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Immigration Bill 2013-14
The Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech on 8 May 2013 and aims to reform Britain's immigration system.
On March 26 home secretary 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
Theresa May has described action against illegal immigration as a "priority" for her department, however, the Bill is not expected to be introduced to Parliament until the autumn.
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.