Clause 69 - Extent

Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 2nd November 2021.

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Amendment made: 120, in clause 69, page 58, line 28, at end insert—

‘(4) A power under any provision listed in subsection (5) may be exercised so as to extend, with or without modifications, to any of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man any amendment made by any of the following provisions to legislation to which the power relates—

(a) section 37 (illegal entry and similar offences), insofar as it relates to the insertion of subsection (C1A) into section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971;

(b) section(Electronic travel authorisations)(electronic travel authorisations);

(c) section(Liability of carriers)(liability of carriers).

(5) Those provisions are—

(a) section 36 of the Immigration Act 1971;

(b) section 170(7) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999;

(c) section 163(4) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.”

This amendment amends clause 69 (extent) to provide that the amendments made by the provisions listed in new subsection (4) may be extended to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man under the Order in Council provisions listed in new subsection (5).

Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I beg to move amendment 186, in clause 69, page 58, line 28, at end insert—

‘(4) Part 4 (modern slavery) only extends to Scotland to the extent that a motion has been approved by the Scottish Parliament, bringing it into force in Scotland.

(5) Part 4 (modern slavery) only extends to Northern Ireland to the extent that a motion has been approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly, bringing it into force in Northern Ireland.”

Under this amendment, Part 4 of the Bill would not enter into force in Scotland or Northern Ireland until the relevant devolved legislatures had given their consent.

I am sorry to have to take the Committee back to part 4 and modern slavery and trafficking. The amendment relates to a similar issue that I raised in connection with age assessments, because I tend to believe that certain provisions in part 4 encroach on devolved competences in relation to Scotland and Northern Ireland. Given the way that the part 4 is drafted, the Government have recognised that modern slavery and trafficking is a matter that is devolved to both those jurisdictions. That is why certain clauses do not impact on them. However, in this amendment, we are suggesting simply that the Government should go further. For example, in my view, the recovery period is clearly within the competency of the Scottish Government and I think, also, the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, clause 49 interferes with the start and end points of that period. Clauses 46 and 47 trample all over the idea that identification of victims of slavery and trafficking are devolved matters. So too does clause 51. For those reasons, I am prompting the Minister on what engagement there has been and is ongoing and whether a legislative consent motion should be requested from the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly before the Bill is passed.

Photo of Craig Whittaker Craig Whittaker Assistant Whip, The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury 4:15 pm, 2nd November 2021

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we have been engaging with the devolved Administrations, including at ministerial level, over the course of the Bill. I want to reiterate our commitment to continuing to work with the devolved Administrations as we look to operationalise the measures to ensure the policies work for the whole of the UK. Contrary to the spirit of working together across the UK, amendment 186 could lead to the scenario where decisions in reserved areas would operate differently across the UK, thereby reducing the clarity the Bill seeks to provide for victims and decision makers. In line with the devolved memorandum of understanding, the UK Government will continue to engage with the devolved Administrations both at ministerial and official level to ensure that we have time to fully understand any implications and adhere to our priority to safeguard victims. I urge the hon. Member to withdraw his amendment.

On clause 69, I begin by setting out the devolution position. Almost all of the Bill is about nationality, immigration and asylum, which are reserved matters to the UK Parliament. Almost all of the Bill, therefore, extends UK wide.

Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark

The Minister says “almost all” the provisions. Can he outline which are not?

Photo of Craig Whittaker Craig Whittaker Assistant Whip, The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

It is very kind of the hon. Gentleman to interject before I had finished my sentence. Some provisions will apply only to England and Wales. Those provisions are about matters that are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but are reserved to the UK Parliament in England and Wales. They are civil legal aid, support for victims of modern slavery offences and the early release scheme.

Turning to the extent outside the UK, part 1— nationality provisions—will also extend to the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, and also the British overseas territories. That follows discussions between the UK Government, the devolved Administrations, the Crown dependencies and the British overseas territories. I want to clarify that we intend to table a further amendment to add a permissive extent clause on Report. That will enable the Crown dependencies to adopt other parts of the Bill that are relevant to them.

Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am grateful to the Minister for his response and for his assurances that engagement has been taking place and is ongoing. I accept that the amendment is not practicable, because it impinges on reserved matters. The other side of the coin is also true and this was about provoking a discussion about which parts of the Bill the Home Office has identified as relating to devolved matters. The Minister has listed some, which is helpful, but I do not think he has completely listed all that would apply and should be described as devolved. For example, age assessments quite clearly relate in some circumstances to devolved functions regarding children. More relevant to this amendment debate is modern slavery, as I said—for example, the length of the recovery and reflection period and various other matters in relation to identification of victims are, absolutely and definitely, devolved. That is why we have separate modern slavery and trafficking legislation in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

I have done what I needed to do, which is to suggest that the Home Office has a look at whether a legislative consent memorandum is required, but I will leave it there. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 69, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.