The House of Lords Constitution Committee has published its report on the Immigration Bill and raises concerns about three aspects of the Bill.
The committee draws the House’s attention to three clauses in the Bill, which are likely to be scrutinised further at report stage. These are:
This involves a “significant streamlining of appeal rights in respect of immigration decisions” by reducing the grounds on which appeals can be made against decisions of the Secretary of State. The committee points out that a high proportion of appeals succeed—ranging between 32% and 50% for different types of appeal—and questions whether the proposed administrative review that would replace full Immigration and Asylum Tribunal appeals will be sufficient.
The report also states that the clause risks giving the Secretary of State a de-facto veto over the Tribunal’s ability to consider matters in an appeal and therefore goes further than is required to meet the Government’s stated objectives.
The committee thinks this is a “constitutional innovation” in that it seeks to define what the public interest factors are in immigration decisions that engage Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (private and family life). Courts have to balance the public interest against individual rights under Article 8.
This would remove the restriction on the Secretary of State’s ability to rescind a naturalised British citizen’s UK citizenship if to do so would make him or her stateless. The committee raises a number of questions on this provision, including:
- What would happen to citizens who are made stateless as regards their residence and right to services such as healthcare?
- What would happen to their dependants?
- Should decisions to remove citizenship be made by a court rather than the Secretary of State?
Chairman of the Committee
Commenting, Baroness Jay of Paddington, chairman of the Constitution Committee, said:
“The Immigration Bill contains some important provisions, which may have a significant impact on the relationship between individuals and the state. A central element of the Bill is to give more discretion to the Secretary of State and reduce the role of the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal. This risks undermining the important right of appeal against immigration decisions. The current high rate of successful appeals suggests the Home Office’s own decisions in this area are by no means flawless.
There are also significant concerns about provisions in the Bill which will enable the government to make naturalised British citizens stateless. To make a person stateless is likely to have a profound impact on them and their family. If such a power is introduced there should be appropriate safeguards in place, including the possibility of judicial oversight.”