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

Tue 30th June 2020 Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Commons Chamber)
Report stage: House of Commons
3 interactions (250 words)

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

(Report stage: House of Commons)
Stephen Farry Excerpts
Tuesday 30th June 2020

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Home Office
Mr Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans) - Hansard

There are eight people on the call list and we have just over half an hour. If everybody sticks to four minutes, even if they take an intervention, we will get everybody in. Help your colleagues, please.

Stephen Farry Portrait Stephen Farry (North Down) (Alliance) - Hansard

I want primarily to address new clause 12, which appears in my name and the names of other hon. Members, but I will first make a couple of other points. I agree with the many Members on both sides of the House who have spoken in opposition to the hostile environment. To those who are, in a sense, celebrating the end of freedom of movement, I stress that it has worked both ways. It has also provided opportunities for UK citizens inside the European Union, which we are now walking away from.

I want to make a few detailed comments on new clause 33, of which I am a co-sponsor. The ending of freedom of movement in relation to Northern Ireland brings some potential distortions, above and beyond the challenges facing the UK economy and society overall. Northern Ireland exists in both a UK-wide and all-Ireland context. Under the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol, we stay in the single market with respect to goods, but the four fundamental freedoms are interconnected. That includes the freedom of movement and the ability to engage services. The protocol makes reference to the wider context of north-south co-operation. That will create some degree of difficulty, particularly for EEA nationals who are engaged in enterprises that operate on both sides of the border in Ireland. We run the risk of seeing industries that depend heavily upon labour from elsewhere in Europe not being competitive any longer and moving out of Northern Ireland, southwards into the Republic of Ireland.

New clause 12 seeks to ensure the priority of rights, opportunity and treatment for Irish citizens within the United Kingdom. Historically, Irish citizens have relied on the common travel area, which is informed by a number of pieces of legislation, including the British Nationality Act 1948, the Ireland Act 1949 and the Immigration Act 1971. However, it is still largely essentially a convention between the UK and Ireland. In more recent times, common travel area rights have been overlaid by freedom of movement, due to the joint membership of the European Union by the UK and Ireland. We do not know exactly what will happen whenever that is stripped away.