How exactly are employers meant to check the biometric details of immigrants under the new UK Borders Bill ?
Home Office Immigration Minister Liam Byrne was busy spinning a line to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, the newspapers, and to the TV news like BBC News 24, Sky News etc. on Friday morning, about how his new UK Borders Bill would somehow clamp down on illegal immigration and illegal working. See this Bloomberg New report:
Liam Byrne claimed that employers had told him over the last 3 or 4 months, that they were willing to see higher penalties for illegally employing an illegal immigrant, but that the current state of affairs whereby "up to 60 different documents" were acceptable as proof of the right to work in the UK as too complicated. This is true.
However his proposed Bill which introduces, in Biometric registration of legal immigrants who apply for visas etc, demanding fingerprints and / or iris scans (which now seem to have been dropped from the National Identity Register plans as too complicated or expensive), will not solve this problem.
All that it will do is to create up to 61 acceptable documents !
There is no way under this Bill, for an employer rather than an Immigration official or Policeman, to check the fingerprints of someone applying for a job.
The penalty for not registering your Biometric details is up to a £1000 Penalty Notice Fine i.e. a civil penalty, not a criminal one, which will, of course, have no impact at all on illegal immigrants.
There is also a dubious new statutory power in Clauses 36 to 39 to give the Immigration and Nationality Directorate access to Tax data from the Revenue and to Police data. We fear that this power will be abused for large scale data mining of millions of innocent British citizens' personal data.
The bureaucrats cover themselves from liability for cock ups and security breaches, by providing themselves with an "I believed I was authorised when I gave out your personal details" defence, which circumvents the Data Protection Act. Such errors or security breaches will not fall foul of the Data Protection Act because they will be exempt "according to law" for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime" under the Primary Legislation of the UK Borders Bill, and the Bill itself will give them this statutory defence.
Similarly, the Human Rights Act "right to privacy", will be circumvented in exactly the same way, as this UK Borders Bill is Primary Legislation.
However, none of this applies to anybody other than "authorised persons" i.e. those who work for the IND, the Police or some private sector sub-contractors who are running immigration detention centres etc. and who already deal with the fingerprinting of asylum seekers etc.
There is a criminal penalty of up to 2 years in prison for anyone else who shares this sort of data, which is exactly the data which an Employer would need access to for the new biometric scheme to have any effect whatsoever, compared with the current system.
The Home Office has never been any good at writing detailed Regulatory Impact Assessments for their ponderous legislation, and they make the claim in the Explanatory Notes, that there will simply be no cost implications of this Bill
SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
127. A regulatory impact assessment is published with the Bill. There are no proposals that have an adverse impact on business.
Despite this wording, no detailed Regulatory Impact Assessment document has yet been published online for this Bill.
Where is the cost of the the massive national biometric fingerprint checking infrastructure then ? This is of the same scale as the as yet non-existent and not yet even put out to tender infrastructure for the National Identity Register and ID Card.
Astonishingly, there is no mention of the National Identity Register in this UK Borders Bill. Why not ?
Is there gong to be some sort of legislative "bait and switch", whereby non-EU immigrants biometric details will be collected under the UK Borders Bill, but will be handed over and disclosed to private employers or other Government departments via secondary legislation under the Identity Cards ACt 2006 ? or other legislation ?