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House of Lords

Tuesday, 22 December 2015.

11 am

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Southwark.

Death of a Member: Lord Ezra


11.05 am

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza): My Lords, I regret to inform the House of the death today of the noble Lord, Lord Ezra. On behalf of the House, I extend our condolences to the noble Lord’s family and friends.

Northern Powerhouse: Early Years Attainment


11.06 am

Asked by Baroness Massey of Darwen

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they plan to address the report The State of the North 2015: Four Tests for the Northern Powerhouse, in particular the statement that there is a 12 percentage point gap in early years attainment between the poorest children in London and those in the north of England.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con): My Lords, the Government are investing in transport, science and innovation alongside devolving powers to local areas to raise productivity, increase employment prospects and enhance transport links in the north. Since the Institute for Public Policy Research report was published, the early years attainment gap it refers to between the north and London has narrowed. The latest early years foundation-stage profile shows that it has decreased from 12 to 10 percentage points.

Baroness Massey of Darwen (Lab): I thank the noble Baroness for that Answer. May I press her about the early years foundation-stage profile, which is for children aged five at the end of their first year in school, covers seven areas of learning and gives teachers a good picture of how the child is developing? However, I understand that this profile will not be statutory after September 2016. Will this not leave a gap in how we can assess child development, will anything replace it, and how will we know what is happening across the country?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: Obviously, the early years are a critical time in a young person’s development, so of course we will continue to assess development at this early stage. It is encouraging that in the north the gap has begun to close, but it is also somewhat concerning

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that a gap remains between the top and bottom deciles. Therefore we are looking both to improve the quality of early years by improving the quality of the workforce and expanding access, and to support vulnerable families to ensure that those who are most deprived are not left further behind.

Lord Storey (LD): My Lords, educational attainment in my home city of Liverpool was at the bottom of all the core cities. It then went to the top of all the core cities, under a Lib Dem council. That was because of a concentration on early years, support for teachers and for schools, and the organisation of the schools. Does the Minister agree that that is how you raise educational attainment?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: I entirely agree with the noble Lord, which is why we focus very much on improving the quality of the early years workforce and why we are focusing resources through the early years pupil premium, which was introduced in April 2015. The pupil premium for secondary schools was of course a coalition achievement. Focusing resources on the most deprived is extremely important, and we will continue to do that.

Baroness Rawlings (Con): My Lords, will the Government relocate any public bodies to the north—that is, to the northern powerhouse—a bit like the BBC moved up to Salford?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: I am afraid I am not entirely sure on that point. However, we will be establishing a network of industry-led national colleges, which will be operational from September 2017. They will include the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, which will be headquartered in Blackpool, the National College for Nuclear, which will have one of its hubs in Cumbria, and the National College for High Speed Rail, which will be based in Doncaster, so we will certainly be encouraging organisations to move to and develop in the north.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): Could the Minister give us her personal view on why there is a differential in attainment?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: The answer is extremely complex, but the most important thing is to ensure that all young people across the country are supported, and that is why we are focusing resources on the most disadvantaged through various programmes. There is a multitude of factors, such as deprivation and low academic achievement, meaning that families may not have been able to achieve over a number of years. That is why we are focused on helping vulnerable families and vulnerable children through a range of programmes and resources, targeting the finances where they are most needed.

Lord Ramsbotham (CB): My Lords, when the assessment mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, gives so much information about the development

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of a child at the age of five, why is the Welfare Reform and Work Bill delaying any such assessment until key stage 4?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: As I said, we will continue to ensure that we look at the development of young children from an early age. We are working with local authorities and charitable organisations on the ground to make sure that we provide the best resources that we can to vulnerable families. There are a number of very good projects going on in the north: a project in Durham is bringing agencies together to focus on children’s well-being; Wigan is one of eight local authorities piloting an integrated education and health review for two year-olds; and, through the vulnerable families programme, we are bringing local services together. So we are learning from practice on the ground to try to ensure that we target resources on the families who need them the most.

Baroness Massey of Darwen: Perhaps I may return to my earlier question about the assessment of children. What will replace the early years foundation-stage profile, which disappears in 2016?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: My understanding is that that is still being considered in the Department for Education. However, as I said, we are looking very closely at where we can make the most difference to young people’s lives. Of course, whatever takes over from the early years foundation stage, we will ensure that it continues to be a focus.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con): My Lords, I refer to my entry in the register. I congratulate the Government on their work so far in creating the northern powerhouse. Will the Minister ensure that rural communities are not left behind and that, in particular, the plight of rural schools and rural transport is not lost sight of?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: I can certainly offer my noble friend that reassurance. Rural communities remain at the forefront of the Government’s mind.

Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Lab): My Lords, the Government have already rowed back on their manifesto commitment to double free childcare for all three and four year-olds. Does the Minister not accept that that age group is very important in terms of early years attainment and that it should be targeted with all the resources available?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: We are indeed doubling the amount of free childcare for children in that age group. We are also providing free childcare for 40% of disadvantaged two and three year-olds. In addition, through the early years pupil premium, we are targeting resources to provide additional support for disadvantaged three and four year-olds. It is certainly a group that we are very keen to ensure resources are properly directed to.

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11.13 am

Asked by Lord Lee of Trafford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to give further recognition and support to the tourism sector, in the light of the number of jobs being created in that sector and the future growth potential.

Lord Lee of Trafford (LD): My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I declare an interest as chairman of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, our five-point plan for tourism makes clear the Government’s support for our tourism industry. The spending review reiterated this by increasing GREAT funding and providing a £40 million Discover England fund to provide direct investment to support growth and tourism in England, specifically ensuring that overseas visitors explore beyond London. We have revamped the English Tourism Council, with a focus on jobs and skills, and have established a Business Visits and Events Board to support business tourism.

Lord Lee of Trafford: Having pleased the tourist industry by leaving the core funding unchanged and lifting the GREAT moneys, as the Minister referred to, and by allocating £40 million to its Discover England Fund, the Government now have sadly shot themselves in the foot by merging VisitEngland, which markets England domestically, with VisitBritain, which markets all Britain overseas. Does the Minister realise that this subsuming, without any industry consultation, flies in the face of what the DCMS Select Committee, then chaired by the present Secretary of State, recommended, arguing for a clear delineation of separate roles? Does he realise that this has caused the 52 tourism trade bodies and key individuals in tourism to write to the Secretary of State strongly objecting, caused the chief executive of VisitEngland to resign in protest and severely compromised the relationship of VisitScotland and Visit Wales with VisitBritain? Now England joins an exclusive club of two—Chechnya and the Vatican—in not having a stand-alone tourist board.

The Earl of Courtown: I think that what the noble Lord is trying to say is how important it is that English tourism has a strong voice. However, this is not a merger. VisitEngland is already part of the British Tourist Authority, which trades as VisitBritain and VisitEngland. All we are doing is clarifying governance arrangements and lines of accountability with the BTA. This will ensure that there is clarity of direction, and will drive efficiency and effectiveness.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords—

Lord Harrison (Lab): My Lords—

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The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, at the start of Questions there is no official line to say who is next. I urge that one noble Lord give way to the other.

Lord Harrison: My Lords, given that tourism is an important economic industry, rather than fiddling around with existing successful structures, would the Government not be better advised to place tourism under the aegis of BIS or, at the very least, to include it in the title of the department where it currently finds itself, that of Culture, Media and Sport? Why not add tourism to the title to give it the energy that is required to treat it seriously?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, we do treat tourism extremely seriously, as was made apparent in the recent spending review. DCMS takes 1% of spending but contributes a sixth to the UK economy. We must also remember that employment in the UK tourism industry has increased from 2.66 million to 2.81 million jobs; that is almost twice the rate of non-tourist-related industries. I listened carefully to what the noble Lord said about where tourism’s natural home is, and must admit that I feel it is in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Lord Cormack: My Lords, at a time when the cathedrals and parish churches of this country, some of our greatest tourist attractions, are very much in the news, could my noble friend spare a moment to give thanks for all those volunteers without whom many of our tourist attractions, including those owned by the National Trust, could not properly function?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, my noble friend is quite right in what he says on one of his most important subjects—he continually refers to the cathedrals and churches. He is right to congratulate the volunteer work done by so many people for no recompense whatsoever but for the sheer love of looking after these great areas.

Lord Berkeley of Knighton (CB): My Lords, given that the Government warmly welcome the contribution of the creative industries to tourism, and will, I am sure, seize the opportunity to do so again today, is it nevertheless a matter of regret that the five core subjects announced in June for the baccalaureate for secondary schools exclude music and art?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the noble Lord and I took part in a debate only last week about the music industry and small venues. Many of us reiterated during it how important music is, as far as exports are concerned, for the overall economy. The noble Lord also talked about education relating to music. As far as GCSE music is concerned, there is a rise in that sector, but of course we all take due account of what the noble Lord said.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): The Minister interpreted the Question again but, on the key point, why the U-turn, bearing in mind that the department

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and the Select Committee reinforced the need for separation between VisitEngland and VisitBritain. What has caused this U-turn? Is it the Chancellor of the Exchequer cutting off his nose to spite his face, or does the Minister have an alternative view?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, as noble Lords will be aware, the whole issue relating to the triennial review, which I think is what the noble Lord is getting to grips with, is that it was brought in by the Public Bodies Act 2011, in the early part of the coalition Government. We remain committed to the principle of the review, including the importance of ensuring clarity of roles for the tourist boards. But, as I said earlier, we have decided not to proceed with the separation of the two bodies because greater collaboration will enable us to extend the reach and impact of both brands. Separation would also incur costs and we decided that the money could be better spent on growing the visitor economy.

Education: Politics A-level


11.21 am

Asked by Baroness Parminter

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to revise the Politics A-level curriculum.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con): My Lords, a public consultation on reformed content for politics AS-level and A-level closed on 15 December. We are analysing the responses and have already started work with the exam boards to develop the content in light of the views expressed. As always, we will listen carefully to the views of the sector and the wider public as part of this full consultation process.

Baroness Parminter (LD): Increasing awareness of the outstanding challenges facing gender equality requires young people to be familiar with the political thinkers and the movements that have generated progress to date. Why, then, do the Government intend to cut feminism and limit study to one political female thinker in the proposed politics A-level syllabus?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: The noble Baroness will be aware that there is no requirement in the existing A-level criteria to study feminism. Exam boards have worked closely with universities on the proposed content. That is why the recently consulted-on content has identified three core political theories to be studied. But of course the work of key female thinkers can be included within those.

Lord Blunkett (Lab): Why are the Government not supporting the continuation of A-level citizenship alongside A-level politics in circumstances where the Government’s anti-radicalisation programme and the National Citizen Service, of which I am a board member, indicate that at this moment in our history

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more than ever A-level citizenship, alongside A-level politics, is critical to the well-being and future of our country?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: We certainly consider citizenship education important and will continue it within schools. But we believe that the revised content for A-levels and AS-levels that has been undertaken will ensure that the key elements of citizenship A-level will continue to be taught within different A-levels.

Baroness Rawlings (Con): My Lords, will the Government encourage more learning of foreign languages, which is so important in life and to international politics?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: Yes, we certainly do want to encourage the use of modern languages. We live in an ever-global world, and the more that young people and people heading into the workplace can speak foreign languages, the better their prospects in the economy.

Lord Bew (CB): My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply indicating that there has been an interchange between the exam boards and the universities. Does she accept that the people who have most to lose if the reform goes badly are in fact university teachers in this subject area? It is therefore important that a level of consultation with universities has been undertaken because that had somewhat fallen by the wayside in recent years.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: I agree with the noble Lord, and certainly the reason for the new focus for the politics A-level is that universities have indicated that, if students study the three core political theories—conservatism, socialism and liberalism—at A-level, that best prepares them to be undergraduates. There has been and will continue to be close consultation on this. But, as I have said, there has been a public consultation which is now closed and exam boards are looking at the responses.

Lord Grocott (Lab): Would not a useful module in a politics A-level course be the subject of politics in the House of Lords? Students would discover essential facts such as that, under this five-and-a-half-year Government, there have been 123 government defeats in the House of Lords, whereas under a comparable five-and-a-half-year period under the last Labour Government, there were 325 defeats. Would not a splendid A-level question be: “Labour Governments get defeated three times more often than Tory Governments. Discuss”.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: As someone who studied politics at A-level, I can certainly say that an understanding of the House of Lords would have helped me.

Baroness Burt of Solihull (LD): My Lords, picking up on my noble friend’s question about the issue of feminism in the curriculum, it is now more than 40 years since the passing of the Equal Pay Act, but the wage

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gap between men and women is still disappointingly wide. Should not young people understand the importance of equality, the history of what has happened with feminism and the future challenges that we all hope will be worked on together to achieve greater equality?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: I agree with the noble Baroness. As I have said, the work of feminist thinkers absolutely can be studied within the new politics A-level once the content has been revised. Of course, feminism can also be studied within other A-levels. For example, in the reformed sociology specification, students must study issues of gender.

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister confirm that we are going to look at broadening the presence of cadet forces in schools, because they do so much good both for local communities and for youngsters? While we are thinking about the military, perhaps the Minister would pass on our wishes for a safe Christmas and a successful new year to all of our forces deployed around the world looking after the safety of our nation.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: I am very happy to join the noble Lord in wishing the best to our Armed Forces and to thank them for all they do for us. He is absolutely right. We are seeing an increase in the number of cadet forces in schools, particularly through extra-curricular activities. These help young people to learn about resilience and discipline, which are the character skills that this Government consider to be so important because they complement the academic side of education.

Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Lab): My Lords, I hope that we are not seeing a pattern developing here because, in addition to the A-level politics syllabus, the A-level music syllabus recently had to be changed because it featured 63 male composers and no female composers; now it includes five. With a nod to the season, do the Government have any plans to drop the female reproductive system from the biology syllabus?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: I think that the answer is probably no, and I shall leave it at that.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, following on from the very unsatisfactory answer given by the Minister to my noble friend Lord Blunkett, will the Government consider making citizenship classes available to all students who are studying A-levels? Citizenship is absolutely key to the future governance of this country and, as my noble friend said, to issues such as radicalisation.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: As I have said, citizenship education remains in schools. I am happy to raise the noble Baroness’s concerns with the department.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, are the Government prepared to give further thought to enabling all school leavers to have a citizenship ceremony such as the one

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recently conducted in your Lordships’ House and sponsored by the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar? It was a most moving occasion and all our young people would benefit if they signified their citizenship and their responsibilities when they leave school.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: Obviously, we have been putting power into the hands of head teachers, and I know that many head teachers offer citizenship baccalaureates and allow their students to do such things. But I think that it is best for schools to decide on what they believe is the best way of recognising the achievements of their students.

Housing: Spare Room Subsidy


11.29 am

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they propose to respond to the results of the Evaluation of Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy: Final Report.

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): I am pleased that the final report on the removal of the spare room subsidy has now been published. As it shows, the policy is promoting more effective use of housing stock and encouraging people to enter work and increase their earnings. We will therefore be maintaining the policy and will continue to protect vulnerable claimants who require additional support through discretionary housing payments.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): I thank the Minister. I think we read different reports. Conveniently published amid the flood of end-of-term statements, the report also shows that many tenants affected face significant barriers to downsizing, including the shortage of smaller homes. They are now paying the price as they cut back on essentials, frequently run out of money and accrue debts as they struggle to pay the rent. Will the Minister finally accept that the hated bedroom tax was misconceived and give these tenants who are suffering as a result the perfect Christmas present by announcing its abolition?

Lord Freud: We have seen a reduction in the numbers affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy. They are down by nearly 100,000—by 18% or 98,000. Half of those have downsized—45,000 within the social sector and 12,000 moving into the private sector. We have seen 20% of people looking to increase their earnings. That figure goes up to 63% for those affected who are unemployed. So, no, we will not be changing this policy.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I welcome the final report’s findings that local authorities are becoming more efficient in the allocation of direct housing payments. However, it has also revealed that there is a postcode lottery. Some local authorities are making payments to all claimants while others have

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imposed quite strict criteria. Does the Minister agree with me that it is important that this should be placed on an equal footing so that in whatever part of the country people live, they receive exactly the same treatment, irrespective of the locality?

Lord Freud: We have approached helping people who are hard cases through the discretionary housing payment route, which has been found sound in the courts. The reason for that is that local areas are best placed to determine how best to help people in their own areas. They are doing it in a variety of ways, but that reflects their views on how best to do it in their areas.

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister would be prepared to admit that the policy has not worked well. The evaluation by his own department has confirmed that it is creating hardship for many and has failed to get enough smaller housing units built for those who want to downsize. In the evaluation, three-quarters of those affected are now spending less on food and half are spending less on heating. Will the Minister agree that it would have been better not to apply the policy to existing tenants?

Lord Freud: This policy is about making sure that people who are living in oversized accommodation take the decision either to downsize or find the funds to run the extra rooms. That is how this policy works, and we can see in this study that people are now making adjustments. There are substantial moves in various areas in terms of downsizing and finding work between the interim report and this final report.

Lord Young of Cookham (Con): My Lords, is it not in everyone’s interests that there should be a better match between household size on the one hand and the size of houses and flats on the other, to avoid overcrowding and underoccupation? Does the survey not show a fivefold increase in the number of working-age tenants seeking to downsize? Does this not show that the policy is working?

Lord Freud: Yes, we have seen a substantial number of people downsizing—45,000 people have downsized within the social rented sector and another 12,000 have moved into the private rented sector. The number of people who have registered for downsizing is now running at 16%. Noble Lords may remember that when this policy started it was estimated from the surveys that about 20% of people would want to do so. We are well on the way to people making this adjustment. Other people, however, are looking to earn more money and to work. That is one of the factors, but not a major one, in some of the record employment levels we are now seeing.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham (Lab): My Lords, nearly 500,000 families are affected. Two-thirds of them are disabled, just 8% have been able to downsize and just 10% have received a discretionary housing payment to help them, so, as my noble friend said, 76% have cut back on food. Does the Minister consider this a success and, if so, what would he consider a failure?

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Lord Freud: As noble Lords will remember, this was a key savings measure for people who had larger accommodation than they needed. We have now saved £1 billion. As we have discussed, the number of disabled people on the highest rates of DLA who are affected is running at 17%. As I said, we are seeing real signs of people adjusting to the process, not least landlords managing the process more effectively.

Immigration Bill

Second Reading

11.36 am

Moved by Lord Bates

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, our country is diverse, democratic, peaceful and economically successful. We are all rightly proud of it. We want to protect it but it is also no surprise that we are a country experiencing positive net migration, attracting the brightest and the best, those seeking refuge and those in search of a better life. As more people seek to come here and as the global landscape continues to change, we must ensure that the UK remains a country with fair and safe workplaces, access to adequate housing, quality public services and security against changing threats.

Today, we start to debate the Immigration Bill. Immigration legislation is always a contentious subject and I know that we will take great care exploring the detail. However, this Bill has the interests of the country as a whole at its heart. Tackling illegal immigration builds social cohesion, takes pressure off public services and creates the space, politically, socially and economically to help those migrants in need, as we are now doing with refugees from Syria.

One of the principal aims of this Bill is to implement a manifesto pledge to crack down on those individuals who exploit workers in our country and to support working people. The national living wage, welfare reforms and economic growth are just part of our commitment to support workers. In the last quarter, 73.7% of people aged 16 to 64 were in work, the highest employment rate since comparable records began in 1971. However, in the shadows of our economy there are some abuses and exploitation that we must tackle. Some of the victims are migrants, but the criminals exploiting the vulnerable have no regard for their immigration status. We have laws to tackle these abuses and we have agencies to enforce these laws, but we all agree that we could do better. There are multiple enforcement bodies for employment legislation, each with a good reputation and each working well, but they are fragmented, have different lines of accountability and do not always share intelligence. Organised criminals find it too easy to get away with deliberate exploitation of workers. That is why the first thing the Immigration Bill will do is to bring tougher and better co-ordination of enforcement in this field.

Some have said that the Bill will deter victims of labour market abuses from stepping forward and exposing criminals. We believe that nothing could be further from the truth. Illegal workers and the victims of

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exploitation are not necessarily the same people. Illegal workers, in most cases, have come to the UK for personal economic gain, circumventing our existing immigration laws. The current offences of entering the UK illegally and breaching immigration conditions date from 1971, but equivalent offences predate even that. Where there are victims, the system is loaded with safeguards. The Modern Slavery Act provides a statutory defence for victims of exploitation. The Crown Prosecution Service and the courts will provide the necessary oversight and support for the enforcement agencies, which will always seek a fair and proportionate outcome.

The Immigration Act 2014 broke new ground on regulating migrant access to services. This House gave it careful scrutiny to ensure that the vulnerable were protected, but also to ensure that the UK remained an attractive destination for international students and investors. We agreed to the creation of the immigration health charge, and to controls on access to bank accounts, driving licences and housing. The right to rent scheme drew considerable debate but was ultimately accepted with additional safeguards and a commitment to a careful, phased implementation. The Government recently published our evaluation of the first phase of that implementation, which I am sure we will debate in detail, but I am confident that the fears of two years ago have not materialised. We worried that international students would not able to secure a home, that the vulnerable would be rendered homeless and that landlords would not understand the documentation; we worried about discrimination. These concerns have been, and continue to be, taken seriously and remain the focus of our efforts to ensure that problems of this nature do not arise as we roll the scheme out across England and then the rest of the UK.

The new reforms to bank accounts and driving licences will further ensure that those who are here unlawfully cannot take advantage of our generous services. We want to stop illegal migrants driving on our roads and to deny them the use of bank accounts. Illegal immigration has a detrimental impact on multiple parts of society, from businesses who are undercut by unscrupulous employers paying low wages to illegal workers, to the threat that can be posed to social cohesion within local communities. Although immigration officers already have existing powers to deal with illegal immigration, we can and must go further. That is why we are providing a basis for public authorities to share documents they hold that may assist the Government in controlling immigration. In doing so, we are simultaneously supporting a collaborative approach to tackling illegal immigration: a vital part of the Government’s objectives. Existing partnerships between immigration enforcement and the police have led to over 3,600 people being removed from the UK, so the benefit of collaborative working is clear. This must be strengthened, which is why we will also ensure that our immigration enforcement warrants are aligned with those of the police. Through this Bill, we will also fulfil the Government’s manifesto commitment to satellite-tag foreign national offenders when they are released on immigration bail, so that we know their whereabouts and can improve public protection.

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Another method of combating illegal immigration is to accelerate the removal of those who no longer have the right to be in the UK. Under the 2014 Act, the introduction of the “deport now, appeal later” scheme has had a beneficial operational effect, allowing us to deport hundreds of foreign criminals before they appeal. This is why, in our manifesto, the Government committed to extending this to cover all human rights cases, except asylum claims. I reassure the House that this measure will only be used when requiring someone to appeal from overseas will not cause serious or irreversible harm, or otherwise breach their human rights. The best interests of any children affected will remain a primary consideration for the Home Office before making a decision to exercise this power. We are therefore confident that the extension of this scheme is a proportionate response to maintaining effective immigration control, a position supported by the Court of Appeal’s recent ruling that the Government are generally entitled to proceed on the basis that out-of-country appeals are a fair and effective remedy.

This House will agree that supporting asylum seekers, and ensuring we offer protection to the most vulnerable, is a cornerstone of our democratic and humanitarian society, particularly given recent events. However, the Government believe that it is right to demonstrate our commitment to those who are in search of humanitarian assistance by delivering on our obligation to spend the targeted 0.7% on international aid. We are the only major economy to do that. We are also committed to supporting those affected by the crisis in Syria by delivering £1.1 billion to that region: several multiples of the required share. However, it is not justifiable—or it is difficult to justify—that we spend millions of pounds supporting failed asylum seekers; individuals who have had their claims refused and exhausted their appeal rights, and who should leave the UK where there is no obstacle preventing them. That is why this Government are taking firm action to restrict such support to failed asylum seekers who are destitute and face genuine obstacles to leaving this country.

I can assure your Lordships that there will continue to be safeguards to protect children. In addition to the continued Home Office support that I have just referred to, local authorities will remain able to support families without immigration status who would otherwise be destitute. Some have voiced their concerns that this will simply result in the burdens being transferred to local authorities and the third sector. This is not the intention or the reality. Local authorities do not have a general obligation to accommodate illegal migrants who intentionally make themselves destitute by refusing to leave the UK. Instead, those who do not qualify for Home Office support can, and should, leave the UK and we will work closely with local authorities to encourage and enable them to do so.

This Government have also taken positive steps to relieve some of the burdens which local authorities face to ensure that their finite resources are used effectively. Currently, the framework under which local authorities can support migrants without immigration status is complex and burdensome to administer. This is inefficient and a waste of taxpayers’ money, so the Bill will simplify this process while ensuring that those genuinely in need of support continue to receive it. I

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appreciate that many in your Lordships’ House will again be concerned about the impact on children, but I assure the House that local authorities will continue to support children and their families to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare.

A further significant burden that local authorities face is the requirement to pay international tuition fees for adult migrant care leavers, which generally range from £12,000 to £15,000 per year but can be as much as £30,000 per year. This Government are not trying to deny these adult migrants access to a university education but the current position is unfair to other migrants and British citizens, who must qualify under regulations for student loans. So to ensure greater consistency and fairness, the Bill will relieve local authorities of the obligation to pay these fees. Finally, we must make sure that we avoid a repeat of the situation that occurred this summer, where a small number of local authorities incurred substantial financial pressure to care for an unexpected number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. We are therefore taking steps to encourage other local authorities to voluntarily accept responsibility for such children while simultaneously making sure that we have the required powers, through the Bill, to transfer responsibility for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children between local authorities.

While illegal immigration poses a significant problem for the UK, it is not the only area which requires greater control. We must ensure that we know who is coming into and leaving the UK, irrespective of whether they are lawfully here or not. A lack of control over our borders poses a significant risk to our national security—a risk we cannot afford to take. So the Bill contains measures to ensure that airlines always present passengers to immigration control, and that the Government automatically apply UN and EU travel bans to stop dangerous individuals coming to our country.

Our manifesto committed to requiring all public sector workers in customer-facing roles to speak fluent English. Some have questioned whether there is a need for this measure. First, it is important to stress that many professions within the public sector already require standards of spoken English and that this measure simply brings the rest into line with the forerunners. I am sure we can all agree that it is essential that all members of the public who need to access public services can understand the information provided to them and be confident of their needs being understood. Not only is the provision important for that purpose but it contributes helpfully to another manifesto commitment, to promote British values within society, and will simultaneously increase the efficiency and effectiveness of public services funded by the taxpayer.

Finally, many businesses in the UK are now choosing to hire overseas workers. This has the knock-on effect of denying our resident workforce the opportunity to secure employment and develop its skills to fill existing shortages. The Government have taken positive steps to reduce unemployment in the UK. For example, in the last quarter, youth unemployment stood at 653,000, down 83,000 from the previous year. But more is

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needed. That is why the Bill introduces a charge for employers recruiting from outside the European Economic Area, with the money raised helping to train resident workers and fund apprenticeships in the UK.

There are many speakers down for this debate with immense personal experience in this area, and as always I assure them that the Government will listen very carefully to their contributions and concerns today and of course, as the Bill progresses, to their suggestions for improvements. I am sure we all want to see the continued prosperity of our great nation. We must ensure we continue to welcome the brightest and the best migrants to the UK while also continuing to provide humanitarian relief to those who need it most. However, an inevitable requirement for that continued prosperity is to ensure that the generous and invaluable services the UK provides are safeguarded for those who have a right to be here, as well as for the most vulnerable in our society and those requiring our international humanitarian protection. That is the balance the Bill achieves and I commend it to the House.

11.51 am

Lord Rosser (Lab): The last page of the Bill states that its purpose is:

“To make provision about the law on immigration and asylum; to make provision about access to services, facilities, licences and work by reference to immigration status”.

On the face of it, that is pretty innocuous, since immigration has brought significant benefits to our nation. However, two sentences in the second paragraph of the Explanatory Notes tell us in blunt and stark terms the true objective and purpose of the Bill:

“The purpose of the Bill is to tackle illegal immigration by making it harder to live and work illegally in the UK. The intention behind the Bill is that without access to work, illegal migrants will depart voluntarily, but where they do not, the Bill contains other measures to support enforced removals”.

This is one group of working people who will not be lauded by the Government but will instead now be criminalised and removed from the country for the offence of working hard. We shall need to keep in mind the two sentences I have quoted from the Explanatory Notes as the Bill goes through its different stages in this House, since they explain the driving force behind the Government’s clumsy legislative proposals.

Strong arguments will no doubt be made that in reality some of the clumsy measures in the Bill will make the illegal immigration situation worse rather than having the effect the Government envisage. The differences of view that are likely to arise will be over the manner in which the declared objective of reducing illegal immigration is intended to be achieved and the likely effectiveness of the measures actually proposed. Unlike the Government, we will not be judging the desirability of or the need for the measures in the Bill against the criterion of whether they make life harder for some extremely vulnerable people.

No one is likely to be opposed to reducing illegal immigration—the key word being “illegal”. However, the Bill has appeared before there has been any time

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for a proper assessment of the effectiveness or otherwise of the Immigration Act 2014. One can only conclude that the Bill has been driven primarily not by hard evidence of what works and what does not work but by the continuing political difficulties the Government have created for themselves by not coming even remotely near their own ill-judged, self-imposed and self-chosen objective of net migration in the tens of thousands. There appears to be a need in the Government’s eyes to give the impression to their supporters that they are acting tough on immigration, when in fact the Bill simply highlights the reality that the Government, on this issue, are like a duck paddling furiously simply to try to stand still.

There are some aspects of the Bill which we support, and I shall refer to these before coming to the parts we consider clumsy and potentially damaging. We support the establishment, although not the precise functions, of a Director of Labour Market Enforcement, who could provide much-needed strategic leadership in protecting the victims of labour market exploitation, but who should not also have any role connected to immigration control. We support the strengthening of sanctions for employers of illegal workers, which builds on the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2000. We also support the requirement for banks to carry out immigration status checks on current account holders, although it needs to provide sufficient redress for those wrongly identified, and the introduction of a duty on public authorities to ensure that all public sector workers in public-facing roles are able to speak fluent English.

I turn to our key but not only areas of concern, but make one general point. That is the apparent lack of hard evidence clarifying the extent or nature of the problems that the Government perceive as existing, and thus the need to take the kind of measures proposed in the Bill, or to show that the measures proposed in the Bill will, first, have the effect that the Government expect and, secondly, will not prove to be counterproductive and harm community cohesion.

The Bill’s overarching impact assessment is thin in terms of both pages and content, which suggests little quantifiable impact on reducing illegal immigration and even less assessment undertaken. There are references in the impact assessment to some financial savings but, as we consider the Bill, we will need to know by how much the Government expect each major measure to impact on illegal immigration and the hard evidence on which such expectations are based.

In that context, I assume that the reference in the Explanatory Notes of the purpose of the Bill being “to tackle illegal immigration” means, as far as the Government are concerned, reducing illegal immigration. No doubt that point can be clarified in the Minister’s response at the end of the debate, along with an indication of the criteria against which the Government intend subsequently to assess the success or otherwise of the Bill in delivering their declared objectives.

The Bill creates an offence of illegal working, although it is already an offence for a person who does not have leave to enter or remain to be in this country. The Bill simply creates a further criminal offence for such people. The Government do not appear to be claiming

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that this further criminal offence is needed to enable those who are working in this country illegally to be discovered and removed when without it they would not be. Rather, they are saying that this new criminal offence is being created because being able to catch such people under the new offence enables the earnings that they have made from working illegally to be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The actual need for this measure, what it will achieve in reality and how it will operate will have to be explored in Committee. Perhaps even now the Government could say whether it is one of their objectives to criminalise some vulnerable people further in order to get from them what little money some of them will have earned, possibly over a lengthy period and in a situation where they will have been exploited, to a greater or lesser degree, by those employing them. It is those doing the employing and exploiting who should feel the full force of the law, not those being employed and exploited.

We need to find out whether the Government intend to prosecute all those found to be in breach of this new illegal working offence. How many people do the Government estimate are currently working illegally in this country in what will in future be breach of the new offence, and how many will be prosecuted for the new offence during each of the first three years during which it is on the statute book? How much money do the Government expect to seize in earnings from illegal workers during each of the first three years during which the new criminal offence of illegal working will be on the statute book, if the Bill is passed as it stands?

The new illegal working offence runs the real risk of further disempowering potentially vulnerable workers and empowering would-be exploiters, who will now have a further offence that they can remind those who they are employing they could be prosecuted for if they get the authorities. It could also leave vulnerable people opened to being trafficked. What is needed is more resources for inspections, a focus on exploitative employers and mechanisms to encourage, not discourage, those who believe that they are being exploited to come forward. Criminalising vulnerable or potentially vulnerable people through the proposed illegal working offence seems to cut right across these objectives. Since there are already criminal offence provisions relating to those who have breached the Immigration Rules, is there really a need to introduce a new criminal offence of illegal working, against which an employee who does not have the right immigration status has no defence at all?

The Bill also includes proposals to terminate support for asylum seekers and their children who have had their applications turned down and any appeal rejected, but have not departed from this country within the required period of time. The only basis on which support could continue would be under a provision now inserted in the Bill, which says that they would be eligible for support if they could demonstrate that there was a “genuine obstacle” to their leaving the UK. There will be no right of appeal against decisions to refuse or discontinue support under this limited provision, despite the track record of the Home Office in seeing successful appeals against its decisions, so the only potential remedy would presumably be judicial

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review, which is neither quick nor cost effective. Perhaps the Minister could say what the anticipated amount is that would be paid out each year under this provision—namely new Section 95A—compared with the savings that would be made by withdrawing all existing support under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

Will the Minister also say what might count as a “genuine obstacle” to leaving the UK, and confirm that the reality is that the onus would be on the failed asylum seeker to somehow find and produce the evidence to prove their case? This risks increasing the chances that failed asylum seekers will abscond, again increasing the risk of vulnerable people—not least, the children of families affected—being exploited. Simply offering warm words on these concerns from the Government’s Dispatch Box is not sufficient. Terminating support might also make it more difficult for the Home Office to remain in contact with people liable for removal from the UK and undermine efforts to promote voluntary deportations. Evidence suggests that support for families facing removal—including support by way of help with documents and advice—is the best way of ensuring that they leave. Withdrawing support for this category of migrants seems like a threat of destitution as a means of enforcing the Immigration Rules.

A further issue is that of immigration detention. The Government have said that they will be conducting an internal review on this. What is needed is an independent review on immigration detention to be carried out within a short period of time once this Bill has come into force. It should consider the effectiveness and suitability of the law concerning immigration detention, including the merits of having a time limit. The All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugees and Migration have called in a report for a time limit on detention to be introduced, which they argued should be 28 days. I believe that I am right in saying that the UK is the only country—or about the only country—in Europe that does not have a time limit of any sort for immigration detention.

Another concern relates to the new criminal offence under the Bill for landlords and letting agents who do not comply with the right-to-rent scheme or fail to evict tenants who do not have the right to rent. In our view, potentially criminalising landlords in this fashion could lead to discrimination in the rental markets, as landlords play it safe over whom they accept as tenants when it comes to immigration status. Landlords themselves are calling for clarification that they will not be prosecuted where they have done everything reasonably possible to confirm the status of a tenant or where they are actively seeking to evict a tenant whom they have been told does not have the right to rent.

Among other provisions of the Bill that will need careful consideration of their justification and likely impact, including on children, is the power that the Secretary of State will have to certify the claim of someone appealing against an immigration decision—including on human rights grounds—so that they can appeal only from outside the UK.

The Bill also contains some measures in respect of border security. The Government maintain that they have control of our borders, but that seems highly questionable if the Government are arguing that one

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of the justifications for the proposals in the Bill is the level of illegal immigration. It is clear that the resources provided for securing our borders are insufficient. Perhaps the Minister could say what the Government’s estimate is of illegal immigration each year. Indeed, perhaps the Minister could also say what the Government’s estimate is for the level of net migration for this year and for 2016. We will also during the passage of the Bill want to discuss the recommendations in the very recent report to the Government on overseas domestic workers.

I have set out our concerns about a number of what we regard as clumsy and potentially damaging provisions in the Bill. It will be for the Government to produce the hard evidence to show that their proposals are needed and justified; that they will deal with the problems that the Government say they are intended to address; and, most importantly, that they will avoid unintended consequences such as undermining the progress made on tackling modern slavery and human trafficking, leaving families—including children—destitute, and increasing the likelihood of discrimination in the workplace and housing market. If the Government cannot do this—and they certainly have not so far—we are in real danger of passing a Bill that, as it stands, would be counterproductive in respect of illegal immigration and would harm community cohesion. We will do our utmost to ensure that this does not happen.

12.05 pm

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, from these Benches we find little that is positive in the Bill. We fear that it will increase discrimination, exploitation, destitution and homelessness. It will risk children’s welfare, turn citizens into enforcers through outsourcing and reduce the UK’s reputation in employment and other sectors—all of this, and more, without making any progress on a time limit for immigration detention, on family reunion, on integration and on community cohesion. This is the Bill we would have had in the last Parliament had it not been for the moderating effect of coalition government.

I thank the Minister for the pack from the Home Office that deals with some of these anxieties with what it calls “myth-busters”. I am afraid that the perspective of these Benches is different and I pray in aid two policy areas. The first is family reunion. When the Government are asked about relaxing the very restrictive rules, we are reminded that family visas can be issued outside the Immigration Rules on the basis of exceptional, compelling and compassionate circumstances—which is good to know, but how many have been issued? In 2011, the total was 77. In 2012, it was down to 30. In 2013, it was down again to 18, and in 2014 the total was just 12. My first thought was how counterintuitive this was, given what is going on in the world. My second thought was: in view of the experiences of people caught up in, or driven out of, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan and other countries, the situation is not exceptional.

My second example is the Ewins review of overseas domestic workers and their visas. The aims of the review included bringing their lives out of the relative

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shadows into an open and legal framework where they can receive the proper protection of the law. The review supports points made forcefully by a number of noble Lords during the passage of the Modern Slavery Bill. These were resisted by—or perhaps did not find traction with—the Government at that point until the very last knockings of the Bill, when its very passage was threatened. The Minister will understand that this will encourage us to stick to our guns when we are convinced that this Bill should be amended. He will also be aware that, given the current debate on how secondary legislation is dealt with, we will want at least very clear assurances about the detail of the regulations provided for in the Bill.

I hope that the Minister can tell us today—not just this House but those outside it—whether the Government plan to implement Mr Ewins’s recommendations. If they do not plan to implement all of them, which of them do they plan to implement, and when?

Second Reading is a time when one can attempt to give only a flavour of one’s approach. So to the organisations and individuals who have sent so much thoughtful and powerful material—I measured it this morning; it was almost 5 centimetres deep—I say, “Thank you, and if you are not mentioned directly, none of it will be wasted”.

I will start with some of what is not in the Bill: family union and reunion. Last week I asked whether the Government would allow people of Iraqi or Syrian origin, for instance, who are settled here, to sponsor family members. The rules are very restrictive and the processes complex. They do not even allow for a child asylum seeker who has arrived here alone to bring over his closest family. If I had a 19 year-old daughter who had to be left behind in a camp in the Middle East, that would be exceptionally tough. If I had a 24 year-old son married to a Costa Rican, starting his career and not earning much, I would be very confused why his own country would not welcome his wife. As myself, with neither of those children, I want my country to work on safe routes for refugees. The Bill’s maritime enforcement powers beg the question of what is to be done to help the passengers—or victims—once a ship without nationality is stopped.

I was a member of the all-party group inquiry into immigration and detention, as were a number of other speakers today. I was struck then by the paradox at the heart of unlimited detention: the lack, one might even say deprivation, of hope—might detention last for ever?—coupled with uncertainty that tomorrow one might, without warning, be deported. We will certainly look at the time limit. Sweden is one country where returns of unsuccessful asylum seekers is achieved more humanely and with a higher rate of voluntary returns. The returns process will be another point of focus.

I appreciate that the Bill deals with immigration bail. Seeking asylum is not equivalent to the commission of an offence with a trial pending, as the term “bail” suggests. Though we have tried before, we will try again on the right for asylum seekers to work within a reasonable period of their arrival and in occupations

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not regarded by the Government as in shortage. For us, it is a matter of integration and not badging asylum seekers as “other”.

Many who have the right to work and come from other parts of the EU do not understand that they have rights and are vulnerable to exploitation. This is the experience of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, the future of which seems unclear in the light of this Bill and the recent consultation. Another question to the Government is what their plans are with regard to amendments in this area, what those amendments are and when they will be made.

I am not entirely comfortable with Part 1 of the Bill. Inevitably, there will be tensions because there are different priorities between the departments involved. At the moment, we have three entities funded separately: HMRC, enforcing—though some say it does not—the national minimum wage; the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, a group of civil servants within BIS; and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, a non-departmental public body with a board. What is that board for if not to create a strategy, a function, which is to go to the new director of labour market enforcement? Even before that question is answered, there is the one of who—the Home Office or BIS—will appoint the director and to whom is the strategy submitted. There is a great deal to explore around governance powers, the sectors, resources, avoiding confusion between inspection and enforcement, and, in the case of the new director, his or her very purpose. There is even the name of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority: the consultation refers to a possible change of name but does not pursue that. That is not a frivolous point as the GLA is a very strong brand.

I had thought that we might have a year without a criminal justice Bill, but of course we have the immigration-related offences. Those may be what the Government call a logical extension to the preceding legislation but I would be happier to see an end to that legislation instead. It is objectionable that employers and landlords are enlisted in the cause of enforcement and subject to difficult requirements with a criminal sanction. Landlords may not set out to discriminate—most will not—but I would not fancy your chances of easily finding accommodation if your name is “Afshar”, “Ahmed”, “Janke” or “Hamwee”. It is not as if everyone can produce a single easily understood document to prove status. Some 17.5% of the UK population do not have a passport, and I suggest that there is likely to be a higher proportion of such people among those who are seeking rented accommodation. The homelessness that may ensue is so often a trigger for exploitation. Also, eviction on the say-so of the Home Office without court involvement goes against all our instincts. In the employment context, the new illegal working offence is something else that we believe will add to the vulnerability to exploitation. Elsewhere in the employment forest, will the skills charge add to the UK’s reputation internationally?

I am sure that the House will live up to its reputation for scrutiny of the enforcement powers of the state and rights of appeal. Immigration officers already have considerable powers, which will now relate to crimes as well as to civil penalties and removal from the country. Those powers will be extended from

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immigration officers trained as criminal investigators to all—but with what recourse? In the case of the police, as a comparison, there is the IPCC.

One of the “myths busted” in the Government’s information pack is that asylum support appeals are to be scrapped though 60% are currently allowed. Leaving aside for now challenging that assertion, I would not say that the figure given in the pack of 37% of appeals being dismissed is anything to boast about, nor is extending the cohort of migrants who must appeal from overseas. Where is the equality of arms so fundamental to our justice system—that is, where there is any right of appeal at all?

The Government’s human rights memorandum acknowledges that Article 6, the right to a fair trial, is engaged regarding the refusal of new Section 95A support, but say that this is, again,

“susceptible to judicial review and emergency injunctive challenge where appropriate”.

How realistic is this, even if there were no residence test? In assessing the Bill’s compatibility with various convention rights, I am sure that proportionality will be to the fore. New Section 95A says that support for asylum seekers whose application has failed can be by way of vouchers. What a pity not to have got rid of this bureaucratic and inflexible arrangement. That might be a minor point, though, compared with other aspects of this section. We are told that the regulations will provide “very narrowly drawn” criteria for facing,

“a genuine obstacle to leaving the UK”,

and that the grace period will be short. We will not be able to amend the regulations, so it is inevitable that we will seek to challenge the Government’s plans through primary legislation.

If we do not spend time today on the horrors and risks of destitution, that is not because we ignore them. We are aware of the government amendments to plug gaps in the provision, but the Minister will be aware of views that there is a real risk that destitute families will fall through the gaps. It is not only those who fail in their application who find themselves in such difficulty. The Red Cross reports on what is called the “move-on” following the grant of refugee status, and makes practical recommendations to avoid breaks in support, which I hope we can use the Bill to look at.

The House has a veritable army prepared to fight for children’s well-being. Children’s best interests, whether among their family or if they are unaccompanied, should run through the Bill. I do not dismiss the pressures on local authorities; I have been there. As the LGA says, no council should be made to choose between supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and providing vital services for their local community. The Minister dealt with the position of local authorities, but I noticed that he did not answer his own question about the transfer of burden to the third sector. There are still resource issues to be sorted out, together with the Home Office—should it not be the DCLG, if anyone?—exercising powers of direction on local authorities.

Issues of support are the subject of most of the representations which I and, no doubt, others have received from individual members of the public, although I do not think any of them have described as disingenuous

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applying the Home Office term “simplify” to the basis of assessment and support of people with immigration status who are destitute.

What should our immigration policy say about our Government? Should it say it say they are responsible and humane, show leadership and are closer to Trudeau than Trump? Will pulling up the drawbridge make us a better nation? The movements of people that we are seeing now will be as nothing if, or when, climate change drives even bigger movements. What will we do then?

Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con): It may be helpful if I note that there are 31 speakers for today’s Second Reading debate and that if Back-Bench contributions are kept to around eight minutes, the House should be able to rise by 5.30 pm.

12.20 pm

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, on emphasising the importance of family reunion. That can hardly be overstated. Like her, I thank the Minister and the Home Office for commissioning and publishing the Ewins report on the domestic workers visa. I have put down a Written Question asking when it will be implemented. Your Lordships know that this can be done quite easily by modifying the Immigration Rules.

Turning to the Bill, there are two things that are complete abhorrent to English public opinion and to our law and traditions: destitution and indefinite administrative detention. That is why we developed, first, monastic and religious charity, then the Elizabethan and Victorian poor laws, then the welfare state and quite recently food banks. Against detention, we invented habeas corpus, and we killed off Regulation 18B and detention in Northern Ireland. Since detention is so unpopular, almost every one of the so-called removal centres now has its voluntary group of friends who visit detainees and help them. As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, mentioned in March, an all-party group from both Houses demanded, not for the first time, a time limit for detention. This was followed up in September, I am glad to say, by a resolution of the other House. What will the Government do about that? When will they bring us in line with France, Spain, Portugal and Belgium? When will they ratify the EU returns directive, like our EU partners? When will they cut the cost of the detention estate with its 3,500 places? When will they reduce the cost, which was £164 million in 2013-14?

The Government should know that some 30 organisations are demanding reform. A coalition of 78 groups is now calling for action against destitution, especially as it affects children. The Bill proposes a complex and bureaucratic process under four sections of two different Acts and prevents help being given under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989. Given the risks of destitution, it is not surprising that some 10,000 applicants have disappeared without trace. I urge the Government to provide a simple procedure to forestall destitution when unsuccessful applicants face a genuine obstacle to leaving Britain. Action is also needed to prevent foreign criminals lingering on in prison after their sentences have expired.

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The Minister in his opening speech mentioned—I was glad to hear it—that there may be scope for improvements in the Bill. I trust that he will use all his diplomatic skills to persuade his colleagues that major amendments are needed.

12.25 pm

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, the Bill is the latest in a list of substantive immigration legislation that this House has considered in recent years. Since the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 we have had five further pieces of primary legislation in this area, yet Her Majesty’s Government have published no White Paper on immigration since 2002—no considered, detailed overview and proposals through which we might consider all aspects relating to immigration before embarking on major legislation. The Explanatory Notes are helpful but they are no substitute for a White Paper.

I hope that the Bill, which has now been considered in another place, will not be subject to Government amendments in this House save in those areas where Ministers are responding to concerns or amendments of your Lordships. We merit having the whole of the Government’s intended Bill before us now and I hope the Minister will give us that assurance.

Time forbids that I should discourse widely on immigration control. It is a proper function of the state but I fear that, as there is much over which we operate limited control, we find ourselves applying extraordinary effort to exclude support and consideration to persons over whom we have relative discretion. Yet the measures before us have not been quantified as getting us back to the Government’s ambition of net migration in the tens of thousands. Why, then, are they so urgent and so necessary?

The extension of immigration officers’ powers should not be in lieu of addressing declining numbers of police officers. It is true that they have powers already under the 1971 Act and that the power to seize property connected to offences unrelated to immigration when on immigration duties will be considered by many to be sensible. Whether immigration officers are selected and trained for such a purpose is quite another matter. Discussing this extension of the role of the immigration officer in criminal justice is precisely an area for which a White Paper is necessary.

The provision in Clause 17 to search an individual if the immigration officer has reasonable grounds to suspect they are in the UK unlawfully and do not have a driving licence is concerning. What could possibly constitute “reasonable grounds” for suspicion? A means of tracking irregular migrant activity is through the ways in which individuals engage in the regulated business of life—bank accounts, utility bills, rental agreements. To exclude the possibility of these may be counterproductive. It would be useful to hear from the Minister how successful such measures are in other countries.

Clauses 37 and 38 will reduce the meagre support available to those whose asylum claims have been refused. In July, the Government tabled regulations to cut support to asylum seekers by nearly a third to £36.95 a week. Before enacting these provisions we

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should reflect that, according to the latest statistics, under the current system, which is subject to appeal, 65% of cases are withdrawn by the Home Office or found against the department. Should we remove a right of appeal in such circumstances?

Clause 59, on regulations for the charging of civil registration fees, adding as it will to living expense, particularly for those on modest incomes, will have consequences. Will the Government consider a consolidated measure of relevant legislation following the passage of the Bill?

This is perhaps the point at which to add a personal reflection. At the end of October I visited the migrant camp at Calais. Not once were we asked for money. Frequently we were greeted. I saw the dignity and devotion of the makeshift St. Michael’s Church, I heard the terrible stories of many of those with whom I spoke and I witnessed the energy of those who had fled there. These were people of courage and vigour, and often victims of harm. I trust that the Government will act to address these and other concerns of noble Lords.

12.30 pm

Lord Horam (Con): My Lords, opinion polls suggest that immigration is the number one issue at the moment. We know why it is a big issue. For a long time post-war, there was almost no immigration in this country. Then, in the 1980s and 1990s, it went up to the low tens of thousands, and then it went up massively under the last Labour Government, reaching a net level of hundreds of thousands.

At this point I pay tribute to the efforts of Migration Watch UK, started by the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, whom I am glad to see in his place today. The fact is that, as has been said once or twice, it is very difficult to get concrete evidence on many issues in this area, including numbers. Migration Watch UK stepped into the vacuum that existed at the time and prodded the Government into getting better numbers. In my view, it has therefore performed a valuable public service.

A level of immigration higher than, say, that of the 1980s or 1990s is probably inevitable in the globalised 21st century. The fact is that controlled immigration brings many benefits to Britain and many immigrants have contributed a great deal to this country. However, the very large numbers that we have seen in recent years can, as the Home Secretary in her conference speech rightly said, damage social cohesion and national identity, as well as drive down the wages of the low paid, as evidenced by the recent Bank of England research, particularly in the service sector, where many of these problems are at their most acute.

What we have seen this year is not only large-scale immigration to Britain but mass immigration to Europe from failed states outside. In my view, that can be dealt with only by strong border controls, as well as diplomatic and military efforts to get some sort of governance back into failed states, plus international aid for the countries that need it.

It has always struck me that one of the problems with large-scale immigration is that it can damage not only the living standards of many of the poorest in the

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receiving country but the country the immigrants come from. I remember going on a parliamentary trip to Botswana, which has a huge AIDS problem. The country was having great difficulty in managing the drug-related health services that could mitigate the situation. The problem was a shortage of nurses. Where were they? They were all in the British NHS. They had all gone to make more money and to help us run our health service. Which was more important—to deal with the massive problem of AIDS in Botswana or to deal with our own NHS? It can be a real problem for developing countries.

That is why my right honourable friend the Prime Minister’s brave insistence on a generous and targeted international aid programme is entirely right. It goes hand in hand with a strong commitment to reduce immigration to more acceptable levels. Reference has already been made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and others to the levels of migration that we are seeing on an international scale now and can expect to see in the future. A combination of proper border controls and international aid is the right way to deal with this. That of course will take time, and the Bill does not attempt to deal with these broad issues; it is a relatively modest measure designed to deal with some of the more egregious problems thrown up by immigration.

As someone who has always supported a living wage as well as a minimum wage, I am strongly in favour of Part 1, which tackles illegal working and the exploitation of workers. In some areas this has become linked, as we know, with organised criminal activity. The Bill establishes a new statutory Director of Labour Market Enforcement, and that has been widely welcomed in this place, as well as elsewhere. When you have established these new bodies there is also, of course, the question of resources. I doubt people want to see a new director in the same position as the inspectors for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, who, on average, can visit a firm only once every 250 years.

I take seriously the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, from the opposition Benches about the effect on employees. These are very vulnerable people. I know that my noble friend Lord Bates is very sympathetic to this, and I hope that the situation can be carefully monitored. We do not want to see any counterproductive consequences for employees, who are, as I say, in a very vulnerable position.

Parts 3, 4 and 5 of the Bill strengthen the procedures dealing with those who have no right to be here. As my noble friend Lord Bates rightly said, the evidence is that the 2014 Act has worked well. This extends it to wider areas and will, I hope, cut down the hitherto ludicrous and extensive appeals procedure. I remember from my time as a Member of Parliament for Orpington appeals that went on for literally years and years, which is incredibly depressing for the people concerned and, indeed, harrowing for everybody.

I also support the measures to improve the language skills of immigrants who work in the public sector, and the charge on employers designed to improve the skills of the people they recruit. Employers, I am afraid, are often used to the easy solution of employing foreign workers rather than taking the trouble to train properly indigenous workers.

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All this, frankly, is common sense. I believe that the Bill is not a game-changer. Getting immigration back to reasonable levels will take time, possibly even as long as a decade. However, the Bill was passed by the Commons with quite a large majority. I hope it will receive effective scrutiny here but also be supported by this House.

12.36 pm

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, I should first declare an interest as I spent eight years as a director of the Refugee Council before joining this House. Perhaps I should also add that I was a refugee myself, during my childhood. I am grateful to the many organisations that have provided ample briefings. It has been too difficult to read them all because so many came in, but they were very helpful.

I should like to make one or two general points. Immigration is such a hot issue. There are, indisputably, benefits to this country from immigration, but the problem is that those benefits are spread over many parts of the country and certain communities have resulting pressures on hospitals, schools, housing and so on. It ought not to be beyond our ability and skills to make sure that the communities that are welcoming and accommodating refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants should be helped with resources out of the benefit that goes to the country as a whole from our extra GDP.

It is important that we try to win public opinion as opposed to adopting a policy that is hostile to immigration and asylum seekers and says that we do not want them here. Of course we must have a sensible and controlled policy for immigration; of course we cannot have an open door. However, it is important that we try to win public opinion. It is somewhat ironic that, in recent years, Germany has become the conscience of Europe. We never thought Germany would set standards of human rights that would be a model for the rest of Europe.

It is important that we have a sensible way of distinguishing between asylum seekers, under the 1951 convention, and people who seek to migrate for economic purposes. There is confusion between the two, because it depends a bit on how effective our determination of asylum seekers is. I put it to the Minister that there are people who may not be deemed to be asylum seekers but who find it very unsafe to return to their countries. It is no wonder that some of them are desperate not to return—it is unsafe—no matter what asylum determination processes we have. We have to be careful of and sensitive to that. I have heard of people who just feel that it is unsafe for them to return, and they will hang on because of that.

I have a question about the devolved Administrations. Some measures will be transferred to the three devolved Administrations under SIs and I am not sure that they have been fully consulted or had a chance to consider the Bill. Will the Minister comment on that?

I want to talk about something that happened when the Bosnians came some years ago because it will affect the way in which we have Syrians coming here—not enough, but they are coming here. It is important that

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communities to which asylum seekers go, with the Government’s blessing, should be made to feel involved in the process so that they can be welcoming. When I was at the Refugee Council, we had some reception centres for Bosnians who came under the government scheme. I remember going to one in Newcastle. We had an open day for this centre, and we invited not just Members of Parliament and local councillors, but the police, the churches, the medical profession, community workers, voluntary organisations and so on. Altogether, it was a welcoming occasion, when the local community felt that they had a stake in the people who had arrived in their midst. I urge the Government to consider a model of that sort when looking at the Syrian refugees.

Lord Empey (UUP): With the noble Lord’s experience, both personal and political, would he not agree that the concentration of such enormous numbers of people in small geographical areas is almost unmanageable? It is natural for people to gravitate towards those who come from their own background, can speak their language and so on. It is difficult to get any kind of distribution that would achieve the noble objectives that he outlines.

Lord Dubs: That is helpful. If I go back to my past with the Refugee Council, in conjunction with the Home Office at the time, we set out to have reception centres in various parts of the country—we worked with the Red Cross and other organisations—so that the numbers would be manageable in terms of local community involvement. In that way, we would not have a vast number coming—although we could have accommodated far more than we did—and they would be dispersed in various centres around the country to make the process sensible and manageable. From my experience, it worked. That did what the noble Lord said should be the objective and worked pretty well. However, that is in the past and I want to move very quickly to concerns about the Bill.

I am worried that cutting support for failed asylum seekers will lead to destitution. For the reasons that I have already said about it being unsafe to return to the country of origin, people will want to hang on here. Removal of the right of appeal against a Home Office decision to refuse or discontinue support for asylum seekers is not desirable. Indeed, I am also worried that the right of appeal exercised abroad will simply not work.

I received this big document, a fact book produced by the Government, only last night, so I have not had a chance to read it all, but it states:

“Making a migrant depart from the UK before appealing is not a new concept”.

The powers were there before in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. But that does not make it right. An appeal from outside the country, without legal aid and without help, is very difficult to achieve.

As regards family reunion, where we have children here and other close members of their family are in other countries, it would be desirable to be generous in allowing such child refugees to sponsor their family

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members to join them. Maybe it goes the other way and they would want to go in a different direction, but we should make it possible for children here to be joined by their families. It would make for stability, would probably lower the cost of the whole process and would make sense.

Perhaps I may turn to detention. I should like to see an automatic entitlement to claim bail before detention starts; in other words, there should be a process whereby a person who is being detained should be able not only to apply for bail after a number of days, but that the process should get under way right at the beginning. Otherwise we have officials and administrators saying, “You will be detained”, and surely that goes against all our traditions. There should also be an upper limit on how long someone is held in detention before they can be bailed, even if the earlier claim does not apply.

I shall mention briefly two other points. There is tremendous concern on the part of the Government about driving licences. We do not have ID cards. That debate is for another day, but I think that as a country we were silly not to have them. The Government document states:

“UK driving licences can be used as a form of identification which can help an individual access UK services”.

We all use driving licences or passports time and again, so I think we have got ourselves into a muddle about this and we should not put the burden on people who have come here.

Lastly, of course it is difficult to remove people who have no right to stay here, especially given all the reservations I have expressed about some countries not being safe to return to. I am not sure that I have my facts right on the country, but I believe that some years ago Australia tried an experiment. If families are due for removal having exhausted their rights, they should be provided with personal support through people working with them. That is a way of getting their acquiescence in the removal process which the harsher regime suggested by the Government here does not achieve.

12.46 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, I wish to address four aspects of this complex Bill. The first is the importance of the pull factor in immigration and how best the Government should tackle it. Clause 55 gives the Secretary of State powers through subordinate regulations in the form of statutory instruments, of course, to,

“require certain employers to pay an immigration skills charge for each skilled worker from outside the EEA that they sponsor”.

It is good to see some explicit recognition by the Government that the shortage of skills in our domestic jobs market acts as a powerful incentive for employers to recruit from abroad, thus pulling immigrants into Britain. There has been too much emphasis on in-work benefits acting as a pull factor without the Government providing the evidence that this is a key incentive driving large numbers of immigrants. But our media are full of stories about shortages of skills within the UK, resulting in searches for qualified workers from overseas. Frank Field MP has just called for a crash programme to train young British unemployed people

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in building skills to supply the labour we desperately need to build more houses rather than, he argues, importing workers from abroad who in turn will require more houses to live in.

We read every week about the desperate shortage of nurses, with reports that hospital trusts want to recruit an additional 6,000 nurses from outside the EEA. The Commons Home Affairs Committee recently commented that the Government’s tier 2 migrant cap, “could have been responsible for a crisis in nurse recruitment”. I saw another recent story that the UK faces so wide a gap between supply and demand for long-distance lorry drivers that there are doubts that assembly plants, shops and supermarkets will be able to maintain the flow of supplies in peak periods. And we all know about the continuing shortage of youngsters with computer skills within the UK.

The Government’s answer to this in Clause 55 is to impose a charge on employers recruiting from outside the EEA in the hope of pushing companies to invest more in training. It is not clear whether hospital trusts recruiting nurses or doctors from outside the EEA will be expected to pay this charge, and perhaps the Minister could clarify whether public sector employers, including universities, will be included in the imposition of such charges. The implications for universities appointing academic staff from outside the EEA could be significant. But the underlying problem with this approach is that it ignores the problems of the English education system; it is particularly a problem in northern England, as we heard at Question Time today, in failing to motivate students or provide them with the skills the market needs. Cuts in further education and proposals that in future student nurses in England will be expected to pay for their training act as disincentives to acquiring the skills the country needs. There seems to be a complete absence of co-ordination across Government on this as the Home Office tightens controls on immigrants with skills while the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Education and others cut back on training for those already here.

I have worked in Bradford with a social housing association which runs, as part of its social responsibility agenda, a superb apprenticeship scheme for the various building trades which is enormously oversubscribed. But then, another arm of government is making it harder for social housing associations to contribute to their communities in ways like this. Unless the Government take responsibility for the failings in our education and training systems, and their funding that contributes to the long-term skills shortages which drive inward immigration, they have no hope of reducing the determination of companies and public sector employers to recruit directly from abroad. I have told the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, that Migration Watch should be campaigning for a massive government training programme for the domestic unskilled and unemployed.

My second point is about fees. Clause 59, and Schedule 12, provide powers to charge fees for services that were previously provided without charge, and for any services provided in connection with marriages. Again, this seems to be an example of the Government pursuing entirely contradictory policies. They are strongly

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in favour of marriage, as we have read in successive manifestos, but determined to charge for them in the future. Fees, as anyone familiar with taxation knows, are regressive: the poor pay more, in effect, than the rich. Imposition of fees will make the business of marriage more expensive for the poor. Is that the Government’s deliberate intention? Do the Conservatives regard marriage as important for the well-to-do, worthy even of offering tax concessions to encourage, but not worth investing public money into for those already marginal in our society?

My third point is about border security—Clauses 44 and 45. These focus on civil airlines and airport operators, although Clause 45 also deals with private vessels, of which there are a great many crossing to and fro across the English Channel, and up and down the Bay of Biscay. When I briefly answered on policing and anti-terrorism issues for the coalition Government in this House, I was struck by the unavoidably transnational nature of serious crime, including drug-smuggling, and the frequent use of private aircraft and private airstrips and heliports in pursuit of illegal activities. I am struck by the apparent absence of reference to private airstrips and helicopter landing pads in this clause, and in Schedule 10. Is it assumed that these are used only by the rich, and can therefore be left outside our tighter border controls?

The Minister may know that I have asked specific Questions about Brecqhou helicopters, which fly the Barclay brothers to and fro from within the UK border control area—devolved in the case of Brecqhou to the Guernsey authorities, which I understand are strongly discouraged from ever setting foot on the island—and various parts of continental Europe. Do the owners of a newspaper that campaigns for the defence of British sovereignty from continental encroachment themselves live outside the reach of British sovereignty, while benefiting from free movement within the UK? Are there others, including Russian oligarchs and Gulf royalty with homes across southern England, who fly from private helipads beyond border controls? Are we moving towards one set of border controls for ordinary people, and a far lighter regime for the super-rich? I hope the Minister will be able to assure us that controls on private flights and landing strips will also be tightened. We cannot be sure that,

“Persons excluded from the United Kingdom”—

in Clause 46 might not be smuggled in by such means, as well as other illegal immigrants and undesirables.

My fourth point is about the impact of the tiered visa system on patterns of movement into and out of the country. The Minister will know that I have recently been concerned with a personal issue in this area, related to spouse visas for talented young Britons seeking to return to the UK after some years of study and work abroad. In the context of this issue, which I do not, of course, wish to discuss further here, I did some comparative investigation of the situation that faces British citizens who have gone abroad for graduate study, as many of us have done in recent years—I used to encourage my brighter students to do so—most often to the United States of America, and then wish to return to the UK to take up employment.

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Fifteen years ago there was very little difficulty or delay in bringing those whom such people had married, while abroad, back with them. Now it is a lengthy and costly process. I was particularly shocked by the case of a British citizen who had married a Japanese fellow student while in the USA; his wife was refused entry and forced to hire lawyers to support an appeal. I was more deeply shocked by the comment from a young man I have known since he was an undergraduate, now equipped with a mathematics PhD from a top US university, and married to an American with a similar PhD from the same university. He told me that he is now unlikely to return to the UK because the sense of hostility that faces non-British applicants makes him feel, “that my wife and my children would be unwelcome in my own country”. How much talent are we going to lose in the next generation if that impression spreads across talented expatriates outside the EEA? Exchanges with postgraduates currently within the USA have suggested to me that that feeling is already widespread.

The Tier 1 (Investor) Visa, on the other hand, welcomes those who are willing to bring over £2 million with them into the UK to buy a house in central London, for example. So we open our arms to the super-rich of Russia, China, Malaysia and the Gulf states, looking for somewhere to invest funds they may or may not have accumulated through means that are legal in this country, while raising obstacles to British citizens who have improved their skills and developed their reputations by studying and working abroad. The Tier 1 (Investor) Visa is worthy of a tax haven, not a self-respecting sovereign country; it fits in with a housing regime which promotes sales of newly-built homes in London to overseas buyers before they have been offered to British citizens, and allows them to be bought through anonymous offshore companies.

I note that the Bill has no proposals to tighten controls on Tier 1 visas. If raising fees for marriage is appropriate to this Bill, then transparency of ownership for non-commercial property within the UK must also be entirely appropriate to add. Are the Conservative Government really determined, with Mayor Boris Johnson’s support, to build a country fit for foreign money-launderers to live in? One law for the poor, again, and another for the rich. It seems easier for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Great Britain than for the young and talented to go through the eye of UK border controls.

12.56 pm

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (CB): My Lords, this 162-page Bill ranges obviously fairly widely over immigration law. Today, therefore, one needs to be selective. The two matters I have chosen for brief comment are, first, immigration detention and, secondly—if I have time—support for failed asylum seekers. Both have, of course, provoked a great deal of controversy and, indeed, litigation down the years—in much of which litigation I confess that I have been involved.

Immigration detention is the subject of Clause 32 and, more particularly, Schedule 7, which are intended to regulate the granting of immigration bail for all those detained under the several different powers in

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earlier, pre-existing immigration legislation. As to the term “immigration bail”, I respectfully ask whether it would really be of assistance to anybody to describe it instead as release from immigration detention.

The two basic concerns that arise in this area are, first, the conditions in which those detained are held and, secondly, the length of time for which they are held. The physical conditions of detention are, as is well known, the subject of an ongoing review by a former ombudsman, Mr Stephen Shaw. I think we are promised that report by Committee. Therefore, I shall say nothing about that aspect now.

However, I want to say a word or two about the length of detention. There are two basically different circumstances in which people are detained under the legislation: first, on initial application for asylum and, secondly, when, much further down the line, it is sought to remove people whose rights of whatever sort have expired and it is proposed that they finally be deported. These are very different situations. Speedy decision-making—that is, when it is thought likely that a decision one way or the other on an initial application can be comparatively speedily arrived at—is facilitated by keeping those who make their claims readily available for interview and so forth during the processing of the individual claims. This is known as the Detained Fast-Track—or DFT—operation and has itself spawned a number of legal challenges. It was considered in the APPG report on immigration detention. However, that report concluded that there is, indeed, a need for such a procedure, although it is only fair to say that the report expressed some concern that,

“the focus is on detention rather than making quick, high quality decisions”.

The need was recognised that, in these cases, speed is desirable for both the claimants themselves and the many others who are waiting in the queue to have their applications decided.

The other, very different, situation in which people are detained, sometimes for substantially longer periods, is where asylum seekers—or other categories of immigrants—have exhausted all their claims. They have no further appeal rights or rights to remain and are detained pending their proposed removal from the country. These cases present altogether greater difficulties, certainly in terms of introducing any fixed limit to the permissible length of time for which they can be held. Although, on the face of it, the statutory power to detain pending removal is unlimited, 30 years of case law, starting with a decision by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, then Mr Justice Woolf, have established that it is not. It exists only so long as there is a reasonable prospect of removal within a reasonable time. These questions are kept under review and are subject, ultimately, to judicial scrutiny and decision.

What is reasonable inevitably depends on the facts of each case and the sort of considerations in play. These obviously include factors such as the risk of the person offending or, often, reoffending. Many of those detained for deportation are FNPs—foreign national prisoners—who are completing their sentences of imprisonment here. There is also the risk of absconding —going to ground and thwarting all attempts to enforce immigration control. Unsurprisingly, all these

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considerations are listed in paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 7, among the various matters to which regard must be had in deciding whether bail should be granted. Many participants in this debate have urged and will urge, benevolently, for fixed limits—sometimes as little as 28 days—to immigration detention. I say to those noble Lords: do not underestimate the ingenuity and persistence of many of those who seek to defeat immigration controls. Time and again, down the years, the system has been cleverly played, often by those who are least deserving of our sympathies.

In the present edition of one of the standard textbooks on immigration law, the chapter on detention and bail extends to 96 dense pages and endless footnotes. A case on this topic in the Supreme Court in 2011, in which I sat as one of nine justices, stretched to 115 pages of judgments. This is a difficult area of the law and I respectfully suggest that we should not rush to impose some limit. I recognise that, under the EU returns directive—from which the UK opted out—most EU countries have a time limit of under 18 months, some substantially shorter. I would certainly be interested to know how this is achieved; perhaps the Minister can help us. I rather suspect it is because other countries are more ruthless than we have been, over the years, in refusing to allow appeals and challenges against deportation. I am no supporter of what has been called today “indefinite administrative detention” but nor would I support releasing back onto our streets foreign national criminals who have managed to stretch their fight against deportation beyond some arbitrary time limit.

I turn, inevitably and more briefly, to support for failed asylum seekers, covered in Schedules 8 and 9. I hope to be reassured by the Minister that, one way or another, by reference to either local or central government—much of the dispute down the years has been about which of those two bodies is responsible for keeping destitute asylum seekers off our streets—we shall not again be faced, as we have been over the years, with certain immigration regimes which have allowed destitute asylum seekers unsupported on the streets. Some 20 years ago, in the Court of Appeal, I cited the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Ellenborough, from a 200 year-old case:

“As to there being no obligation for maintaining poor foreigners … the law of humanity, which is anterior to all positive laws, obliges us to afford them relief, to save them from starving”.

Surely that holds no less true today.

Those are the only matters on which I will address the House today. These and a number of others will need to be more carefully explored in Committee, when we have more time.

1.05 pm

Baroness Ludford (LD): My Lords, I can match neither the expertise nor the radical force of my noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lord Wallace of Saltaire. As a Liberal Democrat, I want better management of immigration and asylum than we have at present. This is essential in the interests of good government and public trust. The question is whether this Bill provides that better management. The answer, on grounds of both ethics and effectiveness, is that it does not.

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On the subject of labour market provisions, it is necessary to clarify the primary purpose of the Director of Labour Market Enforcement as being to enforce the rights of workers and to protect people from exploitation, and not to confuse this with immigration control. The introduction of a criminal offence of illegal working is a very bad idea. I prefer the term “irregular migrants” to “illegal migrants”. Rightly or wrongly, there is already a range of criminal offences on the statute book to deal with those who enter the country irregularly, overstay or breach conditions. Criminalising working is an unnecessary distraction from the fair and lawful pursuit of removal. During consideration of the Bill in Committee in the Commons, the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, confirmed that the primary response to the discovery that an individual is in the UK illegally is to seek to remove them, rather than to pursue a prosecution. Given that, is this new offence not just political posturing?

Making illegal working a crime creates a perfect environment for exploitation because it will deter exploited workers from coming forward and militate against the Government’s work to combat trafficking, slavery and labour exploitation. The Home Secretary claimed, in the other place, that vulnerable people such as trafficking victims would not be punished because the Modern Slavery Act would continue to apply. How will this work, given that that Act only applies once someone is arrested and charged? There at least needs to be a provision for a defence of “reasonable excuse”. Many employers organise visas and so on for their employees, who may fall foul of these new provisions through no fault of their own. Does there really need to be criminalisation of illegal working in order to use proceeds of crime powers to confiscate the wages of illegal workers? Is it morally and practically sensible to seize them? Will it not deter exploited people from seeking protection? Will the proceeds not exceed the costs?

On the subject of access to services, the right-to-rent scheme, making landlords into immigration officers on pain of criminal sanctions, is objectionable on several grounds. There is a danger of discrimination against people who do not look or sound British but who have the right to rent that British and other nationals do. The pilot evaluation and research by NGOs have found worrying indications of stereotypes and prejudices coming into decision-making by landlords. Will the Government at least commit to a fuller evaluation of impact post-rollout, if that is what happens? The provision for landlords to evict tenants without a court possession order removes a crucial due process safeguard which protects against erroneous decision-making.

On the subject of support for asylum seekers, the provisions in the Bill which attempt to create a hostile environment to force people into leaving voluntarily are very worrying indeed. There is a real risk that refused asylum-seeking families will fall through the gaps. There are moral and practical objections. As to the moral objections, I would just quote Barnardo’s, which has said:

“Threatening families with destitution, with having their children taken into care, is not an ‘incentive’ that any caring society should utilise”.

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As to the practical objections, the Home Office’s own evidence, including from the pilot a decade ago, strongly suggests that cutting families off from support will be ineffective in making them more likely to leave the UK, so the Government simply will not achieve their stated objective.

People cut off from support are more likely to abscond and go underground, putting them out of reach of the authorities and undermining the very immigration controls that these headline-grabbing proposals are supposed to enforce. Managed engagement, as in the Swedish practice, has a much better track record. In the Minister’s letter to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, which he kindly circulated, he says that “when working to remove families with children we are seeking to achieve compliance and voluntary departure through the family return process. These processes work but by their very nature are not always quick”. These processes work. The best solution is to give asylum-seekers permission to work—even an obligation to work, if fit—if they have waited more than six months for a decision.

I have observations on two themes which run through the Bill. The first is the extra bureaucracy and expense imposed on those outside government. Outsourcing immigration control to landlords, banks and the DVLA is not commensurate with the idea of reducing red tape. Local authorities will get more bureaucracy in regard to language requirements, asylum seeker and child support and notification of licences, as well as greater expense. Businesses will have the immigration skills charge. All this is rather strange when the Government go on about Brussels imposing too much red tape. Where is the domestic refit to match the European Commission’s regulatory fitness and performance programme, which the Government rightly support? The need is to get better Home Office management of asylum and immigration instead, not least by speeding up full monitoring of both entry and exit. Taking students out of the net migration target would also be helpful.

The second theme that runs through the Bill is having more powers and less scrutiny for those in government but fewer rights for people against poor government decision-making. The extra powers proposed for immigration, detainee custody and prison officers—such as to search and seize documents including driving licences, and for speculative in-country stops and closing premises—all need firm scrutiny. Does not some of this undo the good work in reforming and reducing stop and search, which the Home Secretary is rightly proud of because it generates resentment and harms race relations? Then there is the assumption that Home Office decision-making is perfect. This is reflected in the provisions on summary eviction of a tenant on the basis of a notice from the Home Secretary, enforceable in the same way as a High Court order, and the extension of “deport first, appeal later”. In fact only 13% of out-of-country appeals succeed, compared to an average of around four in 10 made in country. Then there is the absence of a right to appeal against the refusal of Section 95A support, whereas in six out of 10 cases determined by the Asylum Support Tribunal, the Home Office has been found to be in the wrong.

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Another example is the ability of the Home Secretary to overrule the tribunal and impose electronic tags, and otherwise to overrule bail decisions, whereas in the period from 2011 to 2014 £15 million was paid out for unlawful detention. When the decisions of the Home Office could jeopardise people’s livelihoods, safety, home, bank account and driving licences and thus their ability to work, the extent of these unreviewable powers is unacceptable. My conclusion is that the Government need to display humanity and an attachment to real efficiency in enforcement and the rule of law, and accept changes to the Bill in so far as it can be improved.

1.14 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, I should like to contrast this Immigration Bill with the Bill which the Home Office laid before us last year on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. That was a well-crafted piece of legislation, which enjoyed bipartisan support and was significantly improved as it made its way through both our Houses of Parliament. Ministers were warmly congratulated on the way in which they engaged with complex issues and the organisations working in the field, but I wish that I could say the same for this Bill.

As the Minister knows, last week I chaired a briefing organised by the Refugee Children’s Consortium, which comprises some 40 agencies. No one could have left that meeting believing that organisations ranging from Barnardo’s and the Children’s Society to the Refugee Council, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association were anything other than deeply concerned by the impact which the Bill will have on some already incredibly vulnerable people.

I would draw a further link with the showcase legislation on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. There is a widely held view, which I share, that the enforced destitution, which has been referred to in this debate and which this legislation sets out to achieve as a misguided way of disincentivising immigrants, will push desperate people into the clutches of traffickers and leave them open to the very exploitation which the 2014 Act set out to deter.

It is sometimes said that when you legislate in haste, you repent at leisure. I feel very uneasy about a Bill which has all the characteristics of hasty legislation: proposals not fully thought through or developed; inadequate evaluation; and drafting that has been struggling to keep up with the progress of the Bill. Another tell-tale sign of unseemly haste is the way in which extensions to Scotland, Northern Ireland and, in some cases, Wales are deferred to regulations—a point which the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, alluded to. How can this possibly be a good way of making law?

Nor have we properly evaluated the impact and effect of the Immigration Act 2014 before legislating further. I refer to issues such as the removal of rights of appeal, the creation of civil penalty schemes for landlords and the dispensing with time-honoured remedies and rights of redress. So when we get to Committee and Report, I hope that we will carefully scrutinise in particular Clauses 37 and 38, which are concerned with the destitution of refused asylum seekers.

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In a speech which I made in October in support of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, when she sought to annul Asylum Support Regulations, I quoted Asylum Link Merseyside, of which I am a patron and which is based in the heart of the inner-city areas that I represented for 25 years as a city councillor or as a Member of the House of Commons. As I said then, it said:

“This government policy of making asylum seekers destitute works on the assumption that by forcing people into extreme poverty they will choose to return to countries from which they have fled in fear of their lives”.

Its experience has been that 98% of failed asylum seekers choose to stay, surviving on handouts, sleeping on floors or sleeping rough. Over the past three years, it has come into contact, in its words,

“with over 400 destitute asylum seekers out of which only 8 have chosen to return home voluntarily”.—[

Official Report

, 27/10/15; col. 1145.]

The Cardinal Hume Centre, a stone’s throw away from where we are gathered today, is one of the very few organisations that still provides free immigration advice from application right up to judicial review. The centre currently has a caseload of more than 300 open cases. From the centre’s front-line experience, it warns that using destitution simply does not work. Instead, it leaves people only more reliant on charities and more susceptible to abuse and exploitation.

Paradoxically, the Bill is likely to undermine immigration controls as refused asylum seekers will have little incentive to remain in contact with the authorities once support has been withdrawn. Statistics released by the Home Office last month revealed that a third of appeals are in fact accepted, so under Part 5 of the Bill there will be individuals and families with children who will eventually be granted asylum, but who by that point will have been starved and abandoned by the British state. How will that help with their integration into society?

The current demonising and scapegoating of migrants should make us think about the society we want to be: do we value these people as sources of economic potential or as human beings? My late mother came to this country as an immigrant from the west of Ireland. Her first language was Irish, not English, and she and her siblings fled harrowing poverty after the deaths of both their parents. She met my demobbed father, who was a Desert Rat, and married. She was always grateful for the opportunity to earn a living, make a home and bring up her children. In my years as a teenage student in Liverpool, there were still advertisements for accommodation that bore the words, “Blacks and Irish need not apply”. I also saw how easily people and communities could be stigmatised and discriminated against. All this makes me especially wary of laws which indefinitely detain immigrants and seem to discriminate against them. I hope that, in Committee, we will correct this injustice, and I entirely agree with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, about indefinite detention.

We should also enable people to have the right to work, perhaps modelled on the American green card system. How many of us could survive in accommodation, given on a no-choice basis, with just £5.28 each day to cover food, clothing, toiletries, travel, communications and all other necessities? This year, the British Red

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Cross says that it has supported more than 10,000 asylum seekers and their dependents in that kind of situation. This is not Syria; it is the UK in 2015, and yet 10,000 people were in receipt of aid from the Red Cross. That is not the hallmark of a compassionate or civilised society.

The Bill also affects family unity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights insists:

“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”.

The situation in Calais was referred to earlier. There are currently an estimated 6,000 people living in the “jungle” refugee camp in Calais, and the majority of residents are refugees from countries and regions facing the kind of dangers of which we are all too sadly aware. Caritas Social Action Network recently visited the camp and spoke to young people fleeing terror groups. One young man, just 18, was left with little choice but to leave Iraq after his village was taken under Daesh control. Had he stayed, he would have faced two options: join or be put to death. His brother had already claimed asylum in the UK, and was now living safely in Liverpool, yet the restrictive family reunification rules mean he cannot join him here. Having experienced such atrocities and loss, is it fair that he would not be able to be reunited with his family in England?

I have referred to the camp in Calais on a number of occasions during exchanges in your Lordships’ House. Rob Lawrie, a former soldier, tried to rescue a four year-old girl from the camp because he could not bear to see her remain in the horrific conditions—he now faces five years in prison for doing so. He concedes that what he did was wrong, but it is hard not to think of the Kindertransport or Sir Nicholas Winton and the rescue of countless children caught up in the horrors of the Third Reich, which bears easy comparison with the depredations of ISIS. Save the Children say that 10,000 minors and unaccompanied children fled to Europe last year, but 4,000 have disappeared. Into what? The Minister has undertaken to meet Save the Children and I hope he will give us a detailed response on the position of unaccompanied minors and children and what priority they will be given, how local authorities will be co-ordinated to deal with them, what safeguarding will be put in place, and how the amazing generosity and goodness of countless British people will be tapped through nationally organised fostering arrangements.

Finally, as currently drafted, the Bill fails to address the abuse and exploitation that migrant domestic workers face as a consequence of the tied visa system, an issue which I spoke on at each stage of the Modern Slavery Bill, and on which my noble friend Lord Hylton and I divided your Lordships’ house. I echo his remarks from earlier. In response to our debates, the Government asked the barrister James Ewins to carry out a review of the overseas domestic worker visa. Published last week, it covered the right to change employer, extension to two and a half years for such workers, information interviews and refusal of settlement. Mr Ewins says:

“On the balance of the evidence currently available, this review finds that the existence of a tie to a specific employer and the absence of a universal right to change employer and apply for extensions of the visa are incompatible with the reasonable protection of overseas domestic workers while in the UK”.

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The tied visa system has increased the exploitation and abuse of domestic workers. Reform to the rules is desperately needed and it is vital that we do not miss this opportunity, once again, to rectify this injustice. The report quotes the Minister himself as saying:

“Abuse of domestic workers, whether UK or EEA nationals, those on an [overseas domestic workers] or other visa, or those who have entered the UK illegally, is an abhorrent crime and will not be tolerated here in Britain”.

Now is our chance to give legislative protection to this group of workers and I look forward to hearing from the Minister what the Government propose to do.

1.25 pm

Lord Selsdon (Con): My Lords, as I nervously got ready to speak, I noticed there was a mass migration from the Benches opposite. I should like to speak on migration as, despite having worked in research in this world, I feel a bit confused. Information from the Commons Library gave me some help:

“The origin of migrants coming to the UK is recorded in three different ways: by nationality, country of birth, and country of last residence. The first indicates the legal status of migrants, the second records their historical origins, while the third identifies the geographical sources of migration to the UK”.

However, I am still a little confused as to whether migration is a benefit or a cost. I looked at the overseas population of the United Kingdom. Tables that were produced recently list the countries of origin from one to 25. Unsurprisingly, the first is India, followed by Poland, Pakistan, the Republic of Ireland and then suddenly Germany, Bangladesh, South Africa, China and the United States of America. These are not necessarily economic migrants, but they are quite significant in the world that we work in now.

What can those coming into this country expect? The key issue is employment. The difficulty with employment is that we often have to deal with name changes, and it is particularly difficult to obtain relevant information. Some of us may remember that there were always parts of London that might be handed over to Africa or elsewhere—more recently to eastern Europe—but the basic opportunities that we face at the moment concern what to do with the migrants. Who or what is a migrant and why have they come here?

The Commons Library suggests that the origin of migrants coming to the UK is recorded in three different ways—nationality, country of birth and country of last residence—which give the legal status of migrants. Another record is their historical origin, but nowhere do the figures seem to show what competences they have and what they could bring to this country. Many are skilled and many come from interested former territories. I remember well, from when I worked in the research world, the scramble for Africa. Suddenly we look and say that Africa is rather a doubtful place and we do not want any more people coming from there. We look at banning migrants or trying to limit their number, instead of assessing why they migrated in the first place. I would suggest that they migrated because the economic, political and maybe social conditions in their mother country or country of residence were unacceptable, and the element of fear took hold as persecution began.

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We have had mass migration into this county by large numbers of people, including, in 2014, 22,000 from India, 13,000 from Pakistan, 8,000 from Nigeria, 5,000 from South Africa, 3,000 from Bangladesh and 72,000 others. Have we made a plan for what we can do to help them when they come? There is residency, certainly, but this needs accommodation and employment. Many certainly have excellent skills that we have often forgotten about. Those who may have worked in Africa tend to be good carpenters, because they have worked with wood, but are not necessarily good welders. One looks at the origin of this immigration and how it could possibly be reversed. Do we have enough employment opportunities in this country at this time to provide a working wage for many people who come in, whether they are escaping persecution in their countries or for purely economic reasons? Alternatively, could we find a way to use those resources to redevelop their own country of origin?

I think of Africa, for which I have a great affection and a lasting fear, from times of trouble in which I have been involved. We look at the scramble for Africa and migration to and from Africa and the vast resources that the continent has at this time that are underutilised. One wonders whether we could reverse what was called the scramble for Africa, when everyone saw it as an area of the world with great economic potential, whereas now it is an area of concern. If we look at those who have moved here from Africa, one would like to know what are their skills and how we could encourage them to return to their host country if the reasons why they left were entirely due to fear.

I have always enjoyed charts and maps of the world and have made it clear to noble Lords by boring them on many occasions that if we look at the countries of the world which have the greatest influence—I take the landmass of a country and add to it the economic exclusion zones of 200 kilometres or so—we find that immediately we come up with the United Kingdom having almost the largest territorial rights in the world. Add to that the French, who of course had their scramble for Africa, as we did, and we find a great opportunity for co-operation.

The question is, in this particular problem or opportunity that faces us at the moment, with which other countries can we co-operate and what sort of accords could we have? I tend to think that Africa is one of the greatest opportunities for that and look at those countries who had serious interests in the raw materials of Africa, which could be developed again. One, logically, is the French in the north—but we must not forget the Italians, for their part, the Germans or the Belgians. Right across the continent of Africa, there were those countries. Is there a way that we could bring them together for a renewed initiative to develop those more impoverished countries of Africa that have significant raw materials, including labour? That is something I should like the House to think about.

1.32 pm

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab): My Lords, I declare immediately that I am involved with a number of charities dealing with refugee matters: the Cardinal Hume Centre already referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and Women for Refugee Women—I am a

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patron of both. However, today I will mainly draw on my role as chair of Justice, which is an independent all-party law reform and human rights organisation that works on strengthening the justice system here in the United Kingdom. It is also the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists.

Luckily, we have a whole set of wonderful researchers and young lawyers who work for us, who have been looking avidly at the Bill because of concern expressed to Justice by practitioners and others—lawyers who are members of Justice who are concerned about the Bill’s implications for our society.

I say immediately in tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, who is one of the great moral voices in this House, that his is the speech I would have liked to have made in this debate, because he speaks about the actual experience of people, the need for us never to lose our compassion when dealing with the issue of immigration and how we must remember the stories. People say to me, “How come you are a human rights lawyer? What made you a human rights lawyer?”. I always say, “It is the stories of my clients”. My clients were my way into human rights law, because you only have to hear the stories of persecution, suffering and abuse—whether domestic violence or abuse in countries beyond these shores—to know why we need law that is strong but tempered by protection of human rights.

I want to refer to the concerns that we at Justice have about the Bill. We are very concerned about a number of the provisions, and recommend that the offence of illegal working be removed from the Bill altogether. I say that because we already have power to deal with people who are here illegally. It is a criminal offence to overstay or to find a way in to this country that is not licit, and we can prosecute. We are in fact burdening the legal system with yet more criminal processes when they are unnecessary. It will also, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, said, undo so much good work by the Minister himself and others around the House and the whole of this Parliament on the Modern Slavery Act. That will be undermined by making people fear that they are going to be prosecuted for the meagre money they earn if they find some sort of work to help support themselves. We are talking about taking those earnings from people, which will all go into the coffers of the United Kingdom. I suspect that it will cost us more to do that. To confiscate what are usually miserable, meagre, lowly earnings from those people seems to me a terrible statement of where we have got to with immigration issues.

Justice also recommends that the offence of leasing premises to those disqualified from renting be removed from the Bill, pending a comprehensive evaluation of the law that we introduced only a year ago and which, as others have mentioned, has introduced a whole civil process for people who are leasing premises to those who should not be in the country. An assessment of that is important to see whether it is undermining good race relations in this country. As others have mentioned, there is serious concern about discrimination. People with a foreign name who apply for housing and approach letting agencies already face problems even getting on to lists and seeing premises. We should be most anxious about the ways in which this undoes the mortar of a civilised society.

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Justice also recommends that we look again at the provision in the Bill that would enable the Secretary of State to challenge the decisions of the courts, of the First-Tier Tribunal, in respect of bail. Just because a Secretary of State might not like a court’s decision should not mean that a power be vested in him or her to intervene, save in the most exceptional circumstances. Mention was made in the House of Commons of a circumstance where a flight to remove someone from the country is changed, and it was said that bail should therefore be removed to enable that. We could put such an amendment into the Bill, but we should be most concerned about the idea that there should be a readily available right for the Secretary of State to overcome a court’s decision, given what that means for the rule of law.

Justice also recommends that the proposal to extend the “deport first, appeal later” powers to all human rights-based immigration appeals should be a source of alarm to anyone who cares about the law and the rule of law. How can people outside the country assert their rights and appeal in the way that we think is appropriate under the rule of law? It is unimaginable. We can already see that the huge drop in numbers is not just because some applications or appeals would have been unjustified but because many people do not understand the process and therefore cannot complete and submit the relevant forms, do not have legal representation, or have difficulty arranging and paying for representation and liaising with any legal representative thereafter. They have difficulty obtaining, translating and submitting evidence to the tribunal. Just think through the practicalities of doing that, as someone who is here and for whom a decision has been made, which can often be wrong. The practicalities tell you just how ludicrous it is to extend that provision to all human rights bases for appeal. To insist that it be done from somewhere else is to operate serious injustice in ways that should be a source of shame to us.

The noble Lord, Lord Alton, and others have mentioned the business of turning people into destitute persons living on our streets and in our doorways. The idea that we are going to make it so hard for people to access some sort of minimal support is something we should be ashamed to be even considering. The support is already minimal, but making the situation even harder is never a good way of dealing with false claims to the right to stay. Destitution should not exist in Britain in these times.

I want to mention Yarl’s Wood because I am a patron of Women for Refugee Women. You just have to see the conditions these women have experienced in their own countries and hear of the horrors they describe—we cannot allow that to continue. Unlimited detention has a terrible psychological consequence, and we should really put a time limit on it: of 28 days, I hope.

This is a shocking Bill. It is morally disgraceful, mean-spirited, near-sighted and speaks to our lesser angels. Of course we have to have proper immigration procedures and systems, and they should be clear and just; but they have to be imbued with humanity and decency. We are better than this.

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1.41 pm

Lord Teverson (LD): My Lords, as someone who is not involved in this area of policy very regularly, I thank the Minister for his voluminous explanation of the Bill. I have just one specific interest which I will come on to later on. One thing that really struck me in that booklet was when it started to get down to numbers. As the Opposition have already said, it does not actually give any estimate of what the level of the problem is. We all know that it is very difficult to estimate things that are illegal, but it is possible, and we do not really understand the size of the problem without it. Certainly, in my business life, we would never do anything until we had done the market research and the background numbers, and it seems to me that those are not really being done in this case.

However, I was struck by some of the numbers that were in the booklet: for instance, that there were around 5,000 forced repatriations a year, which is some five times the size of this House—hardly huge. My noble friend Lord Wallace mentioned that some 1,000 passengers are directed wrongly to entry points in UK airports. It struck me that, really, this whole Bill is completely unnecessary. Having gone through many immigration Bills since I have been privileged to be a Member of this House, I think that what we really need is to make the legislation that we already have work; because the other principle of my business life—and this comes back to appeals procedures and immigration controls—is “right first time”. It is not only right because it saves money and resources, but in human issues like this, it actually saves a lot of distress and a lot of problems for individuals, families, immigration officers themselves and all the people who have to deal with this area of policy. My first point, therefore, in a general sense, is: let us get on and enforce what we have, and not bother so much about the Bill that we have in front of us.

There are two areas that really concern me relating to what is in the Bill, and these have already been mentioned by other noble Lords. First, we have scraped the bottom of the barrel, and it is really vindictive, when we get to the point of threatening to take the money off illegal workers in this country through the proceeds of crime legislation. That was brought in mainly to deal with money laundering in the City and wider areas—I fully applaud that. However, to apply it to some of the most oppressed people in this country is really quite a vindictive legislative policy. I hope that this will be removed from the Bill as it proceeds through the rest of its stages: it is clearly quite wrong.

The other area relates to detention, which has been brought up a number of times. To have a system that is clearly not on Guantanamo Bay levels but where people who are detained do not know when they are going to be released is distressing to everybody—primarily the people who are interned, but also those who are dealing with it and the taxpayers who have to pay for it—and wrong. I hope that we can in some way move that agenda forward to a more civilised state as this legislation goes through.

However, the one area that really interests me—in which I became involved originally through casework that came to me naturally—concerns the rights of

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spouses of UK citizens. I applaud the work that my noble friend Lady Hamwee has done on this issue in the past. It seems to me just obvious and a matter of common sense that British citizens should be able to marry whom we want. As long it is not a sham marriage, we should be able to marry whom we want and live together as a family, because if you cannot live with your spouse, then it is not a family. Since 2012, we have had a regime where you have to have an income of £18,600 to bring your spouse into the UK. It does not matter if your spouse has earnings and a promise of a job in the UK—that does not make any difference—but we have that price tag. It is estimated that around 47% of the population is not able to afford that under the rules. Indeed, it is estimated that some 33,000 spouses or other halves are not able to join their legal, married other halves in the UK because of this rule.

This is completely wrong, even in financial terms, because if a spouse comes from outside the EEA, then we can apply all the rules, which are not affected by EU legislation. It means that they are not eligible to collect benefits anyway. That is the situation at the moment, so they are not going to be a drain on the state. Furthermore, as I said, most spouses who come into the UK earn incomes themselves; they do not claim benefits. It is a problem that does not actually exist.

The 2010 Conservative manifesto strongly, and quite rightly, put the rights of the family at the top of the party’s priorities. In 2015, it was not quite so high, but, having said that, all the way through the 2015 manifesto, the policies were written around families. I think it is on page 17 where a quote is highlighted, saying that the greatest security for a family is a job. I agree with that, but the greatest security of all for a family is that it can live together. In this country, that is not a given, and for 33,000 families, that is not the case. I would like to see a positive aspect to migration in the Bill: that we finally have the common sense to allow British citizens to marry and live with whom they wish.

1.48 pm

Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB): My Lords, there might be aspects of the Bill that are necessary, but, as the Minister indicated at the beginning, there are widespread concerns both in this House and outside it about certain provisions. In particular, I and others are concerned about Clauses 37 and 38, which relate to the safety and well-being of children. As we know, people seeking asylum do not have permission to work in the UK and are therefore forced to rely on support provided by the Home Office. This, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, said, is pretty minimal. It consists of accommodation given on a no-choice basis and just £5.28 per day to cover food, clothing, toiletries, travel, communication and all other necessities. Since 10 August, children seeking refugee protection have had their financial support cut by 30%. This is simply too low to cover anybody’s basic needs and it forces people seeking asylum to live in poverty and isolation.

Even under the current system, many refused asylum seekers in the UK do not qualify for the limited Home Office support available, or have to wait for long

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periods in order to access the support. Others are sometimes erroneously denied the support they are entitled to. Meanwhile, they are destitute and are forced to rely on whatever ad hoc support is available to them from charities and faith groups—or they face life on the streets, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, pointed out. The British Red Cross has supported more than 10,000 asylum seekers and their dependants in this situation in the UK so far this year.

Being refused asylum in the UK does not mean that a person does not need protection. One factor that has been known for a long time is the unreliable decision-making by the authorities, and asylum seekers’ limited access to good legal advice. This means that they can reach the end of the process without their protection needs being fully recognised. A significant number of people whose asylum claims have been refused submit fresh evidence of their need for refugee protection. Roughly 50% of people who apply for asylum eventually get some form of leave to remain in the UK.

As we know, currently families with children who have had their asylum claim refused remain on Section 95 support—if their child was born prior to the final refusal of asylum—until their immigration status is regularised or until they leave the country. This is quite properly in order to safeguard the rights, safety and well-being of the child. However, key provisions of the Bill will remove important safeguards, leaving children and their families vulnerable to homelessness and poverty. These provisions will leave refused asylum-seeking families and their children without access to Section 95 support. They will remove leaving-care support from specific groups of children and prevent local authorities supporting children and families under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

As we have known for a long time, there is significant evidence, including from the Home Office, which shows that the measures proposed in the Bill simply will not encourage families to leave the UK. In a pilot of similar measures in 2005, the removal of asylum support for refused families did not result in increased voluntary returns, forced removals or engagement with the authorities. So while they may not meet the narrow criteria for refugee status, many families still hold very real fears for their safety in their country of origin.

Under the proposed legislation, refused asylum-seeking children will no longer be protected under the Children Act 1989. Instead, the Government propose to introduce two new support streams that will create a patchwork of various forms of support, with little clarity as to who will administer them or what they will consist of. Because of its bureaucratic nature, the new system will bring with it a high likelihood of delays that could seriously undermine children’s safety. Indeed, as the death of one mother and child covered by a 2012 serious case review illustrates, delays in support can have disastrous consequences.

As a number of noble Lords mentioned, the removal of a right of appeal against a Home Office decision to refuse or discontinue support to refused asylum seekers who face a genuine obstacle to leaving the UK is something we must look at very carefully and should, in the interests of justice, overturn. This is of particular concern as Home Office decision-making on support

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applications is poor. Appeals against Home Office refusals of support are often successful. Between 1 September 2014 and 28 February 2015, in over 50% of cases in which the asylum support tribunal made a decision, the case was either allowed or remitted. Currently, the right of appeal offers an essential safety net for refused asylum seekers that should not be removed.

All of us—and, I believe, the majority of people in our society—want to live in a country that treats those who have fled war, torture and persecution with dignity and respect. Therefore, we have to look very carefully and in detail at some of the provisions of the Bill and seek to remove those that prevent destitute, refused asylum-seeking families accessing Section 95 support. We need to remove provisions that prevent local authorities providing leaving-care support under the Children Act 1989 to specific groups of young people. We need also to provide a right of appeal to those who have had their support refused or discontinued because the Home Office believes that there is no barrier to them returning home. We also need to increase the current level of asylum support and ensure that it is adjusted annually in line with inflation. Finally, we should allow asylum seekers to work if an initial decision on their application has not been taken within six months. There is a great deal of work to be done on the Bill.

1.55 pm

Baroness Afshar (CB): My Lords, I begin by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for remembering that I once reported to this House that the name “Afshar” trumped membership of your Lordships’ House as far as immigration officers were concerned. I was not allowed in because they thought “Baroness” was a first name. So I suggest that we should be very wary of making such people judge and jury over who is suitable for entry into this country—because I would like to continue to serve in your Lordships’ House.

I would also like to introduce a sense of perspective. Britain—the UK—is home to less than 1% of the total number of refugees in the world, so it seems to me that extending this by a small amount would not really cause an enormous strain on the resources of the Government.

Much has been said about the refugees who come to this country. They come because they are being bombed out of existence in their homelands and because drones, by day or by night, do not recognise friends or foes; they just kill you, and any of us in that situation would try to find an alternative. But it is only the better-educated and better-off—those who have the resources—who are able to scramble out of these death traps. They can offer this country enormous talent, resource and wealth. They choose to come here because they have transferable skills. We are short of doctors, nurses and carers—and these are people who have done their qualifications and very often do not need retraining. They could serve this country and they come here because they wish to come here. To try to bar their way is to do a disservice to this country at all levels. If we allow wiser counsel and look at each person as an individual rather than in terms of numbers,

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and if we move away from fearing “the other” and instead welcome them, we would find that the whole country would benefit.

As a university teacher, I fear what would happen to academe in this country if we started imposing restrictions that would mean that talented people, many of them born in this country, could not come and teach. I declare an interest because I was born in Iran and my husband was born in New Zealand. Neither of us would find it easy to come and teach in this country under the proposed laws.

It is far more advisable to start thinking about how to accommodate these people. But to expect them while the decision is being made to live on £40 a week is unreasonable. I challenge any Member of your Lordships’ House to live on £80 a week and see how long they would last. Surely we should do unto others as we would wish to have done unto us. That is a Christian proverb but as a Muslim I support it. There are better ways to deal with the floods of immigration than this attempt to drown talent and opportunities. Please, will you change your minds?

1.59 pm

Lord Hamilton of Epsom (Con): My Lords, when we debate Bills in Committee and on Report, we are liable to be accused of making Second Reading speeches. Now that this is Second Reading, perhaps I will be forgiven for making one. I will look at the wider issues of immigration that are of course referred to in this Bill, which addresses some of the problems.

I support my noble friend the Minister’s view that we have benefited enormously from immigration into this country in the past and that we welcome immigrants to this country. However, it is a question of numbers. We cannot get away from numbers. The noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, just said that we have already made a modest 1% contribution to the refugee crisis taking place. To put that in context, that small number of Syrian refugees we are taking in is in addition to the 330,000 immigrants who came legally into this country in the last year. That contrasts rather forcibly with the undertakings that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made that immigration should be limited to 100,000 a year—or to tens of thousands. Despite the number of times that that commitment has been made, we seem never to have met the 100,000 target. That is a problem.