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
The majority No voters rejected an amendment 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. 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.'
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.'
The Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill became law in 2004. Its main aims were to:
- 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
-  David Heath MP, House of Commons, 1 March 2004
-  Clause 2 in the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill
-  Annabelle Ewing MP, House of Commons, 1 March 2004
-  Vera Baird MP, House of Commons, 1 March 2004
-  Based on The Guardian's A-Z of legislation
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.
|Party||Majority (No)||Minority (Aye)||Both||Turnout|
|Lab||308 (+2 tell)||4||0||77.0%|
|LDem||0||43 (+2 tell)||0||83.3%|
|Mr Harold Best||Leeds North West||Lab||aye|
|Mr Hilton Dawson||Lancaster and Wyre||Lab||aye|
|Ms Glenda Jackson||Hampstead and Highgate||Lab||aye|
|Dr Jim Marshall||Leicester South||Lab||aye|