New Clause 15 - Supply of information to Secretary of State

Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 10th November 2015.

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‘(1) Section 20 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (supply of information to Secretary of State) is amended in accordance with subsections (2) to (10).

(2) For the heading substitute “Power to supply information etc to Secretary of State”.

(3) In subsection (1) for paragraphs (a) to (f) substitute—

“(a) a public authority, or

(b) any specified person, for purposes specified in relation to that person.”

(4) In subsection (1A) in each of paragraphs (a) and (b) for “a person listed in subsection (1) or someone acting on his behalf” substitute “a public authority or someone acting on behalf of a public authority”.

(5) After subsection (1A) insert—

“(1B) This section does not apply to—

(a) information which is held by the Crown Prosecution Service, or

(b) a document or article which comes into the possession of, or is discovered by, the Crown Prosecution Service, or someone acting on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service,

if section 40 of the UK Borders Act 2007 applies to the information, document or article.”

(6) After subsection (2A) insert—

“(2B) Subsection (2A)(a) does not affect any other power of the Secretary of State to retain a document or article.”

(7) In subsection (3) after paragraph (d) insert—

“(da) anything else that is done in connection with the exercise of a function under any of the Immigration Acts;”.

(8) After subsection (3) insert—

“(3A) “Public authority” means a person with functions of a public nature but does not include—

(a) Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs,

(b) either House of Parliament or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in Parliament,

(c) the Scottish Parliament or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in the Scottish Parliament,

(d) the National Assembly for Wales or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in that Assembly, or

(e) the Northern Ireland Assembly or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in that Assembly.”

(9) Omit subsection (4).

(10) After subsection (6) insert—

“(7) Nothing in this section authorises information, a document or an article to be supplied if to do so would contravene a restriction on the disclosure of information (however imposed).”

(11) After section 20 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 insert—

“20A Duty to supply nationality documents to Secretary of State

(1) This section applies to a nationality document which the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds for believing is lawfully in the possession of a person listed in Schedule A1.

(2) The Secretary of State may direct the person to supply the document to the Secretary of State if the Secretary of State suspects that—

(a) a person to whom the document relates may be liable to removal from the United Kingdom in accordance with a provision of the Immigration Acts, and

(b) the document may facilitate the removal.

(3) A person to whom a direction is given must, as soon as is practicable, supply the document to the Secretary of State.

(4) If the document was originally created in hard copy form and the person possesses the original document, it must be supplied to the Secretary of State unless it is required by the person for the performance of any of the person’s functions.

(5) If the original document is required by the person for the performance of any of the person’s functions—

(a) the person must, as soon as is practicable, supply a copy of the document to the Secretary of State, and

(b) if subsequently the person no longer requires the original document, the person must supply it to the Secretary of State as soon as is practicable after it is no longer required.

(6) Subsection (5)(b) does not apply if the Secretary of State notifies the person that the original document is no longer required.

(7) If subsection (5) applies the person may make a copy of the original document before supplying it to the Secretary of State.

(8) The Secretary of State may retain a nationality document supplied under this section while the Secretary of State suspects that—

(a) a person to whom the document relates may be liable to removal from the United Kingdom in accordance with a provision of the Immigration Acts, and

(b) retention of the document may facilitate the removal.

(9) Subsection (8) does not affect any other power of the Secretary of State to retain a document.

(10) The Secretary of State may dispose of a nationality document supplied under this section in such manner as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate.

(11) Nothing in this section authorises or requires a document to be supplied if to do so would contravene a restriction on the disclosure of information (however imposed).

(12) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend Schedule A1 so as to add, modify or remove a reference to a person or description of person.

(13) Regulations under subsection (12) may not amend Schedule A1 so as to apply this section to—

(a) either House of Parliament or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in Parliament,

(b) the Scottish Parliament or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in the Scottish Parliament,

(c) the National Assembly for Wales or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in that Assembly, or

(d) the Northern Ireland Assembly or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in that Assembly.

(14) In this section “nationality document” means a document which might—

(a) establish a person’s identity, nationality or citizenship, or

(b) indicate the place from which a person has travelled to the United Kingdom or to which a person is proposing to go.”

(12) In section 166 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (regulations and orders)—

(a) after subsection (5) insert—

“(5A) No regulations under section 20A(12) which amend Schedule A1 so as to—

(a) add a reference to a person or description of person, or

(b) modify a reference to a person or description of person otherwise than in consequence of a change of name or transfer of functions,

are to be made unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.”, and

(b) in subsection (6), before the “or” at the end of paragraph (a) insert—

“(ab) under section 20A(12) and which falls within subsection (5A),”.’

(13) Before Schedule 1 to the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 insert the Schedule A1 set out in Schedule (Duty to supply nationality documents to Secretary of State: persons to whom duty applies).”—(The Solicitor General.)

This amendment expands the information gateway in section 20 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 for the voluntary supply of information to the Secretary of State for immigration purposes. It also places a duty on authorities listed in new Schedule A1 to that Act (see NS2) to supply nationality documents to the Secretary of State where directed to do so.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government new schedule 2—Duty to supply nationality documents to Secretary of State: persons to whom duty applies.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

The new clause expands the existing information gateway in section 20 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 for the voluntary supply of information to the Secretary of State for immigration purposes. It also places a duty on the authorities listed in new schedule 2 to supply nationality documents to the Secretary of State where directed to do so.

At the moment, in addition to common-law data-sharing powers, section 20 of the 1999 Act allows for information and articles from specified public authorities, such as the police and the National Crime Agency, to be supplied to the Secretary of State for immigration purposes. We would like to ensure that other public authorities that may find themselves in possession of information or documents that may be used for immigration purposes have clear statutory authority to pass those to the Home Office. The new clause will ensure that any public authority, other than those expressly excluded, may provide information and documents to the Secretary of State for immigration purposes, should it wish to do so.

We also want the Secretary of State to be able to require the provision of nationality documents that are lawfully in the possession of specified public authorities. That power would be exercisable where the Secretary of State suspects that a person to whom the document relates may be liable to removal from the United Kingdom in accordance with a provision of the Immigration Acts and that the document may facilitate the removal.

I want to make it abundantly clear that the new clause does not require the listed bodies to collect data or information on behalf of the Secretary of State or to seize documents from people, as it applies only where the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds for believing that a document is already lawfully in a body’s possession—that is to say, that it holds the document for the purposes of its functions.

To give an example, a person may be arrested for overstaying his visa in the UK. Immigration officers search his home for a passport or other documentation that will help with obtaining an emergency travel document from his embassy. They do not find it, but they do discover a letter to him from his local council. An immigration officer can then contact the council and ask whether it has taken a copy of that person’s passport or ID card, or a record of the number. Under the new powers, if the council has such a document, the immigration officer may direct that it is sent to the relevant immigration team. If the council confirms that it does not have such a document, there is no further action for it to take.

In a nutshell, we believe that it is important that the public sector works together to achieve effective immigration control. For those reasons, I ask that new clause 15 and new schedule 2 stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 15 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.