Law Report: Duty over immigrants: Regina v Secretary of State for the Environment, ex parte Tower Hamlets London Borough Council. Court of Appeal (Sir Thomas Bingham, Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Stuart-Smith and Lord Justice Waite), 7 April 1993

Where an immigrant applied for housing on the ground that he was homeless, the local housing authority could not only investigate, and inform the immigration authorities upon, the question of the legality of the applicant's entry into the country, but could also decide that question for itself, and base its decision whether or not to house the applicant, pursuant to Part III of the Housing Act 1985, upon its conclusion as to his immigration status.

The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by Tower Hamlets London Borough Council against the refusal by the Queen's Bench Divisional Court, on 9 April 1992, to declare that certain paragraphs, including paragraph 4.11, of the Code of Guidance (Third Edition), issued by the Secretary of State for the Environment to housing authorities on 1 September 1991, were wrong in law.

Paragraph 4.11 provided: 'Authorities cannot refuse to rehouse a family because they are immigrants. Everyone admitted to this country is entitled to equal treatment under the law; their rights under Part III of the Act are no different from those of any other person. Authorities should remember to treat as confidential information received on an applicant's immigration status.' The council sought judicial review, contending that such guidance was misleading and contrary to the true legal position, and therefore ultra vires.

Ashley Underwood and Lisa Giovannetti (J E Marlowe, Tower Hamlets) for the council; David Pannick QC (Treasury Solicitor) for the Secretary of State.

LORD JUSTICE STUART-SMITH said the council had a large immigrant population and as a housing authority faced a problem in discharging its duties under the 1985 Act in relation to illegal immigrants.

Under the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 251) a person seeking admission would be refused unless the entry clearance officer was satisfied he would have adequate accommodation without recourse to public funds.

There were broadly two classes of illegal immigrant with whom a local housing authority might be concerned: (1) those entering the country clandestinely, without going through immigration control; and (2) those who obtained leave to enter as a result of false and deceitful statements about the availability of accommodation.

It was clear if the immigration authorities decided such a person was an illegal entrant the local authority owed no duty to him under Part III of the 1985 Act. Moreover, not only was there nothing in the Acts or the Rules to prevent the housing authority making enquiries as to what statements, representations or undertakings had been given in relation to accommodation by or on behalf of the applicant, but it had a duty to do so; and if, as a result of such inquiries, it suspected the applicant was an illegal entrant, it had a duty to inform immigration authorities.

But the council argued that it was entitled, not only to investigate and pass on information about, but also to decide, in the light of its own investigations, the question whether the applicant had entered the country by deceipt relating to housing accommodation. And if it decided he had, it had no duty to him under the Act.

If that was correct, the second sentence of paragraph 4.11 was at best far from clear and at worst misleading.

The Secretary of State argued that it was for the immigration authorities alone and not the housing authority to decide whether an applicant was an illegal entrant in that he had obtained leave to enter by deception.

But there was nothing in the language of section 33(1) of the Immigration Act 1971 and the definition of 'illegal entrant' which imported into it the opinion of the immigration authorities or the Secretary of State, and nothing in the Act or the Rules to suggest it was only enforceable by the immigration authorities.

In his Lordship's judgment, a person who obtained leave to enter by deceipt amounting to an offence under section 26(1)(c) of the 1971 Act was an illegal entrant from the moment he obtained leave. That was so whether or not the immigration authorities knew the facts or took any action against him.

SIR THOMAS BINGHAM and LORD JUSTICE WAITE concurred.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
health
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine