2015

The hon. Gentleman’s interpretation is interesting. I am sure it would be an attractive submission to make were the issue to be revisited, particularly in litigation. It is nearly 30 years since that case. Since then, the Home Office has relied on it. There has been no attempt by a Government of any colour to redefine things and go back to what he would describe as the original 1971 position. There must be a very good public policy reason for that; that reason is simply that it is entirely reasonable to allow the immigration authorities to have a little more time and space, based upon a reasonable suspicion, in which they can question a person who they reasonably suspect might be an illegal immigrant. The published guidance reflects the Singh v. Hammond judgment. It makes it clear that before any inquiry begins, there has to be reasonable suspicion.

My concern is that if the power of examination is limited only to the point of entry, we could have—perversely—an increase in people being arrested, because the power to ask questions is, as I said, not a power of arrest, but a different type of power. It allows people to give a reasonable explanation before we get to the stage of any apprehension or arrest, which I think is a good thing. I would not want to see a perverse situation where, in effect, the immigration authorities are shooting first and asking questions afterwards. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would agree that that sort of approach would definitely inflame the situation and lead to the perverse consequences that we all worry about.