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Illegal Migration Bill

Volume 831: debated on Monday 3 July 2023

Report (2nd Day) (Continued)

Amendment 151A not moved.

Clause 53: Interim remedies

Amendment 152

Moved by

152: Leave out Clause 53

My Lords, the rule of law requires that Ministers are subject to the same rules as everyone else. This includes the possibility of discretionary interim relief in circumstances where courts believe that irreparable harm to one side in any litigation needs to be prevented while both parties await the final determination of an issue. Some noble Lords, including businesspeople and their lawyers, are perhaps more familiar with commercial than human rights litigation. However, the same principle applies. If I propose to dump or destroy the precious cargo entrusted to me because of alleged breaches by my customer, a court must obviously have the power to delay such drastic action pending crucial determinations of fact and law.

However, Clauses 53 and 54 would, first, completely oust the ability of UK courts to issue interim injunctions temporarily preventing a person’s expulsion to potential peril. Secondly, they would allow Ministers to ignore interim measures of the European Court of Human Rights, of the kind issued in the Rwanda case and those currently in place to prevent Russia executing Ukrainian prisoners of war. My Amendments 152 and 153 would remove these clauses, so as to respect domestic courts and the Strasbourg court. They are in no way wrecking amendments, as these courts only very rarely issue such measures against trustworthy, law-respecting jurisdictions such as we have been historically.

Once more, Amendment 152 is essential to most other protections which your Lordships propose. As for Amendment 153, I believe Clause 54 to be a negotiating position on the part of the Government, who are trying to negotiate with the Strasbourg court to improve the fairness of the Rule 39 jurisdiction. This speech was two and a half minutes long, and I beg to move.

My Lords, my noble friend Lady Ludford, who is unable to be here today, has her name to these amendments so I am speaking on her behalf, as it were, and on behalf of these Benches.

I make the general point that interim relief is an intrinsic and sensible part of our law. Injunctions are generally to prevent something happening, to maintain the status quo until there can be thorough consideration of a case. It is that way round because the person who wants to prevent that something happening is at risk of an action which would have a major effect on him—the other way round does not work in the same way. In this case, the action—removal from the UK —would effectively be the end of the story for the claimant and, if not that, it would at least make pursuit of claim from outside the UK very difficult indeed. That is quite different from the depiction we heard last week of a witness on a video link from another room or another building with all the normal support and access to his representatives.

This afternoon, I received an email from the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law—I stress “Bingham” and “rule of law”; noble Lords will note that title—with quite a long summary of a report on this subject which I understand is to be published tomorrow. It concludes that although improvements could be made to the process in the European Court of Human Rights, they do not affect the court’s jurisdiction to indicate binding interim measures. It makes the point that, when states signed up to the European convention, they expressly accepted that:

“In the event of dispute as to whether the Court has jurisdiction, the Court shall decide”.

So as not to detain your Lordships from making another trip to increase your steps through the Lobbies this evening, I will not read the whole of the summary. However, I make the point that the UK Government have proactively promoted the binding force of interim measures, advocating that other states, such as Russia, treat them as binding and comply with them. Given the provenance of that advice, I take it—and I hope your Lordships take it—very seriously.

My Lords, I hope that the Minister when he speaks in a moment will explain what this is intended to deal with. It is only specific to these circumstances; is it that a certain number of lawyers are making a certain amount of money and he thinks that that is not helpful to the policy that the Government intend to put forward?

My Lords, we support my noble friend Lady Chakrabarti in her defence of the rule of law and interim relief in cases involving the alleged expulsion of people to unsafe places. The Government were happy to support the court’s decision not to grant such relief in the current Rwanda cases, but now they want to take away this jurisdiction, forcing more applicants to Strasbourg pending a final UK judicial determination. If the Government are right that Strasbourg interim measures are not binding, Clause 54 is unnecessary. If the European Court of Human Rights is correct that they are binding, our amended Clause 1 should be enough to safeguard international law. With respect to those comments, I urge my noble friend if she is so minded to test the opinion of the House on her Amendment 152, which we would support rather than Amendment 153.

My Lords, the Bill establishes a bespoke claims and appeals process which provides for a person subject to the duty to remove to challenge their removal to a safe third country. The duty to remove will be temporarily suspended while consideration is given to any suspensive claim or appeal resulting from the refusal of that suspensive claim. That is of itself an effective remedy for those subject to the duty to remove, and these measures will ensure that all suspensive claims raised in response to a removal notice under the Bill will receive full judicial scrutiny.

Clause 53 is critical to the success of the Bill in preventing the United Kingdom’s domestic courts from granting interim remedies in relation to legal challenges which would prevent or delay the removal of a person who meets the removal conditions under Clause 2. Were other human rights claims and legal challenges to be made, they would be considered after a person has been removed. Clause 53 provides a necessary and effective safeguard against the endless merry-go-round of legal challenges that those with no right to be here use to thwart their removal.

Amendment 152 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, would incentivise people to obtain injunctions or submit judicial reviews to delay or prevent removal, negating the carefully crafted and balanced provisions we have set out in the Bill, which I have just described. We cannot allow that to happen. The amendment would substantially undermine the Government’s ability promptly to remove those who enter the UK illegally, and our overall objective of stopping the dangerous small-boat crossings.

Amendment 153 similarly seeks to weaken the Bill by striking out Clause 54, which relates to interim measures of the European Court of Human Rights. Let me be clear: it is not the Government’s intention to ignore a Rule 39 interim measure. Indeed, Clause 54 provides a clear framework for a Minister to exercise discretion where a Rule 39 interim measure is indicated. That will mean that a Minister may suspend removal in response to a Rule 39 interim measure but, crucially, is not bound by UK law so to do. This will be dependent on the facts of each case.

As I have said before, the Government take their international obligations very seriously. Nothing in the clause requires the Government to act in breach of international law. I reassure the noble Baroness that reflections within the Strasbourg court are ongoing, and we are closely following the process. We are confident that they will lead to meaningful change.

The inclusion of Clause 54 in the Bill reflects our concerns about the interim measures process. We believe that there needs to be greater transparency and fairness in the process to ensure the proper administration of justice. We cannot allow our ability to control our borders to be undermined by an opaque process which does not give the United Kingdom Government a formal opportunity to make representations or appeal the decision. This process risks derailing our efforts to tackle the people smugglers and stop people from making the dangerous, illegal and unnecessary journeys across the channel.

For the reasons I have set out, I therefore invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment and, if she is minded to test the opinion of the House on Amendment 152 or 153, I strongly urge noble Lords to reject the amendment.

My Lords, I am so grateful to all noble Lords who have stayed. I say to all noble Lords that the length of debate does not indicate its importance. I am particularly grateful to the Minister for his indication that productive discussions are still in train between His Majesty’s Government and the Strasbourg jurisdiction; I take from that a suggestion to reinforce my suspicion that Clause 54 was always a negotiating position to attempt to improve the due process position in relation to interim measures in the Strasbourg court. On that basis, I want to allow the Government more time to proceed with those negotiations before Third Reading.

However, in relation to Clause 53 and my Amendment 152, on depriving His Majesty’s domestic judges of the inherent jurisdiction to grant interim relief, that jurisdiction does not come from any government or party statute; it comes from the common law. To deprive His Majesty’s judges of the ability to grant interim relief is anathema to our common-law system. With gratitude, again, to all noble Lords who stayed—perhaps even more to those who did not speak than to those who did—I would like to test the opinion of the House.

Clause 54: Interim measures of the European Court of Human Rights

Amendment 153 not moved.

Clause 55: Legal aid

Amendment 154

Moved by

154: Clause 55, page 58, line 19, at end insert—

“(6) The Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/435 (N.I. 10)) is amended in accordance with subsections (7) and (8).(7) In Article 14 (decisions about provision of funded services), after paragraph (2A) insert—“(2AA) But paragraph (2A) does not apply to a grant of representation for the purposes of—(a) proceedings before the Upper Tribunal mentioned in paragraph 2(ic) of Schedule 2 (proceedings under or for the purposes of the Illegal Migration Act 2023),(b) proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission under or by virtue of section 2AA of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 (jurisdiction: appeals in relation to the Illegal Migration Act 2023), or under rules under section 5 of that Act made for the purposes of that section, or(c) an appeal to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court in respect of proceedings mentioned in sub-paragraph (a) or (b).”(8) In paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 (civil legal services: exceptions to excluded services), after paragraph (ib) insert—“(ic) proceedings before the Upper Tribunal under any of sections 43 to 48 of the Illegal Migration Act 2023, or under Tribunal Procedure Rules made for the purposes of any of those sections,(id) proceedings before the Upper Tribunal on an application for judicial review within the meaning of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 (see section 4(6) of that Act), where the application relates to that Act,”(9) The Civil Legal Services (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 (S.R. (N.I.) 2015 No. 195) are amended in accordance with subsections (10) to (14).(10) In regulation 2 (interpretation), in the definition of “representation (higher courts)”, in paragraph (f), after “2(ib)” insert “, (ic) or (id)”.(11) In regulation 31 (applications for advice and assistance)—(a) in paragraph (1), after “Subject to” insert “paragraph (1A) and”,(b) after paragraph (1), insert—“(1A) An application for advice and assistance may be made to a supplier by an applicant by telephone where the applicant is being detained under paragraph 16(2C) of Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 (detention under authority of immigration officer for the purposes of the Illegal Migration Act 2023) or section 62(2A) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (detention under authority of Secretary of State for the purposes of the Illegal Migration Act 2023).”, and(c) in paragraph (3), after “except where” insert “paragraph (1A),” (12) In regulation 32 (extensions)—(a) in paragraph (1), for “paragraph (2)” substitute “paragraphs (2) and (2A)”, and(b) after paragraph (2) insert—“(2A) No extension shall be required under paragraph (1) if the advice and assistance is advice and assistance mentioned in regulation 4(1)(n) of the Financial Regulations (advice and assistance relating to removal notices under the Illegal Migration Act 2023).”(13) In regulation 41 (applications for certificates)—(a) in paragraph (2), after “Subject to” insert “paragraph (2A) and”,(b) after paragraph (2), insert—“(2A) An application for a certificate under this Part may be made to a supplier by an applicant by telephone where the applicant is being detained under paragraph 16(2C) of Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 (detention under authority of immigration officer for the purposes of the Illegal Migration Act 2023) or section 62(2A) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (detention under authority of Secretary of State for the purposes of the Illegal Migration Act 2023).”,(c) in paragraph (3), after “The applicant shall” insert “, except where paragraph (2A) applies,”, and(d) in paragraph (3)(b), after “met” insert “(where they apply)”.(14) In regulation 43 (determination of applications for certificates)—(a) in paragraph (1), for “paragraph (2)” substitute “paragraphs (2) and (3)”, and(b) after paragraph (2) insert—“(3) But paragraphs (1) and (2) do not apply to an application for a certificate in respect of—(a) proceedings before the Upper Tribunal mentioned in paragraph 2(ic) of Schedule 2 to the Order (proceedings under or for the purposes of the Illegal Migration Act 2023),(b) proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission under or by virtue of section 2AA of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 (jurisdiction: appeals in relation to the Illegal Migration Act 2023), or under rules under section 5 of that Act made for the purposes of that section, or(c) an appeal to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court in respect of proceedings mentioned in sub-paragraph (a) or (b).”(15) In regulation 4 of the Civil Legal Services (Financial) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 (S.R. (N.I.) 2015 No. 196) (exceptions from requirement to make a determination in respect of an individual's financial resources)—(a) in paragraph (1), after sub-paragraph (m) insert—“(n) advice and assistance provided to an individual who has received a removal notice, in relation to the removal notice, and such advice and assistance—(i) includes advice and assistance in relation to a suspensive claim relating to the removal notice, and an application under section 45(4) of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 as regards such a claim, but(ii) does not include advice and assistance in relation to an application for judicial review within the meaning of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 (see section 4(6) of that Act) relating to the removal notice;(o) representation in respect of—(i) proceedings before the Upper Tribunal mentioned in paragraph 2(ic) of Schedule 2 to the Order (proceedings under or for the purposes of the Illegal Migration Act 2023), (ii) proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission under or by virtue of section 2AA of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 (jurisdiction: appeals in relation to the Illegal Migration Act 2023), or under rules under section 5 of that Act made for the purposes of that section, or(iii) an appeal to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court in respect of proceedings mentioned in paragraph (i) or (ii).”(b) in paragraph (3), at the appropriate places insert—““removal notice” has the meaning given by section 37 of the Illegal Migration Act 2023;”““suspensive claim” has the meaning given by section 37 of the Illegal Migration Act 2023;”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment makes provision about legal aid in Northern Ireland for the purposes of the Bill.

My Lords, Clause 55 will ensure that individuals who receive a removal notice under the Bill have access to free legal advice. The clause at present applies only to England and Wales. In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, properly asked what the position is regarding Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Scottish Government advise that legislative provision is not required to ensure persons issued with a removal notice can access free legal advice in Scotland. Legislative changes are required, however, in Northern Ireland. Amendment 154 ensures analogous provision in Northern Ireland to that already applicable to those seeking legal advice in England and Wales. It is simply an extension to Northern Ireland of the provisions of the Bill. That is the content of government Amendment 154. The noble Lord, Lord Bach, has an amendment in this group and I defer to him at this point. I beg to move.

My Lords, I will speak to my Amendment 155, which is in the same terms as it was in Committee. I am extremely grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Ludford and Lady Prashar, and of course to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, for putting their names to this amendment and adding some lustre to it. I am also grateful for a superb briefing note from Bail for Immigration Detainees, ILPA and the Public Law Project.

In my view, ensuring that those who are detained have legal advice at an early stage is of fundamental importance. Obviously and above all, it is important to the detainees themselves, but it is also important to the reputation of our much-vaunted legal system. I ask the House to think about it for a moment: the proposition that, in our country, any person, whether adult, child, pregnant woman or victim of trafficking, can be deprived of their liberty and, at the same time, of proper legal advice is horrific, unconscionable and unconstitutional.

Clause 55 provides for insufficient access to civil legal services. It is concerned with free legal advice and representation only in relation to removal notices. It makes access contingent upon receipt of a removal notice and does not ensure that the necessary services will be made available shortly after a person has been detained. I remind the House that there is no set timeframe in the Bill for the Home Secretary to serve a removal notice under Clause 7. It is therefore not unrealistic to suggest that an individual could be left to linger in detention for days and even weeks before a removal notice is served by the Home Secretary and thus before they are able to access legal aid under Clause 55. Accordingly, the Bill does not provide for people trapped in its provisions assurance of access to free civil legal services before a removal notice has been served on them.

Clause 55 also does nothing to address the reality that it is practically impossible for many people to access legal aid under existing entitlements. There are, as I think the House knows, vast numbers of unrepresented individuals seeking asylum and in detention due to the current unsustainability of and lack of capacity within the immigration and asylum legal aid sector.

Our Amendment 155 introduces a new clause—a duty to make legal aid available to detained persons, which would address this issue in England and Wales by supplementing what the Government intend to achieve in their Clause 55. It would place a duty on the Lord Chancellor to make civil legal aid available to detained persons in relation to already in-scope judicial review and immigration matters, and suspensive claims, within 48 hours of their detention. This is crucial, given that the Bill gives the Home Secretary wide powers to detain families indefinitely, to detain children who are alone and to detain vulnerable people such as pregnant women, while also placing a duty on the Home Secretary to remove them, with short timeframes to make suspensive claims with compelling evidence to prevent such removal.

I hardly need to remind this House of Parliament that the provision of legal aid is a key component of ensuring the constitutional right of access to justice—itself inherent in the rule of law. The courts have repeatedly upheld the principle that a failure to provide legal aid can amount to a breach of fundamental rights. Legal aid is essential to ensure that people without means can secure effective access to justice and redress.

So why is this amendment needed? As I think the House knows, legal aid was, in effect, decimated in this area of law by the legal aid cuts of 2013. Most non-asylum immigration matters are excluded, which has damaged the entire immigration and legal aid sector and the ability of everyone, including individuals seeking asylum and those in detention, to access reliable, quality legal aid immigration advice. Immigration law is highly complex and extremely difficult, if not impossible, to navigate without a lawyer.

It is unrealistic to believe that individuals seeking asylum, who have just arrived in the UK and who may be traumatised or vulnerable and who may speak little or no English, can understand our complex laws and make effective representations without professional legal assistance. As stated by Lord Justice Underhill in last week’s decision on the Rwanda scheme, cases where decisions are fair and where there has been no access to legal assistance are “likely to be exceptional”. I pray that in aid of this amendment. Amendment 155 would help to secure timely access to legal assistance, which is crucial to the fairness of decision-making.

The Ministry of Justice has accepted the strict timelines implemented through the IMB, and the anticipated high volume of cases poses a unique challenge, particularly in the light of the challenges provided by the existing caseload and the capacity constraints within the sector. In Committee, we discussed the lack of capacity in this area, and it is absolutely enormous—I could waste the House’s time by repeating some of those quite astonishing facts. There are no legal aid solicitors doing immigration work in Lincolnshire, which may cause a bit of a problem at Scampton airbase which is planned to be a place of detention. This is the case not just in Lincolnshire; there are none in Norfolk or, moving south, in Suffolk, or, further south, in Essex—what an astonishing position that is. There are other examples but I am not going to go into them tonight. I am aware that the Government are having a short consultation in order that it may be possible to put up the rates for immigration legal aid lawyers by up to £15. I welcome that, but if the Government really think that that is going to effect change around the issue of our capacity they are clearly wrong. Capacity has worn down over the last few years because of LASPO and its consequences.

Amendment 155 would ensure that a detained person will be able to access civil legal aid services, including legal aid assistance to prepare properly a human rights or asylum claim before their claim is declared inadmissible and they are served with a removal notice. The Bill provides an extremely short timeframe of seven days for an individual to seek and find legal advice and representation and provide sufficient instructions for a representative to submit a suspensive claim with compelling evidence against removal. As a result, the vast number of inadmissible applicants which the Home Secretary will have a duty to remove will simply not be able to find a legal representative to challenge their detention.

That is where I will end my speech in moving this amendment, which goes to an essential principle of English law: that everyone who comes under the auspices of English law should have the right to have legal representation and advice at the earliest possible opportunity. The Bill does not give them that; this amendment does. I beg to move.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Bach, who moved this amendment with great skill. I am not going to make a long speech in support of him, because he does not need it. My observation, from refugees and asylum seekers whom I have met in a particular role during the last year, is that many complain that the legal advice they were able to obtain locally, wherever they were placed, was often not accurate, and they had to go through a second round of legal advice.

It is essential that people have access to competent, accurate and correct legal advice, or at least legal advice that might be correct, to enable them to challenge the case made against them. Many of the cohort of people we are talking about are numbed by the experience they have had. They did not expect to be treated as they have been by the United Kingdom. Perhaps, as the Government claim, one might argue that there are some good reasons for their being treated in that way, but to deprive them of the most basic legal advice will cause offence not only to lawyers in your Lordships’ House but to many others.

My Lords, my noble friend Lady Ludford has put her name to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bach, which he explained very fully, and these Benches support. One often hears that immigration law is too complex for non-lawyers to understand—I have long held the view that it should not be—but, frankly, it is too complex for many lawyers as well. You need to be a specialist, and that is recognised by the system, but one still hears some horror stories.

The realities of legal advice for anyone in detention in the immigration system have long been bleak. There may be advice sessions but they are 30 minutes long, and it takes a long time for the client to be brought to meet the solicitor, which eats into the 30 minutes. Even with the most articulate client, it can take quite a long time to take instructions. I was a practising solicitor for many years and this cohort, as the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, said, consists of individuals whose English may be inadequate. Interpretation is therefore required, which is cumbersome and difficult for everyone. In any event, they have a story that takes support to tell, and that requires a lot in the telling.

Given the relentless speed of the processes under the Bill, this amendment is very necessary. The Government have recognised that legal aid has a place here, given what they have done so far in the Bill and the consultation on the rates. Raising concerns about legal aid became even more relevant with last week’s impact assessment, which drew attention to the problems of accessing legal aid and legal aid services, especially outside London and the south-east. We are very happy to support this amendment.

My Lords, I am a Member of this House whose memory of legal aid probably goes back to before others were here. I was called to the Bar in 1963 and took an active part in legal aid, being not only a recipient of legal aid cases but sitting on legal aid committees. I view it as one of the great social achievements of the Labour Government ending in 1951, and it has been a matter of great sadness that its extent and benefit has been so diminished over the years.

We have here a very important need for legal aid. Most if not all of those needing legal aid will not be able to speak English, will have no knowledge of English law and will be left isolated without that assistance. For that reason, I strongly support the amendment of my noble friend Lord Bach—although, most regrettably, he is not putting it to a Division.

My Lords, I am glad to follow the noble Lord, Lord Hacking. I think the 1949 measure was a good measure following the Rushcliffe report. It had cross-party support then, and legal aid continues to have cross-party support.

I agree in principle with the noble Lord, Lord Bach, that it would be a very good thing for us to be able to revisit the legal aid budget and ensure that many of the cuts, both to scope and to litigants, could be reviewed with a view to being more generous and trying to revisit the consequences of both the 1999 and the 2012 Acts. I am with the noble Lord there.

However, because we have seen such cuts right across the board and a reduction in scope across the board, I have concerns about this particular amendment for these cases unless and until we can grant similar support to many of the cases in this country that are left without support as a result of what has happened over more than 20 years. I know that noble Lords would say that this is a different case, but many of these cases are claims of great merit, but Governments have to make decisions. For my money, I would prefer to have a fair redistribution of the legal aid budget between people who have been cut out of it—many of whom would have been eligible right throughout the 20th century—and other cases that noble Lords have mentioned.

My Lords, I open by thanking the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, for moving government Amendment 154, which, as he said, includes Northern Ireland for the purposes of this Bill.

Regarding my noble friend Lord Bach’s Amendment 155, I agree with every word he has said. He introduced it by saying that legal advice is a fundamental right for the asylum seekers themselves. To address the point the noble Baroness, Lady Lawlor, made, it is about the way we should see ourselves as a country: making sure that people in the most desperate situation can avail themselves of the right to access our laws. The only way of doing that is with appropriate legal aid. Of course, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, on the point he made, as well as with the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.

Access to high-quality legal aid within 48 hours would increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the immigration and asylum system. With adequate legal aid, people would be better able to make timely claims, increasing efficiency within the Home Office and the justice system. They would know what evidence they needed to produce and understand their prospects of success to enable them to make an informed decision regarding whether and how to proceed with their claim.

Amendment 155 would build on current legal aid arrangements. I understand that a good precedent for this is the facility for people detained at police stations. When a person is taken to a police station and it is decided that there is no criminal element to their case, they are allowed to access an immigration lawyer to obtain immigration advice. The police call the duty solicitor call centre, and there are lawyers on a duty rota to take up the case, provide immigration advice and decide on the merits of the case. A new 48-hour system would involve allocating a solicitor to an individual upon them entering detention.

For these reasons, I support my noble friend Lord Bach and believe that his amendment is a necessary measure to ensure access to justice for those in the immigration and detention system. I urge the Minister—who has particular expertise, it has to be said, in the field of legal aid in the civil courts—to consider this as favourably as he can. I understand that there is a review under way, but the amendment spoken to by my noble friend Lord Bach goes to the heart of the way that we, as a society, should treat the most vulnerable people when they come to our shores.

My Lords, clearly, the Government entirely accept that legal advice is fundamentally important in the present context. That is why we introduced Clause 55. The Government are well aware that, if the procedures for obtaining legal advice under the Bill are not appropriate, legal challenge will follow. That is constraint enough to ensure that those procedures are sufficient to ensure the system works as fairly as possible. That is the approach of the ministry and, as I will say in a moment, that is how we are developing procedures to ensure that appropriate legal advice is available, and why the Government, while entirely understanding the points that have been made, respectfully feel that Amendment 155 is not the correct way to achieve the desired result, which is certainly one that is shared by everyone: that there should be appropriate legal advice.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, for his comments on the importance of legal advice, and to my noble friend Lady Lawlor for the reservations that she expressed. In the longer run, the whole area of legal advice, not just on immigration, is for review, as the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, just said. The Government regard this as being at the heart of a fair justice system.

However, on this particular amendment, we already have established procedures, both at Manston and immigration removal centres, for individuals to access legal advice. I understand that, at Manston, there is scope for unlimited free phone calls to be made. There are notices and other bits of information about how you contact a lawyer: the names are given and the rotas change. Those procedures are there. Similarly, at immigration removal centres there is already a procedure similar to the police station procedure. It is not exactly the same, but there is the detained duty advice scheme, under which solicitors provides immigration advice on a rota system. That will be expanded as necessary. I was sorry to hear the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, say that people have sometimes been misadvised; I hope that will not happen in the future, because the Ministry of Justice is determined that the system to be introduced will be coherent, joined up and, above all, fair. That is what the House and the country would expect.

We are engaging closely with legal aid providers, and we believe that our proposed capacity-boosting measures will enable us to attract sufficient providers. As the noble Lord, Lord Bach, observed, we are out to consultation on increasing fees for this kind of immigration work. An ongoing Legal Aid Agency tender has been out since March, I think, which I understand has had an encouraging response so far. We are seeing an uptick in providers coming forward. Those procedures remain to be completed and it remains to be seen exactly how that works out, but that is at least encouraging. Other key areas of focus include the provision of remote advice—that might well go some way towards addressing the problems in Lincolnshire, Norwich or wherever it happens to be, but I am given to understand that there will be on-site advice at immigration removal centres—paying for travel times for providers, and various options for signposting and connecting up individuals to ensure that they actually receive appropriate legal advice.

The Ministry of Justice is working very closely with the Home Office on the detail of this. It is a ministerial responsibility to follow closely and ensure that these measures cut the mustard, if I may use that expression, and come up to proof—to mix my metaphors somewhat dramatically. In that regard, and for those reasons, I invite the House to accept that Amendment 155 is not necessary because we are thoroughly on the case and our objective, which the noble Lord, Lord Bach, rightly drew attention to, is shared.

Amendment 154 agreed.

Amendment 155

Tabled by

155: After Clause 55, insert the following new Clause—

“Duty to make legal aid available to certain detained persons(1) The Lord Chancellor must secure that civil legal services in relation to—(a) a suspensive claim within the meaning of section 37(2) of this Act, and(b) any of the matters set out in paragraphs 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 31A, 31C, 32 or 32A of Schedule 1 to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012are made available to any person who is detained under a relevant detention power within 48 hours of the day on which they are first detained under that power.(2) The Lord Chancellor may make such arrangements as they consider necessary for the performance of their duty under subsection (1).(3) The duty under subsection (1) is subject to—(a) section 11 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (qualifying for civil legal aid) and any regulations made under that section, and(b) section 21 of that Act (financial resources) and any regulations made under that section.(4) In this section—“civil legal services” has the same meaning as in section 8 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012;“relevant detention power” means a power to detain under—(a) paragraph 16(2) or (2C) of Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 (detention of persons liable to examination or removal),(b) paragraph 2(1), (2) or (3) of Schedule 3 to that Act (detention pending deportation),(c) section 62 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (detention by Secretary of State), or(d) section 36(1) of the UK Borders Act 2007 (detention pending deportation).”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment places a duty on the Lord Chancellor to make civil legal aid available to certain detained persons in relation to judicial review and immigration matters within 48 hours of their detention.

My Lords, as far as Amendment 155 is concerned, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this fairly short debate. The person who took much the longest was me, and I am not going to make any apology for that because this is an important subject in the context of the Bill.

Still, I thank everyone for their comments, not least the Minister himself, who I personally believe is quite sympathetic to the ideas put forward in this debate. I do not want to embarrass him unduly by going on, but he has been very helpful in discussions outside the Chamber. His contribution today was a little harsher than I had hoped, but we will see what the consultation does. I must say that much more active work will be needed by the department, perhaps over a period of time, before we get to a satisfactory position.

On parallels with other, existing schemes, it is important to realise that, as I understand it, many of them involve half-hour telephone conversations. It will not surprise the House to hear that half-hour telephone conversations are not satisfactory for people who do not speak good English and are perhaps extremely vulnerable at the time. Such conversations are not really enough and, as I say, many of them are on the phone rather than face to face.

Something the Government will have to think about is that the new establishments that we hear will house many of those who are detained, if and when the Bill becomes law, will be quite strange places, such as barges and places like Scampton. Getting legal advice into those places—and face to face is pretty important here —will cause quite a lot of problems for the Government. It will involve extra resource, as I think the Minister understands.

Tempted as I would normally be to test the opinion of the House, I appreciate that we are here pretty late after a full day, and I do not think the House would thank me for dividing it at this stage. That is not to say for a moment that the issues we have been debating for the last few minutes are not crucial to what sort of country we are. Detaining individuals—the state depriving people of their liberty—is an issue that this House has always taken incredibly seriously. Even though I am not going to press the amendment, and while I will not say that I am warning the Minister, he will not be surprised to hear me say that we will be coming back to this issue and watching very closely over the next few months to see how it develops.

Consideration on Report adjourned.