Christine Jardine contributions to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2019-21

Tue 30th June 2020 Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Commons Chamber)
Report stage: House of Commons
14 interactions (785 words)
Mon 18th May 2020 Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading: House of Commons
Money resolution: House of Commons
Programme motion: House of Commons
Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons
3 interactions (798 words)

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

(Report stage: House of Commons)
Christine Jardine Excerpts
Tuesday 30th June 2020

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Dehenna Davison Portrait Dehenna Davison - Hansard
30 Jun 2020, 12:04 a.m.

The point I make is that these are some of the most serious offenders, and, as I said, my constituents would not accept something along those lines. Furthermore, when we look at statistics on current detention times, we see that for the majority those are very short, with 74% detained for less than 29 days. For those held for substantial time periods, there must be a compelling reason, such as public safety. For example, we have the example of a man who gang-raped a 16-year-old, has a history of absconding and has delayed his own removal with five unsuccessful judicial reviews. Lawful immigration detention is needed to keep the public safe, so I cannot support these amendments. My constituents want a fair immigration system but they also rightly expect that system to keep them safe.

Turning to new clause 2—

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD) - Hansard
30 Jun 2020, 12:06 a.m.

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Dehenna Davison Portrait Dehenna Davison - Hansard

I will not give way any further.

I praise my hon. Friends for their commitment to protecting children in care, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), who has long been a champion for children. Vulnerable children should always be in our minds when we make policy, and I echo the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Edward Timpson) on ensuring that nobody is left behind. However, I know that the Minister shares my concern that this proposal may inadvertently create a two-tier system. So rather than legislating in this manner, we should be strongly doing all we can to encourage local authorities to identify those vulnerable children and make sure that their EU settlement scheme applications are processed so that they have full and proper proof of their status and access to the documents for the rest of their lives, because we must never allow another situation such as Windrush to happen again.

On new clause 29, we have a proud history in this country of providing safe refuge, whether to the Kindertransport children or to Ugandan Asians fleeing Idi Amin. These are human stories and they should always be in our minds when we look at our policies today. The UK’s resettlement schemes have offered a safe route to the most vulnerable and given them a safe home on our shores. Unaccompanied children who are seeking international protection in an EU member state and have specified that family members are here in the UK should continue to be reunited with them, and I am glad that the Prime Minister has stressed the importance of that. The Government have approached the EU to offer a future reciprocal arrangement for the family reunion of unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and we know that a legal text was published in May to contribute to those negotiations. Getting a reciprocal arrangement is in the best interests of those vulnerable children and those families. We must not act unilaterally, as this amendment would have us do, as that would have a negative impact on the number of children who receive our help. Instead, we must work with the EU to form a joint agreement, and we in Parliament must allow time for these negotiations to play out, without binding the hands of our negotiators. We have seen what happens when Parliament tries to do that in past negotiations and we do not want to see a repeat of that.

This is an important Bill. It delivers on the referendum result and helps those of us on the Government Benches in particular, to repay the trust that the British people put in us in December. I vowed in December that I would do my utmost to represent the views of my constituents, whether in Bishop Auckland, Shildon, Barnard Castle or Spennymore, and that means backing this Bill and supporting a fair, robust immigration system that opens our arms to people across the world who have the talents and skills that our country needs to prosper.

Alexander Stafford Portrait Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley) (Con) - Hansard

This Bill defines the type of country that Britain will be for decades to come and, more importantly, it reflects the type of country we want to be. My constituents and I care deeply about fixing our broken immigration system and replacing it with a regime that puts the United Kingdom first.

I wish to make it clear that the Bill has the support of my constituents. Rother Valley demanded an end to free movement: the Bill ends free movement. Rother Valley urged the Government to introduce a fairer points-based system for immigrants: the Bill does that. Rother Valley called for a transition to a high-wage, high-skill and high-productive economy: the Bill delivers that change while protecting our businesses and essential public services. We voted overwhelmingly for Brexit in Rother Valley. For too long, our voices were ignored on issues such as immigration. We watched our area decline from chronic underinvestment, which caused business closures, soaring unemployment and a lack of skills, training and education.

Meanwhile, Britain experienced an unlimited and uncontrolled influx of cheap labour from Europe. Thanks to the tyranny of the European Union, there was nothing we could do to manage our borders. A fundamental aspect of sovereignty was stripped from us and left us without a voice, but we have now found our voice. We took back control in 2016 and we are taking back control today with this very Bill, unamended.

In the wake of the coronavirus, we shall have a new immigration system in place that attracts the best and brightest from around the world, no matter where they come from—from Europe and beyond.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine - Hansard

How would the hon. Gentleman react to the news that I had from my constituency that a professional couple who have lived here for 40 years—they were both born in France—and whose children were born here, who have contributed and brought skills to this country, are now thinking about leaving because of this sort of hostile environment that has been created by the Bill? Surely that goes against everything he has just said.

Alexander Stafford Portrait Alexander Stafford - Hansard

I question whether the hon. Lady’s constituents are leaving because of this Bill, but I welcome everyone wherever they came from. In fact, my grandparents came to this country, and so I do not think the Bill is scaring anyone away. To say so once again underlines why the Bill is so important and the fact that those on the Opposition Benches do not get this country.

Crucially, this Government are ensuring that there will no longer be an automatic route for low-skilled foreign workers into the UK. We shall take immigrants as and when our economy needs them, but on our terms and not forced on us by bureaucrats in Brussels or by the real power brokers in Berlin.

Break in Debate

Andrew Bowie Portrait Andrew Bowie - Hansard

I remind the hon. Member that the hostile environment was created by the previous Labour Government and had no effect on anybody who was coming into this country from the continent of Europe under freedom of movement in the first place. It is incredibly good news that more than 3.5 million applications to the EU settlement scheme have already gone through, and we can be very proud of that.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine - Hansard

Does the hon. Gentleman feel that the Prime Minister should honour the pledge he made during the general election that all EU citizens here had no need to worry about settled status and would have guaranteed citizenship?

Andrew Bowie Portrait Andrew Bowie - Hansard

What the Prime Minister sought to do during the election was to reassure anybody who was here and had come here under freedom of movement from the continent of Europe that they would always be welcome here. All hon. Members in this place should urge anyone they know who has not applied thus far for the settled status scheme to do so immediately, because they are welcome here and contribute hugely to our national debates and national life.

Break in Debate

Mr Steve Baker Portrait Mr Baker - Hansard
30 Jun 2020, 12:05 a.m.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that, and I certainly share his sentiment, but, for reasons that I am going to come on to in a moment, I am going to try to avoid any words of condemnation. I wish to thank Detention Action for providing a helpful briefing, which points out that the claim that trafficking victims, with whom it works, are rarely detained beyond 28 days is “not true”. It has given us a number of accounts, but I am sorry to say I do not have time to read all of them into the record. However, it states:

“J had to leave her country of origin because her partner, who held a senior position in the army, was abducted and she was raped by the people who abducted him. When she tried…to leave her country, she ended up being trafficked”.

The story goes on and on. Such a person ought to be helped. We have a real problem with people who have been trafficked all too often ending up with criminal offences; we end up prosecuting, whereas they are people for whom we should have compassion. I do not doubt that these cases raise extremely delicate and tricky issues of evidence and justice, because, of course, some people will plead falsely that they have an excuse under a trafficking law, but we really do have to rise to the challenge of looking after people such as J, and indeed A and P, whose stories are in this briefing.

On this point about the availability of bail meaning that people are not detained for longer than they should be, let me say that that is not correct. I understand that £8 million was paid out in unlawful detention cases in 2019, and that judges have wide discretion—indeed, my right hon. Friend’s new clauses try to reduce that discretion. Bail decisions can be made on the basis of very limited evidence, and first tier tribunal judges in bail hearings do not have jurisdiction to decide the lawfulness of detention, only the High Court can do that. On and on the evidence goes, but I do not have time to put it all on the record.

What do I really want to say to the Minister? I want to praise him and officials, because I recognise, after 10 years of representing Wycombe, diverse as it is, that dealing with immigration is an extremely delicate, difficult and tricky job, characterised by very high volumes of often heartbreaking case work. I want to pay tribute to officials and I do not want us to be in an environment of condemnation, where people who are working hard and doing their best, with high levels of skill, end up with so much incoming fire. I do, however, want to say to the Minister that I could have stood here for another 20 minutes going through cases of injustice and setting out areas where there is opportunity for reform.

As a former Brexit Minister responsible for legislation, I recognise that this is an EU withdrawal Bill and its scope is:

“To make provision to end rights to free movement of persons under retained EU law”

and so on. Listening to the debate, it seems that we have perhaps forgotten that this is the Report stage of such a Bill. I understand the scope of the Bill and that this is not the end of the journey on immigration, but I say as gently as possible to the Minister that when he comes to the Dispatch Box I am hoping that he will set out something of where the Government intend, in the round, to get to on these issues of justice in the migration system and, in particular, on the principle of indefinite detention. It is right, morally, that we should treat people equally, wherever they come from, whether they are UK citizens or not. With that in mind, we really should be working towards ending indefinite detention, and we should certainly make progress on all those other areas on which I can and will provide details to the Minister. I hope we can do that without an endless series of urgent questions and Adjournment debates.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine - Hansard

I wish to speak to new clauses 26 and 28, and to support new clauses 1, 7 to 10, 13 and 29. I believe this Bill is hugely flawed and potentially damaging because of the atmosphere it will create and the way in which it will undermine people who make a valuable contribution to our economy. If we accepted the jigsaw of amendments, we could turn the Bill on its head and it could become a positive and welcoming piece of legislation, which would value people who come to this country and make a contribution. It would welcome children, reunite them with their families and send a positive message to the rest of the world.

New clause 26 would remove the right-to-rent charges, which the High Court ruled in March 2019 caused landlords to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity when demanding proof from proposed tenants, and therefore breached their fundamental human rights. I would think that a right-thinking Government would want it in the Bill, to protect those human rights.

New clause 28 is about the sharing of data between public bodies such as police, the national health service and schools with the Home Office for immigration enforcement purposes. That is a fundamental pillar of the hostile environment that has appalling implications for those it affects, and often prevents victims and witnesses of crimes from coming forward for fear of being detained or deported.

As I say, those two new clauses could fit with the jigsaw of amendments placed before Parliament today, and fundamentally change not just the Bill but the atmosphere it creates and how it treats those who come to this country in search of a new life, including those whom we have for the past three months gone out many Thursdays and applauded for the contribution they make to our national health service and social care—the contribution they have made by putting their lives on the line for us. Instead of demanding a surcharge from them to work in that service, we should offer them indefinite right to remain in this country.

By making these changes, we would move away from the hostile environment, which I learned the origins of today, and I have to say that I am not as concerned about those as Conservative Members are. I am concerned about the impact it has had and continues to have on this country. I therefore ask the Minister and the Government to seriously consider these amendments, which would send out a message that we value people for who they are and the skills they bring to this country, and not just the monetary value of what they earn. We could do away with the NHS surcharge and allow those who have contributed to remain in this country and feel valued. We could create a system that reunites lonely, vulnerable, displaced children with their loved ones and gives them an opportunity to have a fine life, a good life in this country. We could say that we recognise that it is inhuman to keep people in detention for more than 28 days, and we could give asylum seekers the right to work, to contribute, to bring their skills to the table and help build and enhance our society and our economy, rather than denigrate them, rob them of their dignity and see, as a result, the sort of tragedy we witnessed in Glasgow last week.

We could send a message that we want to welcome people, that we will value them, and treat them humanely and with compassion. That is the country I have always understood us to be. An hon. Member said earlier that some of us on the Opposition Benches just do not get this country. I would contend that it is those of us on these Benches who do get this country, who get the people in this country and who get what they want to offer the people who come here to make a contribution and who have helped to make this country what it is.

Mr Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell - Hansard
30 Jun 2020, 12:02 a.m.

I have listened carefully to what has been said by Opposition Members, and I am not persuaded that the Bill is anything other than a good piece of legislation on the whole. The question for the House this afternoon is whether it could be improved, and that is why I put my name to the amendments and new clauses tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and by the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee. I will listen carefully to what the Minister says, but he should remember that the Bill has a long journey still ahead of it down to the other end of the Palace, where undoubtedly some of these issues will be prominent in the minds of their lordships.

Like the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West) I had the opportunity, courtesy of the Home Office, to visit Brook House. I went there following the “Panorama” programme, which led us to believe that the conditions were inhumane. Actually, I thought the conditions were both humane and decent.

I will come directly to the point I wish to make about the proposal for a 28-day limit. The problem is that the best regime in the world cannot ameliorate the fundamental injustice of a system that arbitrarily imprisons people without time limit, solely for administrative reasons. This is a matter not of criminal justice, but of the administration of our immigration rules—the distinction is important.

Many people in immigration removal centres have never been charged with any crime, while some have previously been in prison following conviction for a criminal offence, but have served their time. All are detained purely and simply because they are liable for removal. Some go on to be removed, but more than half are released at an arbitrary later date and are able to remain in the United Kingdom either temporarily or permanently. As other Members have said, we remain the only country in Europe to detain people indefinitely for the purposes of immigration enforcement.

If individuals have no right to remain here, our priority should be to strongly encourage other countries to accept the return of their citizens. That is something the coalition Government spent a lot of time trying to do from 2010 to 2015. Indeed, we should negotiate such deals and procedures as an urgent necessity. In this way, individuals are no longer left in limbo in immigration detention.

The proposal for a 28-day limit applies only to the use of arbitrary indefinite administrative detention. Convicted criminals will serve their sentences and then face removal if they have no right to remain. If the crime is particularly serious and the prisoner presents a risk to public safety, it will be for a criminal parole board to carry out a risk assessment and decide when and if they can be released. In those extreme cases, we should surely expect the immigration service to have removal arrangements in place to coincide with the release date.

The proposal is not a seismic change, but it would save the country the more than £500 a week per person that is currently spent on detention. That is a significant saving, since 27,331 people entered detention in 2017 alone. In addition, I was surprised to discover, as I indicated to my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden, that over the past five years, £21 million has been paid out in damages for unlawful detention. That figure came from a recent Home Office question. That figure could be vastly reduced, if not eradicated, if a 28-day time limit were in place.

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

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
(Money resolution: House of Commons)
(Programme motion: House of Commons)
(Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons)
Christine Jardine Excerpts
Monday 18th May 2020

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Bill Main Page
Home Office
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing) - Hansard

Order. The hon. Lady has exceeded her five minutes.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD) [V] - Hansard
18 May 2020, 12:08 a.m.

It is a delight to follow the hon. Member for Hastings and Rye (Sally-Ann Hart). Two words dominate my thinking in this debate: disappointment and frustration. My disappointment is that we are presented with a Bill that seeks to end freedom of movement without offering a fair, compassionate and effective alternative, and that the bold words from the Home Secretary are not matched by bold actions in her Bill. I am afraid that I see no point in any level playing field if it is one on which no one is welcome to play. My frustration is with the fact that the Government do not appear to have listened to the many reasonable voices from across Parliament calling on them to rethink this potentially damaging Bill.

The Bill comes at a time when everything we thought we knew about our economy, our wellbeing, our health and how we live our lives every day has been thrown into doubt by the pandemic—a pandemic which demands that we take its actual and potential impacts into account in each step we take towards putting the crisis behind us. That is more relevant to this immigration Bill than to almost any other legislation before us.

Just this morning, a Cabinet Minister told the “Today” programme that the Government want to see people we need come to this country. Surely there is nobody this country needs more at the moment than the tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and other NHS staff, the hundreds of thousands of social care workers and the millions more in sectors hit hard by this crisis—from restaurants and hotels to construction and manufacturing —in every city, town and rural community in this country who are migrants. These are migrants who are putting their lives on the line to protect us, who will be crucial to creating economic growth and jobs as we recover from this crisis, and yet who are still expected to pay the surcharge for the NHS they work for, despite the false hope offered by the Home Secretary.

The Royal Society has warned that the end of freedom of movement could mean that other countries without restrictive visas and salary qualifications will benefit from the skills and knowledge available across Europe to which we will no longer have access. In the midst of this crisis, I find it beyond understanding that the Home Secretary is pushing ahead with her plans to make it much harder for employers to hire the very people I am talking about. Visa extensions and fast tracks for some are not enough. Many of these people are the very people we go out every Thursday to applaud for their efforts and sacrifice for us. Surely the Government’s memory is not that short.

That is only part of why I believe that this House should refuse the Bill a Second Reading. Crucially, it also fails to protect the rights of British citizens to live, work and study in EU member states, and it does not fully guarantee the rights of UK citizens already living across the EU. While I am disappointed and frustrated that the Government refuse to respect the rights of EU citizens who contribute to this country, I find it beyond comprehension that they do not recognise the need to protect the rights of our citizens either.

If the stated aim of this Bill is to establish an immigration system to replace free movement that will allow businesses and public services to recruit the workers they need, then it fails. What is needed by the people living in this country right now—people depending on our NHS right now and people struggling, right now, to see how their employer or the business they have worked decades to build will survive this—is an immigration system that will work for them. All of us need a system that will encourage not only those we need to come here, but those we need to stay, and one that will encourage them by creating a fair and compassionate system that will value them according to what they do, not just by a simple salary calculation. Many will also have no recourse to public funds in this crisis.

This Government, in asking Parliament to support a Bill that will give Ministers sweeping powers, would do well to take into account the words of US politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

This Bill could have profound and, I believe, negative effects on our society and culture. Surely it is up to those of us with political power to save us from that, and that is why I will be voting against this Bill.

Mr Gagan Mohindra Portrait Mr Gagan Mohindra (South West Hertfordshire) (Con) - Hansard

I rise in support of this Bill. First and foremost, I am a democrat. I stood on a manifesto saying that we will take back control of our immigration policies, and this Bill is part of that package. Brexit and covid-19 have shown how quickly the world changes, and we need an immigration system flexible enough to ensure that we attract the skilled workers that we need for tomorrow. February’s policy statement made it clear that we need to move away from cheap labour from Europe and more towards investment in technology and automation. I would add that perhaps we need to talk about increasing manufacturing to be making our country more self-sufficient.

The system proposed is a lot simpler. It really does incorporate a points-based system, with streamlined process times that I am sure businesses will welcome. The reality is that businesses need to adapt. They are currently having to change fundamentally the way they work because of the pandemic, and this will be part of their business decision making. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South (Matt Vickers) referred to the criminality, and how this reinforces and strengthens that policy, and I am fully in agreement with him.

As things stand today, we have a two-tier immigration system. With our leaving at the end of this year, we need to have a simple single immigration system, and this immigration Bill allows that to happen. We must be flexible, yet firm on our direction of travel. The Migration Advisory Committee has done some sterling work, and I urge Ministers to ensure that a regular review is fed back to them and perhaps to the Home Affairs Committee on the parameters it uses for the shortage occupation lists. In my view, that will be the key driver in ensuring that we have the skilled workers in the right place at the right time. I welcome the proposal for the support of the agriculture sector, with the increase to 10,000 visas per year from the current 2,500.

It is probably worth remembering, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes) mentioned, that this Bill is only two clauses different from that proposed in the previous Parliament. I urge all right hon. and hon. Members to continue to encourage their European nationals to utilise the EU settlement scheme, which is fundamentally very successful. Of the 3.147 million applications, 99% have either been granted as settled or pre-settled, with only 1% having other outcomes; only 640 have been refused, so it is obviously a system that works.

I will leave it there, Madam Deputy Speaker, because I know there are other colleagues wanting to be involved in this debate. Thank you for your time.