Debates between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall during the 2019-2024 Parliament

Wed 9th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

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

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall
Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 9th September 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 View all Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 121-III Third marshalled list for Committee - (9 Sep 2020)
Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall) (Lab)
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My Lords, I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, was withdrawn from the speakers’ list in error and is ready to speak now, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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Thank you very much. I am sorry there was some misunderstanding earlier.

I shall be brief, but I take a slightly different approach to many other noble Lords. Much of the discussion so far seems to have assumed that all or most asylum seekers are genuine, when in fact a significant proportion are not. If public support is to be maintained, the system must clearly and effectively make that distinction. The focus should be on getting quicker decisions rather than quicker access to work.

The problem with the first three of these amendments is that they could encourage asylum seekers, and, perhaps, their representatives, to draw out the process of consideration even further, so they can start to settle in Britain without their cases having been decided. We could be faced with many thousands of asylum seekers whose cases have ground to a halt but who would be perfectly ready to work in the lower-paid parts of the economy, often in competition with British workers and at a time of rising unemployment. Over time—and this is the longer-term problem—this could undermine public support for genuine asylum seekers, who deserve our protection.

More generally, we can see from the current events in the channel that Britain is becoming the country of choice, including for those who are already in a safe European country with a well-functioning asylum system. Surely they cannot be described as “fleeing persecution”. Nor would it seem that they regard conditions for asylum seekers in Britain to be unduly difficult. Unless we can reduce the incentives to get into Britain illegally, these pressures on our borders will continue and probably increase.

Finally, I understand and sympathise with the motives of the authors of Amendment 31, but we already face intense pressure from many parts of the world where, sadly, there are large numbers of forcibly displaced people, many with skills. We should surely focus our efforts on those who are in the most difficulty by taking refugees recommended by the UNHCR, which examines each case. I remind the Committee that since 2015 almost 20,000 refugees have been directly resettled from outside Europe. That surely is the right way to help those in real need, and of course I support it.

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Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall) (Lab)
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My Lords, I have received no requests to speak after the Minister, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I am grateful for the lucid and powerful support of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe. In addition, the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, dealt most effectively with the need for a cap. I am sorry to find myself in some disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard. He is hugely respected in this House—rightly so—and including, if I may say so, by myself. That is not to say we agree on immigration.

The Minister explained very clearly how a cap would be administered. There is also something called the intra-company transfer, which would deal with large companies wanting to post senior staff.

On the issue of public opinion, 55% of the UK population want to see a reduction in immigration—that is about 30 million people—while 4% want to see an increase. The figures are similar for Scotland. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall) (Lab)
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My Lords, I have received no requests to speak after the Minister, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, again spoke powerfully on the basis of her considerable experience at very senior levels in the private sector. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, had some most encouraging words on the basis of his ministerial experience. It did not seem to me that the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, nor the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, exactly answered the question as to whether they are opposed to the abolition of this test.

The Minister gave a very good, technical answer based largely on the MAC, but the MAC are, of course, economists. They are not politicians and do not really care about how a British worker would feel if a job had gone to a foreigner and he had not even had a chance to apply. It is basically about fairness, as I said, and I hope the Government will be open to keeping a very close eye on this, in their own interests and those of public opinion, which is very strong, as I mentioned. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.