New Clause 1 - Detention of persons – exempted persons

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 10th November 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 4:30 pm, 10th November 2015

Indefinite detention implies detention that cannot be brought to an end. For reasons of bail and the relevant principles in common law, the detention has to be linked to the ability to remove.

If we look at the cohort likely to be in detention for longer, the vast majority are foreign national offenders. That is the reality we are dealing with. There might be challenges that we are working through on identification, so that they may get the relevant travel documentation, or they might take other measures to prevent their removal. There are a number of challenging policy issues in this area, but I underline the policy principles that exist in respect of why detention is there and why it is linked to removal. Equally, I underline the relevant safeguards.

Hon. Members might say that non-compliant cases could be added to the regulation that sets out cases where the 28-day limit does not apply, but the use of the detention power is increasingly focused on non-compliant individuals to ensure their removal. In reality, even if the clause was founded in that way, there would be little impact if non-compliant cases were added to the list.

I recognise what hon. Members have said about ending the detention of children for immigration purposes. I am proud that the Government have introduced measures to ensure that the routine detention of children under immigration powers is used only in very, very limited circumstances. Equally, we do not detain individuals for age-assessment purposes. In cases in which an individual is held in an immigration removal centre and doubts arise as to whether they are an adult, we aim to release them immediately into local authority care, pending an age assessment.

I recognise that we are discussing a controversial policy area, but I underline the fact that we are dealing with the details. There are a range of public policy views and objectives that need to be advanced, but ultimately there are clear safeguards in the system. We will continue to reflect carefully on the issues of vulnerability, but I hope that, given those assurances, the hon. Member for Sheffield Central is minded to withdraw the new clause.