Clause 16 - Provision of evidence in support of protection or human rights claim

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 26th October 2021.

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Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) 10:45 am, 26th October 2021

I will develop my remarks a little further. I will come back to some of the points raised in the debate, but to start with I want to get through the rationale behind our thinking on the various amendments before the Committee.

Amendment 37 also fails to fully understand the remit of clause 16. The evidence notice applies solely to evidence in support of protection and human rights claims. The new slavery and trafficking information notice, covered in clause 46, will require a person to provide any information relevant to their status as a victim of modern slavery or trafficking.

On amendment 153, the Government take their responsibility towards those seeking international protection seriously. We recognise that particularly vulnerable claimants and survivors of modern slavery need to be treated with care, dignity and sensitivity. Individuals may be particularly vulnerable as a result of their age, their health, the experiences they have lived through or a range of other factors. It is because these factors can be so wide ranging that I am resisting this amendment.

Clause 16 and the new evidence notice will require those who make a protection or human rights claim to provide evidence in support of their claim before the date specified in the evidence notice. This clause works in parallel with clauses 17 and 23. Where evidence is provided late, claimants will be required to provide reasons for that. Where there are no good reasons for the late provision of evidence, this should result in damage to the claimant’s credibility, and decision makers must have regard to the principle that little weight should be given to that evidence.

By introducing a statutory requirement to provide evidence before a specified date, clause 16 will contribute to the swift resolution of protection and human rights claims, enabling decision makers to consider all the evidence up front and, where appropriate, grant leave. However, we recognise that it may be harder for some people to engage in the process. That may be as a result of trauma they have experienced, a lack of trust in the authorities, or because of the sensitive and personal nature of their claim. That is why clause 16, together with clauses 17 and 23, allows for good reasons why evidence might be provided late. As I say, what constitutes good reasons has not been defined in the Bill. It would be impractical to legislate for every case type where someone may have good reasons for not previously disclosing evidence in relation to their protection claim.