Thursday, 15 October 2015

Yet another Immigration Bill

The media hoo-ha over Labour's economic policy gymnastics overshadowed the second reading debate on Theresa May's Immigration Bill on Tuesday. This is the seventh attempt at legislation in the area this century, and yet again it is to be driven through the Commons with a timetable which limits debate.

Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael had only a short time to address some of the flaws in the Bill:

Simply put, the Immigration Bill is not fit for purpose. The refugee crisis is showing no sign of slowing down and not one of the Bill’s 56 clauses looks at finding a solution or easing the pressure on Europe’s borders. For that reason, my right hon. and hon. Friends will oppose it. More than that, the Bill’s starting point is, as the Home Secretary said in her pitch for the leadership at the Tory party conference, that the benefits of immigration are close to zero. That is wrong. Yes, we need to control immigration and to ensure that our public services can cope with growth, but we must never lose sight of the fact that without immigration our NHS would grind to a halt, our economy would falter and we would be far poorer culturally. The Home Secretary has decided it is better to crack down on appeals rather than to get the decision right the first time, to turn landlords into immigration officers rather than to accelerate the introduction of exit checks, and to make failed asylum seekers destitute rather than to support them to get back home.
Time does not permit me to run over the full range of concerns I have about giving the Bill a Second Reading, but I do just want to touch very briefly on one: the continued failure, as the hon. Member for Bradford East (Imran Hussain) highlighted, to deal with immigration detention. There is no other area where we, as a state, deprive members of the public of their liberty without proper judicial supervision and without limit of time. It is outrageous that no action has been taken on that. That is one of the few reasons why it would be timely to have a Bill of this sort. We are awaiting the outcome of the Shaw review. I would like to hear from the Minister in his reply whether that review will be able to inform the House’s consideration of the Bill as it progresses.
Again, we will no doubt have to rely on their Lordships to improve the Bill.

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