Debates between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 8th Mar 2022
Thu 10th Feb 2022
Nationality and Borders Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Committee stage: Part 2
Thu 3rd Feb 2022
Nationality and Borders Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Committee stage: Part 2
Thu 28th Oct 2021
Tue 25th May 2021
Wed 30th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage & Report stage:Report: 1st sitting & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Wed 16th Sep 2020
Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
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
Mon 3rd Feb 2020

Employment Gap: Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, and White, Workforce

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 29th June 2023

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, there is plenty of time. We will hear from the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence, followed by the noble Lord, Lord Green.

Nationality and Borders Bill

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I am always worried that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, will not get home, so if he wants to exit stage left, I will not be in the least bit offended. I am very keen that he gets his train.

On Windrush, that tragedy did not arise because people did not have a piece of paper. That problem arose because, through successive changes in immigration law over the years, Windrush was simply forgotten. Of course, it was at the time a declaratory system, but the problem did not arise because people did not have a piece of paper.

To return to Amendment 79, I know that the noble Lord, Lord Oates, will not be happy with what I will say. I hope that I can provide a comprehensive and sensible reason why, to quote my noble friend Lady Shackleton.

We provide all individuals who are granted UK immigration status with a formal written notice of their grant. It is in the form of a letter sent by post or email which sets out their immigration status. They can retain the letter for their own personal records and use it, if they wish, when contacting the Home Office about their status.

We took full account of the recommendation from the beta assessment of the Home Office’s “prove your right to work” service and have introduced a wide range of support to help vulnerable users as we roll out the e-visas, which are the secure, online services which can be used to view and prove immigration status. We are and have been implementing the change in an incremental way since 2018, to ensure that no one is left behind.

Those who struggle to use them can also contact the UKVI resolution centre, including by phone, for help using the service or sharing status on the individual’s behalf. We have also developed mechanisms which reduce the need for individuals to prove their status themselves when accessing public services: for example, benefits and healthcare. Status information is already shared automatically with HMRC and DWP and the NHS in England and Wales.

We published a policy equality statement in relation to the EU settlement scheme on 18 November 2020. The statement considered the impact of e-visas and set out the support available to users who need help. There are reports of incidents where the system may not have worked as it should have, but feedback on the e-visas and online service has been generally positive. Most users find it easy to use and it is aligned with other digital government services, such as DVLA services for renewing driving licences and paying vehicle excise duty. E-visa holders can check their status at any time by logging into the view and prove service; they can even contact the Home Office if they experience any issues with their e-visa.

The noble Lord, Lord Oates, previously referred to the Government’s intention to remove biometric residence permits, biometric residence cards and frontier worker permits from the lists of documents acceptable as part of a right-to-work check. We can do this because the online system works. The cards will remain valid for other purposes, including as an identification document and to board travel services when returning to the UK. As the noble Lord is aware and has mentioned previously, we have been considering the merits of introducing a QR code. As he said, I committed to take the matter back and discuss it with the Home Office. He is absolutely right: we have written to the3million, setting out why we do not think it is a viable option. We have had to consider a wide range of factors, not least that using this method in the context of demonstrating vaccination status is not equivalent to using it to show immigration status, since a person’s immigration status can change in a way that their vaccination status cannot.

The information on an insecure printed document, even one validated by a QR code, would not be a secure method of sharing and proving immigration status in a way that gives confidence to the user and the checker. We consider that it would open the system up to potential fraud and abuse because the QR code would not be sufficient to verify the identity of the document holder. We have looked into whether we could incorporate a facial image on to the QR code but found that the technology would not support inclusion of high-resolution facial images. It would not adhere to the principles of data minimisation, whereby only as much personal data as is needed for the checking purpose should be shared and accessible only for as long as required. The checker would require an app on an internet-enabled device capable of reading the code, whereas any internet-enabled device with a web browser can be used to check a share code. Our reply to the3million, which I will share with the noble Lord, has been published on its website and provides a full explanation.

Physical documents obviously expire—my parents insist on printing their Covid passes out, and sometimes they are near or at expiration—they can become invalid or be lost, stolen or tampered with, and they take time to replace, leaving our immigration system open to fraud and abuse. They do not provide that real-time information. Last year, UK Visas and Immigration received over 44,000 reports of lost or stolen biometric residence documents and issued over 22,000 replacement cards for those reported lost or stolen. Implementing this amendment would involve significant costs; they could well be over £270 million if we had to issue a physical document to everyone with an immigration status.

Our provision of a letter sent by email or post meets the need for a physical document showing a person what their immigration status is, and it can be kept for personal records. The ability to view and prove immigration status online in the form of an e-visa provides foreign nationals with the certainty that they need to demonstrate their rights in the UK now and in the years to come. I hope—although I doubt it—that I have reassured the noble Lord on his concerns. On the other point, I am very happy to meet any interested parties that wish to discuss this further.

I turn to Amendment 82 from my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe and the noble Lord, Lord Green, on trade agreements containing provisions on visas. We should recognise that the Immigration Rules and decisions about visa requirements are sovereign national powers which rest with the Home Secretary. I sympathise with my noble friend’s desire to retain national control over visa policy. We took back control of our borders when we left the EU and now have the freedom to set our own rules in the interests of the UK.

However, trade and immigration are separate policy areas and the UK does not routinely discuss immigration in trade negotiations. What comprehensive free trade agreements typically include is provisions on so-called mode 4 trade in services. These set the terms for the temporary movement of service providers between parties to the agreement. Immigration policy, as opposed to mode 4, is our overarching approach to long-term immigration and border controls.

I know my noble friend has expressed concerns about the Government’s negotiations with India on a free trade agreement. As is standard in UK free trade agreements, I expect we will explore mode 4 provisions, which could support British and Indian businesses and consumers, in our negotiations with India. This is not a one-way conversation. UK business stakeholders have identified mobility issues affecting UK service suppliers seeking to go to India, which we might seek to address in these negotiations. This is just as we have done in our free trade agreements with other partners such as Japan, Australia and the EU and would expect to do in any future comprehensive free trade agreements. But any agreement will be consistent with the points-based immigration system and we will not compromise the principles or functioning of that system.

I also want to note that Parliament already has appropriate involvement in the scrutiny of free trade agreements and their provisions through the CRaG process. The legislative framework set by CRaG provides Parliament with the opportunity to undertake scrutiny of an FTA prior to its ratification. I understand the point my noble friend raised previously that CRaG is a rather binary tool, but it would not be appropriate to have additional processes to consider individual issues within the agreement. Immigration is clearly an important issue but comprehensive trade agreements, by definition, cover more areas. It would not be practical or desirable to have carve-outs for individual issues; taken together, these could make the process of negotiating and scrutinising trade agreements lengthy and impractical.

While I agree with the thrust of my noble friend’s argument that robust scrutiny is critical, I cannot agree with the amendment. I instead point to the comprehensive processes we already have in place to ensure that Parliament has its say on trade agreements and, critically, that any changes to domestic law would need to be passed by this House in the normal way. I hope I have set out clearly for my noble friend why this amendment should not be pressed.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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Before the Minister sits down, is she confirming that any immigration negotiations with India will be confined to mode 4?

Nationality and Borders Bill

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I am not going to look at it again but I will perhaps explore it further and see why what is happening is happening. That is probably fair enough.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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Is the Minister aware that, in some countries, applicants choose those families that come to London regularly in the summer, with a view to leaving them after a month or two and settling, legally or otherwise, in the UK? The system needs to be fairly tight to avoid trouble on that front.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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Between what the noble Lord has just outlined and what the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, has just said, that probably explains both ends of the system in different ways.

On visa extensions, although I fully support the noble Baroness’s determination to improve protections for migrant domestic workers, rewinding the clock and reinstating the features of a route that were deliberately removed almost a decade ago is not the answer—probably, in part, for some of the reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, outlines.

The overseas domestic worker visa caters specifically for groups of visitors who by definition stay for short periods. That visa allows private domestic staff to accompany their employer where that employer enters the UK as a visitor and where they intend to leave together. Approximately 20,000 visas are issued every year on that basis, and the vast majority leave well within the validity of their visa.

The amendment seeks to reintroduce features of the route which were removed for good reason. We must not forget that abuse existed before 2012 and be mindful that allowing overseas domestic workers to stay could inadvertently create a fresh cohort of recruits for traffickers. We must avoid a route that could be used by criminals to entice victims to come to the UK.

Noble Lords have referred to the report, commissioned by the Government, by James Ewins QC, which, crucially, did not establish a direct link between the length of stay and the likelihood of exploitation. Years later, this picture remains. There is no greater risk if a domestic worker is here for two weeks or 12 months, so increasing the length of time that they can stay will not afford them greater protection from being exploited.

I think that the noble Baroness and I share the same objective of the delivery of a safe and appropriate system for a very vulnerable category of workers. However, for all the reasons that I have given, we do not agree on the means of achieving it.

I am aware of comparisons that have been made between those employed in the healthcare sector who are exempt from the health charge and those who come to the UK as volunteers. However, there are very clear and important distinctions between workers and volunteers on the charity worker visa. The route should not be used to fill gaps in the labour market, even on a temporary basis. To answer the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, yes, we have been engaging with charities. The Government think that appropriate immigration concessions are already in place, which support volunteers on this route. The charity worker visa offers a low fee, compared to other work routes, and sponsors pay a lower licence fee, in recognition of their charitable status. While the charity worker route is the main route for volunteers, it is not the only way in which volunteers can be recruited to support the work of charities.

I note the concern of the noble Lord, Lord German, that the immigration health charge might deter volunteers from coming to the UK. Published figures indicate that, for the years immediately preceding the pandemic—clearly the years after that are very unusual—the number of charity visas granted remained broadly consistent. This indicates that volunteers are not being deterred by having to pay the health charge.

The NHS must continue to be properly funded and the immigration health charge plays an important role in that. It has generated almost £2 billion for the NHS since its inception, and it ensures that temporary migrants who come to the UK for more than six months make a direct contribution to the comprehensive range of NHS services available to them during their stay. Those who pay the charge can, from their point of arrival in the UK, use the NHS in broadly the same way as a permanent resident, without having to make any prior tax or national insurance contributions. For those reasons, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord German, will not press his amendment.

On Amendment 183, I hear noble Lords loud and clear. I recall the debate that my noble friend Lord Faulks and I had during the Criminal Finances Bill. I also completely acknowledge the point about those relying on funds that have been illegitimately acquired. It is because of those concerns that we have committed to a review of visas issued under the route between 2008 and 2015. We are finalising the review, if noble Lords can be patient, and we will publish it in due course—I knew there would be a sigh from behind me and in front of me when I said that.

Nationality and Borders Bill

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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We have had wide discussions about the UNHCR’s opinion on this and think that we are complying with international law. It is up to each state to interpret the refugee convention. I know that the noble Lord and most of this House do not agree but it will ultimately be for Parliament, through the passage of the Bill, to interpret what Parliament thinks of the refugee convention.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, I will not move Amendment 76 and will consider the Minister’s comments on it.

Migration

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Thursday 28th October 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I think that the work has started, but I will correct that if I am wrong. The threshold, as the noble Lord knows, was previously set at degree level jobs. Modelling by the MAC suggests that the new border RQF 3 threshold strikes a much more reasonable balance between controlling immigration and business access to labour, so that will capture some of the cohort that he talks about. On the broader point, as we have seen in a number of sectors, employers will now have to think about paying their workers a more competitive salary to attract people such as care workers to do the valuable work that they do and have been doing throughout the pandemic.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness will have guessed the direction of my questions, I think. I hope that she will agree that what matters about immigration is its scale and nature. Does she agree that, despite their public focus on highly skilled immigrants, the Government have thrown open our borders to the semi-skilled from the entire world, with much lower skills requirements, lower salary requirements and no cap on numbers? As a result, about 7 million jobs are now open to worldwide competition and none of them needs to be advertised in advance. How can the noble Baroness defend this total surrender to business interests at the expense of British workers?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I have been fortunate to be able to discuss and debate the question of a cap on numbers with the noble Lord. He is absolutely right to say that our immigration scheme is now a whole-world scheme. It is up to us in time to be able to flex our policies to ensure that the people who live and work here are not being crowded out by others who might, in the words of the public, “take their jobs” and that we have a fair but controlled immigration system.

Net Migration

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 25th May 2021

(3 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to reduce net migration to the United Kingdom.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, a points-based system is a fair system which prioritises the skills and talents needed in the UK for our economic growth, rather than focusing on arbitrary net migration targets. The system is delivering on our commitment to the British people to take back control of our borders.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, what the Government have actually done is to throw open our work permit system to the entire world. They have lowered the qualification level and reduced the salary requirement and as a result, 7 million—yes, 7 million—UK jobs have been opened to the entire world with no limit on the numbers. This could so easily spin out of control. Does the Minister agree that it would be wise to impose an annual cap on work permits, as is the case in the real Australian points-based system?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord is right that the new points-based system that we intend to roll out is open to the entire world. Interestingly, the MAC advice was that the cap be abolished and that it would make sense to reduce migration numbers by varying other aspects of the scheme criteria—for example, the salary threshold and the level of the immigration service charge.

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

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Report stage & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Wednesday 30th September 2020

(3 years, 8 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-R-II Second marshalled list for Report - (30 Sep 2020)
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, for retabling his amendment and all noble Lords who have spoken in support or opposition.

The noble Lord, Lord Green, seeks to put in place separate parliamentary approval for regulations allowing EEA and Swiss nationals who are new entrants to the labour market to be paid less than other skilled workers. I recognise the intention behind this amendment. He is absolutely right that, in using salary thresholds as a mechanism to control immigration, protect the domestic workforce from being undercut and ensure the UK’s economy prospers, we must have confidence that salary requirements are set at the right level. It is for these objectives, in addition to ensuring that migrant workers are not exploited and that a skilled migrant is coming to the UK for genuine skilled employment, that a system of salary thresholds will form a critical part of our new skilled worker route.

In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, and my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe spoke about the risk of losing control of our borders and disadvantaging young people and the unemployed in the UK. The noble Lord also mentioned the Government’s recently launched Kickstart programme and his concerns that its benefits would be reduced due to our young people facing further difficulties and unlimited competition from those overseas migrants who meet the new entrant definition. I hope I can reassure noble Lords that this is simply not the case. Our salary requirements for all skilled workers are based on national earnings data for UK workers. Furthermore, while new entrants will benefit from a reduced salary rate, recognising these individuals should not be disadvantaged by the fact that they typically earn around 30% less than experienced workers, they will still need to meet other mandatory requirements to be successfully granted leave. Namely, along with all other skilled workers, they must have a sponsoring employer, a job at the appropriate skill level and be able to speak English to an accepted standard. Furthermore, the new entrant rate is not an indefinite offer. It is designed for those essentially at the start of their careers.

The noble Lord, Lord Green, also voiced concerns about settlement, given that the new skilled worker route will be a route that allows this, subject to meeting relevant requirements. While this is indeed the case, I can confirm that individuals will need to be paid at least the going rate for their occupation by the time they reach settlement. While it may not sway the views of some noble Lords, the Government did not agree this proposal in isolation. We sought independent advice from the MAC, outlined in its January 2020 report on salary thresholds and a points-based system and, following careful consideration of its findings and our own extensive engagement, accepted its recommendations.

I should like to put on the record that reduced rates for new entrants are not new; they have been a part of the immigration system since 2013. While we intend to continue the new entrant salary rate, in future the Immigration Rules will set a more consistent 30% reduction across all occupations. As the MAC identified, the differences in the current system are very large for some occupations. New entrant quantity surveyors, for example, may be paid 69% less than more experienced migrant workers in the same profession.

Turning to the crux of this amendment, the noble Lord is right that there should be parliamentary scrutiny of these requirements, but there is already a long-established procedure for that. The Government are required to set out their immigration policy in the Immigration Rules. This includes salary requirements and reduced rates for new entrants which can determine whether an immigration application succeeds or fails. Changes to the rules must be laid before Parliament, either House may disapprove the changes by negative resolution within 40 days of them being laid and the Secretary of State shall make any changes that appear to her in the circumstances to be required. Any such changes will be laid before Parliament within a further 40 days. I do not think it is necessary or proportionate to introduce a new procedure for salary requirements for new entrants, particularly at a time when the Government are committed to simplifying and streamlining arrangements. Furthermore, there seems to be no particular reason for the procedure for new entrant salaries to be different from the procedure for the general salary requirements or, indeed, any other requirements for skilled workers.

Additionally, as is made clear in recently published policy statements on the UK’s new points-based system, measures will be introduced in a phased manner and we will retain the ability to make adjustments based on experience and, crucially, to respond to the needs of the UK economy. New regulations under an affirmative procedure would lessen this responsiveness and could risk splitting up interconnected policies which together create a robust element of control, protect domestic workers and ensure that those who have the skills and talents that we need and who want to make a positive contribution can come to the UK.

For the reasons that I have set out, and on the basis that we will continue to lay before Parliament the full details of the requirements, including those for new entrants, I hope that the noble Lord will be happy to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that full account of the Government’s policy, which we will study in detail. It is not feasible to do that on the hoof. Let me say first that I certainly did not intend to suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, or the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, do not care about working people. Clearly, they spend much of their lives among working people and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, was actually a trades union official for some time. However, I think they have not correctly judged the likely effect of the measures the Government are bringing forward, and I fear that—from everyone’s point of view—it is going to go pear-shaped. I am grateful for the powerful support of the noble Lords, Lord Horam and Lord Hodgson, and the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe.

In the end, this comes down to a question of judgment about the raft of measures that the Government are bringing in in January and applying to the whole world. We have dodged some of the technicalities, but we are not talking about applying these things to EU citizens only. We have a brand-new, massively new system and it is very dangerous for the stability of public opinion on this matter. I thought that the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, hit the nail on the head with some very wise words. She said that this looks as though it is going too far with too many changes at once. That was simply put but none the less powerful, relevant and to the point. In the end, we will see what the numbers do. It will be a while before they take off, but my instinct is that they will, and at a very awkward time for the Government. That is their problem, but they have been warned. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I do not always agree with the Home Office, but I do commend the answers that the Minister has just given on these three amendments.

I want to make some brief comments on Amendment 79. As the Minister just pointed out, the present income threshold for a spousal visa is designed to ensure that those coming to the UK for family reunion have enough resources to play a full part in British life and do not become a burden on the taxpayer. That is surely a sensible approach. As she mentioned, this has been to the Supreme Court, which ruled the policy to be lawful. Indeed, far from removing the threshold, there are, in certain cases, strong arguments for raising it.

The Migration Advisory Committee has said that, on average, for the family income to cover the cost of all public services, a higher threshold is required: namely, £25,700, rather than the current level of £18,600—a difference of £7,100. Even that threshold would not be enough, it says, for a non-EU household to make a net contribution to public finances. For them, the figure would be £38,000 a year. We must have in mind the impact of changes to these rules on the taxpayer and the reaction that they may have to that.

Finally, it is perhaps important to note that a reduction in the threshold would run entirely contrary to the Government’s 2017 election manifesto, which promised to raise the level of the threshold. That, of course, has still not been done.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for his comments. I pretty much agree with him on every point.

On the higher threshold, the MAC will not be passive in commenting on the various aspects of the new immigration system, and I am sure that the threshold will be one of them.

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

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Green, and all noble Lords who spoke on these amendments. For the benefit of the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and others, I will circulate the current rules for new entrants—rather than send everyone to sleep with the old rules and the new rules—so that they can compare and contrast.

The amendment seeks to put in place separate parliamentary approval for regulations allowing EEA and Swiss citizen new entrants to the labour market to be paid less than other skilled workers. Minimum salary requirements are a key part of our new skilled worker route. They serve three main purposes: first, as an indicator that a job for which a UK employer wishes to recruit a migrant worker is indeed a skilled job; secondly, to ensure that a migrant worker is paid a fair wage; and thirdly, to prevent employers using migrant workers as a source of cheap labour, undercutting wages for resident workers. The noble Lord is absolutely right that we must have confidence in setting the salary requirements for skilled workers at the right level, balancing the need to control immigration effectively and ensure that the UK’s economy continues to prosper, and not setting them so low that they do not achieve these objectives.

As I said ahead of outlining proposals for the UK’s points-based immigration system, the Government sought independent economic advice from the MAC. In its January 2020 report, A Points-Based System and Salary Thresholds for Immigration—which I am sure everyone has read—the MAC addressed the need for a range of salary thresholds and made recommendations for new entrants. The Government have accepted the recommendations in that report. Our salary requirements for skilled workers are based on national earnings data for UK workers. The MAC identified that new entrants—defined essentially as those at the start of their careers—typically earn around 30% less than experienced workers. Setting lower salary requirements for new entrants reflects this reality and means we avoid setting the requirements at an artificially high level. Reduced rates for new entrants have been part of the immigration system since 2013. While we intend to continue the new entrant salary rate, in future the new rules will set a more consistent 30% reduction across all occupations. As the MAC identified, the differences in the current system are very large for some occupations. New entrant quantity surveyors, for example, may be paid 69% less than more experienced migrant workers in the same profession.

The noble Lord is also right there should be parliamentary scrutiny of these requirements, but there is already a long-established procedure for this. The Government are required to set out their immigration policy in the Immigration Rules. This includes salary requirements, which can determine whether an immigration application succeeds or fails. Changes to the rules must be laid before Parliament under the procedure set out in Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971. Either House may disapprove the changes by negative resolution within 40 days of them being laid and the Secretary of State may make any changes that appear to her required in the circumstances. Any such changes will be laid before Parliament within a further 40 days.

I do not think that it is necessary or proportionate to introduce a separate procedure for salary requirements for new entrants. As I have said, lower salary requirements for new entrants are not new. Skilled workers in the existing immigration system are subject to minimum salary requirements and the current Immigration Rules already provide for lower salaries for new entrants. Furthermore, there seems no particular reason for the procedure for new entrant salaries to be different from the procedure for the general salary requirements, or indeed any other requirements for skilled workers, such as the need for a sponsoring employer, a job at the appropriate skill level and the ability to speak English to an accepted standard. The nature of our points-based system is that all these requirements are closely interlinked.

Additionally, our salary requirements, including those for new entrants, are based on UK earnings data. We intend to update them regularly in line with the latest available data, ensuring that migrant workers’ pay keeps pace with that of resident workers. The procedure set out in Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1971 enables us to do so quickly and responsively, while maintaining an essential element of parliamentary scrutiny. Bringing forward draft regulations under an affirmative procedure would lessen this responsiveness.

We may also wish to amend the criteria used to identify new entrants in future. By way of example, we will be removing the option relating to university milk round recruitment to reflect the removal of the resident labour market test. We have also agreed the MAC’s recommendation to include options relating to those working towards professional qualifications or moving into post-doctoral positions. Similar changes may be needed from time to time, which this amendment would make more difficult by placing the new entrant criteria in the Bill.

As outlined in the February policy statement, the Government are committed to continuing to refine the system in the light of experience and will consider adding further flexibility. Specific parliamentary arrangements that risk splitting up interconnecting policies should not prevent this.

For the reasons I have set out, including that we will continue to lay before Parliament the full details of requirements—including those for new entrants—I hope that the noble Lord will be happy to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, that was a short but interesting debate—interesting because very few people in the Committee had much idea of what is proposed. The Minister loyally read out what she had been advised to say, but there are just one or two little points. One is that this was based firmly on MAC advice. As I have mentioned, the MAC is a very competent bunch of people, but they are all economists. There seems to be no political common sense engaged in examining its recommendations. What is more, they were made in January, before the Covid crisis struck us, and so was the February policy statement to which the Minister referred. All these things were cooked up before we faced the very serious crisis that we now face. I therefore hope that the Government will be light on their feet and not wait for this to run out of control before they take some action to lower what is bound to be a highly attractive route, which will be, without question, to the detriment of our own young people, who will not have the work experience of a 24 year-old from overseas. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Reading Terrorist Attack

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Tuesday 23rd June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I wholeheartedly agree with my noble friend. He is right: intelligence is not an easy science at all. If we think about the 25 terrorist attacks thwarted, we can imagine what things would be like if the intelligence services had got it wrong. That is a staggering figure—25 terrorist attacks thwarted in just three years. As my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, say, our police and intelligence services are the best in the world.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, this is the first time the Government have so publicly revealed the sheer scale of the terrorist threat. The perpetrator seems to have been one of 40,000 on a Security Service B-list; another 3,000 are on an A-list. This is a massive threat to our society, mainly but not solely from Islamic extremists. Surely it is now time for a further step change in the resources devoted to this matter. It takes years to recruit, train and engage new members. Does the Minister agree that now is the time to take in hand this work?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I am sure that the noble Lord will realise that I cannot talk about any details of this case. On the terrorist threat, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about additional money for counterterrorism policing, and I pointed out that there is an additional £90 million this year and that we intend to recruit 20,000 more police officers over the next few years. Of course, it is about how that resource is deployed. As my noble friend Lord Caine said, intelligence is a very difficult science. I pay tribute to our intelligence services which, despite some of these attacks, have kept us safe from 25 terrorist attacks over the last three years.

Net Migration

Debate between Lord Green of Deddington and Baroness Williams of Trafford
Monday 3rd February 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they plan to reduce net migration in the current Parliament.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, as outlined in the Government’s manifesto, we will shortly set out plans for a new immigration system that will give us full control over who comes in and goes out of the UK and will lead to an overall reduction in numbers.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for her response. I declare my interest as president of Migration Watch UK. I am afraid that I do not have a booklet to wave, but I speak for 30 million UK adults who wish to see immigration reduced.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington
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Read all about it on our website, and you will see how we got that figure. Last week, the Migration Advisory Committee made some recommendations that, on its own admission, would result in 16 million jobs becoming open to worldwide competition. Clearly a rapid increase in immigration is a considerable risk, as indeed has happened on a number of occasions, so will the Government, as a precaution, take powers to introduce a cap should that prove necessary?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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My Lords, we will introduce a new, points-based immigration system, and of course we will have the immigration and social security co-ordination Bill later this year. Noble Lords will know that reviewing legislation, having introduced it, will be at the top of the Government’s mind when they look at their overall priority of bringing the numbers down.