Debates between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 5th Jan 2022
Mon 12th Jul 2021
Tue 25th May 2021
Wed 14th Apr 2021
Mon 14th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 23rd Mar 2020
Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report stage
Tue 4th Feb 2020
Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Tue 14th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Nationality and Borders Bill

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
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

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 8th November 2021

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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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

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 12th July 2021

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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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

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 22nd June 2021

(7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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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

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 9th June 2021

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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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

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
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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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

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 25th May 2021

(8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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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

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 18th May 2021

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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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

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 14th April 2021

(9 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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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

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
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.

United Kingdom Resettlement Scheme

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 3rd March 2021

(10 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the planned (1) programme, and (2) timetable, for refugee resettlements under the United Kingdom Resettlement Scheme.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, the UK Government are committed to resettling refugees to the UK and we continue to work closely with domestic and international partners to assess capacity for resettlement activity as we recover from the pandemic. This commitment, alongside a fair and firm asylum system, will ensure that we continue to offer safe and legal routes to the UK for vulnerable refugees who need our protection.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, only 800 people were resettled in the UK last year, compared to 5,600 in 2019. This is against the UNHCR’s assessment of the global need for almost 1.5 million places. Why have the Government failed to fulfil their pledge of a new consolidated UK resettlement scheme to succeed the schemes closed a year ago? Will the Minister now give an assurance not only of 5,000 places here in the current year but of an ambitious 10-year commitment to resettle vulnerable refugees from Syria and other conflict areas?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I am very glad that the noble Baroness recognises the extent of our efforts to resettle people who need our protection. She is right to point out that not many resettled last year, but of course we had, and continue to have, a global pandemic. To move people, unless absolutely vital, was not advisable at that time. However, it is vital that we continue to provide those safe and legal routes for people in need of our protection. Refugee resettlement will continue to be a core safe and legal route for those vulnerable people.

Health Measures at UK Borders

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 4th February 2021

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, my noble friend Lord Paddick mentioned Norway. Have the Government considered emulating the successful Norwegian system, whereby only nationals and those with legal residence are allowed into the country at all, there is testing of everyone on arrival and seven days later, paid for by the state, and of course there is an excellent test and trace system? If the Government have not considered copying such a system, why not? May I just correct the Minister and, indeed, the Prime Minister on another matter? Being under EU law and the European Medicines Agency in the transition period could not and, indeed, did not prevent the UK doing its own thing on vaccines, as it took advantage of a national derogation.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I think it is fair to say that we were being pressed last year to go with the EU in its vaccination programme and we said no, and it was the right thing to say no. I am not going to harp on and make political points, but we did the right thing at the right time. I do not say that from a position of carping: we did the right thing at the right time; we procured at the right time; it was absolutely the right thing to do and we should be really proud of that.

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 14th September 2020

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 - Government Bill Page View all Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank noble Lords for the points that they have made on these amendments. Perhaps I may address Amendments 43 and 72 together, as they both concern data protection.

I appreciate the concerns to protect data subjects’ rights and to ensure that data sharing for immigration control or enforcement purposes does not prevent people living in this country accessing public services to which they are perfectly entitled. However, I cannot agree to these new clauses, because they would not be proportionate or constructive amendments to the Bill, or indeed address the concerns behind the amendments, and I shall say why.

They would restrict immigration authorities in performing their lawful duties in respect of immigration control, including being able to confirm a person’s immigration status, and they would be unable to prevent potential prejudice to the immigration system. Essentially, the new clauses would expressly prohibit the Home Office from using a necessary and lawful exemption in the Data Protection Act 2018, should it have cause to do so. The immigration exemption has been debated previously in this House and concerns raised have been addressed on those occasions.

The exemption applies to restrict specified data subjects’ rights where the maintenance of effective immigration control, or the investigation or detection of activities that would undermine the maintenance of effective immigration control, are likely to be prejudiced. Rightly, it should apply to anyone who is subject to immigration control, including EEA and Swiss citizens. The new clause proposed in Amendment 43 would therefore constitute a difference in treatment on the grounds of nationality. We do not believe that that can be justified, as one purpose of the Bill is to ensure that there will be no difference in treatment between EEA citizens and those from the rest of the world when it comes to immigration policy.

Amendment 72 would have a similar effect in creating a difference in treatment based on nationality. The effect of the amendment in the clause would be to maintain the current position, so that one particular aspect of the compliant environment—data sharing—would not apply to those who now benefit from free movement. The amendment would have no effect as far as non-EEA citizens are concerned, and data collected in relation to them could still be used for immigration control or enforcement purposes, thereby treating them unequally under the law.

With regard to the immigration exemption dealt with in Amendment 43, it might help if I expand on the safeguards built into the Data Protection Act. The exemption can be applied only on a case-by-case basis and only where it is necessary and proportionate to do so. It cannot be, and is not, used to target any group of people, be they EEA citizens or otherwise. Nor does the application of the exemption set aside all data subjects’ rights; it sets aside only those listed in paragraph 4 of Schedule 2. A further limitation is that the exemption can be applied only where compliance with the relevant rights will be likely to prejudice the maintenance of effective immigration control. This “prejudice” test must be applied first, and, as a result, the situations in which the exemption can be used are significantly limited. The noble Lord, Lord Oates, asked me to give numbers. I cannot do so at this point, but I will see whether I can access them.

Furthermore, the exemption may be applied only so long as the prejudice can be seen to be evidenced and must be removed thereafter. It is not used to restrict access to personal data that would allow a person to further a claim; it is used only where we need to restrict access to sensitive data—for example, details of ongoing enforcement operations.

The exemption has been found to be lawful by the courts, and the ICO has issued robust guidance on how and when it may be used—guidance that the Home Office adheres to. Furthermore, the Home Office has robust safeguards and controls in place to ensure that data is handled securely, lawfully, ethically and in accordance with all relevant data protection regulations. I say again that the Home Office must at all times comply with the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 when data is shared.

Similar to Amendment 72, Amendment 74 seeks to limit the use of data. To reiterate the points that I made to noble Lords during the recess, I reassure them that the services that we provide to third parties for checking immigration status information about EU settlement status can be accessed and used only to check an individual’s immigration status and the rights associated with that status.

I will explain how users can view and prove their immigration status under the EU settlement scheme. Individuals can authenticate securely on the “view and prove your settled or pre-settled status” online service, where they can view their immigration status information and choose to share it with third parties for a variety of reasons. To take the example of right-to-work checks, the individual selects the option to share their right-to-work information and is given a time-limited code, which can be emailed or given to the employer. The employer uses the share code, along with the individual’s date of birth, to access just the information needed to confirm the individual’s eligibility to work, via the “view a job applicant’s right to work details” service on GOV.UK. The information provided to the employer can be previewed by the individual and contains only information relating to their right-to-work entitlements, along with the individual’s name and facial image for verification purposes and the expiry date of the leave, where appropriate. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, who asked me to reiterate this point, is satisfied with my explanation.

For other services such as health, benefits and banking, users can share basic information about their status under the settlement scheme and the process works in exactly the same way. Checking organisations can access the information on a time-limited basis, via the “check someone’s settled or pre-settled status” service. The information provided in this service represents the minimum amount of data required for those checking organisations to perform their duties, and again includes the individual’s name, facial image, the leave they have been granted and the expiry date where applicable.

Third parties do not have access to the immigration database. An individual must choose to share their immigration status through the “view and prove” service before it can be viewed by third parties such as employers. Picking up on the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, the police do not have access to the EU settlement scheme or the immigration database, but we are working with other parts of government to develop system checks to share immigration status for specific purposes such as health and benefits. For example, we will provide information to the National Health Service to support it in establishing whether an individual is entitled to access free healthcare.

I hope that noble Lords are now assured that we are committed to delivering immigration status services for the purposes of checking immigration status information only. These services have been designed to protect the personal information of those with EU settled status and have been built around GDPR principles, including that of data minimisation, ensuring that the information available to third parties is only what is absolutely necessary. I hope that, with those words, the noble Baroness is happy to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for her answers but the first is, again, the disingenuous objection that the amendment focuses only on Swiss nationals and is therefore discriminatory on the grounds of nationality. I repeat something that my noble friend Lady Hamwee has said at least twice: it is up to the Government to extend it to all migrants if they wish.

Can the Minister tell us—she may have to write to me—whether any other EEA countries have exempted immigration data in their implementation of the general data protection regulation? Also, she said that the Data Protection Act was compliant with GDPR, but that remains to be seen. I think it is doubtful because that regulation, which I worked on as an MEP, provides no blanket exclusion of immigration data. The Minister did not respond on the prospect of a data adequacy decision from the European Commission. Winning this decision is of huge significance to our security and our businesses.

The combination of this part of the Data Protection Act, not retaining the charter and constant noises about the European convention is not designed to increase the confidence of the European Commission in granting a data adequacy decision. Not getting that will seriously prejudices the chances of the cross-border police co-operation that is vital to this country. The UK has made a huge contribution in that area in building up the EU justice and security measures, as was shown when Theresa May was Home Secretary about six years ago and we had the mass opt back in to all the vital measures. If we are unable to continue that, we will not be able to access information required to catch serious criminals and it will prejudice the security of British citizens. Also, if we do not get a data adequacy decision, it will be much more difficult for businesses to transfer data across the EEA—tech businesses are particularly reliant on data—using other, clunkier routes.

Already, a shadow has been cast on the ability to get a data adequacy assessment by the surveillance provisions in the Investigatory Powers Act and others; that has been the subject of several court cases in Luxembourg and Strasbourg. It is dangerous to undermine further the chances of a data adequacy decision. There are higher things than the Home Office’s wish to have constant access to this data.

Hope springs eternal. I thank the Minister for what she said on Amendment 74, which I will read carefully in Hansard. Unfortunately, she is not giving me any comfort on the other amendments, including Amendment 43, which I moved. However, at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, I will have to read what the Minister has said when I pore over Hansard, but I do not think that I am reassured in relation to the grace period SI. This SI refers to how the provisions of the EEA regulations 2016 continue to have effect despite the revocation of those regulations by this Bill—but it is the EEA regulations, unlike Appendix EU for the settlement scheme, which require CSI.

In accordance with the promise made by the then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2017, CSI would not be required as part of a settlement scheme application, but the grace period SI, by referring to the EEA regulations, as opposed to the rules under Appendix EU, that is EU settlement scheme rules, appears to be reintroducing the requirement for CSI. This is complicated and perhaps I have not properly understood it, and I will have to pore over what the Minister says.

Representatives of the 3 million were told by an official at the end of last week that there appeared to be a mistake, although this is only hearsay—perhaps this official did not understand any more than I did—but immigration lawyers who are trying to advise EU citizens on this think there is a problem. Referring to the EEA regulations incorporates a requirement for CSI—that is to say private health insurance—which has not been required during the settlement scheme application to date, but suddenly, in the grace period, it will be. Citizenship will also be required, but there is a discretion for that. Unlike for citizenship, there does not even appear to be a discretion to exempt it for settled status.

Clearly, the Minister, who is shaking her head at me, thinks I have continued to misunderstand this, but I remain less than reassured, and I hope I will manage to get it clearer in my own head. Perhaps more importantly, people whose profession it is to understand the EEA regulations and the settlement scheme, as opposed to a mere legislator, might be reassured by the Minister’s words, and I will defer to her.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I hope the noble Baroness takes a look at Hansard. These are not the easiest things that we are discussing, but I understand the grace period SI does not affect the criteria for the EUSS status. The SI is protecting the EEA rights of those who have them at the end of the transition period. I know we will speak further, and I know that she will read Hansard, but I hope in reiterating that point again, she will feel happy that the amendment is withdrawn.

Reading Terrorist Attack

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 23rd June 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, as the noble Baroness will know, I cannot make any comment on the individual from Sunday’s tragic events. She is absolutely right that enough resource must be given to prisons to put in place programmes—often multiagency programmes—to rehabilitate individuals and provide theological teachings to correct some of the more warped teachings they may have learned. On the ISC, I do not know the answer to that, so I will not pretend to know. I do not know when it is next due to meet, but I can certainly take that back.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD) [V]
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My Lords, the Home Secretary said yesterday in the other place:

“There is always more work to do, and I am sure there is more that can be done in the future.”—[Official Report, Commons, 22/6/20; col. 1087.]


I think we all take the point made by my noble friend Lord Paddick that it is neither possible nor proportionate to keep everyone of concern to MI5 under surveillance. When the Intelligence and Security Committee is up and running, which I too hope is very soon, can the noble Baroness and her ministerial colleagues encourage it to assess whether there need to be changes in the resourcing, operations or focus of the security and intelligence services and counterterrorist police to enable them better to keep track of people already on their radar?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I have already gone through the figures for CT policing and for policing in general. I am sure the noble Baroness will have heard them. I am confident that our security and intelligence services have the resources they need. I concur with what the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said about keeping people under surveillance. Not everything can be solved by legislation, but intelligence-led information is incredibly important. It will be at the heart of how we go forward so that people who are a danger to themselves and to others do not slip through the net.

Covid-19: UK Border Health Measures

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 4th June 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I absolutely give that commitment to my noble friend. The sooner that these measures are lifted the better, because it means that the virus will have been completely suppressed, the country will be opening up again and the economy will be moving. Manchester Airport, which I visited just before lockdown started—it was absolutely ghostly at the time, and I do not think any planes have flown out of there in the last few weeks—is my local airport, and I absolutely look forward to it being up and running again.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, it is widely commented that this is a three-week window-dressing exercise that is political rather than led by the science, in order to save certain faces. Can the Minister answer with a yes or no the question that was asked yesterday in the other place and earlier in this House by, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Reid: was SAGE consulted on, and did it recommend, the measures in the new regulations? Yes or no?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Yes, my Lords, the Government are led by the science. It is up to SAGE if it wants to publish papers but it is absolutely not compelled to do so. It has published its minutes up to 1 May. As I said before, SAGE advises the Government and it is up to the Government to make decisions based on that advice.

Policing: Covid-19 Guidance and Legislation

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 5th May 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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There are many questions in the noble Lord’s question. I would say that, in the enforcement of the new emergency regulations, there were definitely some initial inconsistencies among police forces. As I said in response to other noble Lords, that is because we are in an unprecedented situation and have all been operating at a fast pace to keep the public safe. We are now confident that the police are applying the new measures properly and proportionately. They are using the four-step escalation principles of engage, explain, encourage and then enforce. On the point about engagement with the guidance, the Government are engaging with the various stakeholders when drawing it up.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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In response to my noble friend Lord Beith, the Minister said that we should be mindful of the need not to confuse law and guidance. However, is it not a fact that government ministerial Statements and publications have elided and thus confused the two, which has often put the police in an invidious position? I see that while the Coronavirus Outbreak FAQs were revised on 1 May, they still seem to interchange between what you cannot do and what you should not do. Will the Government now clearly distinguish between the two to make life easier for the public and, indeed, for the police?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Baroness’s noble friend Lord Beith helpfully distinguished between the two. The regulations are drafted in a way that draws a distinction between them and the guidance. The regulations are the law and the law is what applies. They set out the legal obligations and the guidance sets out best practice to assist in compliance with the law. While examples of inconsistencies have been reported in the press, given that 86% of the public are complying with the law and 70% support what the police are doing, I think that we are going in the right direction.

Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report stage
Monday 23rd March 2020

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Wood of Anfield Portrait Lord Wood of Anfield (Lab)
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My Lords, the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, highlights the need for caution over any period of detention before an individual is brought before the judge. From the points just made, I think the House can agree that it is unclear why these detention periods are inconsistent in different cases. The efforts to draw the House’s attention to this certainly have the support of this side of the House. I hope the Minister can offer the House an explanation as to the reason behind this inconsistency between urgent cases under the 2003 Act’s category 1 and category 2.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, for her explanation and the noble Lord, Lord Wood. As noble Lords will know, the courts to which all extradition suspects must be taken, whether arrested under Part 1 or Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003—as currently or as amended by this Bill—are Westminster Magistrates’ Court for England and Wales, Edinburgh Sheriff Court for Scotland and Belfast magistrates’ court for Northern Ireland. Currently, the person arrested under the Act must generally be brought before the appropriate judge “as soon as practicable” following arrest. Under the new power of provisional arrest in this Bill, it must occur “within 24 hours”.

The reason the Bill was originally drafted in this way was to strike a balance between getting arrested individuals before a judge as quickly as possible—the point the noble Lord, Lord Wood, makes—and allowing the police sufficient time to gather supporting information. This mirrored, in a more stringent form, the approach to provisional arrest in Part 1 of the Extradition Act 2003, which requires an individual to be brought before an appropriate judge within 48 hours of arrest. But I am conscious that the drafting departs from the general requirement currently imposed on the police after they make arrests under other existing powers in the Extradition Act 2003—the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, makes.

I listened carefully at Second Reading and in Committee, and I have concluded that the new power of arrest in the Bill should be consistent in this respect with existing law and practice in relation to Part 2 of the 2003 Act and should therefore mirror the wording “as soon as practicable”. This will ensure that individuals are not detained for any longer than is strictly necessary. If, for example, an individual is arrested in central London, “as soon as practicable” would in all probability be within 24 hours. Our operational partners have already proved themselves effective at producing wanted persons before courts within strict timeframes, and the three UK extradition courts have proved strict arbiters of police actions under the “as soon as practicable” requirement.

Therefore, I intend to introduce a government amendment to this effect at Third Reading to address those concerns. The amendment will leave out the words “within 24 hours” and insert “as soon as practicable” in their place, as well as consequently deleting the express exclusion of weekends and bank holidays in the calculation of the 24-hour period. While the language will not explicitly rule out production on weekends or bank holidays, these factors will, of course, be relevant to the practicability of bringing an individual before an appropriate judge. If public holidays or court opening times were to change in future, the legislation would not need to be amended to take account of that. It remains the Government’s intention that the arrested person be brought before a judge sitting in court and so the concept of “as soon as practicable” will remain subject to court sitting times, which are determined by the judiciary. There may, of course, be a multitude of other factors which affect, in the individual case, the practicability of bringing an individual before a judge, such as distance, natural disasters or illness of the arrested individual. We continue to think it is right, therefore, that the judiciary is the arbiter, in the individual case, of whether this test of “as soon as practicable” is met, and it will be able to do so in determining any application for discharge under Section 74D(10).

I hope that the noble Baroness and the noble Lord are content with those intentions, which I will bring back at Third Reading and that the noble Baroness will be happy to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister for having productively reflected on this. I can see the original attraction of a rigid time limit, and the Minister is right that there is inconsistency in the Extradition Act 2003, because there is a 48-hour limit for provisional arrest in Part 1. Perhaps that is what guided the drafting of the original Bill. As the Minister said, the experience of the relevant courts dealing with extradition in the different jurisdictions is that they are prompt and do not sit on these things. Therefore we can rely on the operations of the courts to make sure that “as soon as practicable” happens and that it is only some kind of force majeure that stops that being very soon, taking into account what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, said at Second Reading and in Committee about the ability of a judge to be available, certainly in the Westminster court, on a Saturday. I am very grateful and look forward to the amendment that the Minister intends to bring back at Third Reading.

Forgive me if, in all the turmoil at the moment, my knowledge of procedure has gone slightly AWOL: I think I still need to move the amendment. No? Okay, then I shall withdraw it. I am obviously not very good at this—that is why we need my noble friend Lady Hamwee here. I end by saying that on the basis of the assurances and promises of the Minister, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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My Lords, we on these Benches support Amendment 3 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy. We hope that the Government will confirm the involvement of the devolved Administrations and believe that there is a strong case to be made for consulting NGOs that have experience of the country concerned, however knowledgeable the Foreign and Commonwealth Office may be.

On the “risks” mentioned in paragraph (b) of the amendment, I imagine that the noble Lord means that he expects the Government to make an assessment of balance and proportionality in whatever conclusion they reach on the suitability of a country to be included.

Of course, we totally support his reference in paragraph (c) to the need to avoid the abuse of Interpol red notices, to which I referred in moving Amendment 1. I have said that I am a patron of Fair Trials International and I want to give it a plug: it has done sterling work on this issue in the past few years and can, I believe, take considerable credit for the reforms that have been made to Interpol red notices so far. They do not go far enough but reference has been made in previous stages of the Bill to the fact that some reform is going on at Interpol; that needs to improve because there is still the problem of abuse. Perhaps one day there will not be and we can look again, but, for the moment, Amendment 3 is very appropriate.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank both noble Lords who have spoken. I was looking at the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, slightly strangely because it is unusual to speak twice on the same group of amendments. It really does not matter because these are very unusual times, so it is not a precedent.

I do not know whether noble Lords want me to go through the full arguments today or whether they want to return to them at Third Reading; I sense that that is the mood of the House. Noble Lords have made their arguments. For the reason that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, is not here and would like a further crack at this whip, I suggest that we let this lie for the moment and return to it at Third Reading, if that is okay with noble Lords.

Windrush Lessons Learned Review

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 19th March 2020

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, the fact that this report has now been published is of course welcome, and I thank Wendy Williams; the timing is however less than optimal. I also thank the journalist Amelia Gentlemen, without whose brilliant and dogged investigative work the report would not have happened.

In the Government’s response, which is promised within six months, we on these Benches want the assurance of a thorough overhaul of the culture of disbelief and carelessness in the Home Office, so that its attitudes, assumptions and processes around immigration are, in the words of the report, “rooted in humanity”, which is not the case at the moment. The Home Secretary surely cannot have needed this review to become aware of what the report calls the

“ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation within the department, which are consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism.”

That sounds like a very carefully negotiated sentence.

Surprisingly, the Statement says that

“we were all shocked to discover”

the insensitive treatment of the Windrush generation. That is not credible. The whole point of the hostile environment was to be brutal and send a harsh, intolerant message. As the report says, the consequences were foreseeable and avoidable, and warning signs were not heeded by officials or Ministers. It was a profound institutional failure. The scandal and the blighting of lives are not just down to staff mistakes and poor decisions, because the tone was set from the top. However, if retraining is needed then we need to hear what is happening on that front.

The Home Secretary failed to give my colleague in the other place, Wendy Chamberlain, the guarantee she sought that for the sake of public health during the coronavirus crisis no data would be passed from the NHS to the Home Office for immigration purposes, otherwise migrants with uncertain status could be deterred from seeking care or treatment. I now ask for clarity on such a guarantee. Will the Government also commit to scrapping the right-to-rent law, which, as has been shown by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, causes landlords to discriminate against people from the BAME communities and/or who do not have a British passport?

To avoid a budding new Windrush scandal, will the Government now commit to automatically guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens to stay? Something that the report highlighted was the lack of documentary evidence that the Windrush generation had. We have persistently and consistently asked that EU citizens should at least get documentary proof.

Lastly, my noble friend Lady Hamwee, who very much wishes she could have been here today, tells me that last week when she visited a school to talk to sixth-formers about Parliament and her work, they wanted to discuss immigration issues. She was critical of Home Office culture. A teacher who was sitting in out of interest could not contain herself: she told my noble friend and the students that, as a Canadian, it had taken her 10 years to get the right to be here and that the way she had been treated by the Home Office, especially at Lunar House, was the worst experience of her life.

I really hope that the Home Office will have a thorough transformation of its culture, so that it acts as a welcome to migrants who we wish to make part of our society, as well as exercising firm and fair immigration control.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, for the points that they have made. Both of them questioned the timing. It is absolutely right to say that because of COVID-19 we are in very strange times. I think that the Home Secretary was absolutely right to publish the report within a day of receiving it; both Houses have been clamouring for this report to be published and she has done just that.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about the recommendations being delivered in full. One thing that comes out of this thoughtful report are the words of Wendy Williams herself, who says:

“It is, in my view, extremely important that the department undertakes a period of profound reflection on the areas identified in this report … to identify what they think needs to change, and how.”


For the Home Secretary to take a view on that the following day in a knee-jerk way would be wrong. She is perfectly right to reflect on it and to respond in a considered way.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, talked about one in 20 claimants receiving compensation. One thing that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said today is that not only will people receive full compensation but there will not be a cap on compensation. We are trying to process the claims as quickly as possible, and payments are being made. We are trying to reach out to people. I talked about the community events that have been taking place, and the communications campaign that my right honourable friend and I talked about today will be going on. We are making interim payments on some claims where we can resolve parts of the claim much more quickly than other parts to ensure that claimants receive their awards as quickly as possible. Some cases are more complex than others, and it is right that we take the time to ensure that they are settled properly. The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about further victims receiving compensation. We will absolutely be reaching out to those people. We want everybody who deserves compensation to receive it.

The noble Lord also touched upon further deportations. Of course, deportations are referenced in this, and they go far wider than Windrush, but my right honourable friend the Home Secretary stated today that no Windrush people were deported on the recent flight about which there was debate in this House and the other place. On deportations generally, the Home Secretary would breach her obligations under the UK Borders Act 2007 were she not to deport people eligible for deportation.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, also asked about keeping the compensation scheme open for longer. As I said in my Statement, the Home Secretary said earlier that it will be open until April 2023, so that is another three years.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, asked why we cannot make the EU settlement scheme declaratory. It is precisely because the Windrush people were almost under that declaratory system that they could not prove that they had the right to be here, and it was when people were having to prove their right of settled status that things began to unravel. Of course, digital status now means that that status is on the record for ever.

Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading
Tuesday 4th February 2020

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords across the House for their very good contributions to this debate. We should not forget that without this new power a potentially dangerous individual encountered by the police, whom they establish is a fugitive, might remain at liberty on UK streets, able to offend or abscond before they can be arrested. I can confirm that in both the cases I voiced today the individuals were encountered by chance; the police did not have the power to arrest them and had to let them go.

I am sure everyone in this House will agree that we should unite across parties to give the police the power they need to protect the public, while always ensuring that the appropriate safeguards are in place. My noble friend Lord King and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, described in great clarity not only the changing face of crime and the huge demands on the police but the international aspect of crime in all its forms.

Several noble Lords have voiced concerns that this Bill is an attempt by the Government to replicate the capability of the EAW. As I hope I have explained, this is not the case. The new power is about only how wanted individuals enter the court system, not how the courts will conduct their extradition proceedings. I emphasise that, with or without access to the EAW, UK police officers are unable immediately to arrest these fugitives wanted by countries outside the EU without first going to the court for a warrant.

The noble Lord, Lord Ricketts, rightly raised the future of the EAW post transition period. The UK will approach the negotiations on these issues with practicality and pragmatism. The political declaration calls for practical operational co-operation, data-driven law enforcement and multilateral co-operation through EU agencies. The detail of this agreement will be a matter for negotiation, but it does not just apply to the EAW. It applies to several other instruments of the EU. I absolutely acknowledge his concern.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, asked whether the EAW would continue to be enforced during the transition period; they talked specifically about Germany, Slovenia and Austria. It applies during the transition period, but where a member state cannot for reasons related to the principles of their national law surrender an own national to the UK during the transition period, they will be expected—as they have been—to take over the trial or sentence of the person concerned. UK policing and courts have extensive experience of working with these countries to ensure that justice is carried out. By way of background, since 2009 five German nationals, one Austrian national and no Slovenian nationals have been extradited to the UK from those countries. We are well used to the situation. It is nothing to do with this Bill. The power of provisional arrest is for Part 2 non-EU countries.

The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, asked about replacing other aspects of the EAW. He asked whether the power will replicate other aspects of capability from the EAW such as the expedited extradition process. It will not. This new power is similar to the EAW only in so far as it provides for an immediate power of arrest. It does not change the subsequent extradition proceedings or the role of the Home Secretary in extraditions, which are dealt with under Part 2 of the Extradition Act. The person who has been arrested must be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest—although I take the point of the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark, that if it happens on a Saturday night it might be a bit more than that—and the subsequent extradition process remains as it exists now.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and my noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater asked two equal and opposite questions: why now, and why not before now? Interpol data is now routinely uploaded to UK systems to make it available to front-line law enforcement officers. This means that the UK police might encounter an individual who, by performing a simple database check, they can see is wanted for a serious crime abroad. That was not previously the case. As I said, within the current system, the police are unable to arrest the individual immediately. There is an obvious gap, we have responded to that with the Bill, and Interpol is now available to front-line police.

A couple of noble Lords asked about reciprocity. Why is the power being extended to cover countries that will not arrest on the basis of an Interpol notice issued in the UK? Why is there not a reciprocal arrangement? We need to be clear that under the Bill we are creating powers for the UK police, not obligations to the countries concerned. The Bill will enable UK police officers to protect the public more effectively. It is about ensuring that UK police officers have the power to remove dangerous individuals from our streets before they can abscond or offend, not about bringing more wanted individuals back to the UK from other countries. Were this new power restricted to operating on a reciprocal basis, police officers could be put in a situation of encountering a dangerous individual on the street but being unable to arrest them due to the legal provisions of another country, and that does not make any sense.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, asked what safeguards there are to show what steps the NCA has taken. It is a requirement of the Bill that the NCA issues a certificate setting out the category 2 territory, confirms that it is a valid request, certifies that it has reasonable grounds for believing that the offence is a serious extradition offence, and that the conduct is sufficiently serious that the certificate must be given to the arrested person as soon as is practicable after that arrest. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, talked about sentences such as 10 years for theft. In fact, this not only applies to prison sentences of at least three years but, as I said, it applies to sufficiently serious offences. Offences such as stealing a bike or shoplifting would not satisfy that second point.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, talked about human rights considerations. It is right that noble Lords interrogate this point, but the Bill is purely about shifting the point at which the police can intervene and arrest a wanted person. It in no way reduces the safeguards that must apply to any subsequent extradition proceedings considered by the court or the Home Secretary. Judicial oversight will continue as it does now after any arrest. The courts will continue to assess extradition requests as they do now, to determine, for example, whether extradition would be compatible with the individual’s human rights or whether the person would receive a fair trial. If they would not do so, extradition would be barred. That would include things such as the prison conditions that they might face and of course the death penalty, which the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, raised.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, asked about the triage process. First, it applies only to specified countries; countries with a poor human rights record are not in scope. The addition of any other country will require the consent of both Houses of Parliament. Secondly, it applies only to sufficiently serious offences; the power will be available only in relation to offences that would be criminal in the UK and for which an offender could receive a prison sentence of at least three years.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark of Calton, my noble friend Lord Inglewood and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, asked whether we already have the power to get an emergency warrant in urgent cases under the current mechanism for provisional warrants—basically, do we not already have the correct provisions in place? Crucially, however, under the current mechanism the police must already be aware that the individual is in the UK. It is not relevant here, as this legislation is concerned with chance encounters. The Bill creates an additional, different mechanism, which deals with these chance cases.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark of Calton, my noble friend Lord Inglewood and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, interrogated again the necessity for the Bill because of the numbers that might be involved. Obviously, it is a new power, so there is no accurate way to predict how many people it will apply to, and there is no quota, which makes this the right thing to do for security and public safety. It is about ensuring that UK police officers have the power to arrest dangerous individuals whenever they come across them on the street, to prevent them offending or absconding. However, I am clear today, as I was yesterday, that one dangerous fugitive on the streets of the UK whom we cannot arrest is one too many.

On some of the figures we have now, as of 31 December last year, over 4,000 Interpol alerts were in circulation from the countries specified in the Bill. Not all will be for fugitives in the UK, and not all will meet the seriousness criteria for this new arrest power. However, they include requests relating to terrorism, rape and murder, and if any of these wanted fugitives enter the UK or are encountered by police on UK streets, the police would not currently be able to arrest the individual. One dangerous fugitive is one too many.

The other question about necessity relates to the point made by my noble friend Lord King, which I echoed, on the international nature of crime now.

The number six in the impact assessment has been interrogated widely. It is not an indication of the number of dangerous individuals who would be arrested under this power; it is an analysis to assess the economic impact on the wider system. It is not a prediction of arrest numbers; that is to misunderstand the analysis. We cannot quantify how many opportunities to arrest dangerous fugitives have been missed because they have been missed. We can quantify the 4,000 Interpol alerts currently on the UK systems from specified countries; of course, the police would not have powers to arrest without the Bill.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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I put it to the noble Baroness that the statement in the impact assessment seems pretty clear. It says:

“The policy is expected to result in 6 individuals entering the CJS more quickly than would otherwise have been the case.”


That seems pretty simple. How can it mean anything but that?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I am clarifying why that is not the case but if I am not clear, I will write in further detail to noble Lords before Committee. I am aware that time is pressing and I have a few more points to cover.

The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark, mentioned the lack of judicial scrutiny. That will come after the 24-hour period through the courts.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, talked about abuse of Interpol channels. International organisations such as Interpol are critical to our vision of a global Britain and international law enforcement co-operation beyond the EU. Interpol provides a secure channel through which we exchange information on a police-to-police basis for action. The UK continues to work with Interpol to ensure that its rules are robust. The former chief constable of Essex was recently made the executive director of policing services for Interpol—the most senior operational role in that organisation. Also, a UK Government lawyer was seconded to the Interpol legal service to work with it to ensure that Interpol rules are properly robust and adhered to by Interpol member states. I know the issue to which the noble Lord refers, but I hope that this gives him some comfort.

Facial Recognition Surveillance

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 27th January 2020

(1 year, 12 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Lord makes a very good point and I think I know to which cases he is referring. The police must be able to use the technology available for policing purposes, but within the framework I have just discussed.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, the ICO statement of last Friday reiterated the call for the Government to introduce a statutory, binding code of practice, so there has been no change since October. Can the Minister tell us whether she believes the comment in the Statement, “The innocent should have nothing to fear”? Is she proud of that comment by the Government? It really is a complete red herring in terms of data protection and privacy rights.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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No, I reiterate that statement.

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Debate between Baroness Ludford and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 14th January 2020

(2 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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I think my noble friend is forgetting that immigration data is not protected under the Data Protection Act put through last year or the year before. I think there is litigation going on about that.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The point I am making is that if you have a physical document which outlines everything, people have access to everything. When people go into banks, they do not necessarily know which documents to bring. Under the digital status, employers and landlords are entitled to see only the data which they need to see.

Lord Warner Portrait Lord Warner
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Before the Minister moves on, sticking with this issue, I am totally confused—more than usual. The Minister said earlier that, if I have been sent my letter from the Home Office describing my status, I can then apply for another document of some kind that I can produce to other people who want the other document. That seems to be an alternative to the code. Will the Minister explain what is the difference between the letter and the other document that I can apply for, which apparently I can use to satisfy someone that I am entitled to something?

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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Before the Minister gets up, I do not think I heard her answer the question about whether the settled status database is going to be available outside the Home Office, within government and to third-parties outside government. Will she answer that very precise point?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I shall start with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Warner. The letter is confirmation that you have been successful. It is not evidence of your status, but it is there for anyone who wishes to have a physical document to say that they have been successful.

On the digital status—this comes to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford—if you want to rent, it could be accessed by the landlord. There is access to the data for people who need to see it for the purposes for which they need to see it.

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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No. I am going to continue, and the noble Lord can speak when I have finished if he wishes.

I want to move on to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Oates, made about the criminalisation of people who do not apply by the deadline. That is a very important point—made also, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord McNicol. An EU citizen who fails to apply to the EU settlement scheme before the deadline will not be acting unlawfully in the same way as an illegal entrant or overstayer would be. They will not have knowingly entered the UK in breach of the Immigration Act or overstayed their leave. That is an important point to make. Once free movement has ended, they will need leave to remain in the UK—there is an important distinction there. We set up the EU settlement scheme to provide a quick and easy way to secure that leave, confirming their status in the UK.

We have been very clear that we will take a pragmatic approach, in line with the agreements, to provide those who have reasonable grounds for missing the deadline with a further opportunity to apply. I hope that that helps the noble Lord. He might want to intervene to ask what constitutes reasonable grounds for missing the deadline. We have deliberately not published a list of acceptable grounds for missing the deadline. As the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, requested, we will send reminders to those with pre-settled status six months before their leave expires so that they can apply for settled status. In the first instance, we want to continue to encourage people to apply. We do not want to provide an exhaustive list as we want to give ourselves the maximum possible flexibility when this situation arises. Examples of people in such a situation might include a child whose parents or guardian failed to apply on their behalf, people in abusive or controlling relationships who are prevented from applying or from obtaining the documents they need, or those who, as I said before, lacked the physical or mental capacity to apply.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, pressed me again on the automatic reminder. I have previously confirmed that there will be an automatic reminder. In fact, in the EU Settlement Scheme: Statement of Intent, published in June 2018—quite some time ago—we committed to reminding people ahead of the expiry of their pre-settled status and it remains our intention to do so. That is not in place yet, as it will not be needed until five years after the first granting of pre-settled status, if that makes sense, so it will be September 2023 at the latest. The noble Baroness is looking puzzled. That is because March 2019 was day one, so it will not be needed for another five years.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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If they had already had two years, they would not need another five years.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Baroness is absolutely right. I think that my last statement was wrong, but I shall confirm that to her in writing.

The noble Baroness talked about people struggling, and I think that I have outlined some of the ways in which we are trying to help people to make their application. She will have heard me say previously how we have put money into various centres around the country to help people.

The noble Baroness also asked whether we are still granting permanent residence. Yes, we are.

On the question of why settled status is better than permanent residence, you do not have to be exercising treaty rights to get settled status; there is a more generous right of return—so five years rather than two years permitted absence—and there is an automatic entitlement, as a UK national, to benefits for those with settled status. However, that does not stop people from applying for permanent residence, and they do.

Finally, my noble friend Lord Hamilton of Epsom and the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, talked about UK nationals in the EU. I recall the discussion that we had about unilaterally guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens, but they asked about UK nationals in the EU. The withdrawal agreement that we have reached with the EU provides reciprocal protections and certainty on citizens’ rights. The agreement applies equally to EU citizens here and UK nationals in the EU, in their member state of residence, by the end of the implementation period. Ministers and officials have already engaged extensively with UK nationals across the EU and will continue to do so. I am very pleased to hear about the good experiences of the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, in Portugal.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I agree with my noble friend; of course, that will be a matter for future negotiations. In the meantime, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford
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I should correct myself. The Minister was kind enough to say that she would have another look at that reminder system. After all, people could have four years and 300 or whatever days, just not five years. That system needs to come in a lot sooner; they might need a reminder in the next few months. Also, I do not quite understand—it may just be that I do not understand immigration—why the Home Office is twin-tracking settled status and permanent residence. I take the point that for settled status you do not have to be exercising treaty rights and perhaps simply have to meet a tougher standard for permanent residence. However, I do not see the value, either to the applicant or to the aim of simplicity and understanding of the immigration system, to have these two systems running coterminously.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I ask the noble Baroness to understand that perhaps they might not be EU citizens.