§ Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What plans they have on the regulation of immigration advisers and immigration services providers. [HL1742]
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
We announced on 6 March 2001 (Official Report, col. 121W) that the scheme for regulating immigration advisers under Part V of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 would be brought into force on 30 April 2001. We have now signed a commencement order to that effect. From that date, it will be a crimial offence to provide immigration advice or immigration services in the course of a business in breach of the requirements of the Act.
It has never been the Government's intention that Members of Parliament should be subject to the regulatory scheme. Our advice is that Members of both Houses of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the devolved legislatures, local councillors and their staff are not subject to the regulatory scheme when providing immigration advice or services in connection with their parliamentary and constituency duties. Immigration advice and services 161WA given in other circumstances, however, may be subject to the scheme.
We have also signed two exemption orders under Section 84(4)(d) of the Act, which will come into effect on 30 April 2001.
The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (Part V exemption: educational institutions and health sector bodies) Order 2001 will exempt certain educational establishments and a number of public sector health bodies from the prohibition on giving immigration advice on services unless qualified. While there are some small differences between various parts of the United Kingdom, the main bodies exempted under the order are:
- universities, colleges and other bodies authorised to award degrees;
- colleges of further education;
- finally registered independent schools;
- the students' unions of all such bodies, as above; and
- National Health Service health authorities, trusts and boards.
The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (Part V exemption: eligible voluntary bodies and relevant employers) Order 2001 will give a temporary exemption from the prohibition until the end of January 2002 to:
voluntary bodies which, by 30 April 2001, have provided the Legal Services Commission with written confirmation of their firm intention to apply for the Community Legal Service Quality Mark (i.e. have committed themselves to apply for the Quality Mark); and employers and prospective employers of work permit holders.
Although these orders exempt the bodies concerned from the general prohibition on giving immigration advice and services and the associated criminal sanctions for breaching the prohibition, the exempted organisations, nevertheless, have to comply with the code of standards published by the Immigration Services Commissioner.