New Clause 1 - Detention of persons – exempted persons

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 10th November 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 4:15 pm, 10th November 2015

I can certainly tell the hon. Gentleman that I wish to ensure that we publish the report and the Government’s response before the Bill completes its passage through Parliament. Equally, I want to ensure that we come back when we can. It is important that we reflect properly on the report and the recommendations, which we are actively doing.

During our debate on bail, I made it clear that vulnerable people should not normally be detained under immigration powers. I reiterate that point now. This approach is our published policy. We have a clear list of individuals who are not normally suitable for detention unless there are exceptional circumstances in play. The list includes pregnant women, the elderly, and those who have been identified by the competent authority under the national referral mechanism as victims of trafficking and torture. It is unlawful to act in a way that is contrary to our published policy.

The hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras raised the issue of mental health and release from detention. He asked whether there would ever be circumstances where a high-risk individual may need to be released from immigration detention because of their poor mental health. I can confirm that there will be some cases involving mental health issues where an individual should not be detained under immigration powers, no matter how high the risk and no matter how imminent the removal. In those cases, the right course of action will normally be to transfer to the appropriate authorities.

The new clause lacks definitions of the relevant exclusions and, as such, would be open to broad interpretation, so it contains weaknesses. Such an approach could leave the Home Office open to damages. For example, if a woman was pregnant at the point of detention but not aware of the fact or chose not to disclose her pregnancy, the Home Office could be sued for damages after the fact. It is an unfortunate reality that, in some cases,  individuals will not comply with the requirement to leave the UK and their removal must be enforced, which often requires a short period of detention.