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Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what representations he has received on potential changes to the freight data capture powers given to the police by the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006; (320554)

(2) how many times the freight data capture powers contained within the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 have been used by each police force since the Act came into force.

The requirement for individuals and companies to supply information on the movement of freight is included in Section 33 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. These powers can only be used once the Secretary of State has made an order subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House. Such an order has not yet been made and thus the powers have not so far been introduced.

In autumn 2009, in light of the economic climate, the Home Office concluded that it would not be appropriate to introduce such an order at this time, due to the potential and uncertain impact on industry. The Home Office is working with partners and industry representatives to identify ways that the objectives can be achieved while minimising industry impact.

Since the Act was passed it has become increasingly evident that industry concerns in relations to the costs and other burdens of facilitating this power should be considered fully before secondary legislation is laid before Parliament. Representations have been made from a range of industry representatives and Home Office officials have met a range of these representatives and discussed many of their concerns.

Representations have dealt broadly with the costs of introducing systems which would be able to provide information to the police; the type of information that would be required; the breadth of the information required in relation to the periods covered, and the detail of the information and the operating models for any systems which may be introduced. Representations have also been made in relation to the inclusion of these powers in the Draft Immigration (Simplification) Bill, which would replace the 2006 Act.

The incorporation of s.33 in the new Bill does not represent any change in policy and we remain committed to consult formally with industry before introducing secondary legislation before Parliament.

We are confident that the measures in place for countering the threats to the UK in relation to the movements of goods match the current level of threat and remain mindful of the need to balance the need to facilitate trade while ensuring that our capability to counter this threat remains effective.