Absolutely. As we heard in evidence from several experts, social cohesion will be affected by such measures.
Clause 19 further extends the powers of those who work at our airports and ports of entry. It will allow them to curtail leave, rather than simply determine whether leave has been given and act accordingly. It will create a nervous, unpleasant environment for those who have the correct paperwork and have gone through the correct process. Due to the new power, they will still have a nervous wait to find out whether they are able to pass through the gates and live and work here. Although this measure may affect only a small number of people, we need to be concerned about the effect that our fears about illegal migration have on people who have the right to live and work here.
Amendment 209, which is supported by Liberty, attempts to limit the speculative searches that are conducted by certain authorities to determine immigration status. As has been detailed and discussed, schedule 2, paragraph 2 of the 1971 Act sets out a power that is ostensibly to deal with individuals on arrival in the UK for the purpose of determining whether they have or should be given leave to enter or remain, but it has been used by the Home Office as justification for conducting speculative, in-country spot checks involving consensual interviews. The amendment would limit that power to examination at the point of entry.
The power to conduct stop-and-searches away from the confines of a point of entry derives from a decades-old case, Singh v. Hammond, when the Court of Appeal concluded that such a search can take place away from the place of entry if there is suspicion that the person is here illegally. That is all well and good, but the power has been somewhat abused. Home Office immigration officers have been conducting intrusive searches when they believe that a person of foreign origin is nervous about being in the presence of an immigration official. Such behaviour is detailed in the “Enforcement instructions and guidance” booklet. Chapter 31, in particular, highlights the need to curtail that sort of behaviour.
In considering the amendment, we should note that there is no free-standing right to stop and search people to establish their immigration status. I know the Government are keen to secure strong social cohesion in our communities, but such intrusive stop-and-searches have no regard for community relations. They should worry us all, and we should take action on them by passing the amendment.