Schedule 8 - Maritime enforcement

Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 10th November 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 11:15 am, 10th November 2015

I beg to move amendment 105, in schedule 8, page 107, line 34, leave out sub-paragraphs (ii) and (iii).

This amendment makes minor drafting changes by omitting the unnecessary alterations to the conjunctions in section 25B(3) Immigration Act 1971.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 106 to 112.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

Amendments 105 to 112 are technical corrections to the drafting of the Bill. I will provide a brief explanation.

The lead amendment makes minor drafting changes by omitting the unnecessary alterations to the conjunctions in section 25B(3) of the Immigration Act 1971. Amendment 106 makes a minor amendment to correct the reference to which paragraph requires amending. Amendment 107 ensures that immigration officers must seek authorisation from the Secretary of State before exercising the maritime powers in relation to a foreign ship, or a ship registered under the law of a relevant territory, within UK territorial waters adjacent to Northern Ireland. That aligns the provision with the equivalent provisions applicable to UK territorial waters adjacent to England, Wales and Scotland. Amendment 108 removes the superfluous definition of “home state” and has no  substantive effect. Amendments 109, 110, 111 and 112 are all minor drafting changes to ensure consistency of language throughout the schedule.

Amendment 105 agreed to.

Amendments made: 106, in schedule 8, page 108, line 9, leave out “28A” and insert “28A(3)”.

This minor amendment substitutes “28A” for “28A(3)” to correct the reference to which paragraph requires amending.

Amendment 107, in schedule 8, page 109, line 26, after “before” insert “an immigration officer,”.—(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment ensures that immigration officers must seek authorisation from the Secretary of State prior to exercising the maritime powers in relation to a foreign ship or a ship registered under the law of a relevant territory, within UK territorial waters adjacent to Northern Ireland. This aligns the provision with the equivalent provisions applicable to UK territorial waters adjacent to England, Wales and Scotland.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I beg to move amendment 229, page 109, line 35, in schedule 8, at beginning insert—

‘( ) Hot pursuit can only be commenced when a ship is in United Kingdom waters.”

Probing amendment to provide the Minister with an opportunity to confirm that hot pursuit will only start when the ship is in territorial waters, as required by Article 111 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The amendment is a probing one and, following our debate, we might not have to press it to a Division. There are provisions on hot pursuit in article 111 of the UN convention on the law of the sea. We tabled the amendment to seek assurance that the schedule, which is on maritime enforcement, is aligned with that international obligation, providing the Minister with the opportunity to confirm that hot pursuit will start only when a ship is in UK territorial waters. If that is the case, the provisions in the schedule will align with article 111 of the UN convention and the amendment is unnecessary.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

The right of hot pursuit from territorial waters into international waters has long formed part of UK common law and reflects the provisions in article 111 of the UN convention. The Bill preserves the common law position by virtue of new section 28P(10) of the Immigration Act 1971, inserted by schedule 8. I can therefore confirm that under the maritime powers in the Bill, hot pursuit will commence only when a ship is in territorial or internal waters, as permitted by article 111 of the UN convention. In the light of that assurance, I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman is minded to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am, and beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: 108, in schedule 8, page 111, leave out lines 21 to 24.—(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment removes the superfluous definition of “home state” and has no substantive effect.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I beg to move amendment 236, in schedule 8, page 113, line 29, at end insert—

“(3A) If in the course of questioning or otherwise a person expresses to or in the presence of an immigration officer, a fear of return that may be a claim for asylum then the person shall be taken to the UK for that case to be considered.”

Probing amendment to seek assurances the powers granted in the Bill will not be used to push back asylum seekers at sea.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 237, in schedule 8, page 118, line 7, at end insert—

“(3A) If in the course of questioning or otherwise a person expresses to or in the presence of an immigration officer, a fear of return that may be a claim for asylum then the person shall be taken to the UK for that case to be considered.”

See explanatory note for Amendment 236.

Amendment 238, in schedule 8, page 122, line 29, at end insert—

“(3A) If in the course of questioning or otherwise a person expresses to or in the presence of an immigration officer, a fear of return that may be a claim for asylum then the person shall be taken to the UK for that case to be considered.”

See explanatory note for Amendment 236.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I will deal with the amendments in the group together, as amendments 237 and 238 would simply apply the provisions of amendment 236 to Scotland and to Northern Ireland. Again, it may be that the Minister’s remarks mean that there is no need to press the amendment.

Our concern is that the powers in the schedule for immigration officers to detain or search those found on boats in UK territorial waters should not be used to push back asylum seekers arriving by boat. As things stand, claims for asylum can be made in UK territorial waters, and if made are dealt with in accordance with the appropriate procedures. There is a wealth of support for that remaining the position. The amendment is probing, and if the Committee is given an assurance on the issue I have raised, I may not need to cite that great wealth of support.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

I will give a brief response to the hon. and learned Gentleman’s probing amendment. The powers in the Bill do not permit officers to turn vessels back. Under the power, vessels may be diverted only to a port in the UK. Upon arrival in the UK an individual wishing to claim asylum may do so and will be processed in the ordinary way. As is the case for all persons arriving in the UK, they will be subject to an immigration examination under the Immigration Act once they have arrived on land, and may also be detained under relevant provisions pending an immigration decision. If they are assessed as being an illegal entrant or attempted illegal entrant, they will be processed under paragraph 9 of schedule 2 to the 1971 Act, and removed accordingly.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I am grateful to the Minister for that assurance. What he has just said will appear on the record of the proceedings in Committee. In those circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Chair adjourned the Committee without Question put (Standing Order No. 88).

Adjourned till this day at Two o’clock.