Immigration Bill 2004 [Seanad]: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Bill, which was passed in Seanad Éireann on Friday, 30 January 2004, aims to address a situation which arises from a High Court judgment of 22 January in the case of Leontjava and Chang, the effect of which was to cast serious doubt on the validity of all statutory provisions dealing with the control of both entry to and stay in the State of non-nationals. Even as we speak, there are no effective statutory provisions that can be relied on to assist the Government in exercising its obligation, as the executive power under the Constitution, to control the entry of non-nationals into the State nor their presence in the State. This Bill is designed to do little more than restore to statutory form the provisions of immigration law in these matters, as they were thought to exist, up to the delivery of the High Court judgment.

There has been a considerable degree of debate on whether this matter is urgent. It is urgent to the extent that the more I go into saying how urgent it is, the more damage I might do to the public interest.

It is not sufficiently urgent.

Suffice to say that the capacity of the Garda Síochána to control illegal non-nationals in this country is seriously impaired by the absence of legislation in this area. In the ordinary course of events I would not have to move this Bill because, as Members know, under the programme for Government there is a long-term commitment to the restatement of immigration law in one coherent document. Preliminary work on this is being done in the Department ofJustice, Equality and Law Reform. I would have ideally liked to address the modernisation ofour immigration law in circumstances where there was much more time to consider manyof the ideas that have been floated in recentdays.

Time is not a luxury on our side. No society can proceed for weeks on end with no statutory controls and no powers for its police force to deal with cases such as we encounter on a day-to-day basis. I say that not simply because of what people consider as classic immigration, but more in the context, which concerns me, of the need to control the movement of people who are engaged in international terrorism, the capacity to stop them at entry points and monitor their behaviour in the State and the capacity of the Garda Síochána to identify who is and is not here by demanding identification. These are basic duties of any democratic state. Of course, there are civil liberty implications in all immigration law. However, the ultimate law, as has been stated over many centuries, is to sustain the safety of the people —salus populi suprema lex. We cannot go on for weeks on end without a law that permits the Garda Síochána to control and monitor the presence of non-nationals in our State. It is not an option open to me.

Time is not a luxury available to me or to any other Member. I would have preferred more time for the project on immigration law under way in my Department, to go through a consultative process and so on. This would ensure that the law is modernised, rather than taking an old law and reinstating it in large measure on a temporary basis, as we are doing today. I would prefer to be involved in the long-term project but, unfortunately, there is no warning of events such as High Court judgments. These judgments do not present us with a set of circumstances where we have months to prepare a response. Instead, they are handed down by an independent Judiciary and the House must respond as quickly as it can to the circumstances which then arise.

Deputy Kenny suggested that I am somewhat embarrassed that as Attorney General in theprevious Administration I was party to the earlier Bill being drafted. That is not so — I wasnot.

I accept the Minister's clarification.

Even if I were, nearly every Member of this House was content after the Laurentiu decision to go down the way we went on that occasion.

That is not true.

Some Members may have been wise to see there was something wrong with the Bill.

Yes, they were on this side of the House.

It is easy to be wise after the event. I am not laying the blame on anyone else. However, I am not trying to cover up any personal embarrassment on my part.

I want to lay to rest some of the myths and misstatements that have grown in certain public commentaries on this Bill. It is a straightforward exercise in transposing in large measure the content of the aliens orders into the form of a primary statute on a temporary basis to ensure a law in the short term. This is not draconian or punitive legislation. Since 1935, there has been largely one single set of rules regarding aliens. There has not been a Nazi-type immigration regime in Ireland. There have not been laws that have ground down people or been used arbitrarily. When some people saw this Bill reintroduced, they claimed that no civilised society could have these laws. These laws have been in place in large measure for the past 60 years. In that time, nobody has ever claimed that the law was Nazi jackboot-like and draconian. The florid language suddenly emerged because, for the first time, people who have been snoozing in a dreamland have to confront the law of the land.

It is innate in any parliamentary democracy and constitutional sovereign state such as ours that the Executive or Government must have the right to control entry into its territory through its various agents and apparatus. That is an inherent duty, rather than a power, of a sovereign government. One could not say one was discharging one's duties as a Government unless one undertook that obligation. Therefore the legislative underpinnings in place at present are an enlargement and outworking of an inherent power residing in the Executive. It is not something which depends entirely on statute. When it is set down that foreigners in our midst should have identification and a permit authorising them to be in Ireland, which is perfectly reasonable, and it is provided that gardaí can both ask them to produce that identification and arrest those who cannot account for themselves, then a statutory basis is needed to do so. The inherent power of the State to protect its borders does not extend to a Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform or Government deciding by decree that gardaí can demand people's identification cards or arrest and detain those people.

The Bill addresses the practical realities of both operating immigration controls at our ports and airports, as was done before, and renewing the permissions that non-nationals who comply with our laws already have. These are conditions non-nationals expect anywhere in the world. They are not being asked to submit to a draconian regime in Ireland which is not found elsewhere. The Bill also takes the opportunity, in somewhat more modern language, to omit some of the more arcane and outmoded provisions in the Aliens Order 1946.

Some of the criticisms which have been voiced are based on the misapprehension of the relationship in law between a non-national and the State. The position recognised and confirmed by the courts is that, subject to two categories of exception to which I will refer later, a non-national has no right to be in our State and that permission to enter is in law a concession or privilege bestowed on the non-national by the State by virtue of its sovereign power. Control of non-nationals entering a state is a valuable and essential tool at the disposal of every sovereign state for the protection not only of its territory but of the people who lawfully live in that territory. This has long been universally recognised.

In the Irish context this position is supported not least in two key judgments of the High Court — Pok Sun Shum and Osheku — where it was recognised as far back as 1986 that the State has extensive obligations to control the entry and presence of non-nationals in the interests of the common good. These cases have been quoted by the Supreme Court with approval, not least in last year's landmark case of L and O concerning Irish-born children, and in the context of the Article 26 referral of the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill 2001. In the latter case the Supreme Court, in referring to the 1986 judgments, said they reflected "an inherent element of State sovereignty over national territory long recognised in both domestic and international law".

The Supreme Court has also held that immigration powers can be exercised by the Executive in the absence of legislation and the position has for many years been that the Legislature has chosen to legislate for the procedures governing the exercise of the executive power in immigration matters. I refer to the Aliens Act 1935, which is statutory, and the Aliens Order 1946, which is a statutory instrument, as well as the many amending orders made under that Act to those orders.

All that legislation came under scrutiny in the 1999 Laurentiu case when the Supreme Court found that the manner in which the 1935 Act had conferred power on the Minister to make secondary legislation, the aliens orders in this case, in respect of deportations was inconsistent with the 1937 Constitution. To deal with the situation the Oireachtas enacted the Immigration Act 1999, which included a provision in section 2(1) that every aliens order made before the passing of the 1999 Act under section 5 of the Aliens Act 1935 was to have statutory effect as if it were an Act of the Oireachtas. The aim was to protect the provisions of the aliens orders from a further finding similar to the Laurentiu case.

In the Laurentiu case it was said, in effect, that one cannot simply give a Minister wide-ranging powers without laying down policies and objectives in legislation. One cannot simply say the Minister can do whatever occurs to him in the national good and make orders which affect people's rights. There was an impermissible delegation of legislative function to the Minister under the Aliens Act 1935. In the 1999 Act the opportunity was taken by Members to try to put right what happened in the Laurentiu case and to say that what was in those orders should have the effect of law.

The High Court judgment of 22 January, which is the immediate trigger for this Bill, concerned further questions relating to the validity of the 1935 Act and the 1946 order. The court found that there was no basis in the 1935 Act for the provision of the 1946 order relating to the imposing of a condition on a non-national's permission to enter the State as to duration of stay. That was an omission. Although there was authority to deal with the fact that the person came in, the 1935 Act did not confer the power to make laws on the duration of the stay. The court also found that another aspect of the 1946 order, relating to the power of an immigration officer or a garda to ask non-nationals to produce identity documents, was invalid. Most significantly, the court found that the formulation of words used in section 2(1) for providing that the aliens orders, as amended, should have the force of law as if they were an Act passed by the Oireachtaswas an unconstitutional method of creating statute law.

The practical effects of the judgment go to the heart of the immigration control function as exercised in the State with regard to non-European economic area nationals. Every aspect of the immigration controls thought to be addressed by the 1946 order is now either without a statutory basis or so open to challenge as to render those controls extremely difficult to operate. As recently as yesterday there were fresh High Court proceedings relating to these matters.

The areas dealt with by the aliens orders include the appointment of immigration officers; immigration controls on non-nationals entering or seeking to enter the State, including refusal of leave to land; permission to remain in the State, including conditions covering whether the non-national is permitted to work and the duration of stay; Garda registration of non-nationals; powers to check non-nationals for evidence that they are permitted to remain in the State; and the power to charge non-nationals for breaches of their permission to remain or for illegal presence in the State and to arrest and detain them for such offences.

The implications extend well beyond the question of managing the practical entry of non-nationals into the State. There are also practical implications for many of the 128,000 non-nationals who live in Ireland, the vast majority of whom are here legally and are very welcome. There are 128,000 people in current registration with the Garda and the laws under which they are registered are now seriously undermined by virtue of this High Court decision. It is for us to put that right.

It is reasonable for a non-national to expect, when seeking a re-entry visa for return to the State after a trip back home, that he or she can rely on the documents and passport stamps provided by the State's immigration systems to back up that application. When seeking to become naturalised, he or she can show that they have been lawfully in Ireland for the length of time necessary for naturalisation. However, that can no longer be the case if the law is invalid or if a cloud of doubt hangs over it. We must address this matter.

The judgment also has longer-term implications for the Legislature in that it appears to rule out the possibility of legislating by reference to a text not appearing in the Bill in question. This does not just apply to aliens orders. For instance, it has long been the practice in the House with restrictive practice orders to confirm orders made by Ministers as subsequent to sections in a confirming Act, saying they should have the effect of law. The High Court judgment casts doubt on past cases where that legislative tactic was adopted and raises some serious questions for the House.

It is the Government's intention to appeal the judgment to the Supreme Court. However, as in the course of business in the House, there are sometimes delays in the court system. It is unlikely that the Supreme Court decision will be handed down in the very short term. Even if the appeal is determined in the State's favour, in the intervening period the status of immigration law and, in particular, the power to exercise controls on the entry of non-nationals into the State and on their stay here, would at best be in a state of uncertainty. There is no stay on an appeal in regard to a declaration of unconstitutionality. If the High Court rules that a Bill is unconstitutional, I cannot say I am appealing it andtherefore I am going to operate it; it is quite the reverse. As soon as that declaration is handed down, I have to obey it, unless and until the Supreme Court differs with the High Courton it.

The remaining parts of the aliens order are vulnerable and open to challenge. Even as we debate this legislation, injunctions are being sought by non-nationals arriving at our ports seeking to enter. This is not a fanciful or contrived emergency, it is real. Accordingly, it is necessary to take what is essentially an emergency step to address the situation arising from the judgment of 22 January. The effect of the Bill is to restate in primary statute, and with the minimum necessary changes, the contents of the Aliens Order 1946 as it was presumed to be in effect up to the day of the High Court judgment. As I said earlier, there will be a time for more considered reflection as to whether we can move it this way or that and take different decisions on it. We do not have weeks and months in which to put together a legislative arrangement.

With the exception of the question of fees, all the elements of the aliens order have been part of immigration law up to the present, either exactly as they appear in the Bill or with minor adaptations to modernise its presentation. What we have done in preparing this Bill is to take what, up to the time of the judgment, was thought to be the law as set out in the aliens orders and, as given effect to by section 2 of the Immigration Act 1999, as if it were a primary statute, and to put that into the form of this Bill. For completeness, some elements have been drawn from other sources, thus elements, some based on provisions of the Aliens Act 1935 but mainly from more modern statutes, are pressed into the service of the Bill. The opportunity is being taken to either modernise or drop altogether some of the more obviously anachronistic elements of the law as expressed in the 1946 order.

A number of Deputies have tabled amendments, which I have begun to go through conscientiously. I will accept any of them I consider to be right in drafting and substance. It is my intention to accept Opposition amendments or produce a slightly tidied up version in substitution for them because, as I said earlier, this is something we have to get right. Even though I envisage this as a short-term measure, I do not want it said of me that I rejected something worthwhile simply because of the source of the proposal. I want to be open and inclusive in my approach.

In going through Opposition amendments yesterday, I noted points from each of the three parties which had tabled amendments that I was disposed to accept. I will explain them at a later stage. I say this in case everyone thinks I am coming in here with the intention of running things through without listening to what has been said. I also listened to what was said by the various lobby groups and the Human Rights Commission. I do not agree with all I have heard, but I am trying to do my best to ensure that in the short time available to us we come up with a good Bill, bearing in mind that it is being done in a very short timeframe for the very good reasons I mentioned before.

I want to say one thing about the European Convention on Human Rights. We passed into law a Bill which stated that all laws passed both before and after it should be interpreted, as far as possible, in a manner compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. People have suggested that we should somehow marry the two Bills together. We do not have to make a ritual statutory obeisance to the European Convention on Human Rights any more. Every Bill we pass, unless its content is specifically incompatible with this Act, is to be interpreted and applied in a manner which is ECHR compatible. When people ask how various legislative proposals comply with the European Convention on Human Rights, they should bear in mind that the courts and every legislative and executive institution of the State is bound to apply the law in a manner which is ECHR compatible. If, for instance, it is part of ECHR law that a particular power should only be used in a proportionate manner or some other such provision, this will be implied in the law once it is passed because the House has said that in future its laws are to be read in this way.

I do not propose to give a section-by-section account of the content of the Bill. The Bill and its explanatory memorandum largely explain themselves. If there are particular concerns, we can cover them on Committee Stage. However, section 5 is worthy of special mention. This sets forth in clear and simple terms the difference between mere presence in the State and lawful presence in the State. Although we have had statutes governing the presence of non-nationals in the State since its foundation, this is the first statutory expression of the distinction between mere presence and lawful presence. The courts have, particularly in recent cases, been clear in their expression of the lawfulness of a non-national's presence in the State where that presence is in accordance with the terms of a permission given by, or on behalf of, the Minister. This is now enshrined in section 5(1). The courts have been equally trenchant in their expressions on the other side of this particular coin, namely, that a non-national who is in the State, otherwise than in accordance with the terms of a permission given by, or on behalf of, the Minister, is for all purposes unlawfully in the State. That is what subsection (2) says. One is either here in accordance with a permission or not. We are now dividing non-nationals into two clear categories; those who are lawfully here and those who are not lawfully here.

People have said that because this Bill replicates the old law, those convicted of offences which carry more than a year in prison may be refused entry to the State, that Nelson Mandela could be refused entry to the State. That is a point, but let us remember the following. This morning we heard it said that people who lived under punishing dictatorships would be refused entry by an immigration officer. Everybody who comes here as an asylum seeker under the 1951 Refugee Convention is not comprehended by the terms of the legislation. I want to make this clear. The Bill specifically acknowledges that people coming to Ireland claiming protection cannot be rejected on the grounds that they have been convicted by some dictatorship or sentenced to Robben Island for life for treason or whatever. I want to make this clear because these things are trotted out as serious propositions. This legislation is not a derogation from our obligations to refugees under international law and does not seek to do so.

Everybody who is convicted of a minor offence in the equivalent of a District Court can be refused.

I am making the point that people who come to Ireland fleeing persecution or cruel dictatorships are perfectly free to seek the protection of the State. What we can do is say to a shoplifter or pickpocket from Paris who has been done several times for an offence and given a year in jail: "No, you don't get into Dublin to practise your trade, sorry, back you go." That is reasonable. This is inherent in our common travel area agreement with the United Kingdom. Like the United Kingdom, we say that people who have been convicted of criminal offences up to a certain degree of seriousness can be refused entry into the State.

What if the conviction was 20 years ago?

: People may argue about how often this is likely to be done. The truth is that it is unlikely to be done in small cases. However, immigration officers can refuse entry to this State of known psychopathic murderers, child abusers or convicted money forgers. I challenge anyone to say that this is unreasonable. If it is unreasonable, every state in the world of which I know is equally unreasonable.

The point has also been made that this Bill breaches our EU obligations. People from the EU and the EEA are not affected by this legislation. However, even this right is not absolute. It is interesting to note that, under EU law, psychiatric infirmity is a ground for any member state to refuse entry to the citizen of another member state. We were told that this was a terrible new and draconian power. The fundamental law of the European Union and of the Irish State — because it is superior to our own constitutional law — recognises that member states of the European Union are not obliged to admit to their territory people who suffer from certain psychiatric disorders and may invoke that as a ground for refusing entry to the European Union.

Disability is not a ground for refusal of entry.

I am unhappy with the term "disability". However, I was equally unhappy with the original formulation contained in the 1946 Aliens Order and its now long gone references to imbeciles etc. I felt the language was Victorian. We decided to introduce a Bill that was in line with our EU entitlements. In view of the furore that any reference to psychiatric illness under the Mental Treatment Act provoked, I will impose on non-nationals coming to Ireland the same right of exclusion as currently exists for EU nationals. The section will use different language and I hope it does not cause offence to anybody. I could expand on that if I had more time.

I have listened to the public debate and have tendered a number of amendments accordingly. It has been suggested that tabling amendments which tidy up the Bill shows it was a mistake to rush this. Anyone will benefit from listening for a week to debate on any measure. Considering Opposition amendments is always a process from which anyone can also benefit. This is a good reason why, in principle, Bills should not be rushed and guillotines should not normally be deployed. By the same token, this House does not have the luxury to delay dealing with these issues. I will take every reasonable amendment, consistent with the purpose of this Bill, to make this legislation as good as it can be, having regard to the time constraints we are labouring under. No Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform can go further than this, nor can a reasonable member of the Opposition ask him to.

The Minister cannot use international terrorism as an excuse for introducing every Bill. I have argued that we do not have proper controls for international terrorism. To use this when discussing the Immigration Bill is raising a spectre that is not necessarily true. It is important that the Minister should dissociate that from the Bill before us.

The Minister said we have to get this right. However, a number of provisions in the Bill have been amended twice since the first proof was published. This is not the way to carry out business or get legislation right. The Minister has admitted that elements may be amended three times before we have finished our consideration of the Bill. No consultation process was engaged in with groups involved in this area, particularly the Human Rights Commission. These groups should have been involved at some point. This legislation cannot be right if we deal with it in this haste. If the Minister wants to bring attention to himself for abusing the legislative process, this is a perfect example.

The Minister referred to the arcane provisions of the Aliens Order and the modernisation of some of its provisions. If we are to correct such an order, surely we should spend time modernising it and meet people with expertise in the area, such as those who deal with immigrants. The Aliens Order, which originated in 1935, was borrowed from a British order dating from 1910. It is a terrible way to carry out business that we are expected to modernise the Aliens Order over the course of a week. While I might agree with the Minister that we have a problem and the Garda and immigration bureau need certain powers to deal with immigrants, this is an object lesson in how not to propose legislation.

I received the proof of this Bill on Tuesday last. While I am not an expert on drafting legislation, some of drafting in the Bill was astonishing. In one case, a reference to disability was changed to mental disorder and we now have a list of classifications. This was not properly thought out. Deputy Rabbitte made a valid point when he asked about the 20 amendments that have appeared since last week. No one has responded to this.

The Bill was introduced to remedy constitutional defects in existing law as highlighted by the High Court case. The defects stem from section 2(1) of the Immigration Act 1999, in which the Government attempted to confer retrospective validity on a series of regulations whose constitutionality had been previously questioned by the courts in the Laurentiu decision. In attempting to fix a problem highlighted by the Laurentiu decision, the Government failed for a second time to remedy this problem.

Legislation, particularly in the area of justice, is badly rushed. I am told that in many cases it is impossible to properly amend legislation that has 30 or 40 amendments tabled at the last minute. One cannot judiciously examine the legislation or contact experts in the area and the Opposition does not have the opportunity to deal adequately with it. The Minister must stop doing this. This Bill is a perfect example of this practice. While there are circumstances behind this, a pattern of rushing legislation is evolving. Deputy Rabbitte was correct when he said the Minister has become the greatest abuser as far as this is concerned. It does not provide due legislative process.

I acknowledge that difficulties have been created by the High Court judgment in enforcing the immigration laws. When the Minister contacted me to inform me that he was introducing this Bill, I understood the problem and realised that it must be addressed. However, this has been done in an abysmal manner. The entire process has been an eye-opener for everyone in this area.

We have been waiting for legislation on disabilities for four years and on public order for approximately two years. However, this Bill has been produced over a two-week period, which leads me to question how we prioritise legislation. In the first instance the Government made a mistake, then people put their minds to it and this Bill was prepared quickly. People were embarrassed by the High Court judgment of Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan.

The drafting of the Bill was incredible. In last Tuesday's Bill, it was stated in section 9 that the register may be established and maintained in a form that is not legible, if it is capable of being maintained in a legible form. That makes absolutely no sense. I was not surprised it was delayed as many parts of the Bill made no sense. Some parts have been changed but I do not think the requisite time has been given to people to deal with it.

Last Friday's debate in the Seanad was a farce. I did not think I would ever see anything such as that and Senator Mansergh did not think so either. I do not think the assertion that it was authoritarian is far from the truth. We are debating this Bill because a High Court judge found it necessary to find legislation unconstitutional because the Government of the day tried to give statutory effect to an order. In effect, the judge was saying that the Oireachtas should be given due time to deliberate and debate the legislation. Surely the Government should have the wit to allow the Seanad more than two hours to deliberate on it. The Government has called it wrong twice already and it is not a smart move to allow only two hours debate in the Seanad.

I voted with the Government when the previous Immigration Bill was before the House. I accepted that access and border controls were necessary and that the legislation was needed. However, I think this Bill is nonsense. The provisions go way beyond what the High Court judge pointed to and it is disingenuous to a great extent. This Bill was meant to correct particular provisions but it goes way beyond that.

The debate focused on a reference to disability and this was replaced with a new provision allowing the refusal of entry to people with a mental disorder, as defined by the Mental Health Act. The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, stated in the Seanad that the Government amendment was limited in scope and a justice spokesperson said that the intention was to allow refusal of entry only to people with serious psychopathic tendencies That is a good example of the lack of thought that has been put into the drafting of the Bill. This is the third attempt. The diseases are listed — tuberculosis, syphilis, other infectious or contagious parasitic diseases, drug addiction and profound mental disturbance. It was a case of denial last week and if people had not been given the chance to deal with this during the weekend, it would not have been changed.

The Minister will have to rethink the entire Bill. I remember I was given a hiding for speaking on the floor of the House without having anything prepared on a Private Members' motion. I admitted to it. The Minister has to admit that if he wants an example of how not to do things, how to create distrust in the legislative system, he has done it brilliantly. The Schizophrenia Association of Ireland made a very valid point. What would happen to a person who was identified as having a severe mental disorder? Will he or she be put back on a ship or aircraft while we say, "Goodbye"? Do we turn round sick people and send them on their way? The difficulty is this legislation goes far further than filling in the loopholes that were pointed out by the High Court. In one case it criminalises Irish citizens for failing to comply with immigration provisions. It would be an offence for a non-national not to report to the Garda a non-national who is in co-habitation, but it is not an offence for an Irish national to fail to report it. That could be described as discriminatory. We are being turned into a nation of spies.

The Bill allows for a non-national to be refused entry if he or she has been imprisoned for a year or more. There has been a lot of hyperbole about it, but I do not think the definitions are as tight as the Minister may think. What happens if one comes from a country with a five-year sentence for stealing a bar of chocolate? One might not be categorised as a political refugee. The Immigration Council of Ireland, among others, says that is unfair. I understand the Minister's point that there is hyperbole when it comes to Nelson Mandela but it is the case that countries hand down draconian sentences for very minor offences. People who have fallen victim to those sentences would again be victims of this Bill.

It never did in the past and it has been the law for 60 years

Why did the Minister bring it in in the first place?

It is a grey area, it is not clear.

There is nothing new in the Bill.

We are of the belief that this is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Bill does not offer a bridging period for non-nationals to re-establish themselves if they have lost work permits through no fault of their own. There is no proper review procedures with regard to decisions made by immigration officials. There is no due process for people who in many cases are extremely vulnerable. They have no right to appear or any effective legal remedy. The Bill was not referred to the Human Rights Commission. The Minister appointed Mr. Maurice Manning and must have believed he had a role in dealing with issues on immigrants. Why did the Minister not provide him or the Human Rights Commission with some opportunity for consultation? I believe the commission raised concerns about giving immigration officers power to detain a person reasonably believed to be a non-national. Its concern was that people could be singled out for special treatment because of race, colour or other distinguishing characteristics. Will the Minister address that concern?

I have had legal advice that the Bill does not simply close off the loopholes exposed by the High Court. We were led to believe the Bill would simply put pre-existing procedures on to a statutory footing. That is disingenuous.

There is nothing new in the Bill.

Does a person in bed and breakfast accommodation have to report a non-national?

That was always the case. The commentators are all wrong. It has always been the case that if one ran a hotel or bed and breakfast accommodation, one had to register these things.

I am not talking about registering but about reporting. A non-national reporting another non-national.

One cannot shelter an illegal immigrant.

Why is this provision in the Bill?

It is in the 1946 order, it is part of our basic law.

It is a new concept.

It is not a new concept, it is as old as the hills.

This Bill is unfair to immigrants. The debate is rushed. It has been a comedy of errors, notwithstanding the fact that we have a problem. This is an object lesson on how not to bring legislation forward. It is awful stuff.

Debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.