Tribunal and Inquiries

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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Friday 24th May 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Gareth Bacon Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Gareth Bacon)
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I beg to move,

That the Tribunal Procedure (Upper Tribunal) (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (Amendment) Rules 2024, (SI., 2024, No. 588), dated 1 May 2024, a copy of which was laid before this House on 1 May, be approved.

This statutory instrument forms part of the Government’s preparations for the implementation of the Illegal Migration Act 2023, which I will hereafter refer to as the IMA. The SI delivers the tribunal procedurals necessary to implement the new appeals regime for suspensive claims already approved in Parliament, in sections 44 to 49 of the IMA. The rules have been drafted to give effect to the timing set out in the IMA. Exceptionally under the IMA, in order to provide for swift implementation, section 50 provides that the Lord Chancellor, instead of the Tribunal Procedure Committee, is responsible for making the first set of rules for the upper tribunal, immigration and asylum chamber for the purposes of suspensive claims under sections 44 to 49 of the IMA. This reflects Parliament’s recognition of the importance of implementing the Act rapidly to tackle illegal migration.

As the Lord Chancellor’s power to make rules has now been spent with the laying of this SI, the Tribunal Procedure Committee retains its rule-making powers and will be able to amend or replace these rules as it deems appropriate under its usual procedures. We have kept the TPC fully informed throughout our work in preparing the draft rules, and we also understand that the TPC will review these rules as part of its priority to keep all nine sets of tribunal procedurals and employment tribunal procedurals under constant review.

Before I conclude, this is the last time I will address the Chamber from the Dispatch Box as a Justice Minister this side of the election. On that basis, and I hope you will indulge me, Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to thank all of the officials and special advisers that I have worked with in my time as an Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, particularly Harry McNeill Adams, Andrew Spence, Molly Parsons-O’Connor, Claire Fielder, Christina Pride, Catherine Elkington, Tim Coates, Amy Rees, Ross Gribbin, Gemma Hewison and Jenny Pickrell. I would also like to thank the excellent special advisers Sally Rushton, Rupert Cunningham and Hannah Galley. Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank my private secretaries, who have worked tirelessly to keep me organised and on the straight and narrow: Charlotte Hewitt, Andrea Benjamin, Imogen Jailler and Naomi Hartley.

I also thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. You have been a beacon of fairness and good humour in the Chair throughout my time in this House. I wish you well in your retirement. You will be much missed by this House, and the House will be the poorer without you.

To conclude, these rules will come into force on commencement of the duty to remove under section 2 of the Illegal Migration Act. The Lord Chancellor laid this SI on 1 May in preparation for that, having already laid the Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 and the Civil Legal Aid (Financial Resources and Payment for Services and Remuneration) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 late last year. By doing so, the SI will be in place should the decision be taken after the election to proceed with the swift implementation of the IMA.

--- Later in debate ---
Gareth Bacon Portrait Gareth Bacon
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First, I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan), who has been my shadow for what feels like a lot longer than seven months. I am not completely convinced by his claim of strong borders under Labour—I am sure that the electorate will sort that out in the next few weeks—but he has been extremely decent in his dealings with me.

Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan
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I apologise—I should have thanked the Minister for the courteous way in which he has dealt with the Opposition spokespeople. I do thank him for that.

Gareth Bacon Portrait Gareth Bacon
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For the benefit of the people in the Strangers’ Gallery, I should say that it is not normal for politicians to be so nice to each other across the Dispatch Box. It gets a lot worse than this normally. I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his words.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con)
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Will the Minister give way on the topic of being nice?

Gareth Bacon Portrait Gareth Bacon
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I am really not sure that I should sully—no, of course I will.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill
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I appreciate that this is perhaps one of the most contentious bits of legislation that we have to deal with in the wash-up, but I want to thank the Minister for the constructive approach that he has always adopted towards the business, and in particular for the way that he has engaged with the Justice Committee, which I have chaired, on a number of difficult issues over his time in post.

Gareth Bacon Portrait Gareth Bacon
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I am extremely grateful to my hon. and learned Friend, my constituency neighbour, for his kind words. I have known him for more than 25 years. If the House will indulge me, I first met him when he defeated my wife in the selection for the Bexley and Bromley London Assembly constituency. We overcame that particular bump in the road very swiftly, and he has very much been a guiding light and mentor for me in the quarter of a century that has elapsed since. He is somebody who I have consistently looked up to—perhaps not physically, but certainly in every other sense.

I am grateful for the opportunity to close this debate. There will be a lot of valedictory speeches, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr Jones) will lead off on those, but I would like to personally mark this point. Many hon. and right hon. Members are retiring from the House today, as is inevitable when an election comes around. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May). She has been an exceptional public servant over her 27 years in this House. Taking into account her local government experience in the London Borough of Merton, her public service extends for more than three decades. In my humble opinion, she personifies all that is best about public servants, with her selflessness and her devotion to duty and to the people she seeks to represent. The House will not be the same without her—or without you, Madam Deputy Speaker—and I wanted to get that on the record.

I am grateful for the contributions to this debate. The measure is a key element in the implementation of the Illegal Migration Act 2023. As I said in opening this debate, it is being considered today so that we can ensure that it is ready for IMA commencement after the election. I note the comments from the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman). I disagree with them profoundly, but that will be no surprise to her, because she disagrees with my position profoundly, and that is perfectly okay, and we will obviously contest this matter in a Division.

By laying this statutory instrument before Parliament, the Ministry of Justice has complied with the Lord Chancellor’s statutory obligations under section 50 of the IMA and ensured that the appropriate rules and procedures are in place for when the duty to remove commences. I commend the measures to the House.

Question put.


Division 160

Ayes: 135

Conservative: 131
Independent: 2

Noes: 10

Scottish National Party: 9