507 Lord Rosser debates involving the Home Office

Thu 7th Apr 2022
Mon 4th Apr 2022
Nationality and Borders Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments & Consideration of Commons amendments
Tue 22nd Mar 2022
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments: Part 1 & Lords Hansard - Part 1
Mon 14th Mar 2022
Nationality and Borders Bill
Lords Chamber

3rd reading & 3rd reading

Windrush Generation: 75th Anniversary

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Friday 7th July 2023

(1 year ago)

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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My Lords, in the time available I intend to confine my comments largely to the Windrush compensation arrangements, which have been the subject of debate in this House on a number of occasions. The independent Williams review into the Windrush scandal stated that it was “foreseeable and avoidable”. The compensation scheme is intended to compensate claimants for the losses and adverse impacts suffered.

The original impact assessment said that there was

“significant uncertainty surrounding the volume of claims and associated costs”,

and that:

“Compensation and operational costs are estimated in line with the 11,500 eligible claimants planning assumption … Total compensation costs range from £20.5 to £301.3 million … based on the volume range of 3,000 to 15,000 eligible claims”,


with a best estimate of £160.9 million. Those figures, and the wide disparity they indicate, reveal that the Government had not a clue about the size of the issue they faced at that time. Indeed, since then, the projected estimated number of claimants has fallen dramatically and somewhat faster than the rate of inflation. What is the Government’s latest estimate of the total number of likely eligible claims, and how have they come to the conclusion that this is the likely figure? What the Government were pretty sure about was that the average compensation payment should be—since the original planning assumption of 11,500 eligible claimants was going to give rise to estimated compensation costs of £160.9 million—some £14,000. That was a worryingly low and miserly figure, as has been argued in previous Windrush debates.

Let us remind ourselves that these compensation payments are intended to cover losses ranging from detention and removal, loss of employment, loss of housing, loss of access to healthcare, lost education, loss of access to banking and what is described as the “impact on normal daily life”, which apparently includes missing key family events or the inability to travel. Included in that must also be the feelings of rejection, humiliation and injustice—of suddenly being told, wrongly, that you have no status and no right to remain in or return to the country you have lived in for much, if not all, of your life; the country you proudly regarded as your home, in the same way as Members of your Lordships’ House do. Is all that worth compensation of initially, on average, £14,000?

Under pressure, the Government now appear to have been shamed into raising that figure to £37,500 on average on the basis of the most recent figures following changes to the compensation scheme in December 2020 and August 2022. Let us get that into perspective. A recent former Prime Minister—there have now been quite a few of those—once infamously described payment of £250,000 per annum for his newspaper column as “peanuts”. In that case, £37,500 is around one-seventh of “peanuts”.

When it comes to the level of compensation, we are not talking about some relatively minor event where someone got hurt. I am aware, for example, of a personal injury case involving no loss of income and no hospitalisation as an in-patient, but instead the loss of three teeth and bruising, which resulted in damages and compensation of some £22,500. Compare that to the Windrush generation, of which Wendy Williams said:

“The many stories of injustice and hardship are heartbreaking, with jobs lost, lives uprooted and untold damage done to so many individuals and families … They had no reason to doubt their status, or that they belonged in the UK”.


Can the Government in their response indicate what the benchmark was against which they determined that the fluctuating levels of compensation we are talking about—initially, on average, £14,000, and now an average of £37,500—are fair and reasonable and should not be higher in the light of the powerful words in the Williams review to which I have just referred?

The compensation scheme was drawn up to save the Government money, since the original impact assessment states under a heading about the benefits of the compensation scheme:

“The Government will also mitigate the risk of litigation and associated legal costs, which is likely to be more expensive than compensation through the scheme”.


The low level of compensation payments also reflects the Government’s hostile environment policy and their austerity programme. In 2012, the then Home Secretary Theresa May said:

“The aim is to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants”.


Clearly the then Conservative-led coalition Government did not believe any previous Government had pursued what they would deem a “really hostile environment” policy.

Wendy Williams said in her Windrush Lessons Learned Review that

“the expansion of the hostile environment from 2014 would increase the reach of immigration controls beyond the Home Office, including through increased demands for documentation to prove status, which would ultimately lead to British people being ‘caught up’ in enforcement of the measures”.

Her review also stated that:

“The impact assessments for the Bills leading to the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts didn’t go far enough to identify or address possible risks of the proposed hostile environment policies”.


Indeed, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office confirmed the inadequacy of the department’s impact assessments when he spoke to the Public Accounts Committee about the Windrush scandal on 17 December 2018:

“I completely agree that we should have spotted this issue. It should have appeared in our impact assessments. We should have understood the potential adverse effect of these policies on this population. I completely agree with that”.


Everywhere you look you find that the Windrush generation were let down and badly treated by the Government, and particularly the Home Office. If we were talking about more powerful and influential claimants who had been treated in the same way as the Windrush generation, would we be talking about an average compensation payment of just £37,500? I wish I could say yes, but I cannot. Indeed, would we still be talking, or would the matter have been dealt with and finalised a long time ago? Would the position have been the same if the overwhelming majority of claimants had been white? I hope the answer is yes.

Wendy Williams told the Home Affairs Committee in October 2020,

“this is an opportunity for the Home Office to demonstrate that it is taking things seriously. If 164 people have been recompensed, I struggle to see how the Department can justify that”.

Nearly three years on, the Home Office says that under two-thirds of claims, the number of which was far less than expected, have had a final decision—not exactly meteoric progress.

I have some questions in relation to compensation payments. The Government have said that the compensation scheme allows those who have suffered to avoid court proceedings in pursuit of justice. Could they say in their response if an individual accepting a final offer of compensation under the scheme does or does not then preclude themselves from pursuing the matter further through legal proceedings if that is a step they wish to explore?

Given that changes have been made to the compensation scheme since awards of compensation started to be made, have those who received and accepted final offers before the December 2020 and August 2022 changes were brought into effect had their compensation increased to fully reflect the impact those changes would have had on the offers they received and accepted? How many people in this category had their compensation increased as a result, and how many, if any, did not?

What percentage, if any, of Windrush compensation scheme settlements have been subject to confidentiality agreements in the last year, and why? How many current Windrush compensation claims, if any, have been in process for over 18 months?

There was provision for an independent review by an HMRC adjudicator where a claimant is not satisfied with the outcome of their case. Is that still the position? If so, is it still the case that the Home Office can then reject a recommendation of an independent reviewer? If so, how many cases have been referred to the independent adjudicator; in how many cases has the adjudicator increased the level of compensation; and in how many cases has the Home Office rejected a recommendation of the independent adjudicator?

Rejecting recommendations is now an increasing feature of the Government’s approach. On 26 January 2023, the Home Secretary announced that the Government would not implement three of the 30 recommendations of the Williams review. I seem to recollect the Government having previously told this House that it was good news that all 30 recommendations had been accepted. If I am right, can I take it that the Government’s position is that it is now bad news that only 27 of the 30 recommendations have been accepted? The three recommendations that are now not going to be implemented relate to running a programme of reconciliation events with members of the Windrush generation, appointing a migrants’ commissioner and reviewing the remit and role of the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

Wendy Williams’s response was this:

“I am disappointed that the department has decided not to implement what I see as the crucial external scrutiny measures, namely my recommendations related to the migrants’ commissioner … and the ICIBI … as I believe they will raise the confidence of the Windrush community, but also help the department succeed as it works to protect the wider public, of whom the Windrush generation is such an important part”.


One inevitably suspects that the present Home Secretary saw the migrants’ commissioner and an increased role for the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration as a potential source of challenge and criticism of government actions and policy. It is most unlikely that the decision was driven by what was best for the public, including the Windrush generation, rather than what was in the best interests of the Home Secretary and the Government.

Many fine words have already been said in this debate about the massive contribution of the Windrush generation to life in this country. Perhaps we should also express our appreciation by looking again at the level of compensation payments, which just do not seem to reflect the effects of what Wendy Williams described:

“The many stories of injustice and hardship are heartbreaking, with jobs lost, lives uprooted and untold damage done to so many individuals and families”.


I ask the Government to look again at the level of the compensation payments and await a response in their concluding reply at the end of this debate.

Mr Mike Veale

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Thursday 7th April 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I will just repeat what I have already said: that the IOPC is by its very name independent and will conclude its investigations in due course. This House trying to get me to opine on an ongoing investigation is not the best idea for the outcome of that investigation.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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I must say that the answers to the questions being asked seem like a “no comment” interview on the part of the Government. Let us just repeat some things. Mr Veale, the controversial former chief constable of Wiltshire, resigned after 10 months as chief constable of the Cleveland force in January 2019 following gross misconduct allegations. The IOPC investigated the claims over a two-year period and came to the conclusion that

“there was sufficient evidence to indicate that Mr Veale had breached the standards of professional behaviour”

and

“should face proceedings for gross misconduct.”

Yet he is now carrying out well-paid advisory work for the police and crime commissioner for Leicestershire. As has just been said, his responsibilities apparently include holding the chief constable of Leicestershire to account at a time when he himself faces an outstanding misconduct hearing. You could not make it up. At a time when trust and confidence in the police is not at a level we would wish, what action does the Home Secretary intend to take in respect of Mr Veale’s case, which is doing nothing—to put it mildly—to restore confidence and trust in our police? The whole situation with Mr Veale is a joke and a pretty sick joke at that. For how much longer does the Home Secretary intend to take a back seat? I thought she had responsibility for the standing and status of, and confidence in, our police force on a national basis. It is time she took action on this.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, as I have said, the misconduct proceedings are ongoing. If an independent panel finds a former officer guilty of gross misconduct, it can determine that the officer would have been dismissed had they still been serving. If that occurs, the officer would be placed on the College of Policing’s barred list, preventing them rejoining policing.

Live Facial Recognition: Police Guidance

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Monday 4th April 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I have outlined the conditions in which it should be used. To compare its use with how China looks at its people is really taking a leap forward. As I have just pointed out, I think that its use when fair, proportionate and for a policing purpose is absolutely reasonable.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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My Lords, the new guidance acknowledges long-running concerns around algorithmic bias. Forces are rightly required to identify and mitigate against bias but doing so requires expertise and, as a result, additional costs. I have two questions: first, what steps are the Government taking to ensure that forces across the country have access to the resources they need to uphold these new elements of the public sector equality duty? Secondly, which independent body or individual has oversight powers to ensure that facial recognition powers are used appropriately by police forces and not inappropriately or for inappropriate purposes?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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The Bridges case tested this; it went to the courts. As the noble Lord says, it is absolutely important that the police comply with the public sector equality duty to maintain that public confidence. There have been various tests for evidence of bias; SWP and the Met have found no evidence of bias in their algorithms.

Nationality and Borders Bill

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, in Motion C the Government claim that the provisions in Part 2 are compliant with the UN refugee convention—in which case, they should have no objection to Motion C1 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, which puts such an assertion on the face of the Bill to ensure that the courts are able to test Part 2 against the UN refugee convention. In accordance with the Government’s claim in Motion C, the Government must surely agree with Motion D1 that, whether the Government categorise a refugee as falling into group 1 or group 2, as set out in the Bill, none the less, both groups must be given all the rights under the UN refugee convention. If not, Part 2, contrary to the Government’s claim in Motion C, would not be compliant with the UN refugee convention.

My noble friend Lady Hamwee has dealt with Motion E1 on the right to work, and Motion H1 on family reunion, which we also support. We hesitate to support Motion G1 in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, because it leaves offshoring on the face of the Bill. We totally, absolutely and completely disagree with offshoring but my understanding is that we are running out of options other than double insisting on the removal of the provisions from the Bill, which, I am told, would have serious consequences. Therefore, we will vote for Motion G1 to force the Government to secure the approval of both Houses for each country they propose to use for offshoring, by means of the affirmative resolution procedure once they have laid before Parliament the estimated first two-year costs for operating such a system for each country. Once Parliament has seen the countries that the Government propose to use for such an abhorrent practice, and the costs involved, we hope that no Parliament would approve such a practice.

The Ukrainian refugee crisis and the lamentable shambles created by insisting that those fleeing Putin’s war must have a visa to enter the UK, with the Home Office being unable to cope with the numbers of applications, clearly demonstrates the need for there to be appropriate resourcing, infrastructure and support for local authorities permanently in place to cope with such crises before they arise. Before Ukraine it was Afghanistan, before Afghanistan it was Syria; we need systems and processes in place to deal with these crises. The Motion in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham seeks to achieve this without the previous set annual numerical target, instead allowing the Secretary of State to set the target and to put in place such measures as are necessary to achieve that target. Of course, we also support the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, in his Motion K1 in relation to those fleeing genocide.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, that less than 20% of immigration to the UK in recent years has been asylum seekers, and the Bill deals only with that 20%. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Horam: where are the provisions that specifically target people smugglers in the Bill? These policies target what he himself described as victims, and only the victims.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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My Lords, I will attempt to be brief, as I am sure the House would now like to hear the Government’s response rather than listen to me at any great length. On Motion C1, proposed by my noble friend Lady Chakrabarti, as has just been said, if the Government are convinced that Part 2 is compliant with the convention and indeed agree with the principles that it should be so compliant, why should they be opposed to nailing their colours to the mast on this crucial issue and making this clear in the Bill by accepting this amendment?

On Motion D1 on differential treatment, to which the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, spoke, as well as a number of other noble Lords, this new version of the previous Lords amendment disagreed to by the Commons deletes the subsections which provide for differential treatment of refugees. Instead, it provides that the Secretary of State must guarantee both group 1 and group 2 refugees all their rights under the convention and ensure that family unity can be maintained. I only make the point—I do not want to repeat all the points that have already been made—that under the Government’s plans for the Bill, a person who had fled Ukraine and travelled across Europe to get here could not be a group 1 refugee because they would have passed through other countries rather than “coming here” directly. At best, they would be group 2 refugees and could be treated as having committed a criminal offence for having reached this country without prior authority or a pre-approved claim. That is the reality of what differential treatment of refugees, which the Government are so determined to implement, can actually mean in all its harshness in respect to people currently fleeing for their lives from a war happening now in Europe.

On Motion E1 on the right to work, the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud and indeed other noble Lords have more than covered all the arguments in favour. It is just interesting that the Government have always argued in other situations that people should be in employment rather than requiring benefits, even though a considerable percentage of those in work also qualify for benefits because of low pay. The Government have reversed their stance with asylum seekers since the Government deny them the ability to work for 12 months and then only in specific circumstances, even though many asylum seekers want to work, have the skills to work and would be contributing further through paying taxes and not claiming more than minimal benefits. Reducing the qualifying period for being able to work for six months would also encourage the Government to work harder at providing the necessary resources to determine a much higher percentage of asylum applications within a six-month period.

I need to speak a little longer on Motion F1. I have put down a new version of our Amendment 8 that still provides that the Government may not commence their inadmissibility provisions until they have safe, formal returns agreements with third states. This time, though, our amendment has a sunset provision, since we have to put down a different amendment, which means that it delays the commencement of Clause 15 to allow time for international agreements to be put in place, but after five years that protection will lapse so it does not block the plans indefinitely. However, frankly, if the Government have not managed to negotiate any international agreements over the span of five years, one would hope they would take a hard look at the plausibility of their plans in the first place—clearly, they intend to use Clause 15 and its provision on a significant scale, or at least one must assume so.

--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
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At end insert “and do propose Amendments 8B and 8C in lieu—

8B: After Clause 15, insert the following new Clause—
“Safe third State: commencement
(1) The Secretary of State may exercise the power in section 83(1) so as to bring section 15 into force only if the condition in subsection (2) has been met.
(2) The condition in this subsection is that the United Kingdom has agreed formal returns agreements with one or more third States.
(3) A “formal returns agreement” means an agreement which provides for the safe return of a person making an asylum claim (a “claimant”) to a State which is party to the agreement, where the claimant has a connection to that State.
(4) This section, and the condition it imposes, cease to have effect at the end of the period of five years beginning with the day on which this section comes into force.”

Police and Crime Commissioners: Budget

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Monday 28th March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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Is it not the reality that the new PCC for Leicestershire has, from the third tranche of the Government’s police uplift programme and the maximum permitted increase in council tax of £10 per year per dwelling, the resources for another 100 officers in 2022-23, as previously budgeted for and agreed? He has decided not to use the money for that purpose, even in part. The number of officers there will remain under 2010 levels in 2022-23, despite the Government saying that the overall 20,000 additional officers nationally are to restore the cuts in numbers since 2010. Does the Answer to my noble friend Lord Bach mean that the Government condone what the new PCC for Leicestershire is doing in using money intended to increase police officer numbers for other purposes in 2022-23?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, the Government have been absolutely clear on the police uplift programme: we expect that funding to go towards the 20,000 police officers. That is not in any doubt. What is in debate this afternoon is whether the precept should be used on top of that to fund police officers. Whether a local PCC decides to do that is down to that local PCC. Should local areas need to invest in additional police officers, they have the funding to do so through either the police uplift programme or indeed the precept.

Daniel Morgan Independent Panel Report

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Thursday 24th March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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In July last year, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary was asked by the Home Secretary not to reinvestigate the Daniel Morgan murder but to consider opportunities for organisational learning from all the Daniel Morgan investigations and reviews, and to assess how the Metropolitan Police Service responded to them. In other words, the investigation set out to establish what the force had learned from its failings and whether they could occur again.

This discussion on the Statement will perhaps inevitably tend to concentrate on the serious adverse findings of the HMICFRS investigation. However, the investigation comments favourably that the Met Police force

“solves the vast majority of homicides it investigates … The force’s capability to investigate the most serious corruption allegations is particularly impressive … Other forces regularly call on the Metropolitan Police’s expertise. The force’s confidential reporting line also works well. The force has even introduced a dedicated team to support ‘whistle-blowers’ … the Metropolitan Police has … greatly reduced the number of its personnel who have not been security vetted.”

The Daniel Morgan panel concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service was “institutionally corrupt” but the HMICFRS investigation

“found no evidence of any deliberate or co-ordinated campaign to intentionally frustrate the Panel’s work”

and concluded that the Metropolitan Police Service was not institutionally corrupt, based on the evidence that it had seen.

The investigation report contains five causes of concern, 20 recommendations for change and two areas for improvement. The five causes of concern are in addition to other relevant causes of concern raised in previous inspections. I am not going to go through all the recommendations, but the investigation report concluded that there were

“serious areas of concern which have been, and continue to be, present in the MPS. It is essential that the MPS should be more open to criticism and prepared to change where necessary, including by implementing our recommendations. A further failure to do so (without good reason) may well justify the label of institutional corruption in due course.”

The foreword to the investigation report states:

“In too many respects, the findings from our inspection paint a depressing picture. The force has sometimes behaved in ways that make it appear arrogant, secretive and lethargic. Its apparent tolerance of the shortcomings we describe in this report suggests a degree of indifference to the risk of corruption … If public confidence in the Metropolitan Police is to be improved, they”—


that is a reference to the 20 recommendations for change—

“should be among the Commissioner’s highest priorities.”

Our thoughts remain in particular with Daniel Morgan’s family, for whom this report will surely be deeply upsetting—I congratulate them, however, on their doggedness in pursuing justice.

I shall make a few points. First, the Met Police Service should accept all the recommendations included in the report and implement them in full. We need an overhaul of police standards, including reviews of vetting, training, misconduct proceedings and the use of social media. The forthcoming appointments to head the inspectorate and the Met Police will be crucial to restoring trust in the police to the level we should all wish to see.

Running down police numbers year on year, totalling some 20,000, and then trying to build up the number again, all over the past decade, will, frankly, not have helped and will have played its part in creating uncertainty, not least in relation to resources, for those who lead our police forces. In that connection, the inspectorate has identified problems with policing on a national basis.

Much needs to be done. Perhaps we now need to look with greater clarity at the role and responsibility of PCCs in relation to the way their police forces are run and function. At present, this appears to be rather too grey an area. We seem, too, to have had and still have a lot of inquiries and investigations under way into the Met Police and the police on a national basis—perhaps too many.

Leadership and action are needed, and to provide that nationally, the Home Secretary is the key player. As the current crisis around the police nationally, not least in London, is so concerning, that action is required now, not after a further delay of many months or years awaiting the outcome of endless further reports and investigations. It is time for political leadership, which is what Ministers nationally are meant to provide. So what specific action does the Home Secretary intend to take now?

I conclude by saying that, despite this largely adverse investigation report, I place on record again our support for the crucial work that the vast majority of police officers do on behalf of all of us, every day of the year, up and down the country. We all need to work together to restore widespread confidence in the unique relationship between the public and police, and in policing by consent.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, I associate myself with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, in relation to the Daniel Morgan family, and remind the House that I was a Metropolitan Police officer for more than 30 years, holding the equivalent of deputy chief constable rank when I was forced out of the police service for being open and transparent about what was going on inside the Metropolitan Police Service—which I will refer to as the MPS.

Honest, decent police officers are being let down by the corrupt few, and by senior officers who do not take corruption seriously enough. As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said, some positive claims are made in the HMICFRS report about the MPS supporting whistleblowers and its capability to investigate the “most serious corruption”. Can the Minister give an example of the result of an investigation where a whistleblower has been supported, and an example of the successful prosecution of a case of the “most serious corruption”? It is one thing to point to systems and capabilities; it is quite another to prove that they are effective.

The rest of the report is devastating. In response to the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel report, the MPS claimed:

“The Met is working hard to root out corruption.”


Instead, HMICFRS says:

“We set out to establish what the force has learned from its failings and whether they could recur. We looked for evidence that someone, somewhere … had adopted the view that ‘this must never happen again’”—


but it could not find anyone.

In a catalogue of failings—I have time to mention only a few of them—HMICFRS found that: the MPS does not know whether all its sensitive posts, such as those for child protection, major investigation and informant handling, are filled by people who have been security cleared; 2,000 warrant cards of police officers who have left the MPS are unaccounted for, which these former officers could use to masquerade as serving police officers, with the potential for another Sarah Everard-type tragedy; and hundreds of items including cash, jewellery and drugs could not be accounted for, meaning that vital evidence could have been disposed of by corrupt officers. It also found that officers could be pocketing money and valuables and, potentially, dealing in illegal drugs that had been seized from criminals. This has happened before and could very easily, apparently, be happening again. I could go on, but there is no time.

HMICFRS concluded:

“Since 2016, we have repeatedly raised concerns with the Metropolitan Police about certain aspects of its counter-corruption work, including … its failure to adopt … approved counter-corruption recording methods … Our advice largely went unheeded.”


If this was a local authority department, the Minister responsible would have placed it in special measures and sent a team in to take over the running of it. Instead, the Minister in the other place tries to blame the Mayor of London.

The Metropolitan Police has national responsibility for such important issues as the security of the Royal Family and protection of government Ministers, and for terrorism. That is why the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner are in law appointed by the Home Secretary, having regard to the views of the Mayor of London. Even if the Government insist that responsibility lies with the Mayor of London, their inability to take direct action is the result of the system of police and crime commissioners, which includes elected mayors, that the Conservative Government introduced. So which is it? If the Government can directly intervene, why will they not, and if they cannot, when are they going to change the system of police and crime commissioners so that they can?

The security of this country is at stake, let alone the trust and confidence of Londoners, and the Government wash their hands of it. When are the Government going to take some responsibility and take action to deal with this totally unacceptable situation?

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, we support Motion A1 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker. Compared with other important issues that the House is considering today, it is a relatively minor one. None the less, it will save no time if we abstain, so if the noble Lord divides the House, we will support him.

On Motion J, although the repeal of the Vagrancy Act is very welcome and something for which Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for many years, it is unfortunate that the Government are still insisting on delaying the repeal of the outdated and unnecessary Act until replacement legislation is in place, as we believe that existing alternative legislation is sufficient. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, I heard the Minister say that the Government will commence, not conclude, repeal in 18 months—I wrote it down. If I am right and the noble Lord is wrong, can the Minister tell us how long it will take to repeal the Act in its entirety?

On Motion L, serious violence reduction orders will allow the police to stop and search people without any suspicion that those targeted have anything on them at the time they are stopped and searched that they should not have in their possession. It is another form of stop and search without suspicion, which is notorious for being ineffective. It is even less effective at finding weapons than stop and search based on suspicion and it is disproportionately focused on black people, even compared with stop and search based on suspicion. As a consequence, it is notorious for the damage that it causes to the relationships between the police and the communities they are supposed to help. The Government’s own impact assessment shows that these measures will disproportionately impact black communities and fly in the face of the Government’s response to the report by the independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

The police need to work together with communities suffering serious violence to build trust and confidence and to demonstrate that they are on the side of the community—not using powers disproportionately against it, as these new powers, by the Government’s own admission, will continue to do. Even Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services says that the disproportionate use of powers against certain communities is “undermining police legitimacy”.

Like the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, we have concerns. We believe that serious violence reduction orders are likely to make serious violence worse, as they further alienate the very communities the police need to co-operate with to identify the perpetrators. However, we have reluctantly agreed to see how SVROs, arguably a manifesto commitment, work in practice in a limited number of pilot areas. We supported an amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, on Report that would have strengthened the proposed pilot evaluation and prevented SVROs from being introduced beyond the pilot phase until a report on the pilot had been laid before Parliament and both Houses had agreed to the rollout.

The Minister has given assurances that the pilot will be independently evaluated and that the Government will not continue with the scheme if it proves, as we suspect, to be ineffective or counterproductive. The evaluation must include crime reduction outcomes and community impact assessments. Given those reassurances and the Government’s strengthening of the pilot evaluation, we have agreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, not to insist on her amendments, but we will be watching the pilots very carefully and listening to the communities affected, whose trust and confidence in the police is essential if knife crime is to be tackled effectively.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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There are three issues in this group and I wish to say something about all of them. Starting with Motion A1, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe of Epsom, for sending me a copy of his letter of 22 February to my noble friend Lord Rooker on Lords Amendment 58, which relates to the Food Standards Agency. As the letter says, the amendment gives powers available to the police under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to the National Food Crime Unit of the Food Standards Agency. However, the Commons disagreed with the amendment, giving this reason:

“Because it is premature to confer new search and seizure powers on the Food Standards Agency until the accompanying accountability arrangements, including in respect of the handling of complaints about the exercise of such powers, have been determined.”


Yet Lords Amendment 58 does not lay down a specific date or timescale by which powers available to the police under PACE have to be given to the National Food Crime Unit. It simply says:

“The Secretary of State may by regulations apply any provisions of this Act to investigation of offences conducted by officers of the National Food Crime Unit in respect of search and seizure.”


If I am right, the Commons reason suggests that the Commons and the Government never actually read the terms of Lords Amendment 58. That is surprising, since the letter from the Minister to my noble friend Lord Rooker states that

“the Government agrees in principle that these powers should be conferred upon NFCU officers in order to support their vital work tackling food crime.”

There is no argument about whether the powers should be given, but simply over when they should be given. Lords Amendment 58 would give the statutory authority to the Secretary of State to give those powers but leaves it up to the Secretary of State to decide when the time is right. So what is the problem with the amendment?

The letter from the Minister goes on to say:

“Food crime is a very serious issue and empowering the NFCU to investigate these offences independently will ensure that their specialist knowledge is put to best use and that the burden on police forces is reduced”.


Yet the Commons and the Government have disagreed the amendment. The Minister goes on to say that

“further work is required to fully work through the implications of these proposals to ensure that any exercise of police powers by a non-police body is necessary, proportionate and legitimate and that suitable governance and accountability arrangements will be in place”,

and:

“For these reasons we have tabled a motion to disagree with Lords amendment 58”.


But Lords Amendment 58 does not say that the Secretary of State has to do it; it would simply give the Secretary of State the necessary statutory power to do it if and when the Secretary of State so wishes, which is the point being made by my noble friend Lord Rooker. Frankly, the Government really are struggling to think of a credible argument why Lords Amendment 58 should not be accepted.

The powers currently available to the Food Standards Agency under food law relate to the enforcement of regulatory matters. The NFCU investigates cases of serious crime, often involving offences such as fraud. However, the FSA’s existing powers do not sufficiently equip the NFCU to investigate these crimes fully and lawfully, and to collect evidence to the higher standard needed to prove criminal intent, without the support of partners in the hard-pressed environments of policing or local authorities.

As part of the FSA, the NFCU already has access to sensitive law enforcement powers around directed surveillance, securing communications data and the management of convert human intelligence sources. But NFCU officers have not yet been given essential investigatory powers, including the power to apply to courts for warrants to search premises and seize evidence, or to interview suspects without police officers present. The unit has to rely on the support of partners, including the police forces, to carry out these activities. This means that the courts are not hearing from the experts familiar with the cases, which can increase the likelihood that warrants are not authorised.

As I understand it, competing demands on police time have led to delays in several NFCU investigations. At present, the NFCU needs the police to go to court and swear warrants on its behalf, so investigations are delayed if the police decline or take time to do so, or if the court refuses to authorise the warrant, which is more likely if the person swearing it cannot answer questions about the case. The NFCU also needs the police to be present when warrants are executed, which can lead to delays in the unit being able to carry out searches or seize critical evidence if the police have other priorities. As I understand it, the evidence seized then needs to be taken into police custody before it can be transferred to the NFCU. These issues can and do create delay, which is a problem in running a live investigation and trying to gather evidence before it is moved or destroyed.

I understand that NFCU investigations have been impacted by all the issues to which I have referred. I am also advised that the FSA’s view is that these additional powers are essential to enable the National Food Crime Unit to properly investigate and pursue complex food crime cases. As has been said, this was also identified as a gap in its systems to keep food safe in the independent review by Professor Elliott in I think 2014 following the horsemeat scandal.

In the Commons debate on this Lords amendment, the Minister said that the chairman of the Food Standards Agency had written to the Minister for Crime and Policing on 11 August 2021, expressing concern that the existing powers of the National Food Crime Unit were insufficient for their purpose. The Minister responded in October by expressing support for the request and indicating the Home Office’s intent to work with the NFCU to find a suitable legislative vehicle.

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Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
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My Lords, in relation to Motion C, one of the main recommendations of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, led by the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, was for the police to be subject to a statutory duty of candour, as has been introduced into the National Health Service, and Lords Amendment 71 sought to establish that. The Government with their Amendment 71A, in Motion C, claim that police officers are already under a duty to co-operate during investigations, inquiries and formal proceedings and that it would be premature to add such a provision pending further consideration by the Government.

The provision to which the Minister referred makes a lack of candour a matter for police misconduct proceedings, except in the most serious cases where a complaint is made by someone who is not a member of a police force and who is directly affected by the conduct. Whether a police misconduct investigation is held, or misconduct proceedings are brought, is a matter for the relevant chief constable of the police force concerned.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services has today published a report in which it describes the Metropolitan Police’s approach to tackling corruption as “not fit for purpose”. Publishing the report, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Matt Parr, said:

“It is unacceptable that 35 years after Daniel Morgan’s murder, the Metropolitan Police has not done enough to ensure its failings from that investigation cannot be repeated. In fact, we found no evidence that someone, somewhere, had adopted the view that this must never happen again.”


That is why we need a statutory duty of candour. In the case of the issues covered by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, there was systemic and institutional withholding of information by the police sanctioned at the highest level. Arguably, the current Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who as an assistant commissioner decided to withhold essential information from the panel, would have had to order an investigation into herself under the provisions that the Minister is relying on.

The provision that the Government are relying on is not fit for purpose in the circumstances of police cover-ups, even when there is a member of a police force who is a whistleblower, because the whistleblower is a member of the police force and cannot bring a complaint against his or her own force. However, work is ongoing by the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster and the family of Daniel Morgan to ensure that a comprehensive, effective and legally binding duty of candour is imposed on all public institutions. Therefore, we have reluctantly decided not to insist on Lords Amendment 71.

In relation to Motion K, we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wolfson, for clarifying that there is no legal barrier to local authorities setting up and running academies and for the Government’s acknowledgement of the important role that local authorities have played in the past in running secure accommodation for young offenders.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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There are, as has been said, two issues here, the duty of candour and secure academies. I note what the Minister said on the duty of candour and must say that our views are rather more in line with those just expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick. One might think it rather odd, particularly at the present time when trust in the police appears to be at such a low level, that the Government and the Commons decided to disagree with such an amendment, but it is their prerogative to do so.

As the Minister said, this issue is not going to be dropped. There are people within Parliament, including ourselves, and people outside Parliament, to whom reference has been made, who intend to pursue the issue of a duty of candour. I think I am right in saying that the Minister referred to the fact that the Government would further consider the position—indeed, that is given as a reason for disagreeing—and that they would come up with conclusions later this year. While indicating that we intend to pursue the issue, we will, with some reluctance, leave this in that context. It is certainly not going to be pushed to one side now. It will be pursued and we will wait to see what conclusions the Government come up with later this year. The issue of trust in the police is a serious matter and I know the Government agree. We need to make sure that the mechanism is in place to improve the levels of trust that currently seem to exist.

On secure academies, the Government and the Commons have disagreed the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord German, which would put explicitly in the Bill that local authorities can establish and maintain secure academies. The aim of the amendment was to put beyond doubt that applications from local authorities to run secure academies would be welcomed and would be considered on their merit, on a level playing field with other providers.

The Government’s response has been that there is no legal barrier to local authorities setting up an entity that could enter into an academy arrangement with the Secretary of State, so there is not a legal barrier to them establishing a secure academy. The Government said that the Ministry of Justice

“will assess in detail the potential role of local authorities in running this new form of provision, before we invite applications to run any future secure schools.”—[Official Report, Commons, 28/2/22; col. 803.]

The Minister also made that point.

Our response in the Commons was that this does not go far enough. We argued that local authorities have the expertise needed to run services and provide care for vulnerable children with a high level of need in a secure environment and that the Government should widen the pool of expertise that providers bring and ensure that local authorities are explicitly brought into the fold when planning for secure academies.

We recognise that the Government have committed to look at the involvement of local authorities in providing secure academies before any new applications are invited, so we will now deal with and pursue this issue outside of the Bill. However, we strongly support the noble Lord, Lord German, in saying that what is needed, and what we will keep calling on Ministers to deliver, is, frankly, not vague statements that a local authority could provide a secure academy but a proactive change to bring the expertise that local authorities have into that pool of providers.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords who took part in this debate. I will take matters fairly briefly, given the amount of other business before the House.

On the duty of candour, I emphasise the essential point that the disciplinary system provides clear sanctions that can lead to dismissal. We should not introduce criminal sanctions for the police alone. Ultimately, the inspectorate can determine whether forces are following the guidance. We will monitor that extremely carefully.

I do not want to take up the House’s time too much on the report, which has been published in the last half an hour. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has already issued a statement, which noble Lords will be able to find online, but my understanding is that the Metropolitan Police has 56 days to respond formally to the report. The Home Secretary will of course return to Parliament to provide a full government response once the final report and responses have been received.

I am grateful to all noble Lords for their engagement on the issue of secure schools. I have tried to set out the legal position clearly. I hope that the undertaking that I have set out will be sufficient. Again, with apologies to the House for not dealing in too much detail with the new report, because I am sure there will be other opportunities to debate it, I beg to move.

Ukrainian Nationals: Visitor Visas

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Harrington of Watford Portrait Lord Harrington of Watford (Con)
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I share the noble Baroness’s concern about this. We are in regular touch with the authorities and the aid agencies on the ground. Predominantly, the Government’s policy is to fund the relevant agencies on the ground to help facilitate the kind of safety required. I must make clear again, however, that it is the clear policy of the Ukrainian Government, as reiterated to me by the ambassador here, not to move children very long distances but to move them to safety in countries such as Poland, adjacent to Ukraine.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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My Lords, I warmly welcome the noble Lord, Lord Harrington of Watford, to the government Dispatch Box and express the hope that he has rather more success than the football team mentioned in his title is currently having.

None Portrait Noble Lords
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Oh!

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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I sincerely hope he does have more success. Can the Government confirm that, under the terms of the Nationality and Borders Bill, as it came to this House from the Commons, refugees fleeing the carnage and threat to their lives in Ukraine would be dealt with as having entered the UK unlawfully, thus creating a criminal offence, if they arrive here—perhaps by small boat across the channel—requiring leave to enter or remain and not having such leave?

Lord Harrington of Watford Portrait Lord Harrington of Watford (Con)
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The noble Lord has made me speechless about the prospects for Watford football club, but I reluctantly accept that he is quite correct.

On the substance of his question about Ukrainians arriving in small boats, all I can say is that it is our policy to treat any Ukrainian who arrives—and others, I hope—with as much sympathy and compassion as we can. I would like to meet with him or drop him a line about a more specific answer to his question.

Nationality and Borders Bill

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Moved by
1: Clause 44, page 41, line 37, leave out “, (E1)”
Member’s explanatory statement
This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 55 at report stage which removed an inserted subsection that would have created an offence for ‘arriving’ in the UK without entry clearance.
Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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I apologise—the House will have to put up with me rather than my noble friend Lord Coaker. I note what the Minister said about reserved matters and the approach and feelings of the devolved Administrations. One only hopes that these matters can be resolved in a satisfactory way acceptable to all parties.

I will speak to the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Coaker. All the amendments in this group are tidying-up amendments, and most are consequential on changes this House saw fit to make to the Bill on Report. We on these Benches are content with all the amendments proposed today.

Amendments 1 to 6 in the name of my noble friend Lord Coaker make minor, technical changes to what is now Clause 44 of the Bill. On Report this was Clause 39, and your Lordships’ House voted to remove a subsection that provided for a new offence of arrival into the UK. These amendments are consequential on that change.

Amendment 8, also in the name of my noble friend Lord Coaker, is consequential on the decision of this House to remove Clause 58 from the Bill on Report. Clause 58 would have provided for the credibility of trafficking victims to be damaged by late compliance with an appropriate trafficking notice. This tidying-up amendment removes a now-defunct reference to Clause 58, which is no longer part of the Bill.

Amendment 10, also in the name of my noble friend Lord Coaker, removes a subsection from Clause 70 on child victims of modern slavery. This clause was added to the Bill on Report as an amendment led by my noble friend Lord Coaker. The subsection being removed disapplied what was then Clause 64 to child victims. However, Clause 64 was then removed and replaced by a subsequent amendment. Amendment 10 removes the reference to Clause 64, which no longer exists in its original form.

I have also been asked to introduce Amendment 9 as the noble Lord, Lord McColl of Dulwich, is unable to be here; he sends his sincere apologies to the House. As a result of the number of votes on Part 5 of the Bill, the noble Lord has tabled this amendment to ensure that there is consistency across the Bill. Like other amendments, Amendment 9 is a tidying-up amendment and does not introduce new issues of principle. It simply removes the previous definition of “public order”, which is no longer used due to changes made to Clause 67 agreed by your Lordships on Report. The noble Lord, Lord McColl of Dulwich, has asked me to put on record his thanks to all those who last week supported his amendment to give support and leave to remain to confirmed victims of modern slavery. He also made the point, with which I and others strongly agree, that we regret Part 5 being included in the Bill at all, but the Bill still leaves this House with significant improvements, which we hope the other place will support.

Finally, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, for her amendments, which are consequential on amendments that these Benches supported on Report. I also welcome Amendment 11 from the Minister, which reflects the decision of this House to remove Clause 9 from the Bill. I beg to move.

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Moved by
2: Clause 44, page 41, line 42, leave out paragraph (e)
Member’s explanatory statement
This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 55 at report stage which removed an inserted subsection that would have created an offence for ‘arriving’ in the UK without entry clearance.
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Moved by
8: Clause 63, page 62, line 40, leave out from “date” to end of line 41
Member’s explanatory statement
This tidying-up amendment is consequential on Amendment 66 at report stage which left out a Clause.
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Moved by
9: Clause 69, page 68, leave out lines 4 to 7
Member’s explanatory statement
This is a tidying-up amendment.
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Moved by
10: Clause 70, page 68, line 31, leave out subsection (6)
Member’s explanatory statement
This is a tidying up amendment. This subsection disapplied a Clause of the bill (Clause 64 at Lords Report Stage) to children. However that Clause was then removed and replaced by a subsequent amendment. This amendment corrects this Clause for the updated version of the bill.
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, if I may, I will just detain the House a little longer to mark the end of this Bill’s passage through your Lordships’ House. It has been very wide-ranging. It has had five thorough days in Committee and three days on Report. During this time, in response to the terrible situation in Ukraine, we have added important measures to the Bill which introduce new visa penalty provisions for countries posing a risk to international peace and security. I was very pleased to see support for these measures across the House.

I was not so pleased, though, by the removal of some important measures, the aim of which was to find a long-term solution to long-term problems in our asylum and illegal migration systems which successive Governments have faced over decades. Those amendments will now be considered in the other place and no doubt we will debate them soon.

Notwithstanding that, I want to take this opportunity to recognise the contributions of those who have supported me in steering the Bill through the House. In particular, I thank my noble and learned friend Lord Stewart of Dirleton, my noble friend Lord Wolfson of Tredegar and my commendable noble friend Lord Sharpe of Epsom for sharing the load from the Front Bench.

I also express my thanks to all noble Lords who stayed up very late on a number of occasions and thank Members on the Front Bench opposite for their engagement on the Bill, accepting that there have been some areas of disagreement between us. I thank in particular—because I cannot thank everyone—the noble Lords, Lord Coaker, Lord Rosser, Lord Paddick and Lord Anderson of Ipswich, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.

I also extend my thanks to officials at the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, as well as lawyers and analysts, not only in those two departments but across government. On my behalf and my ministerial colleagues’, I extend our thanks and appreciation to all of them for their professionalism over the past months. I also thank the teams in our respective private offices.

There should be no doubt about the merits of the Bill’s ultimate objectives, namely to increase the fairness and efficacy of our system, to deter illegal entry into the UK and to remove more easily from the UK those with no right to be here. That is what the British people voted for, it is what the British people expect and it is what the Government are trying and determined to deliver. In view of the crises now confronting our world, it is surely now more important than ever that the Bill moves swiftly to become law. On that note, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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I will not detain the House for long but I think that I ought to say a few words; first, to thank the Minister, in particular, for the number of meetings that I know she has held—I suspect that she has lost count—and her willingness to respond in writing and in some detail on issues that have been raised, which is certainly appreciated. I also thank the noble Lords, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar and Lord Sharpe of Epsom. I will not comment too much about people who stayed late since I probably fell rather short in that regard myself. Some of us made sure we left in time to get last trains, but not everybody did.

Ukraine: Urgent Refugee Applications

Lord Rosser Excerpts
Wednesday 9th March 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser (Lab)
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The Home Office has not stepped up to the mark in processing urgent Ukrainian refugee applications—no doubt in part because the Home Office culture, as shown by the Nationality and Borders Bill, is geared towards keeping refugees out rather than welcoming them in.

On Monday, the Home Secretary claimed that a visa application centre had been set up en route to Calais and was staffed. Yesterday, however, the Commons Minister said that

“we are looking to establish a presence in Lille ... and we expect that to be set up within the next 24 hours.”—[Official Report, Commons, 8/3/22; col. 198.]

Has the Lille centre now been set up, opened and staffed, and how many visas can it process per day?

A week ago, the Home Secretary announced the introduction of a humanitarian sponsorship visa. Yesterday, the Government said in this House:

“The sponsorship scheme … should be up and running very shortly.”—[Official Report, 8/3/22; col. 1265.]


When exactly is the sponsorship scheme going to be “up and running”? Why does the Home Office still not know? What is needed now is an emergency visa scheme for those fleeing Ukraine. Are the Government going to do that?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for his questions. As of 9.30 am this morning, 17,700 applications had been made, and there were 1,000 grants of visas. We are expecting a further 1,000 grants of visas by the end of the day. I think that noble Lords will agree that that is a positive trajectory.

The Lille VAC will indeed be set up.

In total, we had almost 1,000 offers for the humanitarian sponsorship pathway, which I counted up from across this House, given the details I received from the right reverend Prelate and another noble Lord yesterday. I want to take back to the Home Office—as I said yesterday that I would—the offers of support which are not just from within your Lordships’ House but are coming in thick and fast from all over the country. They will be very helpful when those families and people arrive in the UK.