Skip to main content

Illegal Migration Bill

Volume 831: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2023

Report (1st Day) (Continued)

Clause 7: Further provisions about removal

Amendments 38 to 41

Moved by

38: Clause 7, page 10, line 37, after “State” insert “or an immigration officer”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment supplements the reference to the Secretary of State in clause 7(8) with a reference to an immigration officer.

39: Clause 7, page 10, line 41, after “State” insert “or an immigration officer”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment and the amendments in the name of Lord Murray of Blidworth at page 10, line 42 and page 11, line 1 supplement the references to the Secretary of State in clause 7(9) with references to an immigration officer.

40: Clause 7, page 10, line 42, after “State” insert “or an immigration officer”

Member's explanatory statement

See the explanatory statement in the name of Lord Murray of Blidworth at page 10, line 41.

41: Clause 7, page 11, line 1, after “State” insert “or an immigration officer”

Member's explanatory statement

See the explanatory statement in the name of Lord Murray of Blidworth at page 10, line 41.

Amendments 38 to 41 agreed.

Amendment 42

Moved by

42: Clause 7, page 11, line 7, at end insert “so long as P is accompanied by a suitably trained and qualified escort with the powers of a constable”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment would require a person (who may be a child) subject to removal to be accompanied by an escort trained and employed for this task and with the power of arrest.

My Lords, in moving Amendment 42 I will speak also to Amendments 45, 48 and 85 in the unavoidable absence of my noble friends Lord Davies and Lord Woodley. I have added my name to those amendments.

Clause 7(12) imposes a statutory duty on a captain of a ship or an aircraft, a train manager or a vehicle driver that, on the instructions of an immigration officer, they must prevent a particular person disembarking or they must detain a particular person. These duties go significantly beyond the existing duties on captains of aircrafts and ships in the Immigration Act 1971. If one of those postholders fails to fulfil that statutory duty, Clause 9(2) of this Bill will make it a criminal offence. This new statutory duty and the threat of criminal prosecution are likely to create major problems for the staff involved.

I appreciate that we have been discussing matters of fundamental human rights until now. These are more prosaic issues, but nevertheless significant for those affected. These amendments are designed to alleviate the difficulties caused for the staff to whom the clause is directed. I would be grateful if the Minister would explain precisely how, in the absence of such amendments, these problems will be overcome. I will give the House five examples of issues that might arise and need addressing.

First, all these jobs are safety-critical, and the individuals performing these functions have statutory safety responsibilities. What if those health and safety duties required all the passengers on a ship, train or bus to be disembarked? For example, if a train breaks down, the duty of the train manager is to make the train as safe as possible, disembark the passengers and take them to a place of safety.

The second issue is the problem of identifying the passenger or passengers who are to be prevented from disembarking or to be detained. The captains of scheduled air flights and cruise ships will have lists of crews, passengers and so on, but how is the manager of a crowded train or ferry to find the passenger concerned? The inevitable result is that the entire complement of passengers on the train or bus will have to be detained.

Thirdly, whether the individual is identified or not, the only way of detaining him or her, or preventing them getting off the train, is to keep the doors closed. How will the manager explain to the passengers on a train arriving into King’s Cross from Glasgow that the doors must remain closed until there are security staff or immigration officers to vet the passengers coming off and detain the individual they have identified? What of the consequences to the train operating companies? Are they to be reimbursed for the compensation payable to passengers or Network Rail in the event of consequential delays?

Fourthly, assuming the passenger has been identified by the train manager or coach driver, how will they physically detain them in the absence of any training, skills or desire to engage in physical violence? How and by whom will they be compensated should they be injured?

Fifthly—this is my final example—what will happen if the French driver of a Eurostar arriving into St Pancras, or the Irish driver of a train from Belfast to Dublin, does not keep the doors shut and prevent an individual disembarking? Is it proposed that there will be extradition proceedings if the foreign train manager goes back to their own country? Your Lordships will look in vain for the answers to these very practical questions in the impact assessment.

Paragraph 67 and Annexe A of the assessment deal with extra costs of escorts and other hired staff, but there is not a word about extra payment for the poor souls identified in Clause 7. Paragraph 84 recognises that

“there may be an increase in the level of disruption observed in detention prior to removal”,

but there is not a word about how the Clause 7 staff are to cope with such disruption. Paragraphs 117, 132 and 145 report that the Bill imposes no costs on business, but there is not a word about the costs of, among other things, delays to aircraft, ships, trains and buses as a consequence of preventing the disembarkation of passengers.

No doubt the Minister would wish these amendments not to be pursued, but if so, I would be grateful for his full explanation of how these very pragmatic issues are to be addressed in the absence of these amendments.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hendy, has clearly articulated a whole series of practical difficulties with the duties to be imposed on transport workers. From what the noble Lord said, it appears that the Government have quite clearly not thought through the consequences of the duties they intend to place on, for example, train managers. I will listen carefully to any argument the Minister might have that the duties imposed by the Bill go beyond existing duties but, clearly, subjecting these workers to being potentially convicted of a criminal offence for failing to act in accordance with the Bill, while not providing them with any advice, let alone training or equipment, in order to carry out their duties requires some explanation.

My Lords, I very much agree with the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, particularly with respect to whether what is included in the Bill is an extension of existing powers, or simply a reiteration of what was in legislation that preceded the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Hendy, did us a great favour in bringing forward a whole series of practical questions which the Minister started to answer in Committee. They are quite serious questions about the practicalities and, as the Minister knows, we have been concerned about not only some of our principled objections but also the workability of some of the clauses and powers contained in the Bill. It is worth reiterating, so it is on the record, what the noble Lord, Lord Hendy, said: the Government require transport workers—whether it be a lorry driver, a train operator, a train guard or a bus conductor—to act in an almost pseudo-police officer role to detain or search people.

If I were in that situation, I would be genuinely concerned about the implications. There are legitimate questions about the powers of detention, how long people would be detained, the use of force, and so on.

Can the Minister clarify one further point? His previous amendments added the words “immigration officer” to make the legislation consistent with later parts of the clause which refer to an

“immigration officer or the Secretary of State”.

Do the Government envisage any difference? Is that wording to cover any eventuality rather than any significant principled thing that the immigration officer could do that the Secretary of State could not, or vice versa? It would be interesting to know, and I look forward to the Minister’s response.

My Lords, I agree with the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. I am grateful to the Bill team for confirming this, but it would be useful to have it said in the Chamber that “immigration officer” is an immigration officer of any rank at all. There does not have to be any seniority attached to the post when an immigration officer is given powers in these provisions and elsewhere in the Bill.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hendy, for moving the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Brixton, which seeks to protect transport providers. I understand the concern that this is causing.

To answer the points of the noble Lords, Lord Paddick and Lord Coaker, Clauses 7 and 9 simply reflect the current position, corresponding to the long-standing requirement set out in Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act. As now, risk assessments must be made before directions are given to a carrier, and escorts will be provided where this is assessed to be necessary.

All the practical issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hendy, apply equally under existing powers, and there are established protocols for dealing with them. We are not putting any additional burdens on the transport sector; in fact, we are providing for the costs of complying with directions under the Bill, but they will be paid for by the Secretary of State and will not be at the carrier’s expense. The amendment would therefore put the powers surrounding the giving of removal directions at odds with existing provisions and would effectively turn a requirement to remove people into a request, which would then impact on the number of illegal immigrants being removed.

Government Amendments 46 and 47 are prompted by a question posed in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, who asked how transport workers could deal with a non-compliant person. Again, the answer lies in the Immigration Act 1971. It is already an offence under Section 24(1)(f) of that Act for a person subject to removal to disembark, and these amendments simply apply that offence to removals under the Bill. This then engages Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, which enables a person to use reasonable force to prevent a crime—a provision that I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, in particular, will be very familiar with.

Finally, returning to the amendments from the noble Lord, Lord Davies, Amendment 85 seeks to amend the definition of “vehicle” to limit the power in Schedule 2 to search vehicles to only those hired by the Secretary of State to remove persons pursuant to Clauses 2 and 3. We would not want to limit the power to search vehicles in this way; doing so would prevent immigration officers being able to search small boats, for example.

I am sure the Minister answered this in Committee, but can he just confirm that vehicles are lorries, van and cars? Does “a vehicle” mean all types of vehicle?

I seem to remember —I am sure the Bill team will correct me if I am wrong—that it does not include private cars and camper-vans. I hope that clarifies the point; if am wrong, I will be sent a message, I am sure.

Adopting the course that Amendment 85 would effect would, we suggest, prevent immigration officers being able to search small boats and certain other vehicles in which migrants have travelled on their journey to the United Kingdom, and in which there may be electronic devices containing relevant information. That of course relates to those provisions in the Bill.

In response to the intervention from the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, I can confirm that the powers conferred on an immigration officer by the Bill can be exercised by an officer of any grade, as is generally already the case under the 1971 Act. From memory—again, I will correct this if I am wrong—I think “immigration officer” is a term of art under the Immigration Acts. It means a warranted immigration officer who can perform acts under the Act, so it applies to people of any grade who hold that qualification.

In summary, there is nothing novel in the provisions in Clauses 7 and 9 as they apply to transport operators. We are simply carrying across the provisions from the Immigration Act 1971, which have operated without difficulty for over 50 years. That being the case, I hope that I have answered all the questions and invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

My Lords, I am grateful to all those who have spoken in this short debate, which I will not prolong. I will indeed withdraw the amendment, but there is one point which I would wish to pursue.

The Minister says that this is really a reiteration of powers which already exist under the Immigration Act 1971. I am not an immigration lawyer and am not on familiar territory but, as I understand it, the 1971 Act and the schedule to which he referred impose duties on the captains of ships and aircraft to detain or to prevent disembarkation; it does not impose those duties on the managers of trains or the drivers of buses and lorries. That is what is new and what takes us beyond what was formerly there. If I am wrong about that, no doubt the Minister will write to tell me that I am ignorant of immigration law, which I may well be.

However, if it is right that the duties go beyond, in being extended to train managers and bus and lorry drivers, that is quite a serious extension. One thing is clear: train managers, bus drivers and lorry drivers will not be skilled or qualified in detaining people who are accused of illegal behaviour. They will not have the skill set to deal with that situation. What we have not heard from the Minister is how those people are going to deal with that and what will happen if it conflicts with some statutory duty that they have. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 42 withdrawn.

Amendments 43 to 45 not moved.

Clause 9: Other consequential amendments relating to removal

Amendments 46 and 47

Moved by

46: Clause 9, page 12, line 16, leave out “(2) and” and insert “(1A) to”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on the amendment in the name of Lord Murray of Blidworth at page 12, line 17.

47: Clause 9, page 12, line 17, at end insert—

“(1A) In section 24(1) (illegal entry and similar offences), after paragraph (f) insert—“(fa) if the person disembarks in the United Kingdom from a ship, aircraft, train or vehicle after being placed on board under section 7(11) of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 with a view to the person’s removal from the United Kingdom;”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment provides for section 24(1) of the Immigration Act 1971 to be amended so that it is an offence for a person to disembark in the United Kingdom from a ship, aircraft, train or vehicle if they have been placed on board with a view to their removal under the Bill.

Amendments 46 and 47 agreed.

Amendment 48 not moved.

Clause 10: Powers of detention

Amendment 49

Moved by

49: Clause 10, page 14, line 21, leave out “and (3)” and insert “, (3) and (3A)”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord German’s amendment to page 15, line 37.

My Lords, there are two sets of amendments in this group. I am speaking to Amendments 49, 53, 56 and 61, which all concern standards in places of detention. The other amendments have been tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik. From these Benches, we support all the amendments in her name and would be pleased to have been able to add our name to them.

We discussed this matter of standards very briefly in Committee, but the rules on where people can be held for detention are being altered by the Bill. Rather than following the Immigration Act 1971, which lays out clearly where people could be detained, this says that people can be detained anywhere the Minister feels appropriate. I have been thinking about a number of questions which arise from that, but clearly the issue that I am particularly concerned about is the boundary-line between where people are going to be detained—because, of course, that is part of the Bill—and where they might be placed when that detention ends and what offering they might get.

I regret to say that today we heard about the government costs for the barge in Portland: a contract has been let, without tendering, for £1.6 billion for the first two years of that contract. I have in front of me a copy of the floor-plan of that barge, and it is quite clear that the only way that the numbers the Government say will be accommodated will be achieved is by putting in bunk beds in each of the single bedrooms on the “Bibby Stockholm”. We are also led to understand, apart from the huge cost involved, that there will be curfews and that people will only be allowed on to the dockside in a compound—that is the only space they will occupy. To me, that seems to be detention. The only thing that I need to understand is whether the standards of a place of detention are going to be the same as where people are accommodated when they are not in detention. It seems that what the Government are proposing in this £1.6 billion contract is very clearly a place of security and secure boundaries. If there is a curfew when people are not allowed to leave, clearly that means that there are very strict rules that people will have to follow.

Consequently, if the Minister would ensure that the standards of the Detention Centre Rules, which have been in place since 2001, and the Short-term Holding Facility Rules, which were put in place in 2018, are going to be followed, we can expect to have at least some boundary-lines about what sort of accommodation it will be like. However, I fear that the worst aspect is that we are going to see a dehumanisation of people by being put into places which will not suit the current legislation and certainly will not suit what most people would think of as somewhere decent for people to be detained or to live.

I ask these questions to seek some clarity. Are there any rules at all which the Government are going to follow in relation to the detention of the people they now propose to detain, with everybody being put in detention when they arrive?

My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 51, 57, 59 and 63 in my name, which retain existing time limits for the detention of children, both unaccompanied and those with families.

Under a Conservative-led Government over a decade ago, Parliament rectified what David Cameron called the scandal of routinely detaining innocent children, so it is regrettable that we are conducting this debate again. The evidence is unequivocal, the debate long since settled: detention does immense and long-lasting harm to children.

I made my points at Second Reading and in Committee, so I shall not repeat the arguments other than to remind my noble friend the Minister of warnings of leading medical organisations in a letter to the Home Secretary outlining the serious harm and risks that refugee children will face if the detention powers in the Bill become law.

There is no policy rationale for why the Government should detain vulnerable young people. The argument is that not detaining children would lead to adults pretending to be children or smugglers exploiting loopholes. But preventing presumed future actions of an unknown number of adults is not a justification.

My noble friend the Minister has recognised the particular vulnerability of unaccompanied children, and for that I thank him. He told us in Committee that, for the most part, unaccompanied children will not be detained. Yet any such exceptionality of a lone child’s detention is nowhere in the Bill. Indeed, the proposed legislation expressly does away with the existing statutory provisions that limit an unaccompanied child’s detention.

In fact, the new powers to detain them are unrestricted. Under the Bill, unaccompanied children may be detained under the new powers only in circumstances prescribed in regulations. We do not know what will be in these regulations or when we will see them. While I thank my noble friend the Minister for the positive step in making the unaccompanied children regulations subject to the affirmative procedure, there is still no knowing what circumstances will be specified in them.

The law governing something as extreme as the power of the state to detain an individual without charge or trial must be much more firmly established. In Committee, my noble friend the Minister said that

“the Bill will also allow the Secretary of State to make regulations specifying time limits to be placed on the detention of unaccompanied children for the purpose of removal, if required”.—[Official Report, 7/6/23; col. 1491.]

I remind noble Lords that the Bill does away with precise time limits, as established by a Conservative Government, that keep unaccompanied children’s detention to no more than 24 hours and only in short-term holding facilities. The Bill will replace existing limits with a power, if required, to make regulations with any as yet unknown time limits on detention and of unaccompanied children only. To my mind, this is wholly insufficient.

I turn from the Government’s possible future time limits in regulations for unaccompanied children to the promised government timescale for child detention. This, we are led to believe, is a timescale for detention of all children—those who are unaccompanied and alone as well as those with their families. The timescale was to be set out during the passage of the Bill through this House, but as yet we do not have it. However, following a very positive engagement with the Immigration Minister earlier today, I am hopeful that we will have clarity and that my amendments will receive consideration on return to the Commons. For that reason, I am minded to test the opinion of the House on Monday.

In October 2020, a Kurdish-Iranian family from Sardasht near the Iraqi border died after the boat they were travelling in capsized in the channel. They were Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, Armin, six, and Artin, 15 months, whose tiny body washed up on the coast of Norway months later. I am sure that noble Lords will join me in continuing to mourn the loss of these lives. If these three children, Anita, Armin and Artin, had survived, under the Bill they would be detained indefinitely upon arrival in the UK. Surely that cannot be right. I urge the Government to think again about undoing the progress made when we ended the cruel practice of detaining babies, toddlers and children.

We can and must do better by these vulnerable young people whom the world has already put through so much. Trafficked and refugee children need recovery and protection in line with their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, trafficking conventions and the refugee convention. Let us not take away the existing time limits for the detention of migrant children as laid out by a previous Conservative Government. The ending of lengthy child detention was a humanitarian response to what had been an unacceptable practice with grave impacts. This is a proud legacy that we must protect.

My Lords, I will speak briefly in support of the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik.

First, on the principle of third time lucky, for the third time today I ask where the child rights impact assessment is. By my reckoning, nearly half the groupings on Report concern children, and yet we have not been given the child rights impact assessment that we need to assess these amendments.

To return to these amendments, it is worth recalling what the Conservative Immigration Minister, Damian Green, said in his Written Statement in December 2010, following the announcement of the policy to limit child detention:

“This Government believe that children should not be detained in our immigration system … This new system will strengthen families’ trust and confidence in the immigration system, maintain public confidence in the Government’s ability to control the UK’s borders and ensure that families with children are treated humanely and in a way that meets our international obligations and our statutory duties in relation to children’s safety and welfare”.—[Official Report, Commons, 16/12/10; cols. 125-26WS.]

He had previously explained that:

“We want to replace the current system with something that ensures that families with no right to be in this country return in a more dignified manner”.—[Official Report, Commons, 17/6/10; col. 211WH.]

We have still not heard a plausible justification for why the Government are going back on their own policy. The deterrence argument is all the more unconvincing in the light of the impact assessment.

In Committee, I asked what steps would be taken to ensure that children are detained for as short a period as possible, as we have been assured of that. There was no reply. I asked about the estimate of the numbers of children in detention. There was no reply, and nothing, as far as I could see, in the impact assessment.

Yesterday, I received an open letter from 12 young people who arrived in the UK as unaccompanied children and child trafficking victims and who comprise a youth advisory group for ECPAT UK. They expressed their concerns about the Bill’s impact on children who come after them. They asked us to think what it would be like for us as children, or for our own children, and to ensure that children are treated as children first.

In a similar vein, I quoted earlier from a Barnardo’s report which set out ways to give a warm welcome and hope to child asylum seekers. Locking these children up in detention is the very antithesis of this. Please can we vote on Monday to treat children as children and give them a modicum of comfort and hope?

My Lords, I rise briefly to support my noble friend’s Amendment 51 on maintaining the current protections for unaccompanied children. The commitment that the Government would set out a new timescale under which genuine children may be detained—made by the Immigration Minister in the other place and my noble friend in Committee—was very welcome. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will at this point on Report be in a position to provide further detail. If not, the other place will want the opportunity to discuss the matter further with the Government.

I fully acknowledge the verbal reassurances that we have been given by the Government on their ambition to limit the use of powers given by this Bill in relation to the detention of children, which are very welcome. However, accepting my noble friend’s amendment, or bringing forward one of their own in relation to the timescale for the detention of children, will really provide the reassurance that we are looking for.

My Lords, I too support the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lady Mobarik. As we have heard, the abolition of child detention in 2014 was one of the landmark achievements of our Conservative Government. Along with the Modern Slavery Act, it was a major step forward in the protection of the most vulnerable in our society. The arguments for this amendment have already been made, so I will keep my remarks short, but I want to make a couple of brief points.

The new detention powers have no time limit in the Bill and apply to unaccompanied children and children with their families. Obviously, this is deeply concerning. The Government have rightly stated that we do not want to detain children, and have acknowledged the vulnerability of unaccompanied children in debates on this Bill. However, there are still no protections enshrined in the Bill to guarantee that protections remain in place for minors, and there has been time for the Government to clarify this. This really needs to change before the Bill becomes law.

Having spoken with the Minister in the other place, I am aware that the Government are considering these arguments, so this amendment gives them the opportunity to think again. I commend my noble friend Lady Mobarik’s amendment to the House.

My Lords, we on the Labour Benches strongly support the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, and if she presses them to a vote on Monday, we will be supporting her. Her amendments address the removal of safeguards for children put in place when a Conservative Prime Minister sat in No. 10, and it is clear that potentially thousands of children could be detained, some potentially indefinitely. This would undoubtedly cause long-term damage to their health, well-being and development. We are happy to support those amendments, and we are very interested to hear about the ongoing discussions which noble Baronesses on the other side of the House have mentioned.

Regarding the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord German, I interpret them as probing amendments into the rules concerning detention and, particularly in the case of barges with the quite astonishing figures he gave today, the cost and where there will be areas for people to walk around and exercise in the vicinity of the barges. I will be interested to hear what the Minister has to say about that in response to the amendments from the noble Lord, Lord German. We are happy to support the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik.

My Lords, with these amendments we return to the issue of detention time limits in relation to unaccompanied children and the limiting of places of detention. Amendments 49, 53, 56 and 61, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord German, limit the “place of detention” in the Bill to those that are presently authorised for detention. We detain persons for immigration purposes only in places that are listed in the Immigration (Places of Detention) Direction 2021. As I set out in Committee, following Royal Assent we will update the direction in line with the new detention powers.

For more than 50 years we have operated a framework where the Home Secretary sets out the places where persons may be detained for immigration purposes in an administrative direction. The provisions in paragraph 18 of Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 have operated perfectly satisfactorily. I see no case now to change to a position whereby places of detention are to be set out in primary legislation.

I assure noble Lords that the welfare of detained individuals is of paramount importance. Any place of detention must be suitable for the persons we are detaining there, and adequate provision will be made for the safety and welfare of the detained person. The Detention Centre Rules 2001 make provision for the regulation and management of immigration removal centres. These rules set out:

“The purpose of detention centres shall be to provide for the secure but humane accommodation of detained persons in a relaxed regime with as much freedom of movement and association as possible, consistent with maintaining a safe and secure environment”.

The rules also set out the specific requirements which an immigration removal centre must comply with, including, but not limited to, provision for maintenance, general security, healthcare, access and welfare. These rules will continue to apply to detention in immigration removal centres under this Bill. I hope that is a complete answer to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord German. I add that, as their name suggests, these rules apply to detention accommodation, not to non-detained accommodation such as the Bibby Stockholm barge, from which of course people may come and go.

Moreover, we already have robust statutory oversight of immigration detention, including inspection by the Inspectorate of Prisons and independent monitoring boards at every detention facility, and effective safeguards within the detention process which, I would suggest, are efficient.

I turn to the issue of detention time limits. Amendments 51, 57, 59 and 63, tabled by my noble friend Lady Mobarik, seek to retain the existing time limits on the detention of children. It is an unavoidable fact that holding people in detention is necessary to ensure that they can successfully be removed from the United Kingdom under the scheme provided for in the Bill, which is designed to operate quickly and fairly. However, our aim is to ensure that no one is held in detention for any longer than is absolutely necessary to effect their removal.

The duty on the Home Secretary to make arrangements for the removal of all illegal entrants back to their home country or to a safe third country will send a clear message that vulnerable individuals, including children, cannot be exploited by the people smugglers facilitating their passage across the channel in small boats on the false promise of starting a new life in the United Kingdom. The detention powers are an integral part of ensuring the success of this Bill, both as a deterrent and as a means of ensuring that the Home Secretary can comply with the duty to make arrangements for removal.

We must not create incentives for people-smuggling gangs to target children or provide opportunities for people to exploit any loopholes. Children may be put at further risk by adults seeking to pass off unaccompanied children as their own. I know this is not my noble friend’s intention, but that is what these amendments would, perversely, achieve.

Under the Bill, detention is not automatic. The Bill provides powers to detain, and the appropriateness of detention will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, recognising their vulnerability, I remind my noble friend that the Bill makes particular provision for the detention of unaccompanied children.

It is important to recognise that unaccompanied children would be detained only for the purposes of removal in a minority of cases. They are not subject to the duty to remove, and our expectation is that they will generally be transferred to the care of a local authority until they turn 18. Where they are to be detained, the powers in the Bill may be exercised in respect of unaccompanied children only in circumstances to be prescribed in regulations, as we have already discussed during today’s debate. This would be, for example, for the purposes of an initial examination or, where necessary, in the limited cases where they are to be removed to effect a reunion with the child’s parent or to return them to a safe country of origin. As we have already debated, such regulations are now to be subject to the affirmative procedure, as a result of the government amendments to Clause 10.

The Bill also includes a power to place a time limit on the detention of unaccompanied children where that detention is for the purposes of removal. We will keep the operation of these provisions under review, and should it be necessary to introduce a time limit, we have the means to do so.

Given the safeguards we have already built into the arrangements for the detention of unaccompanied children, the Government remain of the view that these amendments, however well-meaning, are not necessary. I therefore ask my noble friend not to press her Amendment 51. However, if she is minded to test the opinion of the House, I ask noble Lords, if and when the Division occurs, to reject the amendment.

Ahead of that, I hope that I have been able to satisfy the noble Lord, Lord German, and that he will be content to withdraw his Amendment 49.

Before the Minister sits down, will he please answer my question, which I put for the fourth time, at the risk of being extremely boring and sounding like a broken record: where is the child rights impact assessment? We have nearly finished the first of three days on Report, and we still do not have it.

Before the noble Lord sits down, I have listened very carefully to his answer regarding the potential pull factor if unaccompanied children are not placed in detention. However, children have not been placed in detention since the 2014 provision, and there has been no proportional increase in unaccompanied children claiming asylum. In the impact assessment, which the Government produced on Friday, there is absolutely no indication at all of it being a non-monetary risk. Where is the evidence for that claim being made at the Dispatch Box? Both the legislation since 2014 and the Government’s own impact assessment show that there is no evidence to say that it would be a pull factor.

Clearly, the economic impact assessment is targeted at economic impacts, and the noble Lord invites me to comment on something that is a non-economic impact not being in the impact assessment. I am afraid that is a complete explanation for that. As to the pull factors, I suggest to the noble Lord that it is self-evident that there is that risk of a pull factor, and that is an end to the matter.

My Lords, I have been in this House for only 13 years, and in that time I have had many Ministers coming forward with things I do not agree with, but my noble friend has repeatedly—four times—asked for the assessment. To be told “in due course” at the end of the first day on Report is extremely poor. I suggest that the Minister goes back to his department and gets the assessment here. It does not help his case one iota to say “in due course” to the House at this stage. We should have had this thing weeks ago. I really hope he goes back and understands how cross the House is about this. We have only two days left on Report and then Third Reading. It really is not good enough.

I have listened very carefully to what the noble Lord has said and I will certainly take it back to the department.

My Lords, this has been a very interesting but short debate. It is interesting that once again we focus on evidence. I often find it strange in this House when people are asked to make judgments about very important matters, particularly affecting young people, and we are not provided with the evidence.

It is not just four times that the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, has asked. It is probably four on top of four and many times beforehand. She always asks for this in a very decent manner. It is so important that we have that information in order to make judgments about legislation we are being asked to approve or to change. It is not good enough for the Government to say, “Take our word for it”. They should provide that evidence as we would normally expect, at the right time and in the right place. We are now moving rapidly beyond the place where it will be in demand. I dread to think about the devices that one uses in the legislative process that allow us to keep coming back to this matter until such time as we can deal with that evidence.

On the amendments I was talking to, I think I have had a partial answer in that the Detention Centre Rules 2001 are to be followed, so that is something about standards. The bit that I did not have answered was what the difference would be between detention and the places where people will be held or provided with accommodation. In the case of the barge that I told the House about earlier, the only difference was that there would be no curfew and the gate would be closed. That seems the only difference in the standards between the two.

It is a matter that I will keep coming back to, but I am minded to withdraw. Before I do, I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, that on these Benches we are certain that if she were to move these to a vote we would support her. The issues she has raised are crucial, especially as we lack the evidence for anybody to say that the case being made has been dealt with appropriately. If I could encourage that, I would be very grateful. In the meantime, I withdraw Amendment 49.

Amendment 49 withdrawn.

Amendment 50

Moved by

50: Clause 10, page 15, leave out lines 1 to 4

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment, with others in the name of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, seek to amend the Bill so that potential and recognised victims of trafficking will not be detained or removed before they get the opportunity to submit an application to the NRM and have it duly considered.

Amendment 50 agreed.

Consideration on Report adjourned.

House adjourned at 10.20 pm.