There have been 8 exchanges between Holly Lynch and Stuart C McDonald
|1||Thu 18th June 2020||
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Eighth sitting)
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|2||Thu 18th June 2020||
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Seventh sitting)
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|3||Tue 16th June 2020||
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Sixth sitting)
|11 interactions (4,054 words)|
|4||Tue 16th June 2020||
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Fifth sitting)
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|5||Thu 11th June 2020||
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Third sitting)
|11 interactions (5,083 words)|
|6||Thu 11th June 2020||
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Fourth sitting)
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|7||Tue 9th June 2020||
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (Second sitting)
|17 interactions (2,082 words)|
|8||Tue 9th June 2020||
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (First sitting)
|2 interactions (436 words)|
(3 months ago)Public Bill Committees
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
It is a pleasure to address new clause 46, this time with a cross-party hat on, rather than my usual SNP hat. I am grateful to the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North and others for co-ordinating on this new clause.
As Members will know, the European Union has in place a fairly mature—it is certainly not perfect, but it is long standing—system of deciding which member state should appropriately consider a claim for asylum. For example, if an unaccompanied child is found on one of the Greek islands seeking asylum and it is known that they have family members in another EU country, few of us here would argue against the notion that the child should be reunited with their family and the claim considered in that member state.
In January this year, Parliament passed section 37 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, which regrettably abolished the previous requirement on the Government to seek to negotiate an alternative to replace the family reunion provisions in the EU’s Dublin regulation. At the time, the Government were full of assurances that this did not represent a downgrading of their ambitions and said that they would protect family reunion for unaccompanied children in the Brexit negotiations, but in its current form, the UK’s proposal to the EU rows back on those assurances and would leave hundreds of children stranded.
There are numerous problems with what the Government propose. Most fundamentally, the proposed text removes all mandatory requirements on the Government to facilitate family reunions and would make a child’s right to join their relatives entirely discretionary. The text also intentionally avoids providing rights to children. It does not provide for appeals and attempts to put these issues beyond the reach of UK courts. Other categories of vulnerable refugees, including accompanied children and adults, would lose access to family reunion altogether. A series of other key safeguards are removed, including strict deadlines for responses and the responsibility for gathering information being on the state rather than the child.
This issue is hugely important. Between 2009 and 2014, before mandatory provisions were introduced by Dublin III, family reunions to the UK were carried out at an average rate of 11 people annually. Between 2016 and 2018, after the mandatory provisions were introduced by Dublin III, family reunions to the UK were carried out at an average rate of 547 people annually. The Government were not straight with Parliament when they proposed clause 37 of the withdrawal Bill earlier this year, and I think they have behaved in a rather upsetting manner, if I can put it like that.
We now have a situation where there are unaccompanied child refugees and refugees more generally living in appalling conditions in Greece and France. Of course those countries are under an obligation to do more to support and assist them, but many of those kids have family here, and I cannot see how any reasonable person can argue against the logic, the sense and the simple compassionate idea that that child should be reunited with their family in this country and have their asylum claim decided here.
The Government should stop messing about, stop trying to water down their previous commitments and revert to the obligation that Parliament previously placed upon it, which is to negotiate a full and proper replacement of the Dublin regulations, including an obligation to allow children to be reunited with their families in the United Kingdom.
Break in Debate
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
It used to be that the Home Office enforced immigration rules by good old-fashioned intelligence-led investigation and action, but under political pressure and the influence of austerity, increasingly the Home Office has decided to rely on essentially outsourced immigration control, hoping that if they made life tougher for unauthorised migrants, they would leave of their own accord. This is of course the hostile environment, and it has been ramped extensively in the last two Immigration Acts, such that little landladies and landlords, as well as bank staff and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency workers, all have to work as immigration officers now. All sorts of Government Departments are tasked with helping the Home Office with its work by sharing information, which makes people wary of accessing public services.
When these measures were introduced, Opposition MPs warned that there would be all sorts of negative consequences and that errors would be made, meaning that people would be denied housing or would have their bank accounts closed when they should not have been. We warned that there was little to suggest that attempts at enforcing destitution and desperation would persuade people to leave, that its impact would lead to all sorts of injustices, and that it could actually make immigration enforcement harder, not easier, as undocumented migrants are forced into the hands of unscrupulous landlords and employers and made ever more difficult to trace.
Four and six years on from the relevant Immigration Acts, the Bill would see that same hostile environment impacting on many more people. We should not allow that to happen without first assessing whether the Government have achieved what they set out to achieve with the hostile environment measures, or whether the warnings from Opposition MPs have been proven correct. Has the hostile environment achieved anything, or has it caused relentless problems, as was forecast?
It appears that the Home Office cannot tell us what the impact of the hostile environment has been in contributing to its policy goals. As the National Audit Office said only yesterday, it is currently unable to assess whether these measures have had any meaningful impact on the likelihood that an individual will leave the UK voluntarily. In fact, the number of voluntary departures has reduced significantly since 2015—in 2015 there were an average of 1,200 such voluntary departures each month, and by 2019 that was down to 460.
That echoes previous findings by the chief inspector of borders and immigration in relation to the right to rent, which is probably the most dangerous of the hostile measures, in that it leaves private citizens with the job of doing immigration checks. He concluded that the scheme had yet to demonstrate its worth as a tool for encouraging immigration compliance, with the Home Office failing to co-ordinate, maximise or even measure effectively its use, while doing little to address stakeholder concerns.
I want to emphasise those concerns. Time and again, the Home Office has been warned about the discrimination in the housing market caused by the right to rent scheme. These warnings came from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and from the Residential Landlords Association. It is not difficult to understand how this comes about. Let us imagine a close relative who happens to let properties. How easy would it be for them to assess immigration status? How easy would it be for them not to be influenced by the fact that if they made a mistake in that assessment they would face criminal prosecution, a fine and even imprisonment? It is blindingly obvious that there is a huge danger of discrimination. Repeated surveys and assessment by organisations such as JCWI and the Residential Landlords Association have shown that to be the case.
We now have a court case proceeding to the Supreme Court. Both in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal, the finding of fact was made that this scheme has in fact resulted in discrimination. The Home Office had success at the Court of Appeal stage, on the basis that on paper and in theory the scheme could be operated in a way that did not lead to discrimination, but that is not anything to celebrate. The scheme has been ruled lawful, but it has been found to operate in a discriminatory way.
This is a time when we really must have a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of what has happened to immigration policy and the functioning of the hostile environment. That is exactly what Wendy Williams suggested in her Windrush lessons learned review, yet today we have been asked to extend the scope of that hostile environment without such a review taking place, and without any evidence being provided by the Home Office that the scheme is having an impact or contributing towards any of its policy goals.
Right to rent is the most scandalous of these problems, but it is causing all sorts of problems in other areas as well. For example, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration found that something like 10% of the bank accounts that have been closed as part of the scheme related to people who had every right to be here. That is a huge number of people who have been caused problems by this way of doing things, and they are not only migrants; of course, several million UK citizens do not have a passport and therefore struggle sometimes to prove their right to access services and housing, and to go about their lawful business.
We need to know from the Minister what work is being done to assess the impact of the hostile environment. Rather than celebrating the finding that, in theory, the right to rent scheme could operate without discrimination, what work has been done to make sure that it operates without discrimination? If no such work has been done, or if it cannot be guaranteed that the scheme will operate without discrimination, when will it be repealed?
(3 months ago)Public Bill Committees
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship again, Sir Edward. I can be relatively brief because the shadow Minister has spoken to the National Farmers Union of Scotland and represented its interests pretty well. There is real concern about shortages in the labour market for agriculture, particularly in relation to seasonal workers. Research on seasonal migrant labour from 2018 showed that in Scotland alone the number of seasonal agricultural workers required in any year is not far short of 10,000.
More recently, the NFUS and the UK farming unions have given evidence to the UK Government, demonstrating that for the whole UK around 70,000 seasonal staff are required in the horticultural sector and 13,000 seasonal staff are required in the poultry sector every year. That is obviously many times more than the number of places in the current pilot.
Challenges in recruiting seasonal workers have already been seen in recent years. In 2018, the NFUS conducted a survey of its horticultural membership in which every single respondent reported being “concerned” or “very concerned” about the impact worker shortages would have on their businesses in 2018 and beyond. Almost 60% of respondents said they were “likely” or “very likely” to downsize their business and the remaining 42% said they would have to cease current activity.
The NFUS was opposed to the end of free movement but, even while free movement was retained, farmers increasingly needed to look beyond the EU to fill such posts, with countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova already supplying a significant proportion of the workers required. The seasonal agricultural workers scheme pilot has been described as a step in the right direction, but it does not provide nearly enough permits if shortages such as those experienced in recent years are going to continue.
The NFUS is calling for a seasonal scheme that is open to both EU and non-EU workers, with capacity to provide farmers with access to returnee employers. It also calls for the scheme to be open to a wide number of labour providers and direct recruiters. Some concerns have been expressed about the expense and the somewhat laborious processes that are involved in taking advantage of the scheme.
The NFUS has also expressed concerns that the future immigration system proposed by the Government is not based on realistic expectations of the ability of the UK to fill the jobs currently carried out by migrant workers. It says that
“to maintain the productivity of the agricultural sector, immigration policy must allow recruitment on a seasonal basis for workers from both the EU and non-EU, at a non-restricted level.”
I echo what the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Halifax, said about the SAWS scheme and how we always have to be cautious about the need to carefully protect workers against exploitation. She was right to highlight concerns raised by Focus on Labour Exploitation during the passage of the Bill last year.
To come to the rescue of the right hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby, the gangmasters legislation was very welcome, but so too was the introduction of the director of labour market enforcement in 2016, under the Conservative Government, which may have been what he was thinking about. Those are both welcome moves, but we have a long way to go to build on the creation of those posts in ensuring that migrant workers—and workers generally—are properly protected.
One criticism of the new clause is that it is not just on seasonal workers that we need to have a report; we need a broader report on the impact on access to labour in the agricultural industry. The concerns of organisations such as the NFUS go further than seasonal work, and include the cost of sponsorship under tier 2, which it has described as
“prohibitively expensive in terms of both financial and administrative burden.”
It is fair to say that the NFUS has welcomed some of the recent developments, for example the decrease to the salary threshold that has been introduced by the Government, but it asks how non-salaried roles will fit into the points-based system; how the revised shortage occupation list will generally take account of the range of occupations that exist in agriculture; whether the Government will consider targeted routes for remote and rural areas—unfortunately, from what the Minister said the other day, it sounds as if it will be disappointed in that regard—and how the expense and bureaucracy of the system can be improved. It simply calls for close engagement as we move towards the implementation of the new system.
The new clause is sensible and will contribute to our understanding of what is going on in a future debate about labour in the agricultural sector.
Break in Debate
I can be very brief. I echo and support what the shadow Minister has said. I am not going to repeat what I said on clause 2; that is a welcome clause, although we have one or two concerns about the detail. What this whole debate has shown us is that, even though we are told that the common travel area pre-existed the European Union and everything is fine, in actual fact it is hard to discern what precisely is involved in the CTA and precisely what rights it confers on individuals.
My understanding from the debate we had last week is essentially that the Government propose to progress this in a rather piecemeal way, changing bits and bobs of the legislation on different subjects to ensure that Irish citizens will continue to enjoy equivalent rights in this country. Okay, that will get us to where we want to be, but it does prohibit us from having a comprehensive overview of what progress has been made and what exactly we are trying to achieve by restoring the common travel area and making sure that there is not a loss of rights because of the loss of free movement.
The new clause would be genuinely be helpful for MPs to understand what the CTA is all about, what exactly the Government are trying to achieve and what progress they are making towards that. It is a genuinely helpful suggestion.
Break in Debate
I beg to move, that the clause be read a Second time.
I can be relatively brief, since we covered much of this territory in earlier discussions, but it is a useful opportunity to push the Minister on a few issues. What progress can he report on raising awareness of the new tier-2 procedures in which so many small and medium-sized enterprises will have to participate, and what support is being rolled out for those businesses to help them to navigate the new system? What change has he noticed in the number of applications for tier-2 sponsorship licences, and what work is under way to streamline the system, which we have spoken about at length previously?
I suspect the Minister’s answer to the new clause will be that there is to be an annual MAC report. If so, can we ask that it is laid before Parliament and then have a debate on it? The Home Affairs Committee spoke about an annual debate on migration in a repot two or three years ago in trying to build a consensus on migration. It looked at how other countries developed immigration policy, and one issue that featured heavily in other jurisdictions was, at the very least, an annual debate on immigration policy generally.
We are talking about seismic changes to the way in which many businesses will go about recruiting and accessing the labour market, and the number of industry bodies that have come to me to express concerns is unbelievable—industry bodies I did not even know existed until they got in touch—across food and drink, agriculture, tourism and hospitality, fishing, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, financial services, social care, education, and many more. There is significant apprehension, and it is not because any of these industries want to exploit low wages; it is their realistic assessment that they are struggling already to access the labour they need in the UK at a price they can afford and which keeps them competitive. Now they are going to struggle to access labour from abroad, because of immigration rules.
(3 months ago)Public Bill Committees
This brings us to the hot topic of the immigration health surcharge. It is worth remembering that the health surcharge is a fairly new concept, as it was introduced in 2014. It is set at £400 per year for most applicants, with a discounted rate for students and tier 5 youth mobility workers. The Government have decided to increase the fee to £624 per person per year in October.
Those are hugely significant sums of money, as the charge has to be paid per person per year for the full duration of the visa being applied for, before that visa application has even been considered. Somebody who comes in under a typical five-year tier 2 visa will have to pay more than £3,000 up front in health charges. If they have a husband or wife and a couple of kids, that is three extra NHS surcharges, so more than £12,000 up front without even thinking about the visa fee. On a discounted rate, a student coming for three years will need to pay more than £1,400 up front. Again, that is completely separate from the visa fee. Of course, the Bill extends the scope of the immigration health surcharge to many more applicants.
A particular injustice is done to people applying for leave to remain based on long residence. They are individuals and families who are forced on to a dreadful treadmill of applications and expense. Repeatedly, they have to apply for 30 months’ leave to remain. A single parent with two kids applying under those rules would need to pay almost £4,700 in health charges, and more than £3,000 in immigration fees, for just 30 months. They have to make that same application over and over again until they get to 10 years. When they get to 10 years and are met with a settlement fee of £2,400 per person, they will already have paid £10,300 per person. For a family, £10,000 per person is impossible. Shamefully, those people are often prohibited from having access to public funds.
Those people are applying because of long residence in the UK so, realistically, in many cases, there is no other country that they can go to. The children have spent most, if not all, of their lives here. It can put families in intolerable situations where they have to choose which family member they can afford to pay the fee for. A child may end up missing out because the most immediate and pressing priority is to pay the fee for a breadwinner.
In a way, the charge represents the worst of Home Office policy making, although the Treasury is as much to blame for stripping the Home Office right down to the core and instructing it to use migrants as cash cows to fund its activities. It also illustrates the Home Office at its worst, because the policy is more about grabbing the headlines than anything else. It is illogical, unjust and counterproductive.
The excuse given is that the policy ensures that migrants contribute towards the cost of the NHS system that they may use—but in that case, why is there an NHS charge but not an education charge, especially for families with kids? Why is there not a public transport or roads charge, or a local services charge? It is essentially a fig leaf for the fact that it is simply a general tax.
It is also unjust in that it is a form of double taxation and it is a poll tax. Migrants, of course, contribute to public services through general taxation like everybody else, through income tax, council tax and indirect taxes. The NHS surcharge is totally regressive. It falls unfairly on different migrants, as a wealthy bank worker with no dependants will pay about a quarter of the sum that an NHS careworker will pay if he or she comes in with kids. Most importantly, it falls unfairly on migrants as opposed to those who are citizens or settled. Migrants pay a general tax that the rest of us do not, while at the same time paying all the other taxes that we do.
Finally, from a different perspective, this is a policy that makes the UK an eye-wateringly expensive place for people to come to work. That will now expand to EU and Swiss nationals, and to the small and medium-sized businesses that employ them. Just as businesses are struggling to keep their noses above water, the Government intend to whack them with a plethora of fees, vis-à-vis skills charges and the NHS surcharge.
As we heard last week, it is the big multinationals that are well practised in this system over time, and that have the know-how and resources. Small and medium-sized businesses will end up not only having to navigate the complex tier 2 system, but often meeting the cost of the immigration health surcharge. If a job pays around £26,000 or £27,000, nobody in their right mind is going to come if they have to pay almost half a year’s salary up front. The small hotel and the fish-processing factory will have to pay it on their behalf and, quite simply, they may well not be able to afford to do that. It will not just be one job that remains unfilled. The danger becomes that that hotel or factory simply cannot continue to function and it moves elsewhere. Workers will go where they are not being totally ripped off.
Can the Minister give me examples of other countries that operate such a system in relation to a health surcharge? If so, what is the comparable rate? All the comparisons that I have looked at show that the UK is charging people to come here at a rate that is several times that of most of our competitor countries. In short, this is unjust, it is counter-productive, it is a double poll tax and it should be axed altogether. We support the Labour amendment and new clause as far as they go, but our view is that the solution is total abolition, rather than trimming around the edges.
Break in Debate
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
The Bill, in combination with others that have gone before, removes from some people the right to be in this country, and requires them to apply for rights under the EU settlement scheme. As hon. Members know, I object to that approach, but I acknowledge that, for the vast majority of people, it will thankfully be a fairly straightforward matter and there will be no need for legal advice. As we have seen, the scheme has reached a good number of people so far. We have also seen that these issues can be complicated. It can be complicated for someone to know whether they are required to apply or whether they have the right to be here as a UK citizen or through some form of migration status. For some, proving the right to be here in order to get settled status can be tricky, and advice will be needed on the type of evidence required or whether, for example, an old criminal conviction brings a risk in applying.
In Scotland, some will be able to get advice and assistance funding from the Scottish Legal Aid Board in order to seek some support on these issues, subject to a means test, but it is not the same in England and Wales. We have to learn the lessons of history: restrictions on access to legal aid were a contributing factor to the Windrush scandal. In itself, it would not cost much money to allow some basic legal advice to be handed out to those who need it. I very much hope the Government will consider this proposal seriously and put right the absence of legal aid.
Break in Debate
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
Illegal work was made a crime in its own right in the Immigration Act 2016. Lots of groups and MPs raised concerns at the time about the negative implications that would have, compared with any benefit it might bring. I think it is important always to revisit changes that this Parliament makes and to push the Government to explain what impact they really had.
I look forward to hearing from the Minister about the impact of that legislation. How many prosecutions have there been? What were the results of those prosecutions? What sorts of sentences were handed down? When the Government or law enforcement took that approach—the other side of the coin—what action was taken against those employers who were found to be employing people illegally?
As the Minister will be aware, at the time that legislation was introduced, all sorts of concerns were raised about the fact that it would strengthen the hand of exploitative employers, who would be able to have greater control over undocumented workers, essentially by having the knowledge that these individuals were committing a crime by undertaking that work and making it much less likely that they would even consider, never mind actually report to the authorities, the abuse and exploitation that they were suffering.
The offence applies to any migrant found to be working while they do not have valid legal status granting them leave to be in the UK, or when visa conditions ban them from working, such as in the case of asylum seekers, or if they work hours beyond those permitted by their visa, as may be the case for students. The penalty includes a maximum custodial sentence of six months and a fine at the statutory maximum. It also allows any wages paid to an illegal worker to be seized as the proceeds of crime.
The concerns raised in 2016 were that undocumented migrants in the UK forbidden from working illegally are forced to rely on illegal work, on charity and on the support of friends or family members, which can lead to situations of abuse and dependency, as well as instances of survival sex, for example, and destitution, homelessness and starvation. Often, agents who find work for undocumented migrants also run overcrowded, slum-like accommodation for the workers, keeping them isolated and cheaply accommodated.
Undocumented migrants who find work despite the prohibition are forced to look for work among some of the most unscrupulous and exploitative of employers. They are often underpaid or unpaid, forced to work extremely long hours, denied all workplace health and safety protections and threatened with being reported if they complain. As much of the work can be carried out cash in hand, the state sees none of the tax benefit either.
There are huge concerns here about modern slavery. I am grateful to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference on migration for its briefing, which states:
“Those perpetrating the horrors of modern slavery will seek every chance to take advantage of new migration policies. The government has a responsibility to ensure that proper safeguards are in place… the fear of prosecution currently deters people from escaping abusive employment practices or presenting themselves to the police. One particularly important step towards protecting people from exploitation would therefore be to repeal the offence of illegal working, so that no victim is at risk of being punished.”
Will the Government explain how this measure has helped in any way with what they want to achieve, and what steps they have taken to assess all the negative implications that we have been warning about and to militate against them?
Break in Debate
In a sense, this debate echoes the one we had on the immigration health surcharge. I support everything that the shadow Minister has said, but I would push the Labour party to go a bit further and scrap the whole scheme.
I have nothing against the principle that employers should pay a contribution towards the cost of training and developing the skills on which businesses rely, but why should it apply only to those who recruit from abroad? That is not in any way a proxy for determining which businesses, companies and employers are not doing enough training in their own right. In fact, very often the opposite is the case: many of the businesses, companies and employers who recruit from overseas are also the ones who invest considerable sums of money in training and upskilling their workers.
However, skill shortages often arise at very short notice. For all the workforce planning that they do, and for all the training that they invest in, employers regularly have a need to recruit from abroad. As I say, it is a very poor proxy for trying to target companies that are not properly investing in training. The whole thing needs rethinking.
(3 months ago)Public Bill Committees
Not really. People still have every incentive to apply for the scheme. On 1 July next year the deadline will have passed. People might put it off for six months, but I would far rather that than subject tens and probably hundreds of thousands of people to not having any rights at all. It is much the lesser of two evils. As I say, there are different ways in which we can do this. New clause 11 would allow people to apply after the deadline. I will turn to that in a moment. I want to set out exactly what new clauses 10 and 11 are designed to do.
New clause 10 would ensure that the EU settlement scheme was not closed to new applications until Parliament had approved its closure. We want to see what the plans are and scrutinise how the situation will be handled. Until we are satisfied, we will keep extending the scheme in order to protect people from the loss of their rights and from the hostile environment and the threat of removal. Why on earth should MPs give the Home Office a blank cheque to deal with this as it pleases? We will have that debate and the right hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby can make his point that it will lead to a delay in people making applications, but I am firmly of the view that that is much the lesser of two evils.
On the closure of the settlement scheme, people who have not applied for a status will have no legal basis to remain in the UK after the grace period, no matter how long they have lived in the UK. They will be liable to removal and will face the hostile environment. After the grace period, a huge group of people will still not have applied. No similar scheme has ever reached 100% of its target audience. New clause 11 would bring back control of the situation to Parliament and allow us to be fully informed as to where the settlement scheme has got and what the Government’s plans are for dealing with this huge issue before we sign off on closure of the scheme. It is a modest proposal, but hugely important.
New clause 11 would ensure that late applications to the EU settlement scheme would still be considered unless reasons of public policy, public security or public health apply. In tabling the new clause, we are asking the Minister who he thinks does not deserve a second chance after 30 June next year. Who does not deserve the reasonable response that he has spoken about in the past? Under the new clause, applications made after the deadline could be ignored for restricted reasons relating to public policy, public security or public health. However, we want to know who, on top of that, the Minister thinks should be deprived of their rights and the ability to remedy the situation in which they find themselves. People will be unable to live in this country and they will be liable to removal. We need to know much more about the grounds on which people will be able to make a late application. What are the reasonable grounds that the Home Office will accept? They have yet to be defined. As far as we can tell, they will comprise only a very narrow list of exemptions, including, for example, for those with a physical or mental incapacity, and for children whose parents have failed to apply on their behalf.
As I have said many times, the deadline will be missed by many people for good reasons beyond those that I have just outlined. People will simply not be aware of the need to apply, and people with pre-settled status might forget to reapply for full settled status. I have set out a million times why people will not understand that the settlement scheme applies to them. Rules on nationality and immigration status in this country are hugely complicated. There will undoubtedly be people from all walks of life who think that they are British citizens and who already have a right of residence in this country. They will not appreciate that, in fact, they need to apply to the scheme. The consequences of making such a mistake can be dreadful. If we simply leave the Bill as it is, people will lose the right to be in this country and will be removed and subject to the hostile environment. Alternatively, we could at least leave open to them the option of being able to apply to the scheme after the deadline has passed. They would still have every incentive to apply, because they would need to evidence the rights that they access through the settled status process.
I ask the Government to look positively on these new clauses, and at the very least to provide much more information and assurance about how they are going to approach this issue. Up to this point, there has been barely a flicker of recognition that this is something that needs to be addressed, but we are talking about tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of people being left in an appalling situation.
(3 months, 1 week ago)Public Bill Committees
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Edward, albeit at a longer distance than we are accustomed to. I thank the Clerks for dealing with what were probably some horrendously drafted amendments by the bucketful during the last couple of weeks.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to take part in our detailed line-by-line scrutiny of the Bill. It will be with a sense of déjà vu that I am sure the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston also feels, having sat in the same Public Bill Committee this time last year. The real shame is that, this time last year, nobody listened to a thing that we said, and this Bill is in the same form as it was back then. Looking around the room, however, I see a much more discerning Committee this year, so I am filled with optimism that we may indeed be able to deliver some change.
We have serious concerns; we do not just make things up. As Opposition MPs, we have lots of concerns that stakeholders have raised with us. My preliminary point is that the two previous Immigration Acts that passed all the way through Parliament, in 2014 and 2016, contributed in a very serious and significant way to the Windrush scandal. In her review of what happened, Wendy Williams highlighted all the warnings that came from the same stakeholders about the problems that those Bills would cause. Indeed, she quoted from some of the contributions made by Opposition Members during the passage of the Bills. Hon. Members might not agree with everything we say, but sometimes we are worth listening to, even if we do not manage to achieve change in this Committee. I plead with the Home Office and members of the Committee to engage seriously with the concerns that we are flagging up.
At the weekend, the former Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), wrote that
“the Home Office has yet to implement the process of root and branch cultural change necessary in the aftermath of Windrush.”
I hope that, during the passage of the Bill, we receive some signals that the cultural approach of the Home Office, and its attitude to listening, is changing.
Clause 1 is the Bill in microcosm. I will not repeat my entire stage 2 speech, which I am sure hon. Members followed very closely indeed, but I take your advice on scope, Sir Edward. I am sad to say again that the SNP totally opposes clause 1, because it brings to an end what we regard as a valuable, simple and well-functioning immigration system of free movement. As a result, it extends what is a complex, expensive and unjust domestic system to EEA nationals. That is bad for the individuals caught up in it, who will face prohibitive fees, complicated procedures, broken families and diminished rights, but it is also bad for the economy. I do not think that any hon. Member present who paid attention to the evidence that we heard on Tuesday can remain 100% enthusiastic about the Government’s proposals for the immigration system come January. It will be an abject nightmare for many industries that have already been totally decimated by the coronavirus shutdown. We did not even hear from the tourism and hospitality industries, which are at the forefront of facing the challenges.
Clause 1 is also bad for Scotland—for our population growth, demographics, economy and tax base. If the task had been to design an immigration system for Scotland alone, nobody in their right mind would have come up with this one. The same is true—probably even truer—of Northern Ireland, with its land border with a country where free movement will continue. We will explore all these issues as we go through the Bill in more detail and discuss the amendments and new clauses that have been tabled. From my point of view, there is nothing much to celebrate and lots to regret about clause 1, and indeed schedule 1, and we oppose them both.
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Given what the Minister and shadow Minister have said, I can, I hope, be helpfully brief. I am grateful to the Minister for clarifying the position on deportation, but the shadow Minister raises a reasonable point. The Minister has clarified the policy— but why not put it on the face of the Bill? I very much welcome the Minister’s confirmation of how Irish nationals will be able to come from outside the CTA with family members. It is a welcome clarification.
I want briefly to refer to the broader issue of common travel area rights. We are often told about the historic common travel area, and the fact that the rights go back many decades. That is true, but in recent years most of those rights have become embedded in and entangled with free movement rights. In the Bill, we are repealing those rights but not replacing them with common travel area rights. The Government keep talking about reciprocal rights, but we need them to be set down in statute.
So far, as the Minister said, there seems to be a non-binding memorandum of understanding with the Government of Ireland, and a Government position paper, setting out the fact that there will be rights to work, study, social security and healthcare access, and vote. For the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, essentially those CTA rights are “written in sand” and for the Committee on the Administration of Justice the CTA can be characterised by loose administrative arrangements of provisions that can be altered at any time. So we need to return to this issue of when we will actually see a detailed scheme of rights for the common travel area.
There is some urgency about this matter, because at the moment, for example, there are people in Northern Ireland who choose to be Irish citizens and who have the option of applying under the EU settled status scheme, but they will have to make that decision without really knowing how the benefits of the EU settled status scheme compare with the benefits of the common travel area scheme, because that has not been spelled out in great detail yet. There are practical issues that have been flagged up by the organisations I have mentioned about cross-border rights to access healthcare and education, and so on. All these questions need to be answered, and fairly urgently.
Finally, I will echo what the shadow Minister said about Alison Harvey’s evidence on the right of abode, and I would be interested to know whether the Government are considering achieving some sort of resolution of these issues by using the right of abode. However, we will return to these issues when we debate the new clause that the shadow Minister has tabled.
I welcome clause 2, but we still have a considerable way to go in making sure that the common travel area persists and works properly, and that folk know where they stand.
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I beg to move amendment 2, in clause 4, page 2, line 34, leave out “appropriate” and insert “necessary”
This amendment would ensure that the Secretary of State may only make regulations which are necessary rather than those which the Minister considers appropriate.
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I am pleased to speak in support of the amendments. At this stage I expect to get the Government Members excited because I am urging them to take back control, by which I mean take back control of immigration policy from the Home Office and keep MPs in a job. Like most hon. Members I have become familiar with the broad powers of delegated legislation and sweeping Henry VIII powers in recent years through both immigration legislation and more recently through Brexit. The Government are taking increasingly more and more powers to rewrite not only subordinate legislation but primary Acts of Parliament with very little constraint. I do not think that anyone here would dispute that in certain circumstances such powers can be sensible and useful, but they should be exceptional and limited. Instead, the practice has become so routine that if it goes on we might as well shut down Parliament or end its role as a legislator.
I am grateful to the witnesses who spoke on Tuesday and to the organisations that provided briefings, including the Law Society of Scotland, Amnesty International, the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, Justice, Liberty, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and others. There are big concerns about this clause.
In tabling the amendments I have also relied on the report of the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and its 46th report in the last Session, which was an analysis of the predecessor Bill. It is fair to say that their lordships were not impressed with clause 4. It is noticeable that they went out of their way to prepare the report in advance of Committee stage so that we could benefit from their advice. I regret that the Home Office is still not listening to that sage advice at all.
The sweeping power is set out first in clause 4(1), where the Home Secretary can make any provision that she thinks “appropriate” in relation to the whole of part 1 —in other words, related to free movement. Clause 4(2) makes it clear that this can include amending any Act of Parliament as well as retained EU legislation. There are various subsections about the procedures that would be required to be used when exercising those powers, which is something that I suspect we will return to later.
The word that appears several times in the House of Lords report is “significant”. Their lordships had significant concerns about significant delegation of powers from Parliament to the Executive on such a significant issue that concerns a significant number of people. Amendments 2, 3, 20, 21 and 4 are designed to cut those powers done to size and to keep MPs in a job. It is quite informative to look at the explanatory memorandum to the same Bill from this time last year. The memorandum explains, for example, how the powers would be used to set up appeal rights for EEA nationals. All those things have already been taken care of in the year that has passed, yet nothing has changed in the formulation of clause 4. The Government still say they need such powers, even though they have done everything that they envisaged using those powers for in the explanatory memorandum from this time last year.
The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 was passed at the start of the year, and it contains a whole part on citizens’ rights of residence, frontier workers, deportation appeals, non-discrimination and so on. It includes extensive powers of delegated legislation as well, but at least they are constrained by the requirement that they should be exercised in order to implement the provisions of the withdrawal agreement that relate to citizens’ rights. As I say, a lot of what the Government originally envisaged they would use these powers for has already been accomplished.
Amendment 2 refers to an argument that we have had many times before. It is about requiring use of the powers to be “necessary” rather than merely considered appropriate by the Minister. Again, there is no genuine objection to being able to make rules if we suddenly have to make changes for a deal or a no-deal situation in the future relationship, but that should not just be at the whim of Ministers deciding what is appropriate and what is not. Their lordships and various stakeholders have recommended a test of necessity, and that is what is in amendment 2.
Amendment 3 is probably the most critical amendment and takes out the words “in connection with”. I refer again to the House of Lords Committee report, which said:
“We are frankly disturbed that the Government should consider it appropriate to include the words ‘in connection with’. This 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; and to do so by negative procedure regulations”.
So their lordships are not very happy at all with what the Government propose.
Amendments 20 and 21 come from the House of Lords Committee report, but there have been perfectly sensible suggestions from Amnesty International, with similar ideas from other stakeholders. Amendment 20 would limit the scope of powers so that regulations cannot be made in relation to any old provision in part 1; they must relate specifically to schedule 1. Again, I emphasise that it can be acceptable to have limited powers in order to tidy up the statute book and the detailed list of provisions in the schedule. As matters stand, however, clause 2 means that we could have sweeping changes made to the rights of Irish citizens on the whim of the Secretary of State. Indeed, on the face of it, delegated powers could be used to alter clause 4 in order to increase the Executive’s powers yet further. That cannot be acceptable.
Amendment 21 would put a simple sunset clause of one year on the use of these powers. Should the Government have not tidied up the statute book by this time next year, something seriously wrong will have happened. Alternatively, something seriously positive will have happened and we will have extended the transition period by a couple of years. In either case, there will be plenty of time to legislate afresh. Everyone gets the argument that sweeping powers should not be left on the statute book forever; hence the sunset clause.
Amendment 22 puts a sunset clause on changes made by subordinate legislation. If the Minister really thinks there is such a rush that he cannot proceed by primary legislation, he should make the regulations. He should then come back to the House of Commons with a proper Bill, so that we can do our job as legislators and decide whether to keep those provisions in force or let them lapse.
In some ways, I am just sticking up for MPs. I want us to be able to continue to be the primary legislators in the field of immigration law and that we should start taking back some control from the Home Office.
(3 months, 1 week ago)Public Bill Committees
It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Stringer. I am grateful to the Minister for his extensive response, but he is right in one thing, which is that he has not fully satisfied me about the need for these powers. Much of what he said related to how the Government propose to use these powers or what they are planning to do, but that is not how we should go about assessing whether the scope of the powers is appropriate. We need to assess what the scope of these powers would, in theory, allow the Government to do, and that goes way beyond what he set out.
We do not hand powers to the Government on the basis of assurances that they are going to do only a, b and c. Listening to the list of proposals the Minister made, I am utterly unconvinced that that could not be done very simply with a much more narrowly drawn clause and power. Nothing in any of these amendments would stop the Government bringing free movement to an end—sadly.
The Minister alluded to the fact that some of this is about trying to limit the scope for judicial oversight. I am trying to keep MPs in a job here scrutinising legislation, but I am also trying to make sure the judiciary is not excluded from the proper review of the use of Executive power. The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee said that these are “significant” powers and also used the word “disturbing” at one point, so I am afraid I cannot accept the Minister’s explanation that they are justified.
On amendment 22, I am disappointed that the Minister did not engage with the principles themselves, because other amendments have been tabled with respect to the principles of immigration law and we are constrained by the scope of this Bill to limiting these amendments to dealing with EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. Although that does not mean we think we should be confined in this way to them, it is in the Government’s gift to extend this much more broadly, so I am very disappointed that he did not engage with what those principles are. I hope we will have a fuller debate when we come to other amendments. On that basis, I shall press amendment 2 to a vote.
Question put, That the amendment be made.
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I beg to move amendment 5, in clause 4, page 3, line 9, leave out subsection (6).
This amendment would narrow the scope of the powers provided to the Secretary of State in Clause 4, as recommended by the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.
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We are back to the nuts and bolts of delegated legislation. This time, rather than considering the scope of the powers, we are looking at the procedures that should be used when they are exercised. Amendment 5 is designed to keep MPs in a job: we should be ensuring that we maximise our role in scrutinising what the Government do with their power to make laws.
Clause 4(6) to (10) sets out the procedures for making these regulations. I apologise in advance, Mr Stringer, if I get some of the terminology wrong. Even after five years in this place, I still regularly confuse my made affirmative, affirmative and negative procedures. As I understand it, the most extreme made affirmative procedure is allowed for the first set of regulations that would be made under the clause. That means that the Government would be able to bring rules into force immediately, before MPs had the chance to scrutinise the proposals. MPs would then have 40 days to pass an affirmative resolution to keep the rules in place. No good parliamentarian should ever be comfortable allowing the Government to bring rules into force before we even have the chance to look at them.
The more usual affirmative procedure would apply to subsequent draft statutory instruments through which the Government were amending Acts of Parliament. That too is a really drastic power, but it would mean that nothing came into force until we positively approved it. Although I object to Henry VIII powers for rewriting Acts of Parliament, if they must exist, that should be the method for regulation making here.
Other regulations that do not directly impact on Acts of Parliament would use the much less satisfactory negative procedure. Although a draft of those regulations would still be tabled before they came into force, they would almost inevitably do so unless, exceptionally, Parliament prayed against that negative resolution. All these amendments do is ensure that MPs have their say, and have a proper role in scrutinising the Government before regulations come into force, which is important given the very important subject, and the effect that these provisions could have on immigration law. I hope the Committee will be sympathetic to what we argue for.
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I beg to move amendment 14, in clause 4, page 3, line 28, at end insert—
“(11) Regulations made under subsection (1) must make provision enabling UK citizens falling within the personal scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, the EEA EFTA separation agreement or the Swiss citizens’ rights agreement to return to the UK accompanied by, or to be joined in the UK by, close family members with whom they lived while residing in the EEA or Switzerland.
(12) Regulations under subsection (1) may not impose any conditions on the entry or residence of close family members which could not have been imposed under EU law relating to free movement, as at the date of this Act coming into force.
(13) References in subsection (11) to the Withdrawal Agreement, the EEA EFTA separation agreement and the Swiss citizens’ rights agreement have the same meaning as in the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020.”
This amendment would mean UK citizens who had been living in the EEA or Switzerland but wish to return to the UK, could continue to be accompanied or joined in the UK by close family members who would otherwise lose their rights (under the Surinder Singh route) because of this Act.
I am being kept busy this afternoon. I am pleased to move amendment 14. Once again, it is all about family. We are talking about what became known as the Surinder Singh route, because of a judgment of the European Court of Justice. I talked in my previous contribution about the unfairness of separation that immigration rules can cause; in the case of the Surinder Singh families, that is coupled with a real sense of unfairness and the loss of a legitimate expectation.
We are talking about UK citizens who have gone to live somewhere in the EEA at a time when the rules were quite clear that the UK was part of the European Union, so there would never be any conceivable difficulty about being able to return to this country with family that they may have settled down with in another EU country.
To my mind, we should say that they had a legitimate expectation when they left that they would be able to return to this country at the appropriate moment with their EU family members. The problem now arises that if they return after the transition period that the Government have put in place—it is better than nothing; that is absolutely true—they will face the £18,600 threshold, which I previously alluded to.
There are folk over there with huge dilemmas to address. The briefing we have had from British in Europe sets out a very typical example. Sarah is a 48-year-old British national living in Germany with her 52-year-old German husband and children. She is the only child of an elderly mother in the UK. Career and schooling reasons mean that she cannot realistically return to the UK by March 2022. What happens if Sarah’s mother becomes so frail or ill that she needs the care of her daughter in five years’ time? Sarah will have a huge decision to make: either to uproot her family at a hugely disruptive and inconvenient time, to come back to look after her mother, or to leave her family behind and come back to look after her mother. Alternatively, she will just have to hope that her mother is able to cope.
Sarah was not negligent in going abroad without taking this future prospect into account when she made the decision to travel and live in Germany, because it just did not arise. We were part of the EU and free movement was always going to be there.
I am grateful for and welcome the fact that the Government have reviewed the immediate cut-off, but 2022 does not give enough time. Why do we not have an open-ended cut-off for the people from this country who have made their lives in other parts of the European Union or the EEA, and let them return here under the regime that was in place when they left? That is the purpose of amendment 14, and I hope it will have a sympathetic hearing.
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I have had that intervention before, and I think I answered it. There is one individual who would be expected to apply to the scheme but at some point in the past—I am not sure what his current position is—he said that as a point of principle he does not want to apply. I have said previously that I do not agree with him, but the hon. Gentleman cannot possibly accuse the Scottish Government or the SNP of not being clear about the messaging—they have invested considerable sums of their own money in outreach and in attempting to get as many folk as possible to sign up to the scheme. For that reason, I do not accept the premise. I disagree with that one colleague, but I absolutely reject the premise that we have been anything other than clear in encouraging people to sign up.
The reasons folk will not sign up are not related to the position of an individual politician. Folk will not sign up because they are vulnerable, as we have spoken about—care leavers; children; elderly people who perhaps were settled and had permanent residence under the old EU scheme; and people who quite simply just do not understand that they have to do it.
There are really complicated questions involved. For example, lots of folk will think, “Well, I was born in the United Kingdom, so I am British,” but in actual fact whether or not they are British depends on a million different things. It depends on the marital status of their parents, depending on when they were born. It depends on their date of birth. It might even depend on when a particular country joined the EU, as that can have an impact on the conferring of nationality. There are millions of different issues.
It is beyond doubt that on 1 July next year we are going to wake up in a United Kingdom that has 100,000 people who do not have the right to be in this country. We have to be constructive and come up with a solution, but we do not yet have enough from the Government on what they want to do. We get told, “We’ll be reasonable,” but that really does not cut. We need to do better than that, which is why we have tabled other amendments to push the Government to be much more explicit about how they are going to treat folk who apply after the deadline, for whatever reason.
The simple point, which is consistent with all the work that has gone before and does not undermine it in any way, is to turn around now and say, “Right, we are doing well, but we are just going to say that everybody has these rights. Continue to apply so that you can go about living your lives without being refused renting or a job or whatever else, but you have these rights.” It is a simple matter and would avoid a tremendous headache that would make Windrush look almost insignificant. That was cataclysmic; this situation risks being considerably worse.
(3 months, 1 week ago)Public Bill Committees
Q May I continue, Professor Ryan, on deportation? This very same issue arose this time last year, in a previous Bill Committee. Is it right that, at that time, the Immigration Minister made a commitment to the higher threshold, even though it was not in the Bill? Do I recall that correctly?
Professor Bernard Ryan: That is correct. I believe it was in the Committee stage, in the light of the evidence, perhaps, that the Minister made that commitment. Those commitments are obviously welcome, from my perspective.
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Q Can I ask a broad question? It will be a slightly controversial one in these surroundings. To what extent are changes in public attitudes to migration over the last 10 years related to politics and the media? Is it not quite striking that towards the middle of the last decade was when public concern about migration was at its highest, and that is probably when the political debate, if I can call it that, about migration was at its height? The tailing off in public concern also tallies with the fact that, since the referendum, migration has not been on the front page of every newspaper or at the forefront of political debate.
Jill Rutter: A whole load of factors influence public opinion. Our national media and political debates obviously have a hugely important impact, but so does what happens locally and your own personal contact with migrants. If you have friends who are migrants and refugees, you have another reference point to add to what is going on and what is being played out on the internet or on social media.
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Q Mr Berry, we have just heard some discussion about the possibility of citizens eligible for the settled status scheme not applying for it. For what reasons will people miss the deadline? Can you give us a flavour of why this might be a significant problem?
Adrian Berry: They might be leading disordered lives. They might have things happening in their lives that concentrate their minds elsewhere—family difficulties, work difficulties. They might be affected by coronavirus. They might have mental health impairments. They might be long-term sick. They might be old. They might be demented. There is a whole host of reasons that are part of the ordinary warp and weft of life why somebody might miss a deadline. Not everybody has my focus on the interests of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act and its implementing provisions. Ordinary people do not. There needs to be a benevolent regime that allows them to make late applications.
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Q Mr Piper, we have heard from the Home Office on the number of applications. We, like you, congratulate the Home Office on achieving significant reach. The problem, of course, is the number of people who will not apply in time. Are you able to give the Committee any indication of the scale of that problem, and who can we expect to be in that number?
Luke Piper: I caught the majority of the question, but let me repeat what I think you are asking: do we have an understanding of the number and type of people who will not apply on time? Is that correct?
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Q Thank you for calling in, Lucy. You are proposing that the status of these kids is set out in law, but they should apply in order to get proof of that status. Is that right?
Lucy Leon: Yes, that is what we are suggesting.
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Q Alison Harvey, may I first go back to the idea that Professor Ryan was speaking about earlier: the notion of persons of Northern Ireland? The reason that would be useful would be to explain who has certain rights, in terms of family immigration rules or protections against deportation, for example, without having to claim British citizenship or to identify as a British citizen under the Belfast agreement.
Alison Harvey: We have two groups. Proposed new section 3ZA to the Immigration Act is about the Irish in Britain, wherever born—all the Irish; anyone who holds an Irish passport—and it gives them protection wherever they enter the UK, so that if they come from Belfast and go for a weekend in Paris they have not lost all their rights just by spending a weekend in Paris, which technically in law at the moment they have.
The other group are the people of Northern Ireland, who are the people born on the soil of Northern Ireland. Those people, under the Belfast agreement, have the right to identify as British, Irish or both. The question is how you give effect to that right, because at the moment it is argued that you give effect to it by going through a renunciation process, which costs money and makes it very difficult for somebody to identify solely as Irish.
We have provided in the EU settlement scheme for the people of Northern Ireland—those who are born there—to be treated in the same way for family immigration purposes as EEA nationals. That is a fairly short-term right—not a short short-term right, but obviously one that is on the way out because we are leaving the EU and that advantage will disappear over time; it will not apply to new arrivals and it will not apply to the people of Northern Ireland who form subsequent relationships.
So we have said that we will make it not matter whether you are British or Irish, or both, because you will not be at a practical disadvantage. But what people would like to be able to do is identify as Irish without having to give up a British citizenship they never felt they held. That was a point made by Emma DeSouza in her litigation. That litigation ended because it was a case brought by her partner about his EU law rights. So although their arguments were about her ability to identify as Irish, that was not the crux of their case; their case was an EU case, so it died with the changes.
I have put forward in my paper a series of proposals as to how we could fairly simply amend the law to give effect to that aspiration, without in any way damaging the aspiration of those in Northern Ireland who say, “I in no way want to be treated any differently from anyone else anywhere else in the UK”. I think we can square that circle.
(3 months, 1 week ago)Public Bill Committees
Q Last year, when you gave evidence to the Bill Committee, you described tier 2 as a
“restrictive, complex and burdensome system.”––[Official Report, Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Public Bill Committee, 12 February 2019; c. 67, Q178.]
Could you say a little more about what you mean by that?
Matthew Fell: There are a couple of areas. It comes down to some of the red tape issues, and there are a few examples. The initial sponsor licence, businesses tell us, is very document-heavy, in their words—for example, on the HR practices side, having to evidence, track and monitor things that small businesses feel are perfectly obvious. If they employ 10 or up to 20 people and one person is missing, that is self-evident; they know if a person is not there.
There is quite a lot in the reporting requirements that could be streamlined. Lots of people say to us, “We have to report it if a migrant’s pay has increased, and we don’t quite understand why. If they were already given the green light because they cleared the salary threshold, why would we need to report that that has increased?”
Thirdly, people feel that the volume of documentation required to be kept on file, including details such as notes from interviewing candidates, is quite onerous. Those are some of the examples of red tape burdens that we would welcome efforts to streamline.