§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Miss Jo Richardson (Barking)
I am very glad of the opportunity to raise the question of the future of the independent advice centres for immigrants. In 1974, well over a third of immigrants appealing to adjudicators or tribunals on immigration matters were unrepresented. The complexity of immigration law, a frequent difficulty in understanding the language and procedures which people appearing before adjudicators and tribunals have, and the great effect on people's lives which the decisions of those adjudicators and tribunals can have, all make it vital that immigrants have good and easily obtainable advice and, where necessary, representation.
Failure to receive this good advice on how to prepare a case can mean the deportation to a refugee camp in Cyprus, it can force parents to wait for years in poverty in India or Pakistan before being allowed to join the rest of their family in this country or it can mean the forced separation of young children in the West Indies from their mother in this country.
The facilities available at the moment for the provision of advice are clearly inadequate. The two main organisations which provide free advice are working under great pressure, and commercial fee-charging agencies are springing up very much to fill this gap. The 1971 Immigration Act gives the various Home Office officials, both here and abroad, wide discretion in granting entry certificates to dependants seeking to join relatives in this country.
Often, entry clearance officers subject dependants to extremely detailed interrogations about their personal life and that of their family. Minute discrepancies 1968 between accounts given by different members of the family can often result in a refusal to grant an entry certificate. We know, too, that many people coming to the United Kingdom as students or visitors are detained at their port of entry because of immigration officers' suspicions.
It is not unusual for people to be held for longer than a week. I am sure that there is not an hon. Member who is not at this moment battling with the Home Office about several cases concerning immigrants. But we cannot cope with more than a fraction of the cases which exist. It is important that there are organisations who can make speedy representations to the Home Office on behalf of such people. The Home Office also has wide discretion when deciding whether to extend the immigrants' temporary permission to stay in this country. I believe that this discretion is often used retrospectively and occasionally unjustly—for example, where students are refused extensions in the middle of their courses.
The Minister of State has frequently assured us that he is very much aware of the difficulties caused by shortage of staff at embassies on the Indian subcontinent. Since his visit there some months ago, there have been reductions in delays, and we are grateful for his intervention on that point. But there is still far too much delay before certificates are granted and interviews given. At some offices, interviews with dependants seeking entry clearance certificates are being arranged for dates as far ahead as July 1978. The law will continue to be unjust until it is as easy to get an entry certificate in Bombay as it is in Paris.
Since the immigration law and regulations play such a vital part in so many people's lives, it is important that the various organisations which give advice should be examined and that there should be consideration of how the advice services could be improved. At the moment, there are four main sources of advice and representation for people with immigration problems. The first is the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service, a Government-financed organisation with offices in various part of the country, which employs 54 staff, including 27 full-or part-time counsellors. In the year 1974–75, it handled slightly over 32,000 cases. It was set up in 1970, following 1969 initiatives that the Home Office had been making since 1967.
In October of that year, a meeting was convened of seven voluntary organisations to discuss the recommendations of the Wilson Committee, which had said that there should be a system of appeals against immigration decisions. The Home Office appears arbitrarily to have selected which organisations were invited and subsequently formed them into a working party to discuss the formation of a body to give advice to people wishing to use the new appeals procedure. In 1969, the working party and two other organisations which the Home Office had decided should take part were invited to a meeting at the Home Office and asked to submit revised proposals. It was these revised proposals which led to the formation of the UKIAS in early spring 1970.
This organisation is very much a child of the Home Office. The Home Office, using its powers under Section 23 of the 1971 Immigration Act, which says that it must provide advice or assistance for persons who have rights of appeal under Part II of the Act, made a grant to this organisation, and since then it has been almost totally dependent on Home Office grants. I understand that, in 1974–75, it received over £120,000.
Clearly, the staff working at UKIAS do good work, but many immigrants consider that it is merely a Government-financed organisation, designed to correct Home Office bureacratic errors, which does not go into any substantive opposition of the law. It is certainly not seen as the independent organisation that it claims to be.
These suspicions are confirmed by the way in which UKIAS staff at airports act as Home Office agents in explaining the decisions of immigration officers to people who have been refused permission to enter. In some places in the Indian subcontinent, people are encouraged to make their applications for entry certificates through the local UKIAS offices. The organisation is also advertised on forms telling prospective travellers or arrivals in the United Kingdom of their rights of appeal.
I think that any organisation giving the kind of advice which UKIAS purports to give should be independent of the Government and capable of campaigning 1970 effectively against what it sees as unjust laws and regulations and against their application. Immigrants believe that it is important not only to fight within the Home Office rules but also to fight publicly so as to get the law and the rules changed. To them, UKIAS seems too close to the Home Office to be able to do that effectively.
For example, unlike the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, UKIAS does not take cases to the European Court, presumably because to do so would be outside the terms of the Government's grant. On 9th April 1970, Sir Roy Wilson, giving evidence to the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration, said that it would not be a bad thing if some of the staff of UK1AS became anti-establishment,…because it would convince the appellants—and this is one of the objects of the exercise—that they were not all going through an establishment trick …".It seems that UKIAS is not sufficiently independent of the Government for immigrants to be sure that this is not the case.
There is also concern about other factors relating to the organisation's work. Presumably due to the pressure of work which the staff face, there seems to be a reluctance to take up cases in which the chance of success is not particularly great. The PCWI says that it takes up many cases which UKIAS staff have dismissed as hopeless, so that it seems that there is a widespread lack of confidence in this Government-funded organisation.
The second organisation is the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, which was the only organisation which decided not to join the UKIAS when it was set up in 1970. It believed that the UKIAS would, as in fact happened, become too close to the Home Office and would not have sufficient grass-roots administration. I understand that the JCWI has one office in London with five full-time staff, and they estimate that they saw nearly 6,000 people or families with immigration problems during the past year.
Due to its strong desire to remain independent, the JCWI has refused to accept money from the Home Office under the provisions of Section 23. It is financed entirely by trusts such as Rowntree and Cadbury and bodies like the 1971 British Council of Churches and the Methodist Missionary Society. It sees its campaigning and pressure group activities as a vital part of its work. However, it seems that this side of its work is to some extent restricted by the pressure that its heavy case load places on the running of the office.
Thirdly, there are solicitors. The quality of the advice which solicitors give on immigration matters varies greatly. Although a few of them give very good advice, many of them do not deal with a sufficient number of cases to become expert about the procedure. There is also the difficulty that legal aid is not available for representation before adjudicators or tribunals. Often, solicitors who represent people on immigration matters charge high fees for a not very good service. If legal aid were extended to cover tribunals, it is possible that there would be more incentive for solicitors to build up an expertise in immigration cases.
Fourthly, because of the shortage of agencies giving advice on immigration cases and the varying quality of the advice that they give, some commercial fee-charging advice centres have been set up. The one which has received my interest recently is the Greek and Turkish Cypriot Advice Centre run by Mr. Reuben Davis in Haringey. Until recent moves by the Home Office to dissociate itself from the centre, it was dealing with about 1,000 cases a year. I am told that in some cases there have been no charges whilst in others the immigrants have had to pay for their advice.
I believe that Mr. Davis has used some unconventional methods in pursuing his cases, but many of his clients say that he has fought their cases with a great deal of energy and has achieved results which they do not think that the other agencies could have done. I am aware that some weeks ago he was informed by the Chief Adjudicator that, under Rule 26(1)(a) of the Immigration Appeals Procedure Rules 1972, an unqualified person requires the leave of the adjudicator concerned before being permitted to represent appellants and that in future Mr. Davis would be refused such leave.
I understand also that the Home Office has told him that his clients should approach the Home Office direct. Whatever 1972 the reason for this may be, clients whose cases have been successfully pursued by Mr. Davis have come to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that he is being debarred because he pursues cases too vigorously.
Because I had heard that some of Mr. Davis's clients, about whom I am concerned, had been harassed by the police—and I have three written statements to this effect—I asked the Minister of State in a Written Question on 26th November whether the intervention of the police was on his instructions. He replied that it was not.
Nevertheless it is a fact that the police have been interested in cases being handled by Mr. Davis. As recently as 4th December, three members of the staff of the National Council for Civil Liberties were in Mr. Davis's office when the police called to ask questions about a client of the centre. I think that the policeman said that he was doing so on the instructions of the "Aliens Office". Something seems a bit astray here, and in the interests of immigrants, about whom I am concerned, the House should know what it is. It is not right that they should suffer and be punished in this way.
I must say that I am personally opposed to commercially run immigrants' advice centres. To make money out of the difficulties and frustrations of others seems to me to be at the best cynical and at the worst immoral. It is not very different from the pay beds issue. Richer patients and richer immigrants gain advantage from their ability to queue jump or to get specialist advice because they have money. Some poor patients and some poor immigrants feel forced to pay for a service because the queue for beds or the queue for clearance certificates is too long, and they are desperate.
The Minister of State has already informed me that the JCWI, the Haringey Community Relations Council and the local authority have welcomed the decision by the Home Office not to co-operate with Mr. Davis's agency. But so long as the voluntary agencies are unable to cope and have to turn people away because they are swamped with work, or perhaps give them inadequate advice because they are overworked, commercially run fee-paying agencies will continue to spring up.
1973 I wish that it was not necessary for immigrants to have to consult solicitors. Again, the applicant is charged, and some times the charge is high, though solicitors maintain high professional standards and are bound so to do, there is no similar requirement on fee-paying agencies. Clearly, there should be more agencies providing a good, free advice service, and immigrants should have a choice.
There are difficulties about private fund raising, because this sort of service does not always appeal to the philanthropist. The Home Office should make more money available to enable voluntary bodies to be set up to provide advice about immigration matters, and it should be free of any strings relating to the kind of policy decisions which Section 23 at present restricts. Above all, it should be independent of the Home Office.
The alternative would be for the Government to announce some form of deficit funding arrangement whereby if any organisation were set up to provide this kind of service and it seemed likely to have to cease due to financial difficulties, the Government might step in to make good its losses. This would mean that the organisation would not be totally dependent on Government money and would have to seek to raise its own funds.
I look forward to hearing my hon. Friend's thinking on all these matters, and I know that the House will welcome some clearer definition of the policy of the Home Office in this respect.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon)
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Miss Richardson) for raising this issue. As she says, it has received a good deal of comment in recent weeks, and my decision on the matter has been misinterpreted seriously by people who have an interest in misinterpreting it but also by people who are genuinely mystified. Therefore, I am given this opportunity to explain to them and to my hon. Friends what I meant by two recent matters which unfortunately came together but which were never intended to be taken together, even thought a number of interpretations have suggested that they are linked.
Let me make it plain, first, that the argument that I have had with the JCWI is totally distinct from the argument which 1974 I have had with Mr. Reuben Davis. The matters arose in quite different ways.
In relation to the JCWI, I was asked to attend a reception held at its offices recently. In making a speech, the chairman spent some time in asserting the need for an independent agency divorced from the UKIAS. I remember well the arguments that went on before the establishment of the UKIAS because I was intimately involved at that stage. I have always thought that it was unfortunate that the JCWI took the view that it could not co-operate with the other voluntary agencies in forming the UKIAS. But I recognised that, the feeling being as it was at the time, it was impossible for the two to come together. I had hoped that by this stage those feelings might have been diminished and that it might have been clear that they had nothing to lose by joining and a great deal to gain.
I assert clearly that I thought there would be a profound gain if the two did come together. Inevitably, there is a certain amount of administrative cost in running two different organisations which are doing the same job. Equally, in terms of the personalities involved, a good deal is to be said for individuals working together, each contributing their own distinctive flair to the work of the organisation.
I want to put my hon. Friend's mind at rest. The UKIAS is a voluntary organisation in just the same way as the JCWI. It is not a Home Office creation and we do not give it any instructions about the way it does its job. What we do give, as my hon. Friend said, is a considerable amount of money in order to help it do its work, and that money is given for the purpose of advising and helping immigrants in immigration appeals. It is not given for other purposes, and my hon. Friend is right to say that it could not be used for the purpose of propaganda.
Nevertheless, there is nothing to stop the UKIAS involving itself in open dispute with the Government about policy in relation to immigration or race relations. The UKIAS has been unjustly treated by the media and in some respects by my hon. Friend in some of the things she has said in asserting that it does not take this kind of stand. Mrs. Maureen Baker, its counsellor in Leeds, would be 1975 surprised to think that she does not take a strong and independent stand against Home Office policy on a wide range of issues.
The UKIAS as a whole has campaigned vigorously for a change in the rules about foreign husbands, for the implementation in full of the assurances given about the amnesty for illegal immigrants, and for changes in the queue in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Much of the agitation mounted against the Home Office on this matter came from the UKIAS as a national body and from some of its counsellors in particular. Therefore, it is untrue that the JCWI has a distinctive rôle which is not shared by the UKIAS in this regard. It likes to think that it has, for obvious reasons, and I am sure that it has briefed my hon. Friend on those lines. But the truth is that both bodies do it, and I am glad that they do. There is no reason why they should not do so. But the question is whether it is necessary that they should continue as separate organisations.
The JCWI clearly dissents from my view. If it does, that is the end of the matter. It is a voluntary organisation and can decide for itself. No one is trying to pressure it. I simply suggested that the two bodies should join together as a means of helping immigrants by having a much wider service, and so doing both jobs and being seen to be doing them. If there is any lack of credibility about the UKIAS, as my hon. Friend suggests, that would not be shared by the joint organisation which would be seen to be campaigning too. But the matter is past. No one is now urging. I put the suggestion to the JCWI for its consideration, it vigorously rejected it and that is the end of the matter.
I have no desire, let alone intention, to try to pressure the JCWI out of existence. I hope that it will continue campaigning both against the Home Office and against me in particular, if it desires, for as long as it likes. That is a different matter, however, from Mr. Reuben Davis.
I like the way my hon. Friend put her case about Mr. Davis. She said that there are four sources of advice for immigrants, and she is right. Two of them are the UKIAS and the JCWI. My hon. 1976 Friend recited the way they do their work. Then there are solicitors. The basis of Mr. Davis's case against me is that if he takes money, so do solicitors. The difference is that if anyone thinks he is being overcharged by a solicitor he can apply to the Law Society and complain about the fees charged. For example, I would regard it as overcharging if people were paying between £50 and £100 simply in order that a solicitor should write a letter to the Home Office and get a letter back. But that is not much more than Mr. Davis does. If the Law Society takes the view that there has been overcharging, its disciplinary committee can deal with the matter. That is the safeguard for the immigrants in consulting solicitors. It is not so with Mr. Davis or any other commercial fee-paying organisation.
I share my hon. Friend's view that it is unfortunate if fee-paying organisations spring up in this work. Although Mr. Davis says that there are others doing the work, the only one that has come to my attention is his. It is true that there are some fee-paying organisations that advise about the specialist matter of naturalisation. That is a different kind of case from the agency that Mr. Davis runs.
I am a little wary of encouraging that kind of fee-paying organisation to come into existence, because of our experience in the Indian sub-continent, particularly in Pakistan and Bangladesh, since agencies that advise immigrants there are frequently found to be encouraging fraud and evasion instead of giving reputable advice to their clients. There is a genuine danger that if people are indulging in advice-giving for money they will be encouraged to do it in this country. Therefore, in principle, I am against fee-paying organisations coming into this work.
As my hon. Friend said, we have the JCWI and the UKIAS. She did not mention that, increasingly, minority group organisations are springing up to help their own people in disputes with the Home Office. I want to encourage that kind of activity. It is highly desirable that the minority groups should take such a stand on behalf of the people of their own communities, because they understand the issues so much better and are unlikely to try to take advantage of the difficulties which the immigrants face.
1977 But that, I am afraid, is not the case with Mr. Davis. I first came to know about him when, in my early days as a Minister, he approached my office with a number of cases. Because some of the cases might not have come to my attention in other ways, I was wont to give him as much assistance as I could. Then, in October 1974, the Sunday Times and The People published two articles indicating that Mr. Davis might not be as reputable as he had suggested. The article in the Sunday Times was headedRefugees are good business for Mr. Davisand it was claimed that he had been charging Cypriot immigrants between £25 and £75 for services such as obtaining permits for people to live and work in Britain. The article said:In fact, any foreigner is entitled to make such an application for himself without cost simply by writing to the Home Office.The article mentioned that his technique was to imply that he had good friends in the right places—I may say that some of his claims included a personal relationship with me—notably the Home Office, and that he enjoyed special privileges from the Department.
The article in The People was headed:Man who cashes in on misery".It mentioned a young woman who said that Mr. Davis had charged £50 for a six-months' extension of her permit to stay in Britain. She got her passport back from the Home Office with a letter saying that the extension had been granted only because of the troubles in Cyprus. She then realised that she could have applied herself.
Both these articles went far to confirm an impression that had been developing in the Home Office. My staff were well aware of Mr. Davis's capacity to get what he wanted—sometimes in an abusive way—by claiming personal acquaintance with people in high places. I make it plain that my action was not based on newspaper reports. Indeed, I specifically rejected those reports, on the basis of my own experience with him, for some time. Over the past year, however, I have had a succession of complaints about what he has been doing in abusing officials and in the kind of advice that he has given to immigrants. But more importantly—for me far the most important consideration 1978 —was the kind of fees that he was charging for the advice that he was giving.
On 7th August this year I asked Mr. Davis to see me. I have a note of our interview, which lasted for about an hour. I gave him a full opportunity to tell me what he was about, what he was doing, what kind of man he was, and what kind of reaction he had to the allegations that were made against him. I quote:He explained that he considered immigration control to be a joke …. His own view was that there should be far stricter controls upon immigration but since the situation was what it was then he saw no reason why he should not base a business upon it.This is a man who is now declared by a rather gullible reporter in The Guardian to be a great defender of the civil rights of immigrants.
Mr. Davis went on to say that he regarded the entire immigration control as a joke and found the whole situation distasteful. He said that he would make as much money as he possibly could out of it. I heard of one case in which, in order to get a six-months' extension for a seaman deserter, he was alleged to have charged the man £500. I taxed Mr. Davis with this. He denied that he had charged £500; he said it was £450. What is more, he had charged £450 because he thought the man was a pimp and deserved all he got. He went on to say that he told the man that he had had to incur expenses of £350 in dining out with the Under-Secretary in charge of the Immigration and Nationality Department. I may tell the House, knowing the Under-Secretary as I do, that that would be the very last thing that he would have done. What is quite clear is that if Mr. Davis ever did tell the man that, it was totally untrue.
That is the kind of thing that can happen with a man who is as oblivious to propriety and the truth as is Mr. Davis. I am not saying—there is little evidence to show—that at any stage he has done anything that is illegal, but he is the kind of engaging con man who works in East End markets, selling plates. He is quite prepared to adjust the truth a little in order to encourage people to put their money into his hands. With people who are immigrants and who are at risk because of their lack of knowledge of the language and of administration, and who fear authority, he is a very dangerous man indeed to be at large.
1979 Therefore, I decided that we were going to put a stop to his activities. He tells me that I have no power to do that. I have no power to close his business. But what I do have the power to do, and what I have done, is to tell my Department that we shall not deal directly with him. I am in a dilemma once I get to that point. I have no desire—indeed, the whole purpose of my activity has been to support the immigrant—to prejudice the immigrant who, by mischance and, in my view, quite mistakenly, goes to see Mr. Davis. It would be wrong if, for instance, as a result of a dispute with Mr. Davis an immigrant found that he was overstaying his permitted conditions of stay.
Therefore, what we have decided is that when Mr. Davis sends cases to us we shall normally deal only with the immigrant himself. If we have no address for the immigrant we have to go back through Mr. Davis, and we shall send a letter in an enclosed envelope care of Mr. Davis. I am afraid that he will then claim that he has got something for the immigrant, and he may then proceed to charge the immigrant for his services. But what I can say quite categorically—I hope this statement receives the widest publicity in the Haringey area—is that nothing that Mr. Davis has ever done after this injunction went out has been worthy of payment. Therefore, anybody who does pay him for anything that he claims to have done is paying him quite wrongly. The sooner Mr. Davis goes out of business the better it will be, in my view, for all the immigrants of the London area who have been misled by him into thinking that he has some special relationship with the Home Office.
I know that this will be taken as being some kind of authoritarian view from the Home Office and from some kind of reactionary Minister at the Home Office, but I have been supported in the view that I have taken by a number of people, the most important, from my point of view, being the Cypriot community themselves, from whom come most of Mr. Davis's customers. The Cypriot Community Workers Action Group and the Cypriot Refugees Association of the United Kingdom wrote to me on 14th October saying:Over the last two years, we have on many occasions been disturbed by the activities of a Mr. Reuben Davis and his office in the handling 1980 of our resident Cypriot community. The Cypriot organisations, professionals and local Cypriot newspapers (both Greek and Turkish) subtly informed the community not to use his services. However, during the Cypriot crisis, Mr. Davis has once again tried to take advantage of the situation—this time, the desperate refugees, by purporting to deal more swiftly and efficiently with the Home Office. He appears to both duplicate and charge for work already undertaken by bona fide agencies who do not charge. We, as representatives of both the resident and refugee communities, fully support you in any action you think necessary in this case, and also have the backing of the local Cypriot organisations.I have read that letter to my hon. Friend because she said—it was part of her case—that if one is to move against somebody like Reuben Davis one is denying an alternative source of help for the immigrant. What she can see from that letter, and what I can tell her from lots of information that I have received, is that Mr. Davis frequently does duplicate the work of other agencies, and often some of his clients have to go to JCWI and UKAIS to clear up the mess after he has taken the money from them.
In addition to the Cypriot organisations, I have also received a letter from Mrs. Mary Dines, sent to Race Today on 13th October. Mrs. Dines is not necessarily one of my slavish adherents, as my hon. Friend knows. When she says that she agrees with my decision about Reuben Davis I know that it comes from a completely impartial source. She takes a very strong view about the kind of activities in which Mr. Davis has been engaging. The borough of Haringey which set up an advice centre, also supports the view that I have taken, as does the Haringey Community Relations Council.
Therefore, I am bound to tell my hon. Friend that Mr. Davis is a menace to immigrants because he overcharges for the services he gives them. He claims that his average price is about £50. On that basis, if my hon. Friend is right in saying that he does 1,000 cases a year, his average income is £50,000, derived from the plight of people who could get their cases dealt with free either directly or with some of the voluntary organisations.
It seems to me totally wrong that this man should make this kind of money out of the plight of immigrants. He claims that I have interfered in the activities 1981 of his agency in relation to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal. I want to make it quite plain that I have no contact at all with the Immigration Appeals Tribunal. A statement that Mr. Davis is alleged to have made—that I told him that I would say this—was the complete opposite of the truth. I told him then that I had no power over the Immigration Appeals Tribunal and that there was nothing I could do in relation to their view about him. The acting chief adjudicator was so disgusted with Mr. Davis's conduct when he did appear before him that he has given instructions that all cases which come from Mr. Davis in future are to be dealt with by him and that he will not accept Mr. Davis as a representative of immigrants when they come before him.
In addition, Mr. Davis has suggested that I have been persuading the police to pressurise his clients. May I reassure my hon. Friend. The three cases to which she referred arose because an anonymous source told the police that a person living at a particular house was an illegal immigrant. When the police went to investigate they found some people who, it turned out, had applied for an extension of their leave and were, coincidentally, represented by Mr. Davis.
It is fair to point out also that some of the people claimed that they had been persuaded by Mr. Davis to enter into marriages of convenience with prostitutes, and one prostitute has given a statement to the police claiming that she was given £200 by Mr. Davis so that that ceremony should be carried out. It is said, moreover, that Mr. Davis had himself told one of my officials that he charged £800 for giving that kind of service to the people concerned. I cannot imagine that my hon. Friend, any more than I, would approve of such activities.
My hon. Friend went on to refer to the incident with the NCCL. I must point out the distinction here. If there is an alleged criminal offence by overstaying or some other breach of the immigration rules, the police may be informed so that they can proceed against the individual for his breach or criminal offence. Only the police can do that. The Home Office has no power to do it.
1982 Thus, in such cases it is true that a person who has overstayed for a considerable time would be referred to the police, and they would try to find him. In the case to which my hon. Friend referred, that is what they did. They went to Mr. Reuben Davis's office because he had once represented the man, and when they were there they did in fact meet a representative of the NCCL. They told Mr. Reuben Davis that they were acting, I believe, on the advice of the Aliens Office, though obviously indirectly for the Home Office.
However, that situation was quite different from what occurred in Camden some years ago, when there was a kind of trawl by police and immigration officers, without any kind of information against a specific person, in an effort to obtain information. The then Home Secretary gave instructions that there would be no repetition of that conduct, and I assure my hon. Friend that we shall certainly not encourage it. Nevertheless, from time to time an individual will be approached by the police, on our instructions, because it is alleged that he has committed a criminal offence by overstaying or in some other way. That is correct. What is incorrect, and what we have denied, is that the Home Office had anything to do with the three cases about which Mr. Davis complained and which my hon. Friend mentioned. I hope that that now sets the matter right.
I am sorry to have to wind up the debate so quickly, because there is a good deal more that I should like to say about Mr. Davis. I hope that I have said enough to reassure my hon. Friend, and many other reputable people who have been misled by articles in The Guardian, that I have no animus whatever against anyone who is giving reputable advice to immigrants and who wishes to challenge Home Office decisions in any way he likes. But what I do not accept is that anyone should make a lot of money in this sort of way out of specious suggestions to immigrants that he has some kind of favoured treatment from the Home Office and, in particular, from me. I assure my hon. Friend that Mr. Reuben Davis does not have that.