Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, Etc.) Bill — Burden of proof on prosecution rather than defendant in cases where immigrants to not have travel documents — rejected — 1 Mar 2004 at 16:45

Mr David Kidney MP, Stafford voted with the majority (No).

The majority No voters rejected an amendment[1] to the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, Etc.) Bill.

The Bill makes it a criminal offence for people entering the UK to not have a travel document with them unless they have a reasonable excuse[2]. As it stood, the Bill required the defendant to prove that he/she had a reasonable excuse for not having a valid travel document.

The intention of the amendment was, in circumstances where the defendant produced evidence that showed they had a reasonable excuse, it is then up to the prosecution to prove that this isn't satisfactory. However, the amendment was defeated.

In supporting the amendment Annabelle Ewing MP explained that:

  • 'It has always been the case that, in criminal prosecutions, the burden is placed on the Crown to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt... It is astonishing that the Government plan, with a stroke of the pen, to get rid of that principle as far as asylum is concerned.'[3]

However, Vera Baird MP explained that:

  • 'The only person who knows how the document came to be destroyed, or why it does not exist, is the person who does not have their document with them when they arrive. How is the prosecution to disprove it if the person says, "My passport fell overboard when I was moving from a big ship to a small boat somewhere just off the coast of Malaysia"? A person has only to say that and the amendment would then impose on the Crown the necessity to disprove beyond reasonable doubt that such an event had occurred, which would be quite impossible.'[4]

The Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill became law in 2004. Its main aims were to:[5]

  • Simplify the process of appeal for asylum seekers
  • Criminalise people who arrive into the UK without a valid travel document unless they have a reasonable excuse
  • Stop supporting failed asylum seekers and their families if they do not leave the UK
  • Allow the government to tag and track asylum seekers
  • Provide accommodation to failed asylum seekers who cannot return home immediately

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Debate in Parliament | Historical Hansard | Source |

Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 100.6%
Ind0 1050.0%
Lab308 (+2 tell) 4077.0%
LDem0 43 (+2 tell)083.3%
PC0 3075.0%
SDLP0 1033.3%
SNP0 3060.0%
UUP1 0020.0%
Total:309 56057.4%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

NameConstituencyPartyVote
Mr Harold BestLeeds North WestLabaye
Mr Hilton DawsonLancaster and WyreLabaye
Ms Glenda JacksonHampstead and HighgateLabaye
Dr Jim MarshallLeicester SouthLabaye

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