HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 cc121-2W
Mr. Pond

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made in establishing the scheme of regulation for immigration advisers and service providers; and if he will make a statement. [152674]

Mrs. Roche

The Office of The Immigration Services Commissioner published a Code of Standards, Guidance to Advisers on Competencies, The Commissioner's Rules and a Complaints Scheme in October 2000. An office has been established at 6th floor, Fleetbank House, 2–6 Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8JX. Application packs for registration and exemption have also been sent to advisers and organisations known to the Commissioner?s office. The Commissioner is about to start a publicity campaign designed to ensure that those who are required to make an application to him know of the need to do so.

I am pleased to announce that, following discussion with the Commissioner, I propose to bring the remaining provisions of Part V of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 into force on 30 April 2001.

The Commissioner has, however, made representations to me about a large number of voluntary organisations which provide immigration advice and services and are committed to applying for the Community Legal Services Quality Mark. Organisations which have gained this Quality Mark are regarded as having met some of the Immigration Services Commissioner's requirements as set out in the Code of Standards. The Government have no wish to impose unnecessary regulatory demands on voluntary organisations which are already committed to a recognised quality programme and we propose to make an order under section 84(4)(d) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. As a result of this order, voluntary bodies which commit themselves to the Community Legal Services Quality Mark before 30 April 2001 will not breach the general prohibition on providing immigration advice or services which will come into force on that date. The protection for qualifying voluntary bodies will cease to have effect on 31 January 2002. The understanding will be that, by this date, the voluntary bodies will have applied to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner for exemption from the regulatory scheme and that successful applicants will be included in the Commissioner's list of exemptions.

Other candidates for inclusion in a section 84(4)(d) order remain under consideration.