Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 15th June 2022

(2 years ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The question of tearing up treaties probably goes slightly beyond the purview of today’s Statement. As for going against all Christian and other faith teaching, as I said on the question of morality, watching people die because they are paying traffickers and drown in the channel is the most tragic point of all of this. We should do everything that we can to stop it.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, Rwanda has been mentioned on a number of occasions and we now know the cost involved in detaining people there. Which other countries have been approached for similar arrangements and what has been the refusal rate?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Lord will understand that I cannot talk about other countries, but I know that other countries are interested in the scheme we have agreed with Rwanda.

HM Passport Office: Backlogs

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 12th May 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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In relation to this issue, I know that HMPO has sent nearly 5 million text messages to UK customers who hold an expired or soon-to-expire passport to advise them to allow up to 10 weeks when next applying—so communications are going out from our side. I do not know about other countries.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, how many additional civil servants have been taken on to deal with the backlog? Is Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who criticised the Passport Office so bitterly, now satisfied with the work of this organisation?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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HMPO’s staffing numbers have increased by 500 since last April, and it is in the process of recruiting a further 700 people. In total, as of 1 April this year, there were more than 4,000 staff in passport production roles.

Police and Crime Commissioners: Budget

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 28th March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I think all PCCs got the memo. The funding and the precept capability are there for police to not just get the numbers through the police uplift programme but to add to them through the precept, if they see fit in their area.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, there is serious concern about the recruitment of police officers from the diverse communities in this country. If the number is cut, how will we improve on this record?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, the numbers will not be cut; they are going up quite significantly—I think they went up 9% in the last year. On the point about diversity, the noble Lord is absolutely right; we talked about this last year in relation to the HMICFRS report on the back of the Daniel Morgan inquiry. Over the last four years, numbers have gone steadily up in terms of BME representation in the Metropolitan Police.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 28th February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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It is not about just willingness to help them; we will help them.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, is the Minister able to indicate how many visas or entry clearances have been refused to Ukrainian citizens since the crisis started?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The crisis is about 72 hours old, so I cannot say. I really do not know the answer so I will not pretend, but I am sure that, as the hours and days go on, the Government will have in place a system for helping refugees here and, do not forget, back in their home country. Ukrainians want to go back to Ukraine, and the best thing we can do for the whole global effort is to ensure that the war in Ukraine comes to an abrupt end.

Health Measures at UK Borders

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

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think the noble Baroness makes a really good point. We might be four nations, but we should be acting as one nation. That is the most effective and efficient way to try to control the virus and save lives.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Clark of Windermere, was right in pinpointing the difference of opinion that seems to exist between what the Home Secretary has said and what the Prime Minister says in this Statement. Could the Minister tell us whether the Home Secretary has full confidence in this Statement, after the comments the noble Lord, Lord Clark, made earlier?

According to the Statement, police have stepped up their action—quite rightly so, nobody disputes that—but how do we ensure that this does not have an adverse impact on BAME communities, as research has repeatedly shown about this type of contact with the police? What mechanisms exist to make sure that people can appeal against some very heavy fines? I do not believe that many students who receive fines of up to £2,000 or £10,000 have any capacity to pay that sort of money.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I think there should be a principle we accept that if people are fined, they have been not only acting against the law but putting the lives of other people in danger. I take the point about students being able to pay fines, but there is an obligation on each and every one of us to keep each other safe. On the noble Lord’s point about the BAME community, there is obvious evidence that the community is suffering more in terms of symptoms and illness than the population at large. The way in which we all behave has an effect on the well-being, or otherwise, of our BAME friends in this country.

Police National Computer

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 19th January 2021

(3 years, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, we need to get to the heart of what happened here, which was human error in the coding of a programme. As I said earlier, all the best IT in the world cannot prevent human error—it will happen. I am not in any way undermining the seriousness of what happened, but it was indeed human error.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD) [V]
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My Lords, we are facing a sorry state of affairs in policing issues in this country. First, despite the introduction of 20,000 new police personnel, we learn that a large number of crimes are not reported, including one in four serious crimes in the Manchester police force. Secondly, we have lost records, despite a number of requests to renew our technologies in this area. My noble friend Lord Paddick asked a question on this. Have any discussions taken place with our EU colleagues about whether this deletion of records has any implications for proceedings in their countries?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I confirm to the noble Lord that this has no relation to SIS II, so our European partners are not relevant in this case, which is one of human error. The noble Lord talked about criminal records from Greater Manchester Police; it is terrible that crimes have not been recorded and followed up, which my right honourable friend the Policing Minister is incredibly concerned about.

Windrush Compensation Scheme

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 23rd November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in settling claims under the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, the Windrush compensation scheme was established in April 2019 to compensate members of the Windrush generation for the losses and impacts that they suffered because they were unable to demonstrate lawful status. The first payment was made within four months of the scheme’s launch and, to the end of September, over £2.8 million has been paid or offered in compensation, including multiple offers of over £100,000. More payments and offers are being made every week.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, there are serious allegations of racism and racial discrimination against those who are dealing with outstanding Windrush compensation claims. The injustice has lasted for over 70 years. The evidence from Wendy Williams has been accepted. We deal with contracts on Covid, awarding millions of pounds, without proper scrutiny. The Home Office cannot be the fit and proper body to sort out these grievances. Many people have died awaiting their claims while the Home Secretary’s mind is on other matters. I ask the Minister to set out a date when all the outstanding claims will be resolved. Failing this, experience proves that the anger of the community will spill on to our streets.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I will not give some sort of defensive response to the noble Lord’s point because, if serious allegations of racism are being put out, we need to take that extremely seriously. If the noble Lord can provide me with further detail, I will take that back. He also asked whether the Home Office is indeed the right department to deal with this. I think it is the right department to deal with this in the sense that people’s identity needs to be established—which, of course, is the purview of the Home Office—before the claims are looked into. He is absolutely right to raise the issue of deceased people: first, it is tragic that someone is deceased before their claim is heard; secondly, it says to us that we need to be quicker at responding; but, thirdly, where someone is deceased, that claim can be dealt with in the appropriate manner with respect to their next of kin.

Child Trafficking

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 16th November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I am not sure what the question was. All I can say is that I absolutely agree with the premise that, first and foremost, they are victims of a crime. In supporting them, that is exactly how they should be treated—as victims first.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, human trafficking is more lucrative than indulging in drugs. There is substantial evidence that women are brought into this country, particularly from countries such as Romania, and used for sexual trafficking by those who exploit them. Now that we have anti-slavery legislation, what is being done to stop the vile trafficking in human beings?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The noble Lord is absolutely right that crime is at the heart of this and that women play a big part in the lucrativeness of that crime. We have our modern slavery Bill, and the Home Secretary will be having further discussions with my noble friend Lord McColl on how we deal with victims of trafficking. This country has been a very safe refuge for people genuinely fleeing traffickers.

Asylum System

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 28th September 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Victims who are not from the UK will have the support and help they need to get out of the situation into which they have been forced or in which they find themselves, which is a slightly different issue from seeking asylum. In other words, you are either a victim of trafficking and slavery, in which case you need one set of support, or you are seeking asylum from a dangerous country.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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What discussions are taking place with the Government of France about the new arrangements for asylum co-operation? If the present Dublin agreement fails and we fail to reach an agreement, what will happen regarding asylum seekers settling in this country and the future prospects of settlement?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Clearly, France is geographically very close to us. We are in constant dialogue with France. We do not seek to replicate Dublin, of course, but in our reaching out to the EU with legal texts to see what happens after the transition period, we remain hopeful that those discussions will be fruitful.

Public Order

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 9th June 2020

(4 years ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, the Colston statue is in Bristol, and therefore is a matter for the elected representatives of Bristol to deal with democratically. If people are not happy with the democratic process in Bristol, they can do something about it at the ballot box. If people want to make representations to Sadiq Khan about the various statues they may object to across London, it is for them to do so.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD) [V]
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My Lords, it is 72 years since the arrival of the “Empire Windrush” and three factors have remained constant. Racism and racial discrimination are a reality in the lives of the black and ethnic minority community. Geographically and economically, they find themselves in the same place that was allocated to most of them when they arrived here. Institutions and organisations seldom take into account the diversity of our nation. Mrs May’s equality audit has taken us nowhere forward. Islamophobia prevails in our political structure. Violence will never be an answer; we need a political leadership that values the contribution of our black and Asian community. Where will this come from? Is it not time that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary spoke about the future of our multiracial Britain?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, I do not disagree with the noble Lord. Parliamentary representation and leadership within government have a long way to go, but we have certainly come a long way in the last few years, in terms of the leadership of our country. The culture is changing slowly but surely, and I am very pleased that our Home Secretary is from the BME community.

Covid-19: UK Border Health Measures

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

(4 years ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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We will, of course, be taking such matters into consideration. I do not know if my noble friend heard my right honourable friend the Home Secretary say yesterday that bilateral conversations were going on with countries across the world to see what kind of innovations we could bring forward in order to make movement easier.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, will the Minister give a categoric assurance that public health measures will not be used as immigration control procedures? What is being done to monitor the visa regime at British posts abroad before people travel to the United Kingdom? What procedures are being adopted to deal with the large number of asylum seekers who have landed on our shores in recent times? Can the Minister give further assurance that there will be no more fishing raids where these people have found accommodation? Otherwise, we will create a bigger problem than we are trying to solve.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The prime drive for the Government is not immigration control, but to ensure that we reduce this virus and the R rate, and that we save lives. The measures that have been put in place are not for any immigration reasons, although immigration enforcement could be used if people persistently flout the rules that we have just put in place. We will ensure that anyone in the asylum system is given appropriate accommodation, in line with public health guidance in terms of social distancing.

National Asylum Support Service

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 6th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right. Some of these people will have had the most terrible experiences. Nobody whose asylum application is complete will be asked to leave the country. As I said, we are procuring 4,000 hotel rooms. People in both our asylum estate and our detention estate are treated as any other member of the public would be, whether they are vulnerable, as the noble Lord outlined, or not.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, it is not easy to provide a safe distancing policy in our overcrowded penal institutions. Once the state detains inmates, it assumes full responsibility for their safety and welfare. What effort has been made to ensure that people are released from detention centres to places of safety in the community? Will the Minister ensure that there is a moratorium on deportation until it is safe to deport people?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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As I explained to the noble Lord, Lord Judd, at this point in time nobody whose case has been concluded and who is due to leave will be asked to leave. That will be the position up to June and possibly beyond. The noble Lord is absolutely right: the asylum estate has as many obligations in terms of social distancing as any other place in the UK. I do not think that deportations are happening at the moment either.

Immigration: Points-based System

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 25th February 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I take the noble Earl’s point on board and I will try to get a fuller answer on the creative industries, because I recognise the point that both he and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, make. As I was on my feet, I was thinking that maybe it was because of the short time for which performers might want to come to the UK. But I will get a fuller answer for the two noble Lords and put a copy in the Library.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, it is estimated that there are more than 10,000 Indian restaurants in this country, and between them they employ more people than the British coal, steel or shipbuilding industries. During the referendum campaign, Priti Patel launched an appeal urging voters to save our curry houses by leaving the European Union. She then said that it was “manifestly unfair and unjust” that south Asian chefs should have to deal with a “second-class immigration system”. Can the Minister explain how the proposed points system will assist in recruiting chefs from the Indian subcontinent?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I think the point that my right honourable friend was making was that people from the Indian subcontinent were less advantaged when wanting to come to this country than those from the EU, and this now levels out the playing field. Indeed, in this country we have some world-class chefs and people with fantastic skills, who, on the points-based system, I am sure would not only command decent salaries but have the requisite skills to come to this country.

Extinction Rebellion: Prevent Programme

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Wednesday 15th January 2020

(4 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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Does the Minister accept that lawful demonstrations are an essential part of our democracy? Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent campaign and to equate it with proscribed organisations is unacceptable. Prevent has already received critical reviews from our Muslim community and this incident has not helped. Will the Minister publish the full criteria taken into account when considering proscription of this nature so that these could receive the full scrutiny of Parliament?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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The noble Lord will appreciate that we do not discuss how the Home Secretary comes to decisions on proscription, but she does so on the vigorous legal advice provided to her at the time. Extinction Rebellion was on a list of those with an extremist ideology, as opposed to a terrorist ideology. However, CT Police South East has accepted that this was wrong.