The Immigration Bill 2015

09 Oct 2015

This year’s immigration bill has its second reading next week.  Its more eye catching proposals are:

  • the creation of a Director of Labour Market Enforcement. The Director will report to Parliament on non-compliance with the Immigration Rules, the Gangmasters Rules, Employment Agency Standards and the National Minimum Wage. The Director will also develop enforcement strategies. I’ll let you decide if the Director will be an exemplar of joined-up working across Whitehall or a fall guy for the migration statistics in 2019;
  • a surcharge on employers who import migrant labour;
  • extending the offence of knowingly employing an illegal worker to cover those who have “reasonable cause to believe” a worker has no right to work here. This is to catch those who deliberately don’t make checks but will provoke interesting litigation about the difference between knowledge, belief and ignorance. The offence is extended to contractors and the maximum penalty is raised to 5 years imprisonment;
  • licences for alcohol and gaming to be conditional on compliance with the Immigration Rules;
  • immigration officers to have power to search licenced premises with no need for suspicion of offences;
  • immigration officers to have power to close an employer’s premises if satisfied “on reasonable grounds” the employer has employed or retained an illegal worker and has a previous conviction. The closure may be up to 48 hours subject to an application to the Court to extend it for up to 2 years;
  • status checks by residential landlords to be extended from Birmingham to the whole country;
  • a new offence of driving whilst not lawfully resident with power to impound vehicles which the migrant has driven – so you may lose your car if you lend it to an illegal migrant.

You’ll notice the focus on people already in the country. It’s to send a message down the line and to increase deportations which are at their lowest rate for 10 years, and that brings me to the Home Secretary’s speech on Tuesday; she surprised me.  

The Home Secretary combined a hitherto hidden understanding of the causes and effects of migration  with an appreciation that our system has broken down. That’s a step forward though it remains to be seen if she can pull the rabbit (practical and humane measures) out of her hat.