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Immigration Bill 2013-14
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The Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech on 8 May 2013 and aims to reform Britain's immigration system. It was introduced to the House of Commons by Home Secretary, Theresa May, on 10 October 2013.
Many of the measures in the Bill were discussed prior to the Bill's publication in March 2013, when Theresa May made a statement to the House about the future of the UK Border Agency (UKBA). She intended to split the organisation into two separate entities, an immigration and visa service and an immigration facing law enforcement body.
There would also be several other changes to the IT system used by immigration officers and a clarification of the legal frame-work in which the new bodies would sit. All would require new legislation as part of an Immigration Bill the home secretary confirmed.
During the statement, May highlighted several issues with the current structure of UKBA, its inability to deal with large levels of immigration. She confirmed the body would not have agency status and would sit inside the Home Office and face close scrutiny from an oversight board, chaired by the Home Office permanent secretary.
The purpose of the Bill is to reform immigration law, including provisions to strengthen enforcement powers and protect public services. The main elements include:
- Enabling tough action against businesses that use illegal labour, including more substantial fines
- Regulating migrate access to the NHS and ensuring that temporary migrants make a contribution
- Requiring private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants
- Preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining UK driving licenses
- Ensuring that only those cases that raise the most important immigration issues would have a right of appeal
- Closing gaps in enforcement officer's powers
- Giving full force of legislation to the policy already adopted in the immigration rules
The National Landlords Association welcomed the "government' s commitment to tackling criminals who blight the private-rented sector". But warned illegal immigrants "who are refused housing by reputable landlords will face homelessness or be pushed straight back into the arms of the criminals who deliberately exploit vulnerable people."
The Public and Commercial Services Union accused the government of trying to "stoke up even more fear and suspicion of mi-grants" and said it should focus on creating jobs and tackling tax avoidance.
The Children's Society expressed concern about the impact of restricting essential services on the welfare of children trafficked to the UK.
The National AIDS Trust raised concerns about restricting migrant access to the NHS, and its impact on treating of and testing for HIV.
The Bill held its House of Commons second reading on 22 October 2013. After a short debate, the Bill was read for a second time and passed to a Public Bill Committee.
The first day of committee took place on 29 October 2013. The committee considered evidence from Migration Watch UK, the Residential Landlords Association, the British Medical Association, Crisis and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. Further evidence from Justice, Liberty and the Joint Committee for the Welfare of Immigrants was given during the second day of committee on 31 October 2013.
On the third day of committee (5 November 2013), the committee considered clauses 1-14 and schedules 1-2 of the Bill. Clauses 1-11, 13-14 and schedules 1-2 were agreed to. Clause 12 was agreed to, as amended.. The fourth day of committee took place on 7 November 2013. The committee considered clauses 15-33 and schedule 3 of the Bill. Clauses 15-16, 19-28, 30-33 and schedule 3 were agreed to. Clause 17 and 29 were agreed to, as amended. Two days later, the committee met for the fifth time, considering clauses 34-66 and schedules 4-8 of the Bill. Clauses 34-44, 47, 49-62, 64-66 and schedules 5-7 of the Bill were agreed to. Clauses 45-46, 48, 63 and schedules 4 and 8 were agreed to, as amended. On the sixth day, after a brief debate, the Bill was reported with amendments.
The remaining stages for the Immigration Bill in the House of Commons took place on 30 January 2014. The House of Commons considered amendments to clauses 11, 12, 38, 52, 60, 64 and schedules 3-5 of the Bill. The Bill was passed to the third reading stage, where it was read for the third time and passed to the House of Lords.
The first reading in the Lords was also held on 30 January 2014. The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.
The second reading took place on 10 February 2014. After a short debate, the Bill was read for the second time and passed to a Committee of the Whole House.
On 3 March 2014, the Immigration Bill was debated in committee for the first day in the House of Lords. Peers agreed to government amendments to provide additional welfare protections for families and children undergoing deportation, to allow for restrictions on the detention of unaccompanied children and for time limits on families being held in pre-departure accommodation.
The second day of committee took place on 5 March 2014. The House of Lords considered amendments to the Immigration Bill that looked at how the administrative review process would function and the priority given to children during the legal proceedings of immigration cases. Peers also discussed amendments to provisions in the Bill on appealing to the right to a family and private life in deportation proceedings; none of which were agreed.
The Immigration Bill was debated in committee stage for the third day, on 10 March 2014. Peers debated a group of amendments relating to health charges and tenancy checks, which were withdrawn. There was much debate on the opposition amendment requirement that the landlord scheme for checking immigration documents be piloted first in order there be no unintended consequences. The government sought to allay fears by noting the scheme would be implemented in a phased manner and evaluated.
On the fourth day of committee (12 March 2014), peers discussed probing amendments relating to provisions on residential tenancy agreements and NHS charges, all of which were withdrawn. Clarity was provided on exemptions from healthcare charges.
Peers also debated provisions on access to banking services for migrants.
On the fifth day of consideration in committee of the Immigration Bill (17 March 2014), the opposition questioned whether Clause 39 relating to appeals against penalty notices should stand part of the Bill. Amendments tabled raised concern that the Bill did not address to some of the existing pressures on communities, particularly in the fields of housing and employment.
The opposition also spoke on amendments relating to section four support for asylum seekers; the granting of driving licences; and immigration service providers registration fee to the Immigration Services Commissioner.
The opposition tabled an amendment that required the secretary of state to seek permission from court before making an individual stateless through deprivation of citizenship, which was withdrawn after discussion. Technical amendments concerning the periodic review and oversight of the legislation, and embarkation checks, were also withdrawn.
The Immigration Bill was debated in committee stage for the sixth day, on 19 March 2014.
A range of technical amendments relating to removal tribunals, statelessness and employment regulations were discussed but withdrawn. The Lords also discussed amendments about the support given to those that had reached the UK as asylum seekers once they have turned 18 and about statelessness. The Bill was reported with amendments.
The first day of report took place 1 April 2014. The House of Lords discussed several amendments to the Immigration Bill during the report stage which dealt with the notification of family members of deportation, child detention and introducing a statutory limit on detention to sixty days.
During the second day of report stage debate of the Immigration Bill (3 April 2014), peers discussed amendments relating to student accommodation, landlords checks and charges for health services.
The government announced that a formal consultative panel would be convened to oversee the operation and evaluation of the first phase of this element of the Bill.
Peers were also informed of an imminent announcement regarding regulations on the fair advertising of jobs for immigrants and local workers.
The government suffered two defeats in the House of Lords in the final day of report stage on 7 April 2014, when peers agreed to include within the Immigration Bill the proposal to appoint an independent child trafficking guardian for all potential child victims of trafficking. Amendments to Clause 64, that sought to remove the barrier that would withdraw citizenship from an individual, were also agreed.