Clause 39

Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 10th November 2015.

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Meaning of “public authority”

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 37 to 39.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

The clause sets out which public authorities must ensure that each of their workers in customer-facing roles speak fluent English or, in Wales, fluent English or Welsh. Hon. Members will understand that it is important to define the scope of the duty as broadly as possible so that we make sure that all members of the public receive advice, help and support in fluent English or Welsh, regardless of the nature of the public service.

Subsection (1) defines public authorities as any organisation that carries out functions of a public nature. Subsection (2) clarifies that that does not include other bodies that carry out functions on behalf of a public authority. For example, it excludes a private company that appears to the customer to be part of the local council’s services even though the service is actually provided by an independent organisation through a contract with the local authority. Subsections (3) and (4) clarify that this duty will apply in Scotland only if a public authority exercises functions which relate to a reserved matter.

Subsection (5) limits the scope of the bodies included in this duty very slightly to exclude the security services, the Secret Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Headquarters. Subsection (6) provides that a relevant Minister may add, modify or remove the name of a body in relation to this list. The term “a relevant Minister” is defined in clause 44 to include either the Secretary of State or the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The regulation-making power to amend the list of public authorities must be done in accordance with the provisions that relate to regulations in clause 53.

That brings me to Government amendments 37 to 39. These technical amendments ensure that clause 53 applies to regulations made by either the Secretary of State or the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster under part 7.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 39accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.