Home Office publishes Borders Bill

UK Borders Bill - published by the Home Office

Home Office press release - January 26th 2007

New powers boost Immigration Officers power to protect UK borders

Building stronger borders, tackling organised crime and removing incentives for illegal immigrants to come to Britain are at the heart of the UK Borders Bill published today.

The Bill will equip the new Border and Immigration Agency with a wide range of new powers to deter, detect and deport those breaking the rules and ensure that those foreign nationals legally in the UK play their part in upholding the rules.

The Government has already made significant progress in reforming its immigration and asylum systems and boosting UK border controls; annual asylum applications are at their lowest level since 1993, the majority of initial decisions are now taken in eight weeks, the introduction of airline liaison officers has helped prevent over 30,000 people from travelling to the UK in 2005 and 17,000 have been stopped crossing the Channel illegally and plans are in place for the introduction of a new firm but fair points based system for managing migration into the UK.

Today's Bill builds on these successes with a package of measures that take forward Home Secretary John Reid's shake-up of the immigration system, which included doubling the enforcement budget by an extra £100m, setting out a timetable for the introduction of new technology at the border, an international strategy to share information and build closer working relationships and the introduction of biometric ID for non-EEA foreign nationals living in Britain.

The key measures in the Bill will provide immigration officers with greater powers, ensure that foreign national prisoners face automatic deportation and tackle illegal working and fraud.

The new powers for Immigration Officers will include the ability to:

* arrest people smugglers or traffickers even if their crimes were committed outside of the UK;

* detain at ports individuals they suspect of having committed a crime, or those with a warrant outstanding against them;

* arrest those they believe to have fraudulently been acquiring asylum-support, and to exercise associated powers of entry, search and seizure;

* access Her Majesty's Revenue Customs (HMRC) data to track down illegal immigrants.

Foreign nationals benefiting from living in the UK will face additional obligations, including:

* having to apply for a "biometric immigration document", which will be compulsory biometric ID for those living in the UK from outside the EEA helping tackle fraud, illegal working and multiple identities; and

* failure to obtain biometric ID will put the person at risk of losing their leave to remain in the UK and/or a civil penalty of up to £1,000.

Under the new legislation foreign national prisoners will:

* face automatic deportation if they have committed a serious offence, such as crimes against children, terrorism or drugs offences and been sentenced to imprisonment or any other offences which resulted in a custodial sentence of 12 months or more; and * no-longer have the right to appeal from within the UK except under very specific circumstances.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said:

"The UK Borders Bill will give immigration officers vital new powers to do their job better, to secure our borders, tackle the traffickers and shut down illegal working. It will build on existing legislation and commitments made by John Reid last summer to overhaul our immigration system.

"We estimate that a significant proportion of illegal immigration is in the hands of organised crime - the measures announced today will help disrupt those networks and ensure the UK becomes a more hostile environment for those abusing our laws.

"In the last six months I have met hundreds of front line staff and these are the measures they say they need. They don't stand alone. They are part of a radical shake-up of immigration, which includes £100m extra for enforcement, new technology to count people in and out of Britain and new biometric ID cards for foreign nationals."

In announcing today's measures the Home Office is delivering on promises made by the Home Secretary John Reid in his review of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) which, on 1 April, will become the new Border and Immigration Agency and comes as immigration officers across Britain begin trials of their new uniform.

The UK Borders Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons on 5 February.

Notes to editors1. The UK Borders Bill can be found at:http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/pabills.htm

2. Under new procedures members of the public will now be able to submit evidence to Parliament on some new bills. The UK Borders Bill will be committed to a Public Bill Committee for consideration. Public Bill Committees can receive written submissions from outside organisations and individuals regarding the substance of the Bill. Submissions sent to the Department will not be accepted as evidence. Submissions should ideally be sent by the time of the Bill's Second Reading in order to inform the Committee's proceedings, including any oral evidence sessions it decides to hold. Submissions should be sent to the House of Commons Scrutiny Unit, which can also give advice in submitting evidence. Contact details are as follows:

Telephone: 020 7219 8383/8387/8370e-mail : 020 7219 8381

By post: Charlotte Littleboy, Deputy Head (Legislation), Scrutiny Unit, 7 Millbank, LONDON, SW1P 3JA"

3. On 22 January a total of 80 immigration officers at Glasgow, Heathrow and Stansted airports and Poole sea port began trials of new uniforms. Making immigration officers more visible at the UK border was announced in the Review of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate by John Reid in July 2006. The trial will last for four weeks.

4. In its Borders Immigration and Identity Action Plan published in December 2006 the Home Office set out how biometrics and border control technology could continue to offer important benefits for the UK public. See Home Office press notice 185/2006 at:http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/newsarchive/newpowerstocapture

5. For information on the IND Review which set out a number of measures, which will be taken forward in the UK Borders Bill see Home Office press notice 108/2006 at:http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/newsarchive/indreview

6. In the IND Review the Home Secretary announced that the Directorate would become an agency - working as a shadow agency from April 2007. The IND will also take the new title of Border and Immigration Agency.

End of Bulletin:
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Home Office