Nationality and Borders Bill

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, the hallmarks of this Bill are illegality and inhumanity; the imposition of still greater inefficiency and expense on our asylum system; and prejudice to the interests of society in having well-integrated refugees.

The Bill delivers neither dignity for asylum seekers nor a fair deal for taxpayers. My colleague in the other place, Alistair Carmichael, said:

“If cruelty and bureaucracy were the answer, the Home Office would have solved the problem long ago.”


The Bill represents, in the words of distinguished lawyers led by Raza Husain QC,

“the biggest legal assault on international refugee law ever seen in the UK.”

We have a system that is already working badly. Nearly two-thirds of initial decisions are found by the courts to be wrong, there is a backlog of 60,000 people whose cases await initial assessment, and it takes an average of a year to decide a case. The numbers the UK receives ought to be manageable: most European countries, including France, receive far more refugees per head of population than we do.

The obvious solution is to frontload the system, including investing in retention of caseworkers; improving the quality and accuracy of first-instance decision-making; restoring legal aid; and properly funding the courts and tribunals. But the Government, ignoring the first rule of holes, which is to stop digging, have chosen to worsen these problems by making what they call a broken system even more complex and unfair, which only entails yet more delay and expense. They will then double down on blaming asylum seekers rather than looking at the mote in their own eye—I am not the first to observe that it is the Home Office which is broken—and the whole sorry cycle will continue.

There is little in the Bill which helps to put the people-smuggling gangs out of business. The only real way is to create sufficient safe and legal routes, whether through resettlement, humanitarian visas, allowing claims to be lodged at a UK embassy or from, for instance, France, or family reunion. Can the Minister tell us what assessment her department has made of the impact the Bill will have on the number of family reunion visas granted each year?

The UNHCR makes the entirely valid point that the Government’s aim of forcing people to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach is by necessity absent from the refugee convention. The front-line states, which already accommodate nearly 75% of the world’s refugees, would never have signed a convention committing them to host 100%.

I second what the Conservative MP Caroline Nokes said on Report about penalising so-called group 2 refugees:

“It causes me real concern that we will create a two-tier system in which people with identical claims to safety—at identical risk from the Taliban—are treated very differently.”—[Official Report, Commons, 7/12/21; col. 311.]


The further marginalisation of asylum seekers is not only cruel but thoroughly misguided. Skills are lost and health harmed; they are left open to exploitation, with integration and naturalisation impeded and postponed. This is contrary to every interest of our society, which is to see refugees become contributing, productive and taxpaying citizens as soon as possible. Instead of keeping them in depressed limbo for years while they are demonised as scroungers for getting a princely £5.66 a day, the Government should allow all who are able to work. What is the Minister’s response to the recent warning by the Migration Advisory Committee of the “clear evidence of harm” being caused by the current ban on employment?

All I can say now about the proposals on channel pushback, which my noble friend Lady Jolly has fully covered, and offshoring is that they are utterly misconceived. I also have time only to flag my concerns about the proposals on age assessments.

Although the provisions of Clauses 1 to 8 on citizenship are largely welcome, there are two specific groups whose problems in acquiring British citizenship I want to flag: Chagos Islanders and some EU citizens. I signal my intention to join the noble Baroness. Lady Lister, if she so acts, in an amendment on the lines of that tabled in the other place by Henry Smith to restore the citizenship rights of the Chagossians and their descendants, who lost both their homeland and nationality rights when cruelly evicted 65 years ago. It is encouraging that the Minister, Tom Pursglove, indicated that he was “sympathetic” to its aims.

I will again be vigorously pursuing the obscure and obsolete legacy of comprehensive sickness insurance, this time because it is unjustly tripping up EU citizens as regards their own or their children’s British citizenship or family reunion rights.

Lastly, as well as Clause 10 on stateless children, Clause 9 is understandably causing great alarm among our compatriots who because of descent or marriage could be at risk of statelessness. Can the Minister—here I only echo the superb analysis of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich—explain how a right of appeal against a no-notice decision works if the person does not know about that decision?

I look forward to extremely robust discussion in Committee.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I cannot read the mind of the Home Secretary, but the noble Lord is absolutely correct that that was a quote from her. On the point that she was making, I think the article he referred to was in relation to the Liverpool bomber. I think the Home Secretary gave that as an example of someone whose asylum claim had been refused. That person then went on to do potential harm to the people of this country. In fact, through the actions of the very brave taxi driver, he blew only himself up, but she was reflecting on the harm that a broken asylum system can do to the people of this country. That is why we need to give refuge to those who need our refuge and to make sure that we deter illegal migration and come down hard on those people who would wish this country harm. I hope that encapsulates my right honourable friend’s estimation of the situation and satisfies the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett.

In terms of the impact of provisions on women, which I touched on earlier, I was very interested to hear the contributions of the noble Baronesses, Lady Coussins, Lady Lister and Lady Neuberger, about the experiences of women and girls including those fleeing sexual violence, and from the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, about the experience of vulnerable people who may be experiencing physical or mental ill health. These must be quite traumatic experiences, particularly if you are in a war-torn country.

We recognise that people who have experienced those traumas may feel unable to provide evidence relating to their protection or human rights claim. That is why the Bill makes very clear that, where late evidence is provided and there are good reasons for that, the credibility penalties relating to late evidence will not apply. We will set out in guidance what can constitute good reasons to allow decision-makers the flexibility to take a case-by-case approach depending on a person’s specific situation and vulnerabilities. Looking at the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, and his potential case study, it might apply in that case.

We have heard many views expressed on our proposals to make it possible to remove protection claimants to a safe country while their claims are processed. I note in particular the speeches from the noble Lords, Lord Desai, Lord German and Lord Dubs, and my noble friends Lord Horam and Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate. While people are placing their lives at risk making perilous journeys, every possible option must be considered to reduce the draw of the UK. The Government have made their position clear throughout the debate: people should claim asylum in the first safe country that they reach. That is the fastest route to safety. We are also clear that this Bill is fully compliant with all our international obligations and we will not act in such a way which means that a person’s life is at risk or which places a person at risk of persecution, torture, inhumane or degrading treatment.

I move on to the British Hong Kong service personnel. I hope noble Lords will indulge me for an additional minute or two because I was intervened upon. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, raised concerns about the former British Hong Kong service personnel, and I think, to be fair to him, has been doing so since I have been a Home Office Minister, so I must give him credit for that. We remain extremely grateful to those former British Hong Kong service personnel. Under the British nationality selection scheme, a limited number were settled in Hong Kong and could apply to register as British citizens, as he knows. I can confirm, as he requested, that the Government have identified a potential solution to this issue and are currently investigating proposals that could see this cohort treated in a similar way to other non-UK service personnel. That would be in addition to other pathways that they may already be eligible for. There is considerable work to be done to fully scope the ramifications and impact of the policy; however, we aim to provide further details as soon as we can with a view to a solution being provided before the end of this calendar year. Given that he has waited nearly six years—under my tenure anyway—I know he has got an awful lot of patience.

More broadly in terms of international co-operation, my noble friend Lord Balfe, the noble Lords, Lord Reid, Lord German, Lord Davies, Lord Liddle and Lord Dubs, and the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, have spoken eloquently about the need for us to work with our international partners to tackle what really are shared global challenges. I totally agree; all countries have a moral responsibility to tackle the issue of illegal migration. Most countries have got the challenge of illegal migration.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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I apologise for creating a slight extra delay, but I have listened in the last 21 minutes to the noble Baroness several times referring to “illegal migrants” or “illegal migration”. This Bill is about asylum seekers and refugees. We may differ on the legal issue of people arriving or entering irregularly, and our interpretation of the refugee convention, but under the Government’s own terms this Bill is not about illegal migrants; it is about asylum seekers.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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It is also about illegal migrants.

Going back to international partners, we expect them to engage with us and we have tried to work with them to build on our good current co-operation and continue to highlight the importance of having effective returns agreements to stop people making perilous crossings. This is an established principle of any functioning migration relationship, and it enables us to maintain public confidence in our immigration system.

We have already signed agreements with India and Albania. There are more people here illegally from India than from any other country, and there are more foreign criminals from Albania than from anywhere else. It is now easier to return criminals and people with no right to be here to both countries. Beyond this, we will seek to negotiate readmissions arrangements with key EU member states which have a mutual interest in preventing asylum seekers moving between safe countries. Where we do not have broad returns agreements, we will seek returns on a case-by-case basis. We will continue to work with our international partners to meet this joint challenge.

We have heard a range of views on international conventions. I note the contributions of the noble Baronesses, Lady Fox, Lady Chakrabarti and Lady Neuberger, and the noble Lords, Lord Green of Deddington, Lord Dubs, Lord Coaker, Lord German, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, Lord Oates and Lord Griffiths of Burry Port. This Government remain committed to our international obligations, including the 1951 refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. Those in need of protection should claim in the first safe country they reach. That is the fastest route to safety.

Immigration Rules: Au Pairs

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Monday 8th November 2021

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Lord knows very well that the problems with HGV drivers and poultry workers are to do with easing supply chain pressures and are nothing to do with Brexit.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, for decades after the Second World War, it was Conservatives who, following Churchill, formed the backbone of the European movement. One of the motivating causes was that of cultural and educational exchange, whether through the Council of Europe or later the EU. Why on earth can a Conservative Government not now unilaterally extend the youth mobility scheme to EU and EEA countries to include, among others, au pairs?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I have just explained this. The youth mobility scheme is open to the whole world and we are open to having arrangements with any country in the world. We already have arrangements with nine countries, with two more to be added next year.

E-scooters

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Monday 12th July 2021

(6 months, 1 week ago)

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Asked by
Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to tackle the illegal riding of e-scooters.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con) [V]
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My Lords, enforcement of road traffic law and how available resources are deployed to tackle illegal riding of e-scooters is an operational matter for chief officers, according to local police plans. The Government will continue to support the police by ensuring that they have the tools needed to enforce road traffic legislation, including those related to electric scooters.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, this Government claim to represent the party of law and order, and certainly they often talk about crackdowns, but, when it comes to e-scooters, they have allowed, even encouraged, de facto legalisation without the necessary legislation to protect riders and the public. This has caused problems to escalate out of control in a wild west of lawlessness, where riders are terrorising pedestrians, especially those with disabilities and visual impairment. The Government have also failed to regulate the sale and use of private ones, which probably number in the hundreds of thousands. Why are this Government refusing to act on e-scooters and keep people safe?

Daniel Morgan Independent Panel Report

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd June 2021

(7 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I apologise to the noble Lord because the sound was not very good, but I understood that he sees a culture that has not changed over many years, particularly one of defensiveness. The report makes it clear that there were significant failings in the Met and that the force put its reputation first, ahead of its duty to the public.

The vast majority of Metropolitan police officers, who work tirelessly to keep us safe and often put themselves in the way of danger, cannot be forgotten. They uphold the highest standards expected of them. Lessons need to be learned and the Home Secretary has decided that she wants a clear and transparent response from the commissioner, as the noble Lord says.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, the report calls for police officers to be required to register membership of the Freemasons with their chief constable. This is a modest requirement compared to the recommendation of the report of the Home Affairs Select Committee, 24 years ago, that a register should be publicly available. A voluntary declaration, not even seen by the public, is inadequate to remove any perception of conflict of loyalty and ensure trust in the police. When will the Government act at least to make it mandatory to declare membership of the Freemasons, if not for that to be publicly available?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The panel is clear that it did not find any evidence that freemasonry had any effect on the investigations. The Code of Ethics, published by the College of Policing, makes it clear that the police must remain impartial and that membership of groups or societies must not cause a conflict of interest or impact an officer’s duty to discharge their duties effectively.

Passport and Visa Measures

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Wednesday 9th June 2021

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think what the noble Lord is proposing is to make the rest of the world in line with what we had in the EU—in other words, to have an open borders policy with no passports. The answer is no, I am afraid.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, this attempt to elide European school students with the rest of the world really will not wash because, as well as talking about being ambitious for global Britain, the other favourite slogan of the Brexiter Government, is “We may have left the EU but we haven’t left Europe”. This restrictive policy towards European school students is narrow-minded and bad for Britain. One of the advantages of the present system is that no child is left out, so those who cannot afford a passport or are non-EU citizens and would need a visa are included. Do this Government really want to penalise schoolchildren and damage our reputation and, indeed, our economy?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Again, I put it back to the noble Baroness: what about people who cannot afford a passport and do not live in the EU? Do they not matter?

British Nationality Act 1981 (Immigration Rules Appendix EU) (Amendment) Regulations 2021

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Monday 7th June 2021

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Grand Committee
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Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for her introduction. I warmly welcome this measure, which is not always something that I can say about government legislation, particularly in the field of immigration and citizenship. The SI is practical, sensible and humane, as well as consistent with Article 18.3 of the withdrawal agreement, in safeguarding the right to acquire British citizenship for children born after 30 June to EU citizens who do not have settled status at the time of the child’s birth, either because the application has not been processed in time or because a late application was allowed on reasonable grounds, but who go on to get it later.

I have one question about the SI and then I want to raise some points on other aspects of the EU settlement scheme. The question is this: why is the concession being made only in respect of children born after 30 June? Can the Minister clarify the position for children born before 30 June whose parents have a gap in their immigration status after 30 June that is later resolved? What is the situation for those children? The Minister may tell me that I ought to know the answer, but I would be grateful anyway. Could she also explain what happens to children of parents who go on, in the scenario posited, to get pre-settled status? As far as I can see, they are not covered by the SI.

For children who are covered by the SI, I would be grateful to learn from the Minister what the communications plan is to make families aware of the citizenship opportunity under new Section 10A, and what evidential requirements will be imposed. We are all only too aware of what happened to many of the Windrush generation. Studies earlier this year by the JCWI and the Social Market Foundation found that high percentages of their interviewees in social care and low-skilled work were unaware of the scheme.

Of special concern among children would be those estranged from their parents. How many children in care entitled to British citizenship have not yet been registered by local authorities? Will the Home Office be able and willing to assist—through its records, whether of eligibility for settled status before 1 July or of the timing of an application for settled status and the reasons for a late grant of status—in confirming a parental relationship and the British citizenship or settled status of the parent at the relevant time? I believe that is required under Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 and by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Will the child, parent, adoptive parent, local authority or other carer with parental responsibility get access to those records if necessary? Obviously it would be inappropriate and unfair for the Home Office to insist that a child produced the original of the document, given that that original was issued by the Home Office to their parent. The child could produce a copy and explain the fact of estrangement.

There is also, of course, the question of the fees for applying for citizenship, which are over £1,000. That is a huge barrier for many people—an issue that many in this House regularly raise. That is compounded by the lack of legal aid for complex cases. Has there been any reconsideration of these matters?

Turning then to other, less benign consequences of a late application, it seems curious to me that, in contrast to the subject matter of this SI, a person applying after 30 June will face drastic circumstances: the loss of lawful status, and with it the loss of the right to work, to rent accommodation, and to get free non-emergency NHS care, benefits or homelessness assistance. In fact, the full hostile environment will fall upon them, with the possible risk of removal. This is the case, as I understand it, even for those who are accepted to have reasonable grounds for a late application. Can the Minister tell us whether, three weeks from the deadline, there is any inkling of a softening in the Home Office’s approach?

Will EU citizens and their family members who miss the deadline but continue to work or rent be committing a criminal offence? Would the employer or landlord themselves face criminal proceedings? My friend in the other place, Stephen Farry MP, asked the Prime Minister 10 days ago for clarity on this, but all he got in response was that the Prime Minister was

“sure the law will be extremely merciful to anybody who finds themselves in a difficult position”.—[Official Report, Commons, 26/5/21; col. 369.]

Can the Minister spell out what on earth this means in practice? I hope that it was not one of those promises like the infamous, “There will be no paperwork for Great Britain to Northern Ireland trade”.

An article in the Guardian on 27 May reported a Home Office spokesperson as saying that

“Further information will be provided to employers shortly about what they should do if they have an employee who finds themselves in this situation.”


Similarly, an answer to another Parliamentary Question said that the Home Office would be

“updating … guidance and communicating with landlords in the coming weeks”.

Can the Minister tell me whether such information and guidance has now been provided?

I understand that an announcement is due later this week on new EU settlement scheme Covid-19 guidance, which will say that absences longer than 12 months for Covid-related reasons will not break “continuous residence”, so that affected EU citizens will still be able to build up their residence period for settled status. This would also be a welcome concession. If the Minister could tell me that the Home Office will continue to be in flexible mode, that would be most helpful—although of course guidance does not provide legal certainty, and there is a case for enshrining that concession in law.

In particular, there is a very good case to avert the status gap by granting the temporary right to reside during at least the period until those applicants recognised as having a good reason for a late application get a grant of status. Can the Minister give me a glimmer of optimism on that score? Surely if the Government can, as it were, freeze rights as they are doing on citizenship in this SI, they can do the same in respect of other rights, instead of the proposed drastic loss of residence rights even for those recognised to have reasonable grounds.

Will the Home Office also look again at the treatment of those judged not to have reasonable grounds? The Government have a huge set of discretionary powers and responsibilities in this area, and the worry is that there will be differing interpretations and applications of the caseworker guidance.

Could the Government also consider expanding the list of reasons considered reasonable for lateness to include, for instance, primary carers of children applying late; lack of capacity, as an automatic good reason; pregnancy and maternity around the deadline, which particularly during Covid have been even more stressful and preoccupying than they normally are; and having permanent residence, which many, however mistakenly, think is sufficient? Will the Home Office train all its decision-makers working on late application requests and monitor all decisions to ensure consistency?

Can the Minister give us an up-to-date figure on the number of outstanding applications not yet processed? In a recent letter to parliamentarians, the Home Secretary said that, as of 30 April, over 5.4 million applications had been received and over 4.9 million grants of status made. How many of the remaining half a million have been refused and how many are still to be processed? Will the Home Office publish figures on the time it is taking to process applications, the average wait and those waiting longer than, say, three, six or 12 months?

The “New Plan for Immigration” Statement of 24 May refers to the Government “Building on the success” of the fully digital EU settlement scheme. Many EU citizens are not so impressed that they are being refused a physical proof of status. Indeed, many worry about how they will prove their status after 30 June if they make a late application that is accepted on good reasons grounds. How will their prospective employers and landlords prove their right to work, rent and access healthcare and benefits? Article 18.3 of the withdrawal agreement states that:

“Pending a final decision … on any application … all rights … shall be deemed to apply to the applicant”.


How is that being complied with if they cannot generate an online “share code”? An employer or landlord required to contact a checking service will surely not bother unless they really want that employee or tenant.

EU citizens’ trust in a fully digital scheme which rests on confidence in the Home Office’s records and systems will not have been increased by the extraordinary move—to which my attention was first drawn by journalist Robert Peston—of British citizens being sent letters telling them that they need to apply for settled status. Can the Minister explain this mistake?

Lastly, press reports of extraordinarily harsh treatment of EU citizens newly arriving have not inspired confidence—far from it. Was it really necessary to detain and even deport some people, because surely even those seeking work had a right to attend an interview? What can the Minister tell me about what went wrong? Can she reassure me about training now for Border Force personnel?

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Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Finlay of Llandaff) (CB)
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I have noticed that the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, would like to ask a supplementary question for clarification. If the Minister is happy, and given the time, I suggest we proceed. I call the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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I thank the Minister for her replies, and on the question of British citizens I confess I have not seen her tweet in reply, although it is true that I tweeted at her—I am glad she was actually enjoying herself on the day. But I could have got one of those letters. Why should a British citizen be judged to be within the scope of the cohort who should get a letter? I have seen some comments following that thread suggesting that there is some Home Office scoping exercise to see who it might be missing, but it does not inspire confidence that people with British citizenship who do not need to apply for settled status are getting letters. They are always official, if not officious, letters from the Home Office which put the wind up many people—and would do so for me if I got one—implying that there is something wrong with your existing status. If you are a British citizen and get this letter, you would be nervous. I do not understand what mistake, or deliberation, has led to British citizens getting the letter.

As a second point, I think the Minister—forgive me if I am wrong—did not address what happens to children born before 30 June whose parents make a late application, or do not make one at all, but where it is later resolved. The SI is all about children born after 30 June; if they are born before 30 June but their parents, for whatever good or not so good reason, are none the less delayed in getting their status, what happens to them?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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A child born before 30 June whose parent has not applied to the EU settlement scheme—if it were just the child—would clearly have the reasonable excuse that their parent did not apply to the EU settlement scheme, even though they were born in the UK. That is the answer to that question. Clearly, we are now trying to capture those children born after 30 June whose parents have applied.

On the letter, the rationale behind it is that we wanted to capture as many people as we could, not as few people, so I acknowledge that people to whom it does not apply may have received letters. I can say to the noble Baroness that we are doing a data-cleansing exercise to try to reduce that duplication. We do not want to worry people, but we do want to make sure that as many people apply as possible.

Net Migration

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Tuesday 25th May 2021

(8 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I have up-to-date figures for the noble Lord. I apologise for fiddling with my mask. Between 31 January and 19 March this year, approximately 27,000 BNO status holders and their family members applied for a visa. That number reflects applications rather than visa holders. The first official statistics on this route will be released as part of the next quarterly migration stats on 27 May.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, an obsession with net immigration numbers has brought us an end to free movement, and therefore the loss of mobility for service providers; a shortage of health and social care workers, including home carers for people with disabilities; a shortage of horticultural workers to pick our fruit and veg; the mistreatment of EU nationals; and more. When will the Government approach immigration with sensible practicality and fairness, rather than dogma and slogans?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think our approach is based on the former. There will be fewer lower-skilled migrants, overall numbers will come down and we will ensure that the British people are always in control. On that point about lower-paid workers, as I said to the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, it is time for resident labour market employers to recruit from people in this country.

Right-to-Work Checks for UK Nationals

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Tuesday 18th May 2021

(8 months, 1 week ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Well, my noble friend asks the absolutely crucial question. We need security measures in place to ensure that the system is robust. What we have had in place as a temporary measure will, I am sure, be evaluated in due course. But she goes right to the heart of what we need when we progress towards more regular online checking.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, it has been reported that EU nationals arriving here who were believed to be seeking work were immediately detained in places such as Yarl’s Wood and deported. Apparently, this has stopped, but what sort of example does the Minister think it sets for the treatment of British citizens in the EU? Secondly, EU nationals who have been British citizens for decades are getting letters telling them they risk losing rights to work, healthcare and benefits unless they apply for settled status in the next six weeks. But they do not need this. Why are the Home Office records so poor?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, EU citizens who have applied to the EU settlement scheme should not be detained in Yarl’s Wood unless there is some exception such as, for example, criminality. In terms of people getting letters, I am sure the reminders are helpful; they are not intended to be hostile in nature.

Immigration

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Wednesday 14th April 2021

(9 months, 1 week ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I have been most grateful for the discussions that the right reverend Prelate and I have had on this subject, particularly around integration and community sponsorship. For all that we talk about the laudable Dubs scheme, very few people—the right reverend Prelate excepted—have made reference to this. It will integrate people into communities very quickly and smoothly; it is such a commendable scheme. I thank the Church of England, and indeed the Catholic Church, for the role they have played in it.

As for accommodation and destitution, of course we are not a country that would legislate to enable people to be made destitute, but what we seek through the consultation is quite broad. We do not want to pre-empt what the consultation might throw up. For accommodation, we have Home Office accommodation that we have used, and we have had to use temporary accommodation throughout the pandemic. I will be very interested, as I am sure the right reverend Prelate will, in what the consultation yields for us to consider.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, if, as the Home Secretary asserts, the UK asylum system is collapsing, why is there such dysfunction in the Home Office that it cannot process an annual 20,000 to 30,000 claims—which is not overwhelming—efficiently and fairly? Is not the only outcome of penalising asylum applicants arriving irregularly—which is not illegal, so it would be a breach of the refugee convention—to create an insecure, impoverished group of vulnerable people who cannot be removed? How can that possibly help the situation?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The answer to the second question is that criminality is what yields the worst outcome for people genuinely claiming asylum. Either they do not get here because they drown at sea, or their money gets taken from them and they are left in a very precarious position. Therefore, the safe and legal ambition of the Home Office is to try to come down hard on criminals, while also protecting people who genuinely need asylum here. The noble Baroness asks about the claims, and why we cannot process them quickly. That is exactly what we are aiming to do through our new asylum system—through the one-step process—so that people cannot bring vexatious claims time and time again, including on the steps of a plane. We will be able process people much more quickly. This House has constantly pressed me on this, and I do not disagree: why can we not deport people quickly and why can we not process claims quickly? That is precisely what is outlined in our new plans.

Policing and Prevention of Violence against Women

Baroness Ludford Excerpts
Tuesday 16th March 2021

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con) [V]
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The noble Lord makes a very important point: we should not just say “violence against women”—we should say, “violence by men”. However, it is not always violence by men; it mostly is but not always. The Government are clearly in the middle of the Domestic Abuse Bill and all the provisions therein. I thank my noble friend Lady Newlove for bringing forward the issue of non-fatal strangulation, which seems to be much more at large in some sexual behaviour and, of course, often leads to death—it is often at the heart of domestic violence. We have done much on forced marriage and female genital mutilation, which are all particularly female-focused, of course. We have done much in the 11 years that we have been in power, and I pay tribute to my right honourable friend Theresa May, who was at the original inception of this.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I agree with all those who have called for a change of culture, attitudes and behaviour and better education for young men and boys—and indeed girls. However, will the planned new strategy on violence against women and girls have a comprehensive plan for how to get those changes? Secondly, in her foreword to the consultation on violence against women, the Home Secretary said:

“1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault during her lifetime”.


As my noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece said, a recent survey found that almost every single young woman in this country—97%—had experienced sexual harassment. Is it not time to adopt towards sexual violence a version of the so-called “broken windows” policing, whereby early intervention aims to deter and prevent more serious crime?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con) [V]
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The noble Baroness will see some of the things that we have done in relation to perpetrator strategies and approaches, DAPOs, DAPNs and stalking protection orders. These are all measures to nip problems in the bud and prevent them from escalating into what could end up as full-on violence.