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Have your say on the Nationality and Borders Bill

21 July 2021

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Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Nationality and Borders Bill 2021-22, which is currently passing through Parliament?

If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 21 September. Written evidence can now be sent in to the Public Bill Committee. The Committee is scheduled to report by Thursday 4 November. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Thursday 4 November. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.

Aims of the Bill[1]

The House of Commons Library’s summary of the Bill states that the Bill would implement many of the measures outlined in the Government’s New Plan for Immigration policy statement (published March 2021). 

The Government has cited the continued pressures of irregular migration across the Channel as a reason why it is keen to proceed with the Bill at pace.

Immigration and asylum are reserved matters. This means most of the Bill’s provisions apply across the UK.

What does the Bill do?

The three main objectives of the Bill, and the underlying policy statement, are:

  • To increase the fairness of the system to better protect and support those in need of asylum.
  • To deter illegal entry into the United Kingdom, thereby breaking the business model of people smuggling networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger.
  • To remove those with no right to be in the UK more easily.

The Bill as introduced is split into six parts and has five Schedules.

Part 1: Nationality (Clauses 1 – 9 and Schedule 1)

Various historical anomalies and areas of unfairness in British nationality law would be removed. An additional requirement for citizenship applications made on behalf of stateless children born in the UK and aged between 5 and 17 years would be introduced.

Part 2: Asylum (Clauses 10 – 36 and Schedules 2 and 3)

Irregular journeys to the UK and late claims for protection would be deterred and penalised in various ways. Irregular entrants would have restricted access to the UK asylum system, and conditions attached to refugee leave could reflect the nature of the person’s arrival into the UK. The UK’s approach to interpreting key concepts in the 1951 Refugee Convention would be codified in primary legislation and various further measures to deter late and unmeritorious claims and expedite appeals would be introduced. These include a new “priority removal” process, which would include some new eligibility for publicly-funded legal advice, and a new fast-track appeal process for detained cases.

Part 3: Immigration offences and enforcement (Clauses 37 – 45 and Schedules 4 and 5)

The Bill would broaden criminal sanctions for offences related to illegal entry and facilitation of unlawful immigration and increase the associated maximum penalties. It would also give border control staff additional powers to stop and redirect vessels out of UK territorial seas, subject to the UK’s international legal responsibilities.

Part 4: Modern slavery (Clauses 46 – 57)

Measures to support the early identification of potential victims and protect the system from misuse by people with unmeritorious cases would be introduced. These include the introduction of slavery or trafficking notices, clarification of the reasonable grounds and conclusive grounds threshold, and a clarified “public order” definition for withholding the protections of the national referral mechanism from people who pose a threat to public order. The Bill also outlines the circumstances in which confirmed victims of modern slavery will be granted limited leave to remain.

Part 5: Miscellaneous (Clauses 58 – 65)

This section includes new processes for conducting age assessments; gives the immigration tribunals new powers to charge for wasted or unnecessary costs; gives the Home Secretary powers to apply visa penalties to nationals of countries that do not cooperate with removals; and provides a Henry VIII power in relation to a possible future consolidation of immigration law.

Part 6: General (Clauses 66 – 71)

This Part contains standard clauses on financial provisions, territorial extent and commencement. As detailed in clause 70, various provisions in Parts 2,3 and 5 would come into effect two months after enactment. Other provisions would come into effect on dates specified in regulations.

Before the Bill reaches Commons Committee stage, the Government intends to table substantive amendments to the following ‘placeholder’ clauses:

  • Clause 42 (powers to require authorisation to work in UK territorial seas)
  • Clause 44 (amending the Early Removal Scheme)
  • Clause 58 (new processes for age assessments)
  • Clause 59 (new powers to impose visa penalties on countries that do not co-operate with removals)
  • Clause 60 (introducing an electronic travel authorisation requirement)
  • Clause 61 (extending ‘certification’ powers for the Special Immigration Appeals Tribunal)

Follow the progress of the Natationality and Borders Bill

The Nationality and Borders Bill 2021–22 was introduced to the House of Commons on 6 July 2021. This Bill was debated at second reading over two days on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 July 2021 and has now been sent to a Public Bill Committee which will scrutinise the Bill line by line and is expected to report to the House by Thursday 4 November 2021.

Oral evidence sessions are expected to be held on Tuesday 21 and Thursday 23 September.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 21 September. Written evidence can now be sent in to the Public Bill Committee. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration and possibly reflect it in an amendment. The order in which amendments are taken in Committee will be available in due course under Selection of Amendments on the Bill documents pages. Once the Committee has dealt with an amendment it will not revisit it.

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be Tuesday 21 September and the Committee is scheduled to report by Thursday 4 November. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Thursday 4 November. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

Your submission should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk

Further guidance on submitting written evidence can be found here.

Image: Parliamentary Copyright

[1] Summary taken from the House of Commons Library Briefing paper on the Second Reading, Nationality and Borders Bill, published on 12 July 2021

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