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

I am grateful to all the hon. Members who took part in this useful debate, which has helped to tease out some of the important issues that  underline the extension of powers in this part of the Bill. I am sure that will be a common theme in our debates on subsequent amendments.

I will make it clear at the outset that while it is interesting to hear analogies between the new power and stop-and-search, this is not a stop-and-search power; it is a different type of power. It is important to draw that distinction, because while it is important to talk about tensions in communities and to understand the reality of the circumstances in which immigration officials operate, it would be wrong to hurtle helter-skelter down that route without analysing precisely what we are talking about.

We are talking about a power to ask questions of an individual that has to be based on a reasonable suspicion. It is therefore not a speculative fishing exercise and it should never be based on the random prejudice of what someone looks like. Immigration officers must comply with their duties under the Equality Act 2010. Stopping and examining individuals by means of racial profiling is not in accordance with their public sector equality duty pursuant to section 149 of the Act. They are bound, like any other public body, to stay within the law.