Skip to main content

Foreign Criminals (Removal)

Volume 564: debated on Monday 10 June 2013

2. What steps she is taking to prevent abuse of article 8 of the European convention on human rights in respect of the removal of foreign criminals. (158490)

Last July, we changed the immigration rules to ensure that, under article 8, the rights of society are properly balanced against the individual rights of foreign national offenders. The rules received the unanimous support of this House. Unfortunately, some judges are not applying the rules as Parliament intended, and our Immigration Bill will give the full force of primary legislation to them.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his answer. What more can he do to try to ensure that judges strike the proper balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of society, which are sometimes under threat from them? Can he persuade judges to listen to the will of Parliament?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that. Of course this House thought that that is exactly what it had done, as it sent a very clear message to judges about the balance that this House, on behalf of society, had struck to put the rights of the innocent first. Judges have not got the message, which is why we will legislate to make sure that it is reflected in the law.

Given what the Minister has just said, why on earth was the number of foreign criminals deported in 2011 just 4,522, whereas in the last year of the Labour Government it was 5,528? The Government are failing on this, and it is little to do with what he has said. Given that one of the best ways of making sure that suspected criminals are deported from this country is the European arrest warrant, which extradites them elsewhere, why on earth are the Government thinking of withdrawing from it?

The hon. Gentleman should know that this is about exactly the reason I set out; he will know, if he has done his research, that between 2011 and 2012 there was a significant increase, of more than 1,000, in the number of appeals made by criminals to prevent their deportation. That is exactly why we need to take action, and it is another area we will deal with in the Immigration Bill.

May I congratulate my hon. Friend and the Home Secretary on the determination with which they have pursued this matter? I invite my hon. Friend to recall the remarks made by the Prime Minister last week in answer to me, when he expressed great concern about the European Court of Human Rights, which has been subverted from its original intention. Are the Government still prepared that the United Kingdom should secede, because the British people are absolutely fed up with this Court?

My hon. Friend will know that the Government have laid out our position clearly. I suspect that the issue he mentions—what happens to the Human Rights Act and with this country’s relationship with the European Court—will be dealt with in debate at the general election.