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Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration

Volume 590: debated on Monday 5 January 2015

I take this opportunity to thank John Vine, who left his post as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration at the end of December. His work has been invaluable in assisting Ministers and improving the operation of the immigration system, and I shall meet his successor once appointed.

Recent National Audit Office figures have shown that the Government’s border management and immigration policies have not stopped 10,649 foreign national offenders sitting in British prisons. One of the Home Secretary’s predecessors lost his job over this issue. A year on from the Department’s latest plan of action on this matter, there is still no real impact on the figures. When will the Home Secretary and a new chief inspector get a grip and deal with the problem properly?

As the Home Secretary has already said, we have got a grip on the issue. We are taking further steps through the operation of the Immigration Act 2014 to ensure that if there are appeals, they are heard outside this country’s jurisdiction, and that article 8—the right to family life—does not trump the ability to remove someone from the UK. It is that work and work across Government that are making sure that we are able to remove foreign national offenders from the UK.

I join the Minister in paying tribute to John Vine for his work as chief inspector of borders and immigration.

The chief inspector’s latest report on British citizenship applications shows that, on the Minister’s watch, scant regard was given by the Department to checks on criminal behaviour, fraud or immigration status. Since that report’s publication, what steps has the Minister taken to check histories and remove citizenship, if appropriate? Will he instigate proper investigation and record keeping? If he will not, a future Labour Government will.

Contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman just stated, the chief inspector was clear that criminal record checks had been carried out in all cases that were examined. We have reminded caseworkers of the need to ensure that the appropriate guidance is adhered to, but I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that the issues identified by the chief inspector arose in large measure from decisions of the last Labour Government to grant leave to people without going through the full requirements. We are still clearing up the mess that they put us in and we are focused on turning the ship around.