There have been 179 exchanges between Lord Kennedy of Southwark and Home Office
|Wed 30th September 2020||Lightweight Polyethylene Chest Plates (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (112 words)|
|Wed 30th September 2020||Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Lords Chamber)||22 interactions (1,830 words)|
|Tue 29th September 2020||Licensing: Closing Time (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (107 words)|
|Tue 22nd September 2020||Housing: Cladding (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (132 words)|
|Wed 16th September 2020||Planning (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (109 words)|
|Wed 16th September 2020||Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Lords Chamber)||19 interactions (1,801 words)|
|Mon 14th September 2020||Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Lords Chamber)||20 interactions (2,357 words)|
|Wed 9th September 2020||Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Lords Chamber)||19 interactions (1,423 words)|
|Tue 8th September 2020||Housing: New Homes (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (56 words)|
|Mon 7th September 2020||Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Lords Chamber)||14 interactions (2,044 words)|
|Thu 3rd September 2020||Mobile Homes (Requirement for Manager of Site to be Fit and Proper Person) (England) Regulations 2020 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (614 words)|
|Wed 2nd September 2020||Immigration (Persons Designated under Sanctions Regulations) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (Grand Committee)||3 interactions (526 words)|
|Wed 29th July 2020||Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (780 words)|
|Tue 28th July 2020||Planning Rules (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (33 words)|
|Fri 24th July 2020||Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority (Functions and Amendment) Order 2020 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (703 words)|
|Wed 22nd July 2020||Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (1,988 words)|
|Mon 20th July 2020||Business and Planning Bill (Lords Chamber)||11 interactions (942 words)|
|Thu 16th July 2020||Covid-19: Human Trafficking (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (101 words)|
|Tue 14th July 2020||Business and Planning Bill (Lords Chamber)||17 interactions (1,359 words)|
|Mon 13th July 2020||Homelessness (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (81 words)|
|Mon 13th July 2020||Business and Planning Bill (Lords Chamber)||10 interactions (1,633 words)|
|Fri 10th July 2020||Port Examination Codes of Practice and National Security Determinations Guidance Regulations 2020 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (268 words)|
|Wed 8th July 2020||Surrender of Offensive Weapons (Compensation) Regulations 2020 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (543 words)|
|Tue 7th July 2020||Covid-19: Local Government Finance (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (105 words)|
|Mon 29th June 2020||Covid-19: Domestic Abuse (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (81 words)|
|Mon 29th June 2020||Covid-19: Local Government Finance (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (44 words)|
|Tue 16th June 2020||Social Housing (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (90 words)|
|Tue 16th June 2020||Planning Process: Probity (Lords Chamber)||2 interactions (52 words)|
|Mon 15th June 2020||Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||17 interactions (974 words)|
|Tue 9th June 2020||Local Government: Economy (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (82 words)|
|Mon 8th June 2020||Covid-19: Planning System (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (109 words)|
|Wed 3rd June 2020||Covid-19: Local Democracy (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (102 words)|
|Thu 21st May 2020||UK Shared Prosperity Fund (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (79 words)|
|Mon 18th May 2020||Covid-19: Housing (Lords Chamber)||2 interactions (553 words)|
|Thu 14th May 2020||Housing and Construction Sector (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (72 words)|
|Wed 6th May 2020||Windrush Compensation Scheme (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (305 words)|
|Tue 5th May 2020||Domestic Violence (Lords Chamber)||5 interactions (117 words)|
|Tue 5th May 2020||Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Fire and Rescue Functions) (Amendment) Order 2020 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (702 words)|
|Wed 29th April 2020||Domestic Abuse (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (41 words)|
|Tue 21st April 2020||Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (1,506 words)|
|Wed 18th March 2020||Operation Midland (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (40 words)|
|Mon 9th March 2020||Extradition Act 2003 (Amendments to Designations) Order 2020 (Grand Committee)||2 interactions (302 words)|
|Mon 9th March 2020||Immigration (Citizens’ Rights Appeals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (Grand Committee)||12 interactions (445 words)|
|Thu 5th March 2020||Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL] (Grand Committee)||31 interactions (2,143 words)|
|Wed 4th March 2020||Historic Sexual Offences: Investigations (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (48 words)|
|Mon 2nd March 2020||European Arrest Warrant, Europol and Eurojust (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (47 words)|
|Wed 26th February 2020||Pre-charge Police Bail: Time Limit (Lords Chamber)||2 interactions (18 words)|
|Mon 10th February 2020||Planned Deportation Flight to Jamaica (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (93 words)|
|Tue 4th February 2020||Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (1,024 words)|
|Mon 3rd February 2020||Terrorism: Contest Strategy (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (1,219 words)|
|Mon 27th January 2020||Facial Recognition Surveillance (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (123 words)|
|Thu 16th January 2020||Asylum Claims: Child Trafficking (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (22 words)|
|Tue 22nd October 2019||Crime: Police Numbers (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (91 words)|
|Mon 21st October 2019||Visas (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (42 words)|
|Mon 7th October 2019||Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (126 words)|
|Tue 1st October 2019||Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2019 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (126 words)|
|Mon 9th September 2019||Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (Grand Committee)||3 interactions (1,416 words)|
|Tue 9th July 2019||Children: Criminal Exploitation (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (113 words)|
|Tue 25th June 2019||Child Refugees (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (46 words)|
|Tue 11th June 2019||Hate Crime: Homophobic and Misogynistic Attacks (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (137 words)|
|Wed 5th June 2019||Illegal Seaborne Migration (Lords Chamber)||5 interactions (113 words)|
|Tue 14th May 2019||Emergency Services Network (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (15 words)|
|Wed 8th May 2019||Freedom of Movement (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (61 words)|
|Wed 10th April 2019||Passports (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (48 words)|
|Wed 10th April 2019||Offensive Weapons Bill (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (295 words)|
|Wed 3rd April 2019||Freedom of Expression (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (50 words)|
|Wed 3rd April 2019||Windrush Compensation Scheme (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (333 words)|
|Tue 2nd April 2019||Police: Recruitment Criteria (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (35 words)|
|Mon 25th March 2019||Independent Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (43 words)|
|Wed 20th March 2019||Refugees (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (27 words)|
|Tue 19th March 2019||Offensive Weapons Bill (Lords Chamber)||11 interactions (986 words)|
|Tue 19th March 2019||Child Sexual Exploitation Victims (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (91 words)|
|Mon 18th March 2019||Children: Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (59 words)|
|Mon 18th March 2019||Law Enforcement and Security (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (Lords Chamber)||2 interactions (405 words)|
|Mon 18th March 2019||Immigration (European Economic Area Nationals) (EU Exit) Order 2019 (Lords Chamber)||9 interactions (619 words)|
|Mon 18th March 2019||Immigration, Nationality and Asylum (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (Lords Chamber)||2 interactions (290 words)|
|Mon 18th March 2019||Terrorist Attack: New Zealand (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (141 words)|
|Tue 12th March 2019||Law Enforcement and Security (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (Grand Committee)||10 interactions (1,172 words)|
|Mon 11th March 2019||Shamima and Jarrah Begum (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (164 words)|
|Wed 6th March 2019||Prevent Strategy (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (48 words)|
|Mon 4th March 2019||Offensive Weapons Bill (Lords Chamber)||28 interactions (1,926 words)|
|Mon 4th March 2019||Knife Crime (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (118 words)|
|Fri 1st March 2019||Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill (Lords Chamber)||9 interactions (1,213 words)|
|Fri 1st March 2019||Anonymity (Arrested Persons) Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||11 interactions (921 words)|
|Tue 26th February 2019||Offensive Weapons Bill (Lords Chamber)||33 interactions (3,183 words)|
|Wed 20th February 2019||Citizenship Status (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (147 words)|
|Thu 14th February 2019||EU Settlement Scheme (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (55 words)|
|Thu 14th February 2019||Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) (Amendment) Order 2018 (Lords Chamber)||7 interactions (378 words)|
|Wed 13th February 2019||Zimbabwe: Asylum Seekers (Lords Chamber)||5 interactions (107 words)|
|Mon 11th February 2019||Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (332 words)|
|Wed 6th February 2019||Migrant Crossings: Naval Assets (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (48 words)|
|Wed 6th February 2019||Deportation: Jamaica (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (49 words)|
|Tue 5th February 2019||Westminster: Security (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (99 words)|
|Tue 5th February 2019||Windrush Scheme (Lords Chamber)||7 interactions (165 words)|
|Thu 31st January 2019||Domestic Abuse Bill (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (145 words)|
|Wed 30th January 2019||Offensive Weapons Bill (Grand Committee)||32 interactions (1,945 words)|
|Tue 29th January 2019||Brexit: Security (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (19 words)|
|Mon 28th January 2019||Offensive Weapons Bill (Grand Committee)||46 interactions (2,553 words)|
|Wed 23rd January 2019||Shop Workers: Protection (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (112 words)|
|Tue 22nd January 2019||Homophobic Hate Crime (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (60 words)|
|Wed 16th January 2019||Brexit: EU Citizens in the UK (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (40 words)|
|Wed 16th January 2019||Brexit: Proposed UK–EU Security Treaty (European Union Committee Report) (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (1,645 words)|
|Mon 7th January 2019||Migration: International Students (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (18 words)|
|Mon 7th January 2019||Offensive Weapons Bill (Lords Chamber)||5 interactions (2,317 words)|
|Mon 7th January 2019||Migrant Crossings (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (423 words)|
|Wed 19th December 2018||Future Immigration (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (685 words)|
|Mon 17th December 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Lords Chamber)||13 interactions (939 words)|
|Mon 17th December 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Lords Chamber)||15 interactions (672 words)|
|Thu 13th December 2018||Police Funding Settlement (Lords Chamber)||9 interactions (626 words)|
|Thu 29th November 2018||Violent Crime (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (1,995 words)|
|Wed 14th November 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (364 words)|
|Mon 12th November 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Lords Chamber)||19 interactions (948 words)|
|Tue 6th November 2018||Police Pension Liabilities (Lords Chamber)||7 interactions (226 words)|
|Mon 29th October 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Lords Chamber)||13 interactions (891 words)|
|Mon 22nd October 2018||Youth Crime: London (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (89 words)|
|Mon 22nd October 2018||Sexual Offences (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (105 words)|
|Mon 22nd October 2018||Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (77 words)|
|Tue 16th October 2018||Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Juveniles) (Amendment) Order 2018 (Lords Chamber)||11 interactions (847 words)|
|Tue 9th October 2018||Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill (Lords Chamber)||5 interactions (1,974 words)|
|Thu 13th September 2018||Children: Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (50 words)|
|Wed 12th September 2018||Windrush (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (35 words)|
|Mon 10th September 2018||Immigration Policy: Children and Parents (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (63 words)|
|Mon 10th September 2018||Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] (Grand Committee)||15 interactions (336 words)|
|Wed 5th September 2018||Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [HL] (Grand Committee)||13 interactions (468 words)|
|Tue 4th September 2018||Windrush (Lords Chamber)||9 interactions (185 words)|
|Fri 20th July 2018||ONS New Crime Statistics (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (73 words)|
|Wed 18th July 2018||Investigatory Powers (Codes of Practice and Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2018 (Grand Committee)||10 interactions (570 words)|
|Thu 12th July 2018||Immigration: Hostile Environment (Lords Chamber)||8 interactions (141 words)|
|Thu 12th July 2018||Visit of President Trump: Policing (Lords Chamber)||7 interactions (198 words)|
|Thu 5th July 2018||Amesbury Incident (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (492 words)|
|Tue 3rd July 2018||Saddleworth and Tameside Moors (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (80 words)|
|Thu 14th June 2018||Immigration: Hostile Environment (Lords Chamber)||11 interactions (1,519 words)|
|Thu 7th June 2018||Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (Lords Chamber)||9 interactions (1,356 words)|
|Wed 6th June 2018||Immigration: “Right to Rent” Scheme (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (43 words)|
|Tue 5th June 2018||Home Office: Data Breaches (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (178 words)|
|Mon 4th June 2018||Police: Firearms (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (42 words)|
|Mon 4th June 2018||Peru: Visa Requirements (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (54 words)|
|Wed 16th May 2018||Immigration Applications (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (16 words)|
|Fri 11th May 2018||Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||7 interactions (461 words)|
|Thu 10th May 2018||Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (Grand Committee)||3 interactions (848 words)|
|Wed 9th May 2018||Asylum Seekers: Students (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (38 words)|
|Wed 9th May 2018||Renewal of G4S Contracts (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (211 words)|
|Tue 1st May 2018||Windrush (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (139 words)|
|Tue 1st May 2018||Licensing Act 2003 (Royal Wedding Licensing Hours) Order 2018 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (211 words)|
|Mon 30th April 2018||Muslims: Population Growth and Sharia Law (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (65 words)|
|Thu 26th April 2018||Home Office Removal Targets (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (142 words)|
|Tue 24th April 2018||Windrush Generation (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (918 words)|
|Wed 28th March 2018||Immigration: Asylum Claims (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (63 words)|
|Wed 28th March 2018||Manchester Arena Attack Review (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (122 words)|
|Tue 27th March 2018||Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) (Custodial Premises) Subordinate Provisions Order 2018 (Grand Committee)||3 interactions (202 words)|
|Tue 27th March 2018||Police Powers of Designated Civilian Staff and Volunteers (Excluded Powers and Duties of Constables) Regulations 2018 (Grand Committee)||3 interactions (81 words)|
|Thu 22nd March 2018||Police: Emergency Calls (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (104 words)|
|Thu 22nd March 2018||Domestic Abuse (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (916 words)|
|Wed 21st March 2018||Police: Undercover Officers (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (48 words)|
|Wed 21st March 2018||Gender Equality: Pay (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (94 words)|
|Mon 19th March 2018||Trafficked Children: Asylum (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (66 words)|
|Thu 15th March 2018||Online Hate Speech (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (52 words)|
|Thu 15th March 2018||Passport (Fees) Regulations 2018 (Grand Committee)||7 interactions (688 words)|
|Thu 8th March 2018||Incident in Salisbury (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (358 words)|
|Mon 5th March 2018||Air Guns (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (105 words)|
|Thu 1st March 2018||Security and Policing: Facial Recognition Technology (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (755 words)|
|Tue 27th February 2018||Yarl’s Wood: Hunger Strike (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (60 words)|
|Thu 8th February 2018||Nurseries and Schools: Protection from Terrorism (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (32 words)|
|Thu 8th February 2018||Brexit and the Labour Market (Economic Affairs Committee Report) (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (2,208 words)|
|Wed 7th February 2018||Policing and Crime Act 2017 (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2018 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (864 words)|
|Tue 6th February 2018||Refugees: Teaching of English (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (64 words)|
|Thu 1st February 2018||Investigatory Powers (Codes of Practice) Regulations 2018 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (664 words)|
|Tue 23rd January 2018||Crime: Scooter and Moped Gangs (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (89 words)|
|Mon 22nd January 2018||Policing and Crime Act 2017 (Maritime Enforcement Powers: Code of Practice) Regulations 2017 (Lords Chamber)||4 interactions (620 words)|
|Mon 22nd January 2018||Transfer of Responsibility for Relevant Children (Extension to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2017 (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (416 words)|
|Wed 20th December 2017||Licensing Act 2003: Post-Legislative Scrutiny (Licensing Act 2003 Report) (Lords Chamber)||5 interactions (2,075 words)|
|Thu 30th November 2017||Online Hate Speech (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (137 words)|
|Wed 29th November 2017||Drug Dealing Telecommunications Restriction Orders Regulations 2017 (Grand Committee)||6 interactions (834 words)|
|Wed 15th November 2017||Data Protection Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||17 interactions (1,246 words)|
|Tue 10th October 2017||Data Protection Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (2,095 words)|
|Fri 8th September 2017||Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill [HL] (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (1,695 words)|
|Mon 17th July 2017||Brexit: UK-EU Movement of People (EUC Report) (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (2,589 words)|
|Tue 4th July 2017||Brexit: Acquired Rights (EUC Report) (Lords Chamber)||7 interactions (1,813 words)|
|Thu 22nd June 2017||Terrorist Attacks (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (691 words)|
The noble Lord suggests that there is a problem. I am saying that the testing has not raised any problems with the new lighter equipment. As I have said—I will do this—I will go back and ask when the testing was last done.
My Lords, I do not think that anyone could disagree with the noble Lord’s point. I have said that these things are routinely tested. I will find the exact date when they were last tested. The DSTL does not believe that the Mail on Sunday tests demonstrate a weakness in the equipment that it has approved.
My Lords, the Bill is about ending the free movement of people from the EU and EEA, and Swiss nationals. The noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, and other noble Lords oppose the proposed points-based immigration system that relies on measures other than a cap on numbers to control immigration to the UK. As my noble friend Lady Smith of Newnham said, on 1 January at the end of the transition period, the rights of EU citizens to come and work in the UK will be replaced by controls based on salary and skill levels. That will also apply to migrants from the rest of the world. The number of EU migrants has already fallen significantly, and will continue to do so, as a result of the end of free movement that the Bill brings about. While we on these Benches regret that, it is the consequence of leaving the EU. That is what the UK people voted for; we have already left and will suffer the consequences.
I shall engage to some extent with some of the issues that the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, raised and come back to them on future amendments. He said that the system was entirely for the benefit of business and not of British workers, would cost between 6 million and 7 million jobs, and that there were hundreds of millions of people potentially qualified to come to the UK to take those jobs. He said that the public were in favour of control. However, my understanding is that there will be control but of a different type from setting a cap. Presumably, although the Minister will enlighten us, salary levels and qualification requirements can and will be varied if necessary if consequently we suddenly face a so-called avalanche of people coming to the UK from areas other than the European Union. Any avalanche from the European Union would have happened already because, at the moment, there is free movement.
It is interesting that noble Lords opposite talk about business interests, yet in other debates they argue that we need a strong economy to pay for public services. The fact is that migrants, particularly migrant workers, contribute far more to public services than they receive in public services, and they certainly contribute more than the average UK resident does.
We on these Benches believe that government departments such as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department of Health and Social Care have knowledge of the migrants that the UK economy needs, and that they, not the Home Office, should decide on immigration policy, points-based or otherwise. I will not entirely do the Minister’s job for her but perhaps she can convince the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, that his amendment is not necessary because the points-based system will effectively reduce immigration.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Green, for retabling his amendment; I acknowledge and respect his expertise in this area. I also apologise for allowing the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, to intervene because I have now set a precedent. I should never have done that. No one is allowed to intervene.
The amendment effectively intends to reintroduce an annual limit on the number of people who may be granted permission to enter the UK to take up skilled employment. The existing cap, which the Government have committed to suspending, is set at 20,700, and is administered on a monthly basis to those seeking entry clearance as a skilled worker. As outlined in Committee, this sounds like a very sensible measure to control and limit migration to the UK, but we cannot know how many people will seek to come to the UK using the new skilled worker route. The impact of some of the key changes, including the expansion of the skills threshold and the reduction of the general salary threshold, is also unknown. Where possible, Home Office analysts have tried to predict possible impacts, and the points that the noble Lord, Lord Green, made so eloquently may well come to pass.
The amendment provides an opportunity for me to reinforce the importance of implementing a flexible immigration system. Our proposals will do that and ensure that the system can be adapted and adjusted, subject to social and economic circumstances—to which the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, alluded—but we cannot get away from the fact that the amendment would add to the burden on businesses, considerably slow the process of recruiting a skilled migrant, and create uncertainty among employers.
Any cap, including the one we have at present, creates an odd dynamic when it binds us to consider a migrant a valuable addition one month but unwanted the next. This may only be a perception based on the mechanics of a cap, but it is a perception that we want to address, instead focusing on our commitment to continue to attract those with the skills and talents that we need.
The noble Lord highlighted three issues with suspending the cap. The first issue is that an estimated 7 million UK jobs will be open to new or increased international competition. However, these jobs are currently under more competition due to freedom of movement. The imposition of any control, instead of allowing free movement to continue, protects those jobs. Ending free movement and requiring an employer to meet the requirements of being a Home Office licensed sponsor and pay relevant immigration charges, including the skills charge, makes the employment of a resident worker the simpler option. Again, I draw your Lordships’ attention to the Migration Advisory Committee’s September 2018 report on the impact of EEA migration in the UK. It said that it did
“not believe that the welfare of existing residents is best served by a cap for two reasons. First, the cap, when it binds, constrains inflows of a group of migrants which the evidence suggests are the most economically beneficial … Second, the cap creates unpredictability when it binds as there can be sharp increases in the minimum salary threshold that skilled visa applications face.”
The salary requirements rise as this is the mechanism for selecting which roles are granted permission.
The noble Lord’s second issue is that the number of potential applicants is huge. That has always been the case. The advancements in education around the globe and the increase in populations inevitably mean that more people can qualify as skilled migrants. Addressing the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, the MAC also said:
“We believe that if the Government wants to reduce migration numbers it would make more economic sense to do so by varying the other aspects of the scheme criteria”.
Therefore, we have retained the immigration skills charge in the future system and will continue to operate a range of salary thresholds.
Thirdly, the noble Lord advocates that there would be a great incentive for employers to go for cheap, competent, non-unionised workers. To this end, we are maintaining the position in our new immigration system that those under the skilled worker route be paid a minimum salary level, which has been calculated so as not to undercut domestic workers. The level and operation of salary thresholds has been based on the advice of the MAC. I am sure that the noble Lord would agree that considering the impact of policies on the UK’s economy is an area that the MAC excels in.
Maintaining a sponsor licence also requires compliance with UK employment laws on treating employees equally. We completely accept that the first stage in our plans for the points-based system will need monitoring to assess the impact of the changes on the resident labour market and key sectors, and we are committed to doing just that. On the basis that we are maintaining robust protection for resident workers and providing certainty for UK businesses and employers, and because the key expert advisers have said that we should not apply an annual cap on skilled workers, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Green, is happy to withdraw his amendment.
Break in Debate
My Lords, I begin to wonder whether we should swap Benches at this stage. Again, the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, longs for the old immigration regime that he has criticised so much. This time it is the resident labour market test or, as the former leader of the Labour Party, Gordon Brown, may have put it, “British jobs for British workers”.
The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, posited that UK employers were likely to recruit from overseas without even considering UK workers, and the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, said that UK employers were addicted to using imported, low-wage labour. I thought that under the points-based system there was a minimum salary of £25,600, which does not sound to me like undercutting UK labour.
Surely, British employers will look to avoid the immigration skills charge by hiring a UK resident in preference to a migrant, if they possibly can, and British employers will look to avoid having to pay a licence fee to be an authorised sponsor of migrant workers, if they possibly can. Migrants will be deterred from working in the UK, including in the National Health Service and social care, because they will have to pay the immigration health surcharge in addition to income tax, national insurance and VAT—effectively, having to pay twice for the National Health Service. Migrants will also be deterred from working in the UK because they will have to pay far more than the cost price of a visa, and because of the salary and skill levels they will have to attain to secure enough points to get a visa in the first place. From 1 January, all that will apply to all new migrants from the European Union as well as those from the rest of the world. Therefore, I do not think that the noble Lord’s amendment is necessary and we do not support it.
My Lords, I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, for the return of this amendment, on which we had an interesting and mixed debate in Committee; it has been no different on Report.
As I outlined in our previous debate on this matter, this amendment would have the effect of reintroducing into regulations a resident labour market test for EEA and Swiss nationals and reversing a government decision to abolish this test under the UK’s new points-based immigration system. I have to say to noble Lords that the Government did not take this decision lightly or indeed in isolation. On the face of it, it sounds absolutely fair and sensible to require a job to be advertised in the UK for 28 days to establish whether there is anyone suitable in the domestic labour market before the job can be offered to an overseas migrant. However, we should be imposing a resident labour market test only if we think it would genuinely offer extra protection to resident workers and, in turn, support UK employers and organisations to access the skills and talents they need. The Government do not think that is the case. Not only does it add a burden on business and considerably slow down the process of recruiting a skilled migrant, without any guarantee of a vacancy being filled from the resident workforce, but it does so at a time when we are seeking to streamline and simplify the system and give UK employers and organisations the certainty they need.
My noble friend Lord Lilley—I am glad he is in the Chamber—rightly drew our attention in Committee to his experience of visiting Nissan, highlighting its enthusiasm and drive for training and retaining people in the UK. I am sure all noble Lords would agree that this is something to be celebrated and encouraged. Indeed, it fits with the Government’s clear assertion that immigration must be considered alongside investment in and development of the UK’s resident labour force.
However, I recognise the valid point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, who is not in the Chamber today, about the immigration system not being the way to enforce and encourage training of domestic workers. Where I would respectfully stray from her view is to say that while our immigration system should not be considered a silver bullet, it absolutely has its part to play in supporting businesses and ensuring that they invest in training to encourage staff retention. We must achieve a sensible balance.
That view and the decision to abolish the existing resident labour market test is not just a government opinion; it is based on the clear economic advice of the Migration Advisory Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Green, and others in this House are correct in saying that the MAC’s expertise is focused on economics, but one strength of the MAC is that it does not represent any one sector or industry. The MAC is well used to running large-scale consultations and assimilates evidence from many employers, businesses and sectors to produce carefully considered conclusions that apply to the best interests of the whole of the UK. This is exactly what the MAC did in reaching its findings and recommendations in its September 2018 report. I note the point that the noble Lord, Lord Green, made about the MAC’s view on the salary threshold at the time.
The decision to abolish the resident labour market test was not simply a U-turn undertaken given pressure from businesses. I highlighted this during our debate on this subject in Committee, but it is worth reasserting what the MAC said given the concerns of many Peers—which I and the Government share—around the uncertainty that many UK workers will face as a result of the current pandemic.
In addition to the economic arguments, as part of its September 2018 report the MAC said:
“We do think it important to have protection against employers using migrants to under-cut UK-born workers. The best protection is a robust approach to salary thresholds and the Immigration Skills Charge and not the RLMT.”
The Government agree, and that is why we are maintaining a firm requirement in the new points-based system for migrants who come under the skilled worker route to be paid a salary which does not undercut domestic workers.
We are also retaining the immigration skills charge. The requirement to pay that charge—alluded to by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick—the proceeds of which contribute directly to the UK skills budget, helps ensure that employers are unlikely to employ a migrant when there is someone more suitable to undertake the role within the domestic labour force. Given the expansion of the skills threshold and the fact that UK employers will no longer be able to rely on recruiting EEA citizens coming to the UK under free movement, we consider it very likely that the charge will create an appropriate barrier and will result in businesses thinking twice before looking immediately to the overseas labour force.
On the basis that we are maintaining robust protection for resident workers, and because the key expert advisers have said that we should not apply a resident labour market test, which echoes views heard by the Government from extensive engagement with stakeholders across the UK, I hope that the noble Lord will feel happy to withdraw his amendment.
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My Lords, my understanding is that what lies behind this amendment is the aim to allow Parliament to set a rate for new entrants instead of it being set at 30% lower than the national average going rate of £25,600 under the points-based system. To restate what I have said before, this Bill is about EU migration, on which there is no restriction at the moment. From 1 January, if this Bill becomes law, there will be restrictions on EU migrants and a salary floor for new entrants.
It seems that the gut reaction of the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, to the new entrant salary level being set independently based on economic research by the Migration Advisory Committee at £20,480 is that it is a bit low. But as the Minister explained in Committee, the MAC found that those starting in their careers were typically being paid 30% less than those who were established in their role; hence the floor for new entrants is 30% less than the £25,600 set as the salary floor for migrants under the new points-based system. I am not sure whether the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, is arguing that £25,600 is too low and therefore the new entrant salary level is too low, or whether 30% less for new entrants is not typical of a new entrant and therefore it should be something other than 30% less than the established rate.
If the noble Lord’s amendment is agreed, I would have to ask him on what basis he thinks Parliament should decide the new entrant salary level. I understand that the noble Lord believes that migration decisions should be based not on economics but on politics. May I say that I deny that I care little for ordinary working people, as the noble Lord said? If he would care to read in Hansard what I actually said, he will see that I felt that there were alternative protections for ordinary working people to what he was suggesting, which is completely different
We on these Benches believe that economic migration should be based on economics, while immigration by asylum seekers should be based on the compassionate consideration of the evidence of their claim. On that basis, we cannot support the noble Lord’s amendment.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, for retabling his amendment and all noble Lords who have spoken in support or opposition.
The noble Lord, Lord Green, seeks to put in place separate parliamentary approval for regulations allowing EEA and Swiss nationals who are new entrants to the labour market to be paid less than other skilled workers. I recognise the intention behind this amendment. He is absolutely right that, in using salary thresholds as a mechanism to control immigration, protect the domestic workforce from being undercut and ensure the UK’s economy prospers, we must have confidence that salary requirements are set at the right level. It is for these objectives, in addition to ensuring that migrant workers are not exploited and that a skilled migrant is coming to the UK for genuine skilled employment, that a system of salary thresholds will form a critical part of our new skilled worker route.
In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe spoke about the risk of losing control of our borders and disadvantaging young people and the unemployed in the UK. The noble Lord also mentioned the Government’s recently launched Kickstart programme and his concerns that its benefits would be reduced due to our young people facing further difficulties and unlimited competition from those overseas migrants who meet the new entrant definition. I hope I can reassure noble Lords that this is simply not the case. Our salary requirements for all skilled workers are based on national earnings data for UK workers. Furthermore, while new entrants will benefit from a reduced salary rate, recognising these individuals should not be disadvantaged by the fact that they typically earn around 30% less than experienced workers, they will still need to meet other mandatory requirements to be successfully granted leave. Namely, along with all other skilled workers, they must have a sponsoring employer, a job at the appropriate skill level and be able to speak English to an accepted standard. Furthermore, the new entrant rate is not an indefinite offer. It is designed for those essentially at the start of their careers.
The noble Lord, Lord Green, also voiced concerns about settlement, given that the new skilled worker route will be a route that allows this, subject to meeting relevant requirements. While this is indeed the case, I can confirm that individuals will need to be paid at least the going rate for their occupation by the time they reach settlement. While it may not sway the views of some noble Lords, the Government did not agree this proposal in isolation. We sought independent advice from the MAC, outlined in its January 2020 report on salary thresholds and a points-based system and, following careful consideration of its findings and our own extensive engagement, accepted its recommendations.
I should like to put on the record that reduced rates for new entrants are not new; they have been a part of the immigration system since 2013. While we intend to continue the new entrant salary rate, in future the Immigration Rules will set a more consistent 30% reduction across all occupations. As the MAC identified, the differences in the current system are very large for some occupations. New entrant quantity surveyors, for example, may be paid 69% less than more experienced migrant workers in the same profession.
Turning to the crux of this amendment, the noble Lord is right that there should be parliamentary scrutiny of these requirements, but there is already a long-established procedure for that. The Government are required to set out their immigration policy in the Immigration Rules. This includes salary requirements and reduced rates for new entrants which can determine whether an immigration application succeeds or fails. Changes to the rules must be laid before Parliament, either House may disapprove the changes by negative resolution within 40 days of them being laid and the Secretary of State shall make any changes that appear to her in the circumstances to be required. Any such changes will be laid before Parliament within a further 40 days. I do not think it is necessary or proportionate to introduce a new procedure for salary requirements for new entrants, particularly at a time when the Government are committed to simplifying and streamlining arrangements. Furthermore, there seems to be no particular reason for the procedure for new entrant salaries to be different from the procedure for the general salary requirements or, indeed, any other requirements for skilled workers.
Additionally, as is made clear in recently published policy statements on the UK’s new points-based system, measures will be introduced in a phased manner and we will retain the ability to make adjustments based on experience and, crucially, to respond to the needs of the UK economy. New regulations under an affirmative procedure would lessen this responsiveness and could risk splitting up interconnected policies which together create a robust element of control, protect domestic workers and ensure that those who have the skills and talents that we need and who want to make a positive contribution can come to the UK.
For the reasons that I have set out, and on the basis that we will continue to lay before Parliament the full details of the requirements, including those for new entrants, I hope that the noble Lord will be happy to withdraw his amendment.
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My Lords, yesterday the EU Security and Justice Sub-Committee was discussing refugees and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children with the Immigration Minister. He said, and I made a particular point of noting it—the Minister here does not need to look worried—“We always listen very carefully to Lord Dubs.” Well, that will be important for the next amendment, but I will apply it to this one as well, and I am very pleased to have added my name to the amendment on behalf of these Benches.
My noble friend Lord Bruce of Bennachie said at the last stage:
“We all know that children in care are especially disadvantaged, almost by definition”.—[Official Report, 16/9/20; col. 1292.]
I much prefer that term to “vulnerable” because many of them are extraordinarily resilient. But, however resilient you are, if you do not neatly fit a Home Office category, you are likely heading for problems and any parent, including a corporate parent, should do their best to pre-empt that.
In Committee the Minister explained the support services, I think she called them, for looked-after children and care leavers to assist them to make applications. That is of course welcome, but it would take someone much more confident than I am to be certain that no one will slip through the cracks.
In view of the time and in particular of the very thorough analysis of the amendment, especially by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, I do not think I should take more of the House’s time, other than to encourage noble Lords to support the amendment—unless of course we hear from the Minister that the point is going to be taken up.
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My Lords, I hope I made it very clear at the beginning of this debate that I want each child to have secure status, and a declaratory system does not ensure that, both now and in the future.
The noble Lord will appreciate that an application to the EU settlement scheme is an application, with a result of settled status being either confirmed or not. A declaratory scheme confers a deemed leave on a sort of blanket basis, as opposed to each individual applying to the scheme. Therefore, children in years to come might have to prove that they were in the scope of that declaratory scheme; that is what I mean. We are not seeking different ends in this; we are just talking about different ways of going about it. I am trying to explain why an actual application is a more secure way of going about it.
Coming from a county authority, the noble Lord will know that quite often the powers lie at county level regarding planning and other things. It is important that, whether we represent organisations or individuals, everyone plays their part in ensuring that the restrictions can be lifted as swiftly as possible.
I cannot commit to a review, as the noble Lord will know, but I acknowledge that, whether it is a shop worker or a publican whom people are frustrated at, and whether through the lack of freedom over the last few months or because they have drunk too much, these things are happening in shops. I will certainly take this back and I am very happy to speak to him further about this.
My Lords, clearly the pace of remediation is our utmost concern, and that has meant that some costs, including those on interim measures, have fallen on leaseholders. We continue to push to ensure that this remediation does occur and look at the relevant parties to carry out the necessary enforcement action.
My Lords, our proposal for a reformed planning system is centred on encouraging more beautiful development in places, improving the quality of housing and green spaces, and increasing community engagement in ensuring development enhances the environment, health and character of local areas. We are also implementing fundamental reforms to the building safety system so that residents are, and feel, safe in their homes.
My Lords, there is a strong case for reform of a system that was first put into place some seven decades ago with the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. The focus is on ensuring a much more map-based system towards local plans and engaging with communities to work out whether those developments should take place. In that sense, the development community will follow.
My Lords, I have added my name to this amendment. The Government have given us an example of the reasonable grounds there may be for submitting a late application to the EU settled status scheme, but in this case the applicant is a child whose parent or guardian failed to apply on their behalf.
This amendment is about children of a corporate parent: the state. As we have heard, the Home Office estimates that there are 5,000 looked-after children and 4,000 care leavers who would need to apply. Not only are these children considered vulnerable—a word we are applying quite widely to very different situations—but in this context they have rights which it is not possible, or certainly not easy in practical terms, for them to exercise. Their parent, the state, is in a rather different position from a flesh-and-blood mother or father.
This is a very nifty amendment. It means that social workers would not have to chase after paperwork; they are very overloaded, as we have heard. It does not leave children in the precarious position of having to apply late, or of being undocumented, when they would be exposed to ineligibility for NHS treatment that is not charged for, and there would be no cliff edge at the end of pre-settled status. I think I am right in saying that the five-year period in subsection (6) of the proposed new clause would mean that it would apply to babies who are currently, or by next June, under five years old.
As the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, said, this is not too hard to sort out—at least, it does not seem so to me. I hope the Minister will agree. Like others, I think that the noble Lord’s questions are relevant to today, if not relevant precisely to this amendment. They are very important. I look forward to supporting this amendment.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, for moving his Amendment 56, which calls for children in care and care leavers who have their right of free movement removed by the Bill to be granted indefinite leave to remain.
May I say at the outset that I absolutely agree with the noble Lords, Lord Dubs and Lord Kennedy, and others that no child should be undocumented, and with the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, that we should not create any cracks? So that I do not disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, yet again, I will immediately address the issues that he raised.
First, he asked if we should do as the Germans do. I think we should do as we do. As far as reputational risk is concerned, I do not think we should help these children because it has an influence on our reputation; I think we should help children because it is the right thing to do, and in fact this country has a very long history of helping children who need our support.
The noble Lord asked me if I agree that it is an emergency. Absolutely, I agree that it is an emergency. Of course, I also agree that it is a humanitarian issue. One could not fail to be moved by the plight that these children and their families sometimes go through.
The noble Lord then asked me the million-dollar question: what the Government are doing about it. On 22 April, the UK and Greece signed a joint historic migration plan that reaffirms our commitment to closer co-operation with Greece on a range of migration issues. On the direct help for some of those people on the Greek islands, we have given £500,000 for urgent humanitarian help for the most vulnerable.
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What I said was that we did not participate in the EU relocation scheme; I am not sure whether we ever have. I am saying that we will absolutely meet our obligations under Dublin, and if a request comes from the UNHCR for us to take displaced people from Greece who are eligible to come under Dublin, we will of course consider that.
What I am saying is that the Home Office, in conjunction with other departments, will ensure that we can identify every child, or indeed adult, in that vulnerable category and that they are assisted where possible. As I said the other day, the EU settlement scheme will not close and reasonable grounds for late applications will not end, so if any people—either adults or children—are identified in future as coming into the category that noble Lords have spoken about, they will be documented.
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My Lords, I concede that these amendments have a sincere purpose, but I am not sure that they really work. In Amendment 77, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, proposes that the Government issue a charter for EU immigration and demographic change, explaining the formulation of their policies on immigration. But the Government can already do this in other ways; indeed, they issued their White Paper on a points-based system a few months ago. The proposed charter would be laid before Parliament, but there is no description of what Parliament would then do. Would it approve, endorse or reject? I also query why the charter would set out demographic objectives only in relation to immigration when other factors are mentioned elsewhere in the two amendments. Of course, the other major factor in demographic change is the birth rate.
Amendment 78 aims to set up a new quango called the office of EU immigration and demographic change. Again, I am not sure why the Government cannot do this work, because it is the Government who issue the charter. It is proposed that the office should report on the impact of the Government’s demographic objectives for EU immigration, but it would be barred from considering the impact of any alternative policies. The noble Lord sought to explain, or justify, that constraint, but it seems to take away something—critiquing the Government’s policy and suggesting alternatives—which could be valuable. Again, no role is specified for Parliament as regards reports from this new office. I cannot in all honesty see the added value of such a body to the duo that we already have—the Migration Advisory Committee and, as the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, mentioned, the Office for National Statistics, which already does population projections. I had a quick look and saw that it did one in October 2019; I do not know when the next one is due. And then there are surely academics on whose work either the MAC or the ONS could draw.
So I will not make the point that these amendments relate to immigration only from the EU, since such an objection would be disingenuous, given that I recognise the constraint imposed by the scope of the Bill. We have been a round that circuit several times in the last few days. I can do no more than say that these amendments, while interesting, do not really fly, for the reasons that I have given.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts for tabling these amendments, and all noble Lords who have participated in what has been a very interesting and wide-ranging debate. As the noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, said, it has been a veritable tour d’horizon, taking in Lenin, Solzhenitsyn, Kissinger and the tips of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, on good governance. I am slightly surprised, given the environmental and ecological elements of the amendments, not to have heard from either of the noble Lords from the Green Party, but those have been well covered by other noble Lords.
It is self-evident that immigration has an impact on the demography of a nation, and very clear that ending free movement will therefore mean a demographic change for the UK. The current automatic preference for EEA citizens will cease and, as we deliver a new immigration system that works in the interests of the whole of the UK, it is right that the impacts of immigration arrangements on all aspects of UK life are monitored and reviewed regularly.
In tabling these amendments my noble friend is therefore shining a light on the need for objective, transparent and independent scrutiny of a very important issue, one which does not always get the attention it deserves, as he and my noble friend Lord Horam mentioned. In answer to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, it was a topic that I touched on in my first speech in your Lordships’ House. I refer him back to that for my views.
I could not agree more with my noble friend, and the Government are clear that we will introduce new arrangements in a phased way, monitor any pressures in key sectors and keep labour market data under careful scrutiny. As I have said previously in Committee, that is particularly important when the changes are as significant as the ones we will introduce with our new points-based immigration system.
I can assure noble Lords that the Government have not made decisions in isolation. We have engaged extensively, even during the current pandemic, to build awareness and promote understanding of the new system, ensuring that those affected by the changes are fully aware of what it means for them and understand how it will operate. We have established a series of advisory groups, designed to bring together a wide range of views, to provide critical challenge to our proposals. We have also sought to go beyond the expected impact of the future immigration system in the Bill’s published impact assessment.
However, we recognise that we need to go further than predictions and estimates, or, as my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe mentioned, the published statistics. We need to assess the realities once the system is operating and understand the experiences of those who are using the system, including individual people, employers and educational institutions. However, while the Government are absolutely committed to understanding the impact of those changes, I am afraid I diverge from my noble friend’s view as I do not believe we need a whole new body and process to do that.
The Government have outlined their proposals in two published policy statements, making clear their intention to take back full control of our borders by ending free movement and introducing a single global immigration system, transforming the way in which people from all over the world come to the UK to work, study, visit or join their family. I do not believe the charter proposed in Amendment 77 would make our immigration objectives any clearer.
Furthermore, in terms of holding the Government to account for the impact of their immigration policies, the Migration Advisory Committee is widely recognised for its expertise and impartiality. I acknowledge the points some noble Lords have made about the MAC’s expertise being focused solely on economics but, again, I must disagree. One of the strengths of the MAC is that it does not represent any one sector or industry; it looks at these things as a whole.
The Migration Advisory Committee is well used to running large-scale consultations. It accumulates evidence from many employers, businesses and sectors to produce carefully considered conclusions which apply to the best interests of the whole United Kingdom. This will not change under the future system. I re-emphasise to noble Lords who have made these points that this Government have expanded the remit of the Migration Advisory Committee. It is no longer constrained to specific government commissions. It now has licence to consider and comment on any aspect of immigration policy, both reactively monitoring trends in the UK labour market and proactively advising the Government about changes to the migration system that it thinks might be necessary.
It would therefore be well within the MAC’s remit to look at the wider view, as the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, put it: the environmental, ecological and societal impacts, as proposed by Amendment 78, as well as economic impacts. To that end, we have asked the MAC to start producing annual reports which cover not only issues such as its budget or staffing but commentary on the operation of the immigration system as a whole. The committee has accepted this challenge and we can look forward to the first such report later this year.
Finally, given the scope of the Bill, these amendments relate only to EU migration. Ending free movement from the EU is our opportunity to introduce a firmer and, more importantly, fairer system, one which applies to EEA and non-EEA citizens alike. Introducing a charter or body which looked only at EU migration would not reflect that system and would run counter to the Government’s intentions. For these reasons, I hope my noble friend will see fit to withdraw his amendments.
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It is not a shock but a pleasure to hear from the noble Baroness, and a particular pleasure to agree with what she says about it being not just the level of consumption but the overall number of people that has an ecological impact. That is why I am pleased to be part of a Government who are pursuing our world-leading target of achieving net zero.
My Lords, this Government are introducing an immigration system that will allow us to have full control over our borders for the first time, so that elected Governments can respond to the views of the people and achieve the level that they say they want to see. I hope all democrats would welcome that.
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My Lords, one noble Lord said that the Private Member’s Bill from the noble Lord, Lord McColl, is one whose time has come; I think it came quite some while ago.
During the debate on the first amendment today we talked about humanity, and this is a matter of humanity as well. It is about practice as well as law. Some victims will be desperate to get back home, which is a problem for prosecutors. Others will want to stay. Others will need quite a while to sort out what they want to do, and they will need to assess their status. That is only one situation of many and only one example of how immigration and slavery issues coincide.
I do not want to take up the Committee’s time by repeating what so many noble Lords, who have all spent a great deal of time considering modern slavery and doing their very best to fight it in all sorts of ways, have said. The Minister will tell us whether it is necessary, technically and otherwise. I take the view that the problems of slavery should be a consideration across the whole of the legislative front. The 2015 Act needs to be kept under constant review, because as the weeks go by, we learn more about the abhorrent situation and the plight of individuals caught up in it.
My Lords, I will start by assuring the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, that I am not going to trot out the line that he suspects I am. Moreover, I will actually thank him for his contribution to this incredibly important debate, and for his continued commitment to the really important objective of ensuring the impacts on victims of modern slavery are considered in changes to the Immigration Rules following this Bill.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said an interesting thing just before she closed, which is that we should consider modern-day slavery across legislation. I think it is absolutely crucial that we consider it across government, because it affects and infects almost every aspect of modern-day life. Noble Lords mentioned William Wilberforce, who is actually one of my heroes. It is over 200 years since we abolished slavery, and yet we have the terrible blight of modern-day slavery in our society. We are committed to tackling this terrible crime. We are now identifying more victims of modern-day slavery and doing more to bring perpetrators to justice than ever before. I will just say to the noble Lords, Lord McColl and Lord Kennedy, that there is going to be no diminution in directly affected rights.
We will replace freedom of movement with a points-based system. We remain committed to protecting individuals from modern slavery and exploitation by criminal traffickers and unscrupulous employers. I will not answer the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, because I cannot. Has there been an increase in trafficking during Covid? I think we can all safely say is that there has been an increase in a lot of behind the scenes-type activity that is unpalatable to us all, including things such as domestic violence. I am sure that will reveal itself as time goes on.
We are definitely committed to considering the impact of our policies on vulnerable people, including by fulfilling our public sector equality duties under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. As the noble Lord, Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown, said, on 13 July we published an equalities impact assessment on the points-based system, which considers the impact of our policy on protected characteristics. To answer the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, I can send that to him if he wishes. We will continue to iterate this document. Our work ensures that we keep at the forefront of our minds the potential consequences of our policies on those who may be susceptible to exploitation.
Across the board, it is crucial that we understand the groups and communities affected by our policies. As the Home Secretary highlighted in her Statement to the House on Wendy Williams’s Windrush Lessons Learned Review on 21 July, she has set out clear expectations that she expects officials to engage with community organisations, civil society and the public and to provide evidence in all advice to Ministers. To answer the noble Lord, Lord McColl, who asked if I would meet him: of course I will meet him to discuss his Private Member’s Bill.
Through the Home Office’s advisory groups, we have undertaken engagement with organisations on the design and development of the future immigration system, including those representing potentially vulnerable individuals. These groups, which include experts on modern slavery, including the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, have been fundamental in helping us to shape our policies and to design the future system. I understand that the Home Secretary has asked officials to facilitate a dedicated session with members of the Vulnerability Advisory Group and experts from the modern slavery sector, to better understand the possible impacts of the new immigration system on potential victims of modern slavery.
The noble Lords, Lord Morrow and Lord Alton, asked me about the seasonal workers pilot. A key objective of the pilot is to ensure that migrant workers are adequately protected against modern slavery and other labour abuses. It requires operators to ensure that all workers have a safe working environment—I think he alluded to that—that they are treated fairly, paid properly including time off and breaks; that they are housed in safe, hygienic accommodation; that their passport is never withheld from them; and that robust systems are in place for the reporting of concerns and rapid action. The operators of the scheme are and must remain licensed by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.
In addition, the Home Office and Defra also monitor the scheme closely to ensure that operators adhere to the stringent requirements set out for ensuring the safety and well-being of seasonal workers. We work with the sector, including the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, to achieve these aims. Should either of the selected operators fall short in their duties as a sponsor, action will be taken, up to and including the revocation of their sponsor licence. Other criminal sanctions will be considered as well, as appropriate.
The noble Lord, Lord Morrow, asked me what the Government were doing to ensure that EU exit does not adversely affect efforts to tackle modern slavery. We already exceed our international obligations to victims under the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, which will not be affected by EU exit. We will continue our work with European partners to eradicate modern slavery, no matter what shape our relationship with the EU takes. This is an international problem, not just a UK problem, and it is in everyone’s interest that we reach an agreement that equips operational partners on both sides with those capabilities that help protect citizens and bring criminals to justice.
Finally, the noble Lord, Lord McColl, questioned pre-settled status in terms of the right to benefits. Pre-settled status maintains the right to benefits, and a person would not need discretionary leave to remain under the modern slavery provisions because they would have five years’ leave to remain.
I hope that those explanations satisfy noble Lords and that the noble Lord will be happy to withdraw his amendment.
The noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, does not wish to speak. I call the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. To address the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, about regretting the hybrid procedures, I am very glad of them; they protect noble Lords from the numbers, which are clearly going up.
This is another group of amendments that are not relevant to the Bill. I am sure that noble Lords know that, and I know that they are keen to discuss this issue. They feel very strongly about immigration detention, which has been discussed at great length in this Chamber, but that makes it no less important.
We must have an immigration system which encourages compliance and protects the public. Where people no longer have the right to be in the UK, we must be able to carry out their removal if they do not take the opportunities we provide them to leave the UK voluntarily.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, talked about the concept of unlimited detention. The noble Lord asked me to list the safeguards to ensure that decisions to detain and to maintain detention are not unlimited. When someone is referred for detention, an independent detention gatekeeper assesses that person’s suitability for detention. Since 2016, the gatekeeper has rejected more than 2,300 referrals for detention. After an individual is detained, their continued detention remains under regular review at increasing levels of seniority, especially where there are any significant changes in circumstance.
Anyone detained can apply to either the Home Office or the courts to be released on immigration bail at any point during their detention. In addition, independent panellists and specialists within case progression panels provide really important oversight of the appropriateness of anyone being detained under immigration provisions at three-monthly intervals. Automatic referrals for bail also occur at the four-month detention stage for non-foreign national offenders, providing additional external oversight of detention decision-making. Immigration removal centres also provide those who are detained with access to legal advice should they need it.
The introduction of a detention time limit would severely limit our ability to remove those who refuse to leave voluntarily, as the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, pointed out. It would encourage and reward abuse and, as I have said, there are a number of measures in place to safeguard against any prolonged or unnecessary use of immigration detention.
The decision to detain people who no longer have the right to be in the UK is an integral part of the removal process, but we do not detain indefinitely. There must always be a realistic prospect of removal—I see the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, shaking her head—within a reasonable timescale, and this requires a case-specific assessment to be made for every single person whose detention is considered. It is already used sparingly: 95% of people who are subject to removal from the UK are at liberty in the community, and the detention estate is now almost 40% smaller than it was five years ago, with 8,000 fewer people entering detention in the year ending December 2019 than in 2015.
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We will be talking about the EU settlement scheme in future groups. As I will go on to explain, the scheme does not end, in the sense that, if people are here, certainly between now and 2020, and want to regularise their status, they can do. Of course, the reasonable excuses rule will go on indefinitely as to why people have not regularised their status.
Obviously, these amendments have nothing to do with the Bill, but I hope that I have outlined the various degrees of safeguards that will guard against people being detained indefinitely. We will go on to talk about the EU settlement scheme and some of the safeguards that go around that, particularly ongoing, with people who have missed the boat. I hope, with those explanations, the noble Lord is happy.
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The noble Lord, Lord Polak, said that this was a practical proposal. I think the term tonight is “pragmatic.” That seems to be the one that the Government put forward in defence of their own position on other matters. This proposal is both practical and pragmatic and, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, says, gives us the chance to do something useful. It is useful for those who argue—and we have heard arguments—persuasively and anxiously that they are denied their back-up, in the words of the3million campaign.
The digital status will not be infallible, but there are steps to it which can fail at any point. The examples given by the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, are very important ones of people who need and will value having physical documents. I add to them those who have been helped by organisations, sometimes organisations funded by the Government as part of these arrangements, who may not be able to make contact with the organisation in a few years’ time. They may not even remember which organisation it is, or the organisation may no longer be in existence. Yes, one might be able to search one’s computer to see where the information is. I cannot always remember who sent a particular email and, actually, I have my emails pretty well organised into folders and sub-folders. But then I suppose that I am “elderly”—and I would be grateful if Hansard put that in quotes.
The digital rollout is a big bang for the EU settlement scheme. Obviously, it is a matter of some pride to the Government, which is why they are so resistant; they have to hold on to this as a principle, because it is part of a rollout for the whole of the immigration arrangements. I assume that they will have some review before they continue with the rollout. One thing that I have learned during all this is that it took Australia 19 years to make everyone comfortable with purely digital arrangements, and Australia does not have the hostile environment provisions that we have in the UK. I very much support what my noble friend and others seek to do.
My Lords, I thank you all, including the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, who made a rousing speech, but I fear we will go over old ground here. However, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Oates and Lord Rosser, for providing the House with the chance to discuss the amendments on physical documents. I do not think they are necessary. I would like to reassure noble Lords that we already provide people who are granted settled or pre-settled status with a formal written notification of their leave. It is sent in the form of a letter, by post, or a PDF, by email, and sets out their immigration status in the UK. They can retain the letter, or print it, or electronically store the PDF and keep it as confirmation of their status for their own records and use it if they wish when contacting the Home Office about their status. I must say, it is not proof; it is confirmation. This should reassure individuals about their status when dealing with the Home Office in the future, but it should not be necessary because they will always have online access to information about their status, stored electronically by the Home Office.
Other countries, including Australia, as the noble Lady, Lady Hamwee, mentioned, issue physical documents in the form of biometric cards as they can otherwise be lost, stolen or tampered with.
On the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, about how the EU settlement application works, I had a session on this with noble Lords and I am happy to share that presentation with her. We are developing an immigration system whereby all migrants can demonstrate their immigration status via an online service, which they can access securely via the view and prove service on GOV.UK. It is accessible to them at any time and it allows them to share relevant information with third parties who need to check their status, such as employers and landlords, as noble Lords have mentioned. If necessary, EEA citizens can show third parties their written confirmation of status, so the person checking is made aware that there is an online service. Where there is a checked status, written confirmation must not be accepted by third parties as evidence of immigration status.
We are also developing services to make the relevant immigration status information available automatically through system-to-system checks at the point at which the person seeks access to public services such as healthcare and benefits. This will reduce the number of occasions when individuals need to prove their rights or need a document to do so.
In moving to a digital system, we recognise there are people who cannot access online services and will need additional support. The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, cited cases and others were cited, such as the Roma community or indeed another category of people altogether. The noble Baroness, Lady Bull, spoke about those in coercive or abusive relationships. We are committed to delivering a service that reflects the diverse needs of all users. Help on how to use the online services and share status information is available through our contact centre, and we provide a free assisted digital service where applicants to the EUSS or others making online applications in the UK are unable to get support. The assistance is tailored to an individual’s circumstances.
We provide a telephone helpline for landlords and employers in order to provide guidance on conducting right-to-work and right-to-rent checks. We are exploring additional support for those using our online services to ensure they can demonstrate their rights in the UK.
We will require EEA citizens to use their online evidence of immigration status only after 30 June 2021. We have designed the service to be easy to use, but guidance will be available should it be required. It will include guidance on those who care for vulnerable users and on use by a range of stakeholders working with local groups, including vulnerable groups.
The full package of measures that I have described will be available before EEA passports and national identity cards cease to be valid for proving rights in the UK after 30 June next year. In answer to the point on two systems that was made by the noble Lords, Lord Oates and Lord Paddick, we will replace physical and paper-based evidence of status with digital products for all migrants, starting with EEA citizens, in the next few years. These changes are being introduced gradually in a way that builds confidence for users and provides opportunities for adaptations and improvements informed by user feedback. At the same time, we are developing an extensive package of communications to ensure that everyone, from individuals to employers, landlords and other third parties, is fully aware of the move to digital and how online immigration status can be accessed and used.
Right-to-rent and right-to-work checks are not new. I have double-checked and right-to-work checks have been law since 2007. That is 13 years since they were introduced—14 by the time that online evidence of immigration is mandatory in June 2021—albeit they will now be in an online format. This move to become digital is not new. The UK public has learned to access many government services online, from applying for a UK passport to paying their vehicle excise duty. In July this year, 87% of vehicle tax renewals were made using the digital service, dispensing with the need for a physical disc on your car. The feedback from users indicates high satisfaction. UK driving licence holders are able to share online with third parties, such as car rental companies, whether they have driving-related convictions.
Employers are able to conduct right-to-work checks on foreign national employees remotely, without the need for physical documents to be handed over. Holders of biometric residence cards or biometric residence permits have already been able to prove their right to work to an employer by using an online service, instead of using their card, since January last year—the first step in our journey to make evidence of immigration status accessible online. The “view and prove” service is popular with users. In the last reporting period, from April to June this year, there have been over 400,000 views on the service by migrants. In the same period, there have been over 100,000 views of EU settlement status by organisations checking status. The average user satisfaction is very high, at a positive 88%.
It is hard to imagine how a country would have coped during Covid without the digital technologies which have enabled so many of us to work from home, shop and obtain government services remotely. We have seen a sharp uptake in digital provision by service providers and digital adaptation by the general public. Most visa applications are made online. Providing immigration status information online has enabled us to simplify and standardise the system of checks for employers, by providing information about an individual’s status in a format that is easy to understand and accessible to all users, removing the need for employers and others to interpret myriad physical documents, complex legal terminology or confusing abbreviations.
The EU settlement scheme has been at the forefront of the transition from biometric residence cards to secure online access to immigration status information. The online system is operating in parallel with existing document checks of passports or identity documents. This approach is helping employers, landlords and EEA citizens to transition from using physical documents to online services. Ultimately, all migrants coming to the UK, whether from other European countries or the rest of the world, will have access to online services which will enable them to show their immigration status without needing a document or biometric card.
On resilience, digital services are designed to be highly resilient, with rigorous testing to build assurance before services are seen by a user. Multiple security controls are in place to protect against cyberattacks and we have employed third-party organisations to conduct vulnerability and penetration testing to provide additional assurance that our online services cannot be compromised.
I shall not detain the House much further, other than to say that we will always send a formal written notification of the individual’s immigration status by email, in the form of a printable PDF document, or by post where a paper application has been made. As set out previously, I can assure noble Lords that we are committed to delivering an online service that reflects the diverse needs of all users. We recognise there are vulnerable people, such as the victim of domestic abuse and coercive control that the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, talked about or others in the Roma community that the noble Lord, Lord Alton, talked about, who may need additional support to use our online service to share their status.
Finally, on the policy equality statement that the noble Lord, Lord Oates, asked about—I think the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, mentioned it as well—I am very sorry to say that I cannot add to other Ministers’ comments. The statement will be published shortly as outlined by them.
I hope that with those comments the noble Lord will feel happy to withdraw the amendment.
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I think the noble Lord knows very well that I cannot give him that figure. However, I take his point that the letter is a confirmation and not a proof—I think I said that in my remarks. The digital proof is a very good way of sharing specific information with people such as employers or landlords as proof of status, but I conclude that we will not agree on this one.
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My Lords, I am happy to support Amendments 54 and 55 in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Kennedy of Southwark.
My Amendment 65 is supported by more than 50 not-for-profit and charitable organisations across the UK. Many are household names, with support being led by Camphill Scotland, but the amendment is applicable to a host of other national charities providing services to those with a mental health problem, a learning disability or care needs.
We warmly welcome the Government’s recent announcement that health and social care volunteers from other countries will be exempt from paying the immigration and health surcharge. However, the Government’s Command Paper, focusing on the proposed points-based immigration system, appears to confirm that those wishing to apply to work in the UK as international volunteers, including in health and social care settings, will be liable to pay the international health surcharge. Requiring international volunteers, including those working in health and social care, to pay the health surcharge, is unfair and inequitable, particularly as paid staff from other countries working in health and social care in the UK will be exempt.
This clause is a probing amendment, tabled to seek reassurance from the Government that the recently announced health surcharge exemption for health and social care staff will include international volunteers working in or applying to work in the UK under the current tier 5 visa arrangements. International volunteers from EU and non-EU countries make an enormous contribution to the work of charities, supporting people with learning disabilities and other needs and the work of charities across the UK in health and social care and other settings.
By way of example, there are currently around 215 international volunteers in Camphill communities in Scotland alone, providing services for people with these particular disabilities and other needs. A total of 61 of these volunteers currently rely on a tier 5 visa to do so. These young people have chosen to stay and provide care to UK citizens during the national health emergency. This demonstrates their dedication to, and compassion for, the people whom they support. It would be a terrible blow to the morale of charities across the UK if the Government’s very welcome announcement about the immigration and health surcharge exemption does not extend to international volunteers.
Post Brexit, all international volunteers from EU countries and Switzerland wishing to volunteer in UK charities will require visas, along with international volunteers from other countries outside the EU and Switzerland. Against this background, excluding international volunteers from the immigration health surcharge exemption could deter them from working for charities in the UK in health and social care and in other settings in the future. Post Brexit, all international volunteers from EU countries and Switzerland wishing to volunteer in our charities will require visas, along with international volunteers from other countries outside the EU and Switzerland. Against this background, therefore, excluding international volunteers from the immigration health surcharge exemption could deter volunteers from working in the future. This will impact on the capacity of many charities providing care and support and education to people with learning disabilities and other needs, and also on the capacity of charities across the UK in health and social care in other settings, including youth work and services supporting young people.
Can the Minister tell us whether Scottish, Welsh or English taxpayers will end up having to pay for staff to replace the volunteers who have been caring for many of these individuals? I note the current shortage within the UK of both health and care professionals in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Before the Minister turns this amendment down, I wonder whether he would agree to meet with me and a representative of one of these charities that benefit from volunteer help and are anxious about future funding.
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I have received no requests to speak after the Minister. I call the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark.
My Lords, I speak to Amendment 15. Clause 4 gives the Government substantial powers to make decisions about the future regulation of immigration without clarity about what these might be and what justifies such a wide power. Of course, we recognise that there needs to be an ability to do some tidying up of associated legislation when a Bill is passed, but the consequential amendments are normally set out in a schedule with a tidying-up clause that picks up anything that has fallen through the gaps. This does not seem to be the case in this Bill.
In August, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee said that this clause would
“confer permanent powers on Ministers to make whatever legislation they considered appropriate, provided there was at least some connection with Part 1, however tenuous”.
The committee was very clear that transitional arrangements to protect the legal rights of EEA citizens should appear in the Bill.
Last week, the Select Committee on the Constitution also made strongly worded recommendations on the Bill. It agreed with the Delegated Powers Committee’s concerns about Clause 4. Other noble Lords have already raised questions about phrases in this regulatory power. Amendment 15 is an attempt to understand why the Government need a power that makes transitory provisions, provisions that are not permanent. I hope the Minister will set out examples of what transitory provisions the Government consider might be needed.
My Lords, I thank noble Lords for speaking to the amendments in this short debate. I agree that clarity is absolutely necessary when scrutinising the scope and extent of any Bill, as your Lordships do. Amendments 14, 15 and 16 would restrict the scope of the power by removing what are standard provisions in regulating powers concerning transitory and supplementary provisions. Because both the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, asked what they mean, I shall go through them.
The current illustrative draft instrument does not contain a transitory provision, but it is standard legal drafting to include scope for such a provision should it be identified as necessary. Examples of supplementary provisions can be found where we are retaining some of the references to regulations transposing EU law in benefits legislation. Supplementary provisions update the references to reflect amendments to those regulations, so references to the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 become references to the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016, et cetera. I hope that clarifies the provision on “transitory” and “supplementary”.
I come to Amendment 17. As I explained in response to Amendment 18 and 19, Clause 4(4) allows the regulation-making power to make provision for those who are not exercising free movement rights at the end of the transition period but who are eligible for status under the EU settlement scheme and are therefore still affected by the repeal of free movement. The regulation-making power in Clause 4 is restricted to matters that are as a consequence of or in connection with the ending of free movement. Subsection (4) needs to be read in conjunction with subsection (1). It does not allow changes to the statute book for migrants from the rest of the world, who are not affected by the repeal of free movement. Amendment 17 would hinder our ability to make appropriate provision for all those affected by that appeal.
I hope that with those incredibly clear clarifications, noble Lords will feel happy not to press their amendments.
I have not received any requests to speak after the Minister, so I call—oh, it looks as though the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, thinks he has given notice.
I gave an example of “supplementary”; I did not give any examples of “transitory”. I will write a list and send it to noble Lords.
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My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, has explained, Amendment 21 is complementary to Amendment 20 in that it seeks to persuade the Government to explain how they would use this power. In the absence of that, it is hard to justify it. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has expressed great concern about this clause and the breadth of the discretion it would confer on Ministers to levy fees or charges. In this Bill, we are talking about people who, before Brexit, would have had free movement rights under EU law and would not have had to pay these kinds of charges. It is, therefore, beholden on the Government to provide some proper and explicit justification, as the committee suggested, for this inclusion and to explain how it would be used.
In preparing for this debate, I recalled that Section 9 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which gives the power to implement the withdrawal agreement by regulations, expressly excludes the power to impose fees. I seem to remember—although sometimes the last few years are a bit of a blur—that we had quite a dust-up about that provision. Of course, if other amendments to limit the Clause 4 delegation of powers— specifically Amendment 11—were to pass, then Clause 4(5) would drop because Clause 4 powers would exclude fees in that case.
There is, obviously, a great deal of concern about this subject, because the current fees impose costs on people far in excess of reimbursement to the Treasury. In some cases, they force people to become outside any permission to remain because they cannot afford the fees for themselves and their families. When the Minister replied to questions at Second Reading, she said that my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones, “asked whether the visa costs would be brought in line with other countries. These immigration and citizenship fees are set at a level that helps provide the resources necessary to operate our border, immigration and citizenship system. In fairness to UK taxpayers, it is only right that those who directly benefit from our immigration system contribute to its funding.”
Of course, that is right if it means reimbursing the administrative costs that cause the fees, but anything much over that starts to get into the realm of making a profit. Some might see that as a good idea, but, of course, it is problematic when we are going to be—and this is the Government’s vision—competing internationally for skilled people. The British Heart Foundation makes the point that the up-front cost of obtaining a five-year UK global talent visa is £2,608, considerably more than 11 other leading scientific nations. The total average up-front cost for a tier 2 skilled worker visa, taking the cost for the researcher and employer together, is £8,419, 540% higher than the average cost in other leading scientific nations, which is £1,316. I confess that I have not made these calculations myself, but I have no reason to think that they are not accurate.
In the current context of families struggling for work and their incomes in the Covid-19 pandemic, this is even more of a problem. We would like to hear from the Minister the justification that the Delegated Powers Committee has suggested. If it really is only to have the power to reduce fees, that would perhaps be a reasonable point for the Government to make, but in the absence of that reassurance, it is concerning that the Government would have a free hand to raise fees which are already, by international comparisons, pretty high.
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My Lords, we have not received any requests to speak after the Minister. Therefore, I call the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, to reply.
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My Lords, a lot of the speeches have understandably focused on the problems that are likely to arise in the arts and the creative sectors, including for musicians. My noble friends Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Bruce of Bennachie, and other noble Lords including the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, have also focused in particular on the arts.
The noble Baroness, Lady Bull, rightly raised the problem of freelancers and people who are needed at short notice and for short periods who have specialist skills that lend themselves to that sort of freelance and self-employed status. My noble friend Lord Clement-Jones and others rightly stressed the need for multiple-visit visas, touring visas and a reciprocal system, because this cannot work unless there is close co-operation with our EU partners.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, made a good point. It is not that we wish the fisheries sector anything but well but, given the weight of fishing in the economy, which is a tiny percentage, well under 1%, compared with the contribution of services in general, which is over 80% of our economy, the disproportionate attention that fishing is getting in the Brexit negotiations for the future relationship—if those negotiations, as we hope, are going somewhere—is, quite honestly, incomprehensible.
The arts—the creative sector—are extraordinarily valuable, not just to London but to other parts of the country, including Scotland, and perhaps Edinburgh in particular. Other sectors are rightly mentioned in the amendments, from business to tech, from research to faith communities, and these all demand a great deal of attention from the Government.
The organisation techUK has stressed that tech talent is in huge demand globally, so any friction makes the UK less attractive. Currently, apparently, a tier 2 visa can take 23 weeks to process, so techUK urges that the Government ensure that the new points-based system significantly reduces that time.
techUK also makes a good point about how the fee system needs to be transparent and easy to understand. We have discussed the level of fees and whether the Government should have delegated powers in setting them, which some of us are worried about. Transparency is important. techUK says the current system is fragmented and the plethora of different charges and add-ons acts as a deterrent to hiring talent because, in addition to salaries, total costs include the sponsor licence, the visa, the immigration skills charge and the immigration health surcharge. This makes recruiting overseas workers more challenging.
The ending of free movement will have a huge impact. For EU nationals, where the cost to business has been zero, it rises to £8,400 for a five-year sponsored visa. That is for the main applicant only, not for any family members. It will be £9,500 if proposed increases to the immigration health surcharge take effect. This is much greater than the cost in Australia, France, Germany and Canada. It will be a big deterrent for talent to come here in the future. techUK asks for transparency over where the money is going for other charges, such as the immigration skills charge. That would give employers confidence in the future immigration system. It is a fair request.
The City of London is obviously very worried, but financial services are not just about the City. The sector accounts for considerable employment throughout the country, in cities such as Leeds as well as Edinburgh, which I have already mentioned in relation to the arts. The City is worried about future changes to the Immigration Rules getting no real parliamentary scrutiny. It points out that the UK’s status as the leading professional service centre is the key contributor in attracting other professions and workers. There is a clustering effect, particularly evident in fintech and other tech sectors.
There is a great deal of anxiety in the arts and other sectors of the economy over how the system will work for them. There is a great deal of trepidation. Another point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, was that many arts organisations are very small. They cannot bear the administrative costs, the visa costs and the staff time to deal with all this.
Finally, the Government have to think about the children. It always used to be that the wives—these days one would say the spouses—got forgotten. A lot of people will not move unless their spouse can get a job as well. That is quite understandable when there are two qualified professional people in a couple. That goes for the children as well. The treatment of children—another subject we have discussed this evening—will be a factor in the success of the future immigration system. I hope to hear some reassurance from the Minister that these issues, so important to our artistic and economic life, are being given at least the same level of consideration as the fisheries sector.
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My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, will not mind if I intervene briefly before he speaks.
I do not think that the Minister can be in any doubt about the powerful concerns that noble Lords have expressed during this debate. First, I thank all those noble Lords who have spoken in the debate on my Amendment 69. Of course, it is part of a pattern across the board in other areas, including universities and the tech industries, which my noble friend Lady Ludford mentioned as well.
I thank the Minister for his response but he is placing an awful lot of weight on the Migration Advisory Committee making an impact assessment in this area. I will read extremely carefully what he has to say but the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, had it right when she expressed doubt over whether that was the right body to be carrying out this kind of assessment: a rather cold, hard, economic assessment that does not take into account many of the other surrounding circumstances involving our creative industries.
The Minister thinks that the amendment, by creating this kind of assessment and report, would replicate what is already there. I beg to differ: this is a separate, and rather different, arrangement, particularly with respect to its consideration of reciprocity. A number of noble Lords were in agreement that reciprocity was extremely important. I thought that the testimonies of the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, were particularly important; they spoke from their personal experience. That is not something that the Migration Advisory Committee would deal with.
I will certainly read with interest and care what the Minister has had to say but we may wish to come back to this really important subject—which has gained such support across the House—on Report.
I thank both noble Lords for their comments. They reinforce the passion of the advocacy made by noble Lords this evening, across a very wide range of sectors and subject areas. I absolutely will go through Hansard and ensure that I follow up on the range of points made in this long, but valuable and important, debate covering a number of important topics.
My Lords, I can assure my noble friend that building good quality and beautiful housing is a top priority for government. The Covid pandemic has shown just how important housing is, and the importance of access to green space. I can assure my noble friend that the building regulations will be continuously updated.
I point out a number of measures. Obviously, the investment in affordable homes of £11.5 billion that I just announced is the largest investment in affordable housing in over a decade. In addition, the removal of the borrowing cap enables housing to be built. Councils have built 10 times more council housing in the last decade than in the previous one.
My Lords, this afternoon my noble friend Lord Newby, speaking on a business Motion, made the point that Private Members’ Bills should come back on to our Order Paper. This would certainly be a candidate for that. I referred to this directive when I spoke to my Amendment 6 earlier today. We have heard long, careful and impassioned speeches from previous speakers, so I do not intend to say a great deal, but that should not be taken to be any indication that I do not feel strongly about these issues.
The amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord McColl, is about how the support that we would all want to see for victims of trafficking is given. The Modern Slavery Act is only five years old, but thinking has moved on since then. Knowledge and understanding have moved on. We need to continue to develop and refine the support that is made available and recognise it as a right beyond guidance. It is a moral duty and it needs to be made certain in law. It does not require much imagination to understand that the need for protection varies from victim to victim, but it is likely to have to be long and intensive and, as we have debated in other contexts, certainty is an important component of recovery. I support this amendment very warmly.
My Lords, I begin by echoing the words of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, paying tribute to my noble friend Lord McColl of Dulwich for not just his important contribution to the debate this evening but his long-standing interest and valiant work in the field of tackling modern slavery. As he knows, the Government are firmly committed to tackling this appalling crime, ensuring that victims are provided with the support they need to begin to rebuild their lives and that those responsible for these crimes are prosecuted.
In October last year the Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to continue my right honourable friend Theresa May’s world-leading work in tackling modern slavery, which I am pleased the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, has paid tribute to this evening. As a result of that work, we are now identifying more victims of modern slavery and doing more to bring perpetrators to justice than ever before.
As your Lordships have heard, in 2015 the Government introduced the landmark Modern Slavery Act, which gave law enforcement agencies the tools to tackle modern slavery, including maximum life sentences for perpetrators and enhanced protection for victims—but as my noble friend Lord Randall said, there is always more we can do. As my noble friend Lord McColl put it, we should seek to have the very best provisions. As the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, said, we should show the way here. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is absolutely right that we see the tactics of the criminals evolve over time and we have to make sure we keep pace.
That is why the Government are currently undertaking a programme to transform how we identify and support victims of modern slavery, emphasising our continued commitment to having a world-leading system as we leave the European Union. As part of this, we are looking carefully at the legal framework in this area.
As I hope my noble friend Lord McColl will recognise, the system of identification and support for victims of modern slavery and the legal framework around it go far beyond the scope of the Bill we are debating. Indeed, the most commonly represented nationality among those referred to the national referral mechanism in 2019 was British. It is important to see this as distinct from an immigration issue alone.
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My Lords, I have received a request to speak after the Minister from the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark.
I am very happy to make that commitment to speak not just to my noble friend but also to the relevant Minister, Victoria Atkins, who I know is looking carefully at the legal framework here and will want to be sure that she has taken note of the contributions made this evening. I will pass them on to her and have that discussion.
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My Lords, I am delighted to support Amendments 8 and 58. On Amendment 58, I speak as a person who holds Irish nationality but lives in the United Kingdom. For me, the purpose of this amendment is to oblige Ministers to provide a report that draws on the scope of the common travel area-associated rights, cross referencing and contrasting these with the rights under the EU settled status scheme. This would allow Irish citizens to make informed decisions on securing their rights after the end of the transition period. As a result of an amendment in Committee in the other place, information was received on the issue of deportation and the Government confirmed that the one advantage to an Irish citizen of applying to the EU settlement scheme is the right to a family reunion. The Government had not made that clear beforehand.
Clause 2 will establish a stand-alone right for Irish citizens to enter and reside in the UK. However, under the Good Friday agreement citizenship provisions, the people of Northern Ireland have birth-right entitlements to be British or Irish, or both, and to equality of treatment regardless of that choice. In practice, the legal underpinning of equality of treatment for British and Irish citizens in Northern Ireland on matters such as entry, residence, work and social protection, and so on, has been provided almost entirely by EU free movement law. After Brexit, the people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens, including dual British-Irish citizens, will retain EU citizenship, but the only route to retain access to such EU free movement rights is through the EU settled status scheme. This is the domestic route for EU citizens and their family members in the UK prior to Brexit to retain EU rights and benefits under part 2 of the withdrawal agreement, which are usually retained for life.
I understand that the Government’s position is that Irish citizens do not need to apply for the EU settled status scheme, but may wish to do so. The reasoning behind the Government’s position that Irish citizens do not need to apply for settled status is that Irish citizens can still rely on the associated reciprocal rights of the UK-Ireland common travel area. However, at the time of the referendum, reciprocal rights of the CTA barely existed at all in UK law across key areas and thus a non-binding memorandum of understanding has been entered into since. With the exception of social security, CTA provision remains vague. In the words of the Human Rights Commission report, it is “written in sand”, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, already referred to, and it
“can be characterised by loose administrative arrangements or provisions that can be altered at any time.”
While the clock ticks on the closing of the opportunity to apply to retain EU free movement rights under this settled status scheme, it is not possible for Irish citizens at present to make an informed choice because it is unclear ultimately what the associated CTA rights will cover and whether they will be enshrined in a legally binding manner.
The Home Office also initially debarred all people of Northern Ireland from applying for settled status, further to a policy position adopted in 2012 to treat all persons born in Northern Ireland as British. The decision was adopted to impede the exercise of EU rights by Irish citizens in Northern Ireland to be joined by non-EU family members. That position was challenged by the Emma and Jake DeSouza case, and the Home Office recently announced a policy change which will allow certain amendments in that area. It will also allow open access to relevant persons from Northern Ireland through the settlement scheme. Therefore, the purpose of this amendment is to oblige Ministers to provide a report that draws out the scope of the CTA associated rights, cross referencing and contrasting them with the rights under the EU settlement scheme.
In conclusion, I have two questions for the Minister. First, given that the opinion of both human rights commissions on the island of Ireland is that the rights of the common travel area are written in sand, what do the Government intend to do to enshrine those rights and ensure that they can be used to obtain legal redress? Secondly, in the absence of a report from the Government that contrasts the scope of the CTA rights with the rights provided for under settled status, do the Government accept that Irish citizens are left with little information to enable them to determine whether they wish to apply for settled status? I look forward to answers from the Minister in your Lordships’ House this evening.
I thank all noble Lords who have spoken to these amendments. As the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, says, I often speak as first-generation Irish and he speaks as second-generation Irish, so I think one could say that we have a personal interest in getting this right and reiterating those rights in the Bill. Both the UK and Irish Governments have committed to maintaining the common travel area, which I will now call the CTA. It is underpinned by deep-rooted, historical ties and, crucially, predates our membership of the European Union.
It has been agreed with the EU that the UK and Ireland can continue to make arrangements between themselves when it comes to the CTA. This means that we will continue to allow British and Irish citizens to travel freely between the UK and Ireland and reside in either jurisdiction, and commit to protecting a number of wider rights and privileges associated with the CTA. These include the ability to work, study and access healthcare and public services. Both Governments confirmed that position on 8 May last year, through signing a CTA memorandum of understanding, referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford. The Government has included Clause 2 in the Bill to ensure that Irish citizens can enter and remain in the UK, without requiring permission, regardless of where they have travelled from, except in a limited number of circumstances.
Amendment 58 also seeks to require the Government to publish details of the rights and benefits provided by the EU settlement scheme. The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 protects the residence rights of EEA citizens and their family members for those individuals who are resident in the UK before the end of the transition period and for eligible family members seeking to join a relevant EEA citizen in the UK after that time. By applying for UK immigration status under the EU settlement scheme, they can also continue to work, study and, where eligible, access benefits and services, such as free NHS treatment, as they do now.
While Irish citizens resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 can apply to the EU settlement scheme if they want, they do not need to. Their eligible family members can apply to the scheme, whether or not the Irish citizen has done so. However, Irish citizens resident in the UK by 31 December this year may wish to apply to the scheme to make it easier to prove their status in the UK in the event that they wish to bring eligible family members to the UK in the future.
The Government have therefore already made it clear that both the CTA and the EU settlement scheme provide Irish citizens with a number of rights following the end of free movement, and we will continue to emphasise that commitment. I hope that that gives the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, comfort enough not to move Amendment 58.
Turning to the question of deportation raised by either the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, or the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee—it is getting late—Amendment 8 seeks to make additional provision with regards to the deportation of Irish citizens and their family members. First, subsection (6) seeks to ensure that the Secretary of State may not conclude that the deportation of an Irish citizen is conducive to the public good, unless she concludes that, due to the exceptional circumstances of the case, the public interest requires deportation.
Subsection (7) seeks to ensure that the family member of an Irish citizen can be deported only on the grounds that their family member is or has been deported, where the Secretary of State has concluded that the deportation of the Irish citizen is conducive to the public good and, due to the exceptional circumstances of the case, the public interest requires their deportation.
I use this opportunity to reiterate our approach to deporting Irish citizens. While Clause 2 disapplies the right to enter and remain in the UK, without leave, for those Irish citizens who are subject to a deportation order, in light of the historical, community and political ties between the UK and Ireland, along with the existence of the CTA, Irish citizens are considered for deportation only where a court has recommended deportation or where the Secretary of State concludes that, due to the exceptional circumstances of the case, deportation is in the public interest—much in the way that was pointed out by the noble Baroness.
The Government are firmly committed to maintaining this approach. Irish citizens were exempted from the automatic deportation provisions in the UK Borders Act 2007 by the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which were laid in February 2019, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, pointed out.
Under the Immigration Act 1971, the family member of an Irish citizen would not be considered for deportation on the grounds that their family member is or has been ordered to be deported, unless a deportation order was made in respect of that Irish citizen. The amendment also seeks to prevent the deportation or exclusion from the UK of an Irish citizen if they are among the “people of Northern Ireland” entitled to identify as Irish citizens by virtue of Article 1(vi) of the British-Irish agreement of 1998.
I make it absolutely clear that the Government are fully committed to upholding all parts of the Belfast agreement, including the identity provisions which allow the “people of Northern Ireland” to identify as Irish, British or both, as they may so choose, and the citizenship provisions which allow the “people of Northern Ireland” to hold both British and Irish citizenship. Recognising the citizenship provisions in the Belfast agreement, we would consider any case extremely carefully, and not seek to deport a “person of Northern Ireland” who is solely an Irish citizen. Exclusion decisions are taken on a case-by-case basis by Ministers. Exclusion of a person from the UK is normally used in circumstances involving national security, international crimes—including war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide—serious criminality or corruption and unacceptable behaviour. It is essential to the security of the UK that Ministers retain the power to exclude in such serious circumstances, although of course all cases are considered extremely carefully.
I hope that with these explanations, the noble Baroness can withdraw her Amendment 8.
Break in Debate
My Lords, I think I get the committee’s views on the delegated powers in this Bill, and they are not pretty. However, I thank the committee for making them.
I first thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for speaking to this group of amendments and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe for speaking to Amendment 32. These amendments seek to limit the scope of the regulation-making power in Clause 4 and address the parliamentary procedure for the regulations. It is right that Parliament pays close attention to the provision of delegated powers. I have noted the recommendations made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in its latest report of 25 August.
I am pleased that we have been able to share draft illustrative regulations to be made under this power later this year, subject to Parliament’s approval of the Bill. The draft regulations—which I understand will not be subject to any significant change, to answer the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, from tonight and the other day—will, I hope, provide some reassurance as to how the Government intend to use the regulation-making power in Clause 4.
There are clear constraints on the use of the power in Clause 4. It can be used only to make regulations that amend primary or secondary legislation
“in consequence of, or in connection with”
Part 1 of the Bill on ending free movement and protecting the rights of Irish citizens. It cannot be used in relation to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU more generally or to make wider immigration changes.
Amendment 9 seeks to limit the use of the power to making changes that are considered “necessary”, not “appropriate”. Amendment 10 seeks to limit the power to changes that are only a consequence of Part 1 of the Bill and not in connection with it. I invite noble Lords to consider the illustrative draft of the regulations and take comfort that this power is specifically to deliver the end of free movement; it is not to be used for general changes to the immigration system.
The regulations will make the statute book coherent on the repeal of free movement, align the treatment of EEA citizens arriving from next year with that of non-EEA citizens and implement our obligations to afford equal treatment to those within scope of the residence provisions of the withdrawal agreement—nothing more than that.
Furthermore, Amendment 10 prevents the Government making changes required to align the treatment of EEA and non-EEA citizens in the immigration system, which would undermine the new global points-based system. We cannot, therefore, accept these amendments.
The Government have made every effort to specify in the delegated powers memorandum the type of changes to legislation required as a result of ending free movement and protecting the rights of Irish citizens, and to make provision for them in draft regulations. However, Amendment 11 would prevent the Secretary of State from making appropriate provision and would unacceptably narrow the scope of the power. Amendment 13 would have the effect of restricting the scope of the power to the powers listed in Clause 4(3).
Amendment 32, tabled by my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe, seeks to confine changes to fees and charges to EEA and Swiss citizens. That is already the principal purpose of Clause 4(5). However, the amendment would then prevent us from applying the skills charge to non-EEA family members of EEA citizens and from exempting from the skills charge a non-EEA family member with rights of residence and equal treatment under the withdrawal agreement. It would amount to a breach of the UK’s commitments under those agreements, and for that reason alone we cannot accept the amendment.
It is the will of the British people that we bring free movement to an end. This means ending the bias in our immigration system that favours EEA citizens over the citizens of any other country, which is the primary purpose of the Bill. Limiting the Government’s ability to apply a skills charge to EEA citizens in the same way as they apply to non-EEA citizens would mean that certain elements of free movement had not been fully repealed by the Bill, and that EEA citizens still had an advantage in our immigration system. That is not an outcome that the Government can accept.
On Amendments 35, 36, 37 and 38, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has spoken, the first set of regulations made under this power will be subject to the “made affirmative” procedure, whereby they must be approved by both Houses within 40 days of being made if they are to remain in force. The “made affirmative” procedure is needed in the likely event that there is a short window between Royal Assent to this Bill and the end of the transition period. For that reason, the affirmative procedure proposed by the noble Baroness does not work.
The people of the UK voted to leave the EU and take back control of our laws and our borders. It is therefore imperative that this House helps to deliver on that democratic mandate by ensuring that free movement is brought to an end by 31 December. It is important to ensure that regulations made under this power commence by then. Under the “made affirmative” procedure, both Houses will be asked to approve the regulations within 40 days of them being made for them to continue in force, so Parliament has scrutiny over the use of this power. If Parliament does not approve the regulations then they will cease to have effect, but subsection (10) preserves the effect of anything done under them before that point in order to ensure legal certainty. Using this power does not mean avoiding parliamentary scrutiny—far from it—as the secondary legislation to be made under the power is subject to full parliamentary oversight using established procedures.
I think it is right that Parliament should set the scope of the power in Clause 4 in terms that are appropriate to the purpose of the Bill in ending free movement and protecting the rights of Irish citizens. It is also right that Parliament should retain appropriate oversight over the exercise of this power. However, the Government are committed to ending free movement now that we have left the EU, and this parliamentary procedure is an essential part of delivering that. I hope the noble Baronesses and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe have been assured of the content of the draft regulations and the explanation of how the Government will use the delegated power. I therefore ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.
Furthermore, some noble Lords have spoken to oppose that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill. I must emphasise the importance of this power for the effective implementation of the Bill. I trust that sight of the draft regulations provides further reassurance that the power does not give Ministers a blank cheque to make wide-ranging changes to immigration policies. The power can be used only to make provision as a consequence of or in connection with Part 1 of the Bill on the ending of free movement and protecting the status of Irish citizens, but without the power we cannot align immigration treatment between EEA and non-EEA citizens, and cannot then build up our global points based system.
The regulations will be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny using well-established procedures. Free movement must end on 31 December and the “made affirmative” procedure is needed to ensure regulations made under this power align the treatment of EEA and non-EEA citizens who arrive in the country from 1 January 2021. It is important to debate the appropriate use of delegated powers, but the Government are committed to ending free movement now that we have left the EU and this clause is an essential part of it.
My Lords, we very much welcome this secondary legislation, but all Governments have always been rather behind the curve on this issue which, when many of us were elected representatives, appeared on our desks all too often. Although I very much welcome it personally, many residents who have suffered previously from the actions of site owners feel as cynical as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, described. They feel very strongly that these organisations —the managers and companies that are the rogues—often find their way around these regulations. Having said that, I shall come on to enforcement later.
We have to remember that this is not just a minority interest: there are some 85,000 households in park homes on more than 2,000 sites and, as the Minister has rightly said, they are older, less well-off, more vulnerable people. The problem is that the power in this area is very asymmetric, not least, often, when satisfied residents find that the ownership of their site has been transferred and there is a whole regime change, not just in the legal landlord but in the tone and the way that those sites are managed. The key issue is that of circumvention, either by having different site managers come in, or indeed by changing the ownership of the company that legally owns the sites. These are methods that have been used in the past to get around similar regulations.
As I understand it, having read the regulations, it is either/or—either the site manager or the owner has to be approved in this way, not both. It seems to me very important that, never mind the site manager, the owning company or person also needs to be approved: it needs to be a dual process and I understand that that is not the case at the moment. As the noble Lords, Lord Best and Lord Berkeley, said only too well, the key issue here is one of enforcement: many residents on rogue sites at the moment feel that local authorities have just not had the resources or perhaps even the wish to get heavily involved with these companies and actually implement the legislation. I welcome very much the Minister restating that fines will be unlimited in this area, but they have to be imposed. Until they are and those fines stop being part of the cost of operating these sites, the abuses will continue.
I have a number of other questions. I am pleased that so-called grandfather rights do not apply here and that all existing site owners have to be registered; I welcome that very much. Are the Government looking further at the 10% commission fee on the sale of mobile homes or park homes on these sites, which is still highly contentious? Will the Government liaise closely with local authorities on implementation of these regulations? I think it is important that we share information, as the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, said very strongly and correctly. There is ample scope here for one authority approving an owner while others do not, and a risk that that will discourage councils from not approving particular individuals.
As for fines, this again leads into the judicial process, but it is very important that they are at a level that actually deter once enforcement takes place. Lastly, some site owners are foreign companies and I presume—I would be interested to hear from the Minister—that they will have to comply equally. What legal measures can be taken against them if they do not comply? That is important.
We very much welcome these regulations but the key thing, as all Members have said, is that they need to be enforced. The fines need to be substantial, not just operating costs on business. We need this to be a turning point for some 85,000 households, with all of them feeling secure in their form of living and their residences.
My Lords, we have had a fascinating and wide-ranging debate on the regulations before us today, and I thank noble Lords on all sides of the House for their contributions. I take this opportunity to provide responses to the questions asked of me and the points raised.
The noble Lords, Lord Kennedy, Lord Berkeley and Lord Campbell-Savours, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, raised the issue of local authority resources. We are mindful of the risks of putting new burdens on local authorities—we have the new burdens doctrine—and that is why we have given them the power to charge application and annual fees to cover the cost of the work needed to drive up standards. As required by the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, fees charged by local authorities must be reasonable and cover their costs only. The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, wanted to know the number of applications likely to be received. There are 2,000 sites in England, so that means 2,000 applications.
The noble Lords, Lord German and Lord Teverson, addressed the importance of consumer protection. The terrible case in which criminality was involved, raised by the noble Lord, Lord German, was very striking. These regulations introduce three criminal offences. If a site owner is convicted of any one of these, they face a penalty up to an unlimited fine. If convicted twice for operating a site in contravention of the regulations, the local authority may apply to the magistrates’ court or the First-tier Tribunal for an order to revoke the site licence. We expect local authorities to use this power as a last resort only, as it could lead to the closure of the site and put residents at risk of homelessness. To avoid this happening, the Government will explore giving local authorities powers, as part of the forthcoming primary legislation, to apply to the First-tier Tribunal to install an interim site manager to take over management of a site where a site licence may need to be revoked.
I take the point about the need to interact with the police. As a local authority leader, it is very much part of local authorities’ DNA to have strong connections with the local police force. That also answers the point from the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that, for a fine to be effective, it needs to be implemented. Intelligence needs to be shared between the local authority and the police, and between local authorities.
A number of noble Lords raised the effectiveness of regulations. My noble friend Lord Kirkhope and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, should be aware that the local authority will keep all the people placed on the register under review. Complaints from residents can precipitate removal from the register. I recognise the concerns raised about unscrupulous site owners hiding behind an organisation or putting another individual forward for the test to avoid scrutiny themselves. These regulations address this by ensuring that the test focuses on the actual person managing the site. They do this by requiring the provision of certain information and a criminal record certificate, in some cases, about responsible persons and company officers who are involved in the management of the site or have responsibilities for its day-to-day management.
Local authorities may also request any additional information they consider relevant to an application and may have regard to the conduct of any person associated, or formerly associated, with the relevant person, whether on a personal, work or other basis. My noble friend Lord Bourne asked whether the test is structured to avoid loopholes, as some may have complex arrangements. I assure noble Lords that all the loopholes have been covered and, where the site owner is a company, details of all the relevant officers of the organisation will be required. Local authorities can also ask for relevant information. This applies to companies whether they are located in the UK or abroad. On sharing information, local authorities have to make this register public and are encouraged to share information from it. I note the point from the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, about the need to publicise data from the rogue landlords database. I will take that matter away and look into it.
The noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, and my noble friend Lord Kirkhope, raised the issue of how the fit and proper test would work. It will apply to the site licence holder or the person appointed by the site licence holder to manage a “relevant protected site”, which is one for which a site licence is required and on which year-round residential occupation is allowed. The test will also apply to a prospective site licence holder who has applied to the local authority for a site licence.
Relevant protected sites are predominantly park home sites. However, that definition also includes owner-occupied sites, which are those occupied by a single family and not operated commercially—for example, those with planning permission for use by Gypsy and Traveller communities. We have exempted those owner-occupied sites from the requirements, as the regulations would place a disproportionate burden on those single families.
The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, raised the issue of the 10% commission on the sale of a home. Under the Mobile Homes Act 1983, a site owner is entitled to a commission of up to 10% of the price of a mobile home upon sale. The Government recognise that the payment of a commission has divided opinion over the years, continues to raise concerns and creates uncertainty with residents and site owners. From previous reviews that have looked at this issue, it is clear that there are likely impacts on residents and site owners if changes are made to the rate of commission that is payable. Therefore, it is important that any ongoing debates or discussions about changing the commission rate are based on data, facts and an accurate assessment of the impacts on the sector. There is currently no data available to accurately measure any of those impacts, which is why the Government have committed to undertake research to gather the relevant data. We have undertaken some initial scoping work to identify gaps in the existing evidence base to ensure that the research is thorough and comprehensive.
I recognise that a number of points about implementation and the guidance available were raised by my noble friend Lord Naseby and the noble Lords, Lord Kirkhope and Lord Teverson. In the interests of time, I will write to them on those matters. I pay tribute to the noble Lords, Lord Best and Lord Kirkhope, for their work on the Mobile Homes Act 2013. This statutory instrument is testament to their work holding the Government’s feet to the fire. This is not the end of the road; we are looking at primary legislation, when parliamentary time allows, to pick up many of the points raised during this debate.
I reiterate that the majority of site owners are responsible and compliant, make a valuable contribution to the housing market and provide well-maintained and safe sites for their residents. However, a minority knowingly flout their responsibilities and exploit their residents, most of whom are elderly, vulnerable and on low incomes. These regulations are necessary to protect and improve the lives, health and well-being of park home residents.
In conclusion, park home residents are all too often exploited and suffer poor treatment. They deserve our protection and support. We have made good progress in recent years, but there is more to be done. These regulations will ensure that all site owners, not just the good ones, meet the required standards of management and conduct. Unscrupulous site owners will have to change their behaviour or find a more competent person to manage the site. Once again, I am very grateful for noble Lords’ time and contributions, and I commend the regulations to the House.