All 7 Lord Green of Deddington contributions to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020

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Wed 22nd Jul 2020
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Wed 9th Sep 2020
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Wed 30th Sep 2020
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Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill Debate

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

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 22nd July 2020

(4 years ago)

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Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I fully endorse the contributions of the noble Lords, Lord Lilley and Lord Hodgson. I declare a non-financial interest as founding co-chairman and now president of Migration Watch. In those capacities I have followed immigration for nearly 20 years; indeed, I am now on my 10th Home Secretary and 15th Minister for Immigration.

Migration Watch is the only body that has consistently called for a reduction in the scale of immigration, a view which, according to nine recent opinion polls, is shared by a majority of the UK population. That amounts to approximately 30 million adults. I add that Migration Watch has a remarkable record in projecting immigration levels. For example, in 2002, we estimated that non-EU net migration would run at 2 million over the following decade. We were met with disbelief, but the ONS later estimated that it had indeed amounted to 2.1 million.

This points-based system will cause net migration to spin out of control. The only question is how rapidly this will occur. Secondary legislation under the Bill will lower salary and educational requirements. At the same time, work routes will be opened up to the whole world and will generate a pool of potential—I stress “potential”—candidates running into literally hundreds of millions. Some employers will want cheaper, non-unionised workers; others will follow suit to stay competitive. Furthermore, as these routes will lead to settlement, many candidates around the world will have relatives already here to guide and encourage them—all this as unemployment in the UK heads into several millions.

In a nutshell, the Government are heading for a car crash. There is only one way to avoid this: to start with a cap on work permits and then adjust it as necessary. The public will simply not understand why, having promised to take back control over immigration, the Government should then hand control over to employers, most of whom have very little interest in controlling it.

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

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

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
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Monday 7th September 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

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Baroness Prashar Portrait Baroness Prashar (CB) [V]
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My Lords, the proposed new clause in Amendment 60, which has cross-party support and is sponsored by the noble Baronesses, Lady Fookes, Lady Garden of Frognal, and Lady Morris of Yardley, is largely self-explanatory. If accepted, it would continue allowing minors to travel from the European Union, other European Economic Area states and Switzerland to the UK on identity cards rather than passports beyond 31 December 2020.

Large numbers of junior nationals from these jurisdictions travel to the UK every year for school exchange visits, English language courses, adventure holidays and a range of sporting and cultural activities. Last year over 150,000 European Economic Area juniors travelled to the UK for English language courses alone, many of them travelling in groups for study programmes that lasted for less than two weeks. This is an invaluable cultural and educational exchange that builds friendships and fosters good will between the UK and other nations. Most of these students currently travel on identity cards. Many do not own passports but travel freely on identity cards throughout the EU and EEA states with no need for passports.

A survey last year by English UK, the trade association for English schools, showed that, in 2019, 90% of under-18 EU students who came to this country did so on an identity card to study at colleges accredited by the British Council, an organisation on which I served as a deputy chair for six years. The parents of these under-18s do not want to go through additional bureaucracy or incur the cost of getting a passport, having saved for the cost of the trip itself. Furthermore, if just one junior due to travel in a school exchange group is without a passport, the viability of the whole visit could be put in jeopardy. If this travel on identity cards ceases, the UK will lose out to other countries and its position as a popular destination could decline. This new clause would help to rectify the situation and sustain the UK’s position as a popular destination. I emphasise that the proposed extension of identity card-based entry for under-18s coming to the UK for a single stay of no longer than 30 days in any calendar year means that this concession would be available only to those presenting little or no border security issues or risk of abuse.

Some may object that allowing the continuation of ID card travel presents the UK with an unacceptable security risk. EU citizens with settled status will be allowed to continue to travel on ID cards, so why not children coming for short-stay trips, largely travelling in large managed groups?

Furthermore, the EU passed a regulation last year to increase the security of ID cards issued in EU states. The regulation requires that within two years of June 2019, all new ID cards need to be machine-readable biometric cards. Existing cards will be phased out by 2023 if they are not machine readable. This will bring the security features of ID cards into line with those of passports.

As this small exception would be a continuation of an existing procedure, I do not believe it will be very complex to administer. If the clause is accepted, it will be welcomed by our European partners as a significant gesture of good will. It is also worth noting that Iceland, Norway and Switzerland allow travel for EU nationals on an ID card, so I urge the Government to accept this amendment.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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This is rather a mixed bag of amendments. I would like to return to Amendment 1, on enforcement; a very useful amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe. As she so clearly described, enforcement has long been one of the weakest points in our immigration system. Indeed, enforced returns have been in steady decline for years. They fell from 16,000 in 2010 to just under 7,000 in 2020—that is more than half—and that was the lowest level since records began. Voluntary returns have also fallen since 2015. Partly as a result of these failures, we now have 90,000 immigration offenders living in the community; that is somewhat more than the size of the British Army. Furthermore, more than half of them—about 55,000—no longer even bother to report to the Home Office as they are supposed to do: they have simply disappeared.

I shall make three brief suggestions about how this could be tackled. First, we should adopt a much tougher approach towards those countries that take an unreasonable attitude to taking back their own citizens—India, Pakistan and Iran come to mind, but there are a number of others. As noble Lords will know, illegal immigrants frequently destroy their documents, and these countries usually refuse to accept the biometric identity documents that the British Government produce for them. I think that our willingness to issue visas for the UK should take this attitude into account.

Secondly, we also need to retain—indeed, restore—the detained fast-track system for asylum claims that are obviously very weak. It was very effective for some years, but was quietly dropped by the Government quite recently after several years in a legal morass. Thirdly, we should be much more effective in enforcing the laws on illegal working. It is clear that this is a major pull factor for illegal immigration.

Finally, a particular difficulty facing the new immigration system is that of preventing EU visitors and other non-visa nationals working while in this country. A report to Parliament on enforcement, as proposed in this amendment, would be a valuable first step.

Baroness Garden of Frognal Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Garden of Frognal) (LD)
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The noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Bolton, has withdrawn from the debate, so I call the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford.

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Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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I had intended to withdraw from the debate, but having heard the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, I have to say that I agree very strongly with what he said. The debate so far has covered the case for a short-term arrangement to make sure that our failure to train in recent years can be made up for, but there is no justification in the medium term for taking doctors and nurses to look after people here from countries that need them far more than we do. That is our responsibility; it is time we trained our own and got a grip on it.

Lord Blunkett Portrait Lord Blunkett (Lab)
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My Lords, I rise to support my noble friend Lord Hunt’s amendment and the brief, excellent speech he made at the beginning of this debate. I also want to reinforce points that have been made by the majority of your Lordships, with the exceptions of the noble Lords, Lord Lilley and Lord Green. Although I do not dispute for a minute that both noble Lords have a point, they have highlighted what I hope to put across this evening, which is the complete contradictions that exist in this debate.

I shall start by picking up those points made by the noble Lords, Lord Lilley and Lord Green. I am presuming that, when we reach Report, they will be moving amendments that will remove the so-called health and social care route announced in July, because under that route doctors and nurses could be recruited from across the world to fill vacancies at that level.

One of the contradictions that I want to highlight relates to young people. Young people who cannot find a job anywhere else due to the aftermath of Covid-19—the 20% drop in GDP and the knock-on effect on unemployment—might decide to go into social care. Most young people I speak to want a career and to be able to progress, and there is progression in both residential and social care. However, as things stand with the proposals by the Government, the area from which we would allow people to be brought in from overseas would be at that higher level, whereas at the lower level the vacancies that have been mentioned—122,000 in England alone—would not be fillable from outside the country. I do not know whether the Government believe that, given the crisis in unemployment that is about to accelerate, people will just take up those vacancies even if they are not emotionally and physically suitable to take up caring duties. As has been made clear in this debate, you have to be a particular type of person to take up some of the less attractive duties of caring for someone who is severely disabled or frail and has dementia.

The contradictions, also mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, abound. We all want to see improved wages in this sector. That would not only reward people morally for what they do but help fill vacancies. But the danger of simply putting money into the sector, given the level of private equity ownership, might well be that it gets creamed off, rather than helping to fill vacancies. Or, they will simply close the homes if the money is not provided, which will cause an even bigger problem—as part of the contradictions, we would end up with older, frailer and more severely disabled people in hospital settings, which are more expensive but would allow for staffing to be brought in from outside this country. We saw that in March and April, when people who should have been in different settings in the first place were cascaded out into the residential sector unchecked for Covid-19 and ill-prepared in terms of PPE to be able to deal with it. The consequences, as the noble Lord, Lord Patel, said, are obvious for all of us to see.

The biggest contradiction of all—and I put this to the noble Lords, Lord Lilley and Lord Green—is that, on the centre-left in politics, people are generally suspicious of markets and, on the right, people generally embrace markets. But as I said on Second Reading, in the case of the labour market, the situation is reversed, and those who believe vehemently in markets are against a labour market and against being able to draw in from across the world those who have something to offer the area we are talking about this evening.

We need to sort out the contradictions. That includes the issue of austerity, which led to a bigger downturn in funding for local government services and those funded by local government than any other public service area in the country, with the result that local government has been struggling both with its own direct health provision and with funding in the market and the ability to sustain services.

I have one question—I have learned over the Covid-19 period that you do not get an answer from the Minister unless you ask them a question. My question is simple, and the Minister might be able to answer it tonight: we know what the vacancy level is, but do we have an up-to-date picture of the turnover level in the social care sector? The turnover gives you an idea of how long people can stand working in this challenging but often rewarding setting. What steps might have to be taken if the Government’s hope is that the downward pressure on job availability will help fill, in the short term, the vacancies that we have talked about?

At the end of the day, what we are talking about is the care of human beings. We are not talking about markets or political or economic theory; we are talking about the reality of caring for people in their own homes and stopping them, therefore, having to move into hospital, residential care or residential settings that are dealing with people at very difficult times of their lives. In the end, we have to care enough to get it right.

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The explanation given by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for Amendment 11 is that it limits the use of regulation-making powers to matters for which Her Majesty’s Government have indicated that they are intended. In this area—in every area, as we soon will be talking about the Agriculture Bill, which is crucial for our environment and society—but particularly when we are making crucial decisions about people’s lives, there has to be legal clarity. As the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, said, for people to be able to follow the rules, they have to know what the rules are, the intentions behind them, and that Parliament has been able to scrutinise them democratically.
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I am glad to support Amendment 32, which is an important amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe. As she indicated, this amendment bears directly on the anomaly that lies at the heart of the Bill. It purports to deal with aspects of our withdrawal from the EU, so one would expect it to deal with the consequences for citizens of the EU and the EEA only. However, in its report of 2 September the Constitution Committee stressed that this Bill effectively changes significant areas of immigration law from primary to secondary legislation.

I expect the Government to argue that changes to Immigration Rules have long been dealt with by a process similar to that for statutory instruments, but to introduce an entirely new system in this way is a very different matter. Furthermore, in its report of 25 August, the Delegated Powers Committee, from which we will hear very shortly, pointed out that the “made affirmative” procedure that the Government have chosen will mean that the new regulations will come into force before they are debated in Parliament.

Finally, as I understand the position, the Home Office is working on a complete revision of the Immigration Rules which might run to several hundred pages. They could be put through Parliament with no serious examination before they come into force. I think the Minister mentioned something to this effect earlier. Will she clarify the position? Is this indeed what is likely to happen?

Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I support the noble Lord, Lord Rosser. As a member of the Delegated Powers Committee I strongly support all the points made in our report and, along with other noble Lords, I very much look forward to hearing from our chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra.

I am aware that part 6A of the Immigration Rules sets out the points-based system which applies to migrants from the rest of the world. EEA citizens will move from a position of free movement to having to find their way through a thicket of literally hundreds of pages of rules and guidance currently applying to the rest of the world. Will the points-based system be adjusted for EEA citizens? If so, in what ways will the EEA rules diverge from the current system set up in part 6A? The framework should surely be in the Bill.

Clause 4 has potentially life-changing consequences for a large number of people—an issue raised by the Delegated Powers Committee report. Ministers are given the power to modify primary legislation or to modify retained EU legislation, which has a similar status to primary legislation, as noble Lords know. These provisions, together with the power for Ministers to introduce regulations on any subject in connection with Part I of the Bill, provide incredibly wide powers for Ministers.

I want to take just one example of an issue which needs to be dealt with in the Bill and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, will raise a number of others. Tier 3 of the PBS which applies to unskilled workers has never been opened. We know that the UK is likely to face severe shortages of so-called unskilled workers in some sectors, most particularly health and social care but a number of others as well. Can the Minister press her colleagues to spell out in the Bill the key changes envisaged to the PBS, at least for the short to medium term, to keep the UK economy functioning adequately? Then, of course, Ministers could have the powers to introduce regulations to adjust the system over time. I fully recognise that there would be a need for that.

We all understand the need for Ministers to be able to introduce consequential amendments through secondary legislation, such as removing the references to free movement scattered across the statute book. Typically, however, most consequential amendments are put in the Bill and then regulations are used to tidy up the bits and pieces that were somehow missed during its passage.

We are invited by counsel to the Delegated Powers Committee to consider whether Ministers’ powers to make consequential amendments through regulations should be restricted by a test of necessity. Can the Minister convince the Committee that the wide powers to make consequential amendments to this Bill are in fact necessary? It would be very interesting to hear the Minister’s defence, if you like, of the breadth of those consequential amendments left to regulations. Why cannot most such amendments be included in the Bill before Report? I am sure colleagues would support a short delay before Report to allow that to be done.

Even more serious than the power to make unlimited consequential amendments is the power to make regulations in connection with Part I of the Bill, as other noble Lords have mentioned. I strongly support the amendment from the Baroness, Lady Hamwee, to deal with that issue. This would of course become redundant if Clause 4 were replaced with a string of substantive clauses.

Can the Minister provide an adequate justification for the broad discretion given to Ministers to levy fees or charges on anyone seeking leave to enter or remain in the UK who until the end of the transition period would have had free movement rights under EU law? If not, then these matters must surely be in the Bill with provision for Ministers to adjust the fees or charges over time. As others have said, transitional protections for EEA nationals who are resident in the UK before the end of the transition period are surely known. Why are they not in the Bill? Perhaps the Minister could explain that.

Finally, I had understood that Brexit was all about restoring the sovereignty of the UK Parliament. This is just one of a series of Bills transferring powers from the EU not to the UK Parliament but to Ministers. We know that even where the affirmative procedure will be used, Parliament has no real power to influence the shape of those regulations. I hope the Minister will do all she can to achieve a more democratic outcome to this Bill, even at this late stage, by replacing Clause 4 with a series of clauses spelling out the Government’s policies, or at least the framework of those policies, to adjust the points-based system to meet the needs of the UK economy in the post-Brexit world.

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

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

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 9th September 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

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Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall) (Lab)
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My Lords, I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, was withdrawn from the speakers’ list in error and is ready to speak now, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington.

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

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

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

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

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

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, this has been a powerful and moving debate. I begin by mentioning the tragic case of Mercy Baguma, as raised by the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool. Like him, I was greatly distressed when I heard about her case. Indeed, the news came through when I was visiting my family for the first time since this pandemic began, and that really underlined for me how lucky we are if we can take for granted the prosperity and stability of a family home. Naturally, an investigation was launched immediately to understand what had happened in Ms Baguma’s case.

That investigation is ongoing, so I hope that the noble Lord will understand if I cannot comment on the specifics at this stage. However, I hope that I can reassure him and other noble Lords that the Government take the well-being of all those in our care extremely seriously. People who are worried about becoming destitute can apply for support, including financial support and accommodation. We are working with others, including, in the case of Ms Baguma, Police Scotland and the procurator fiscal to understand what went wrong, but also to ensure that people are aware of and can access the support they need to avoid that sort of tragedy.

I will respond, first, to Amendments 22, 24 and 29 on asylum seekers’ right to work. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, respectively for their contributions on this issue. All their amendments concern the right to work of EEA or Swiss asylum seekers and their adult dependants in the UK. The noble Lords differ slightly in what they propose, so it might be helpful if I briefly recapitulate the differences between each amendment. If I paraphrase them inaccurately, I am sure that they will correct me, either through the—I hope—now resuscitated email address or through other means. Like my noble friend the Minister, I am very happy to write to any noble Lords who, by being unable to get through, are unable to indicate that they wish to ask further questions.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is proposing that asylum seekers who are EEA or Swiss citizens, and their adult dependants, should be allowed to apply for permission to take up employment if a decision on their asylum claim has not been made within three months of it being lodged. She is also proposing that, if granted, these citizens should be allowed unrestricted access to the labour market—that is, that they should be able to apply for any job, not just those on the shortage occupation list.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, is proposing that the same group should be allowed to apply for permission to take up employment within six months of their claim being lodged, and the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, proposes that the same group should automatically be granted permission to take up employment if a decision on their asylum claim has not been made within six months of it being lodged.

As noble Lords will be aware, and as many have mentioned, our current policy allows people seeking asylum to seek permission to work in the United Kingdom if, through no fault of their own, their claim has been outstanding for 12 months. At present, those permitted to work are restricted to jobs on the shortage occupation list, which is based on expert advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee and is fully compliant with the rules laid out in the reception conditions directive 2003. This policy is primarily designed to protect the resident labour market by prioritising access to employment for British citizens and others who are lawfully resident here, including of course people who have already been granted refugee status, who are given full access to the labour market once granted. We believe that this is a proportionate way to achieve a legitimate aim.

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Moved by
26: Clause 4, page 3, line 8, at end insert—
“(5A) Any regulations made under subsection (1) which make provision to permit EEA and Swiss nationals to enter the United Kingdom for the purpose of taking up employment must include a specified limit on the total number of such persons to be granted permission for that purpose each calendar year.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would oblige the Secretary of State to place an annual limit on the number of EEA and Swiss nationals that may be granted permission to enter the UK to take up employment when making regulations under Clause 4 (1).
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, Amendment 26 is tabled in my name and those of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, who regrets that he cannot be present to speak to it.

This amendment is absolutely central to our future immigration regime. It calls for an annual limit on work permits that would be granted to EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. Like other amendments, it is confined to these nationals for technical reasons; that is, what the Bill purports to deal with. However, in practice, any such limits applied to EU workers would have to be extended in some form to the rest of the world. The amendment is central because, in the absence of a cap on work permits, the numbers granted could run very rapidly out of control

This is for three reasons. First, a very large number of UK jobs will be open to new or increased international competition. We estimate that the number is of the order of 7 million. Secondly, the number of potential applicants is huge. We made a careful estimate but one confined just to the 15 main countries outside the EU which have been producing work permit applications in the past. That produced—wait for it—nearly 600 million people who would qualify for a work permit, provided that they have the required level of English, although that level has not yet been specified. From the EU, a further 50 million or 60 million people would also technically meet the requirements. Of course, they are obviously not all going to come, but the point is that a large number of people are in the age group with the qualifications that are required. Thirdly, there would be a great incentive for employers to go for cheap, competent, non-unionised workers, as indeed we saw when east European workers were allowed to come to Britain with no transition period.

It is astonishing that the Government should continue on a path devised long before Covid-19 came over the horizon and to do so just as millions of our fellow citizens are facing the prospect of unemployment. I remind your Lordships that net migration was back at record levels when we went into lockdown. The Government say that the present cap on numbers will be “suspended”, but it could well take time to restore the cap, especially as they would face heavy pressure from business. Surely it would be much better to start with a cap and adjust it in the light of circumstances.

Finally, I note a most interesting and courageous speech by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, at Second Reading. He said that he does not believe that the proposed system will provide any control. He described it as a

“staging post in a very unstable situation with regard to immigration in the future.”—[Official Report, 22/7/20; col. 2258.]

He is absolutely right and, as I say, he is also courageous. To put it in a nutshell, the Government are heading for a car crash on immigration, and they would be wise to act soon to avoid it. I beg to move.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
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My Lords, I rise to support Amendment 26 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, as well as in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts. It is an honour to be associated with—and indeed, sandwiched in the Marshalled List between—two such experts in the field of immigration and demography. Their untiring, perceptive and long-term thinking was reflected in their startling contributions at Second Reading and which, as has been said, were echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis.

This amendment calls for a limit on the total number of EU, EEA and Swiss migrants coming into the UK for employment in each calendar year. I believe that we should go further and apply a cap to all such immigration from all countries, perhaps with specific separate guest worker schemes for agriculture and health workers. There is clearly a serious risk, as the noble Lord, Lord Green, has just explained, of the numbers getting very large indeed if we do not control immigration more directly, and of course if we do not enforce the laws properly.

Effectively leaving the numbers of migrants to the whim and interests of employers, as now proposed, is unnecessarily risky. It would also make it impossible to plan properly for the additional houses, schools and health and transport facilities we would need. The new lower salary thresholds designed to help employers, combined with the apparent attraction of the UK as a place to live and work—as evidenced, sadly, in the channel every day—would result in ever greater numbers of arrivals, especially from third countries outside the EEA.

We need as many jobs as possible for those already in the UK, particularly with the chill winter we must expect following Covid-19, and a greater incentive for employers to train in the skills we need. We are a small island; we need to be careful about the numbers and nature of the people we welcome here. Otherwise we will feel the consequences, including at the ballot box. We have to get this right.

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

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

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

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

Amendment 26 withdrawn.
Moved by
27: Clause 4, page 3, line 8, at end insert—
“(5A) Regulations under subsection (1) must make provision for the Resident Labour Market Test (as set out in the Immigration Rules Appendix A: attributes) to apply to job offers where a job offer forms part of the application of EEA and Swiss nationals seeking to enter the United Kingdom for the purpose of taking up employment.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would require that job offers made to EEA and Swiss nationals which form part of an application for that person to enter the United Kingdom should first be advertised in the domestic labour market in accordance with the Resident Labour Market Test.
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I rise to move Amendment 27, which is also in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, who unfortunately cannot be present.

The purpose of this amendment is to restore the clumsily termed “resident labour market test” or, in plain English, to oblige employers to advertise a job first in the UK before recruiting on the international market. This labour market test has been in place for decades and for good reason—namely, to give British workers a fair opportunity to apply for jobs as they arise. Employers did not like this test, because they claimed it involved expense and delay. The Government appear to have caved in, despite the fact that the Migration Advisory Committee has long been critical of some employers for failing to invest in training UK recruits.

It is truly astonishing that, with unemployment heading for several million, there could be any suggestion this requirement be abolished. The public share this view. Opinion polling in May this year found that 77% of the public believe that the Government should ensure employers prioritise the hiring of UK workers rather than turning to more overseas recruitment. Only 8% want to make it easier to hire more people from abroad. I hope the Opposition Benches will take the same view and that the reasonable, indeed fully justified expectations, of British workers will be respected. I beg to move.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
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My Lords, I strongly support this amendment, to which I have added my name.

To respond to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, I want to see more housing, both to help existing UK citizens and to help legal migrants. As noble Lords will recall, I made this point in my Oral Question yesterday. I want arrangements prioritising migration of skilled and scarce workers, but which allow the nation to plan for their housing, GP surgeries, hospitals and schools, the pressure on which is making people angry. This includes Scotland, if you listen to the figures from the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington.

It is particularly extraordinary that we should be thinking of dropping the long-standing requirement that jobs should be advertised in the UK before overseas recruitment occurs. This will encourage employers—especially big employers—to recruit overseas, sometimes without even trying the home market. We already have the benefit of 3.7 million or so EU citizens who have applied for the EU settled status scheme. Due to corona- virus and digital change, employment on the high street and elsewhere is, sadly, falling.

While I do not rule out special arrangements for agriculture and for health workers, we need our jobs to go to the home team wherever possible, whether in engineering, restaurants or universities. That is particularly the case in the wake of Covid-19. Advertising at home first seems a small price for employers to pay. Frankly, I am puzzled that the trade unions are not strongly supporting this.

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

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

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

Amendment 27 withdrawn.
Moved by
28: Clause 4, page 3, line 8, at end insert—
“(5A) Where regulations made under subsection (1) make provision for the minimum salary requirement for new entrants to be lower than the equivalent salary requirement for other migrants, the regulations may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.(5B) For the purposes of subsection (5A), “new entrant” means an EEA or Swiss migrant who meets one of the following criteria—(a) the migrant is switching from the Student or Graduate to the Skilled Worker route;(b) the migrant is under the age of 26 on the date of their application; or(c) the migrant is working towards a recognised professional qualification or moving directly into a postdoctoral position.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would require parliamentary approval of regulations which would make provision for the recruitment of new entrants to the labour market at pay rates below the general salary requirement under the new Points Based System.
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, Amendment 28 is in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, who cannot be here. This is the third in a trio of amendments designed to draw the Committee’s attention to some rather key aspects of the points-based system, which is on its way but not yet in full detail.

The purpose of the amendment is to tackle what I submit is a totally absurd situation. Your Lordships will be aware that the new points-based system will reduce the required level of education from degree level to A-level. It will also reduce the general salary requirement from £30,000 to £25,000 a year. As I have already described in the context of Amendment 26, these changes will produce literally millions of potential candidates.

However, it gets worse. There is also to be a special scheme for what are described as “new entrants”—that is, those aged over 18 but under 26 when they first arrive in the UK. For such workers, the salary requirement will be only £20,480 a year—little more than the national living wage but still attractive to many in poorer countries, including even in some EU member states. What is more, this route will lead to settlement and eventual access to our full welfare state. There is surely bound to be a substantial take-up.

Ironically, this comes at the very time that the Government are launching their Kickstart programme—a £2 billion scheme announced last week that they claim will create thousands of new jobs for young people. The programme is being launched in September. In January, we will open our labour market to these new entrants. As a result, our young people, who have had enough difficulties to face already, will face unlimited competition from foreign workers with A-levels who might have years of work experience and who are prepared to work for not much more than the national living wage. Roughly 1.5 million British workers will be directly affected—those aged between 18 and 25 who do not have a qualification higher than A-level. So, first, there is the Kickstart in September and then, I regret to say, the kick in the teeth in January.

I also regret to say that this has all the makings of a policy shambles. The Government would be well advised to back off, and back off soon, for it is our own young workers who will pay the price. I beg to move.

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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.

Amendment 28 withdrawn.

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

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

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Monday 14th September 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

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Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, this amendment is about basic human decency; I am very pleased to support it. Personally, I would like to scrap immigration detention altogether. It is inhumane that we as a country are doing this to people. Convicted murderers and paedophiles get better treatment than refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war, famine and persecution, often as a result of our own foreign policy. They just want to find a better life.

This amendment would place important restrictions on the dehumanising practice of solitary confinement. Solitude is often used as a psychological torment to break a person’s spirit and enforce compliance. It should be used in only the most extreme cases, as set out in the amendment, and be subject to many safeguards. The noble Baronesses, Lady Lister and Lady Ludford, covered some of the issues I wanted to talk about, including time limits, so I will cut my remarks short. Will the Minister please take all these amendments away and work with your Lordships ahead of Report? I hope she will be able to give that assurance.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I shall also speak to Amendments 39 to 41. I say from the start that I broadly support the Government’s policy on all these matters. All these amendments would have a similar effect. They would make it very difficult to detain a person who claimed asylum for more than a few days, irrespective of the facts of the case. It is surely perfectly obvious that such measures will make it extraordinarily easy for any claimant simply to disappear into the very large community of illegals—perhaps 1 million—that we already have in the UK.

We have to consider these amendments against the background of current events. A substantial and growing inflow of migrants across the channel is, understandably, very unwelcome to the public. They rightly perceive that they have nearly all come from a country that is safe, whether France or Belgium, and that they are not in fear of their lives. This is confirmed by Home Office evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on 3 September, which said that, of those crossing this year, 98% claimed asylum, half of which had been considered so far, and 80% of that number had been refused. Some 71% were refused because we are not the responsible country. That, of course, is because they travelled through a safe country before they arrived here.

It follows that for those who are concerned about genuine asylum seekers—I of course accept that many noble Lords and noble Baroness are concerned about them—the situation has to be tackled if public support for the asylum system is to be maintained. However, limiting detention to 28 days, as proposed in Amendment 39, would exacerbate the crisis of immigration enforcement and undermine support for asylum generally.

People need to feel confident that the asylum system, which costs the taxpayer £1,000 million per year, is producing a worthwhile result. The main effect of a 28-day limit on detention is that false asylum claimants would have only to spin out their claim or make some false statement that could not be refuted in the allotted time before being released and potentially disappearing. Indeed, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has found

“little evidence that effective action was being taken to locate the vast bulk of absconders”.

It follows that illegal immigration—which, by the way, 77% of the public consider a serious problem—would intensify. The credibility of the immigration system as a whole would also be further undermined.

Some Members will remember that, on the first day of Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, rightly pointed to the crucial importance of the integrity of the immigration system in the eyes of the public at large. It is a continual surprise to me that others in the political arena seem to have failed to get this absolutely central point.

Lord Judd Portrait Lord Judd (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, this is a very important amendment. So many of those involved have been through unspeakable, disturbing—even horrific—experiences. Detention is really not appropriate for any of them but, if there is detention, it must be strictly monitored and should certainly be for only a limited period of time; 28 days is surely more than long enough for the authorities to be able to establish reasons for declining residency to people who are in detention.

The practice of detaining people, as referred to by Amendment 70, is unspeakable when you think of the kind of backgrounds many have come from. The other practical point I make is that, in the overwhelming majority of cases with which we are dealing, people are ultimately released from detention. This makes it all the more obvious that something is wrong. The system needs very close attention; these amendments help us to provide that kind of focus.

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

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Wednesday 16th September 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord Bates Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Bates) (Con)
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I have received one request to speak after the Minister from the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I 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.

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Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, Amendments 77 and 78 contain an interesting and potentially very valuable idea. I pay tribute to the original thinking that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, brings to so many of his contributions to this House. I warmly endorse the arguments that he made, ably supported by the noble Lord, Lord Horam, and the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe. I particularly welcome the wider perspective that these amendments bring to the issues surrounding immigration. The detail is always important, but so is the wider perspective, especially when very significant changes are being proposed.

As noble Lords may be aware, I have been closely involved in immigration policy matters for nearly 20 years. I think I am now on my 10th Home Secretary and my 16th Minister of Immigration. An office for immigration and demographic change, which the noble Lord proposes, would bring together the study of the key elements that cross the boundaries of so many Whitehall departments, most of which have departmental interests in higher immigration, rather than lower.

As the noble Lord mentioned, we already have the OBR, which provides a wider framework for economic policy. The Migration Advisory Committee is focused on immigration but, as has been remarked on a number of times in these debates, it comprises mainly economists and is largely focused on economics. It does not, nor is it asked to, take the longer view of the wider impacts that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, is advocating. The reality is that nobody in government is pulling together the demographic, economic, social and, perhaps, climatic elements that set the frame for the whole future development of our society.

Demography has its own uncertainties, of course. Death rates are fairly stable, but birth rates can change quite rapidly, especially for different groups in our society. But immigration has been, for some years, the key variable. Before the full impact of the Covid crisis became clear, immigration remained close to its highest level in our history. It is now the major factor in our demographic future. For the time being, the Covid crisis has distorted the impact of immigration but, if it were allowed to continue at recent levels, it would have huge consequences for education, health, housing and pensions. Nobody is considering that in an organised way. We need close and co-ordinated consideration of all these aspects, and where it is all leading to. We need to decide whether this is where we want to go and, whatever we decide, how best we can prepare for such a future.

So I commend the noble Lord’s valuable contribution to the immigration debate, and I support his amendments.

Baroness Ludford Portrait Baroness Ludford (LD)
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My Lords, I concede that these amendments have a sincere purpose, but I am not sure that they really work. In Amendment 77, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, proposes that the Government issue a charter for EU immigration and demographic change, explaining the formulation of their policies on immigration. But the Government can already do this in other ways; indeed, they issued their White Paper on a points-based system a few months ago. The proposed charter would be laid before Parliament, but there is no description of what Parliament would then do. Would it approve, endorse or reject? I also query why the charter would set out demographic objectives only in relation to immigration when other factors are mentioned elsewhere in the two amendments. Of course, the other major factor in demographic change is the birth rate.

Amendment 78 aims to set up a new quango called the office of EU immigration and demographic change. Again, I am not sure why the Government cannot do this work, because it is the Government who issue the charter. It is proposed that the office should report on the impact of the Government’s demographic objectives for EU immigration, but it would be barred from considering the impact of any alternative policies. The noble Lord sought to explain, or justify, that constraint, but it seems to take away something—critiquing the Government’s policy and suggesting alternatives—which could be valuable. Again, no role is specified for Parliament as regards reports from this new office. I cannot in all honesty see the added value of such a body to the duo that we already have—the Migration Advisory Committee and, as the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, mentioned, the Office for National Statistics, which already does population projections. I had a quick look and saw that it did one in October 2019; I do not know when the next one is due. And then there are surely academics on whose work either the MAC or the ONS could draw.

So I will not make the point that these amendments relate to immigration only from the EU, since such an objection would be disingenuous, given that I recognise the constraint imposed by the scope of the Bill. We have been a round that circuit several times in the last few days. I can do no more than say that these amendments, while interesting, do not really fly, for the reasons that I have given.

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

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

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Report stage & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Wednesday 30th September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, this amendment is in my name and those of the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, and my noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, and I express my warm appreciation for their support. I leave it to others to speak to other amendments in this group.

It is a great pleasure to open the Report stage of this important Bill. I start by thanking my noble friend the Minister for her recurrent courtesy and helpfulness and for the full answers that she gave in Committee to most of the technical questions that I posed.

I always believe that enforcement of the law is as important as the laws themselves, so the key question is why the enforcement of UK national Immigration Rules has been so spectacularly unsuccessful for many decades under Governments of all parties. Perhaps surprisingly, it is if anything becoming even less successful. Part of the story is well set out in the Public Accounts Committee report published since the noble Lord, Lord Green, referred to its work in Committee. The PAC is a respected cross-party collection of the brightest and most experienced MPs. It is a devastating report, published as recently as 14 September. I quote from paragraph 4:

“We heard that the Department does not know how many people are living or working in the UK without permission, and the Department admitted its frustration at not knowing this figure.”


Put simply, many people come here for reasons that do not entitle them to enter the country and if they are formally found not to be entitled to be here, the authorities are unsuccessful in removing them in a large proportion of cases. I am referring to tens of thousands of people. Also very disturbing is the gradual increase in numbers coming across the channel in rickety boats and tiny inflatables, dodging the big ships, whenever the weather allows. In 2020 the recorded number is well over 5,000, which is more than double the 2019 figure. As I said in Committee at the beginning of this month, 416 migrants exploited fine weather to make the crossing in one day, arriving all along the south coast. Migrants are risking, and in some cases losing, their lives because the authorities are known to be useless at enforcing the law, and the biggest beneficiaries are the traffickers.

Late legal challenges are also undermining efforts to remove migrants who have no right to remain, with flights that are cancelled and then bad headlines that encourage yet more attempts to enter the UK illegally. The public are bemused. Why cannot we, like the vast majority of countries in the world, implement our own rules effectively? It is a major scandal, though a reader of the parliamentary reports of discussions in this House would need to be very alert to detect it.

My proposal is quite simple. Since the Government—indeed, as I explained, many Governments of different persuasions for a very long time—have not managed to fulfil their obligations satisfactorily in this respect, I suggest that they be put on report, literally. Given the unsatisfactory record, we should not allow matters to dip below the radar. We need to have the facts before us and have a light shone upon them, giving the Government every opportunity to explain regularly how they are making the progress that most of the country wants.

Of course, we all have individual cases where we want to see generous Immigration Rules and enforcement—staff for our businesses or domestic workers, attracting lower wages than we might pay to British equivalents; reliable-looking tenants; or daughters-in-law awaiting visas—but the aggregate is very damaging to the public trust, as we have seen in the north of England. The fact that it is easy to travel across the world very cheaply nowadays attracts many people who want to live and work in the UK. They come because we make people from everywhere welcome in our society; have strong, well-enforced laws on equality and modern slavery; and provide generous education, healthcare and housing for migrants as well as to natives. The pull factor is huge, putting pressure on enforcement and compliance with the law.

We heard in Committee about the work of the Migration Advisory Committee. It produces reports but its prime focus is on the appropriate level of migration from an employer point of view and to improve our labour market. It does not have, and does not see itself as having, a brief to advise on the scale of illegal immigration; nor are its members experts on the level of compliance with Immigration Rules, the effectiveness across the agencies involved, value for money or overall expenditure and resourcing in this important area. I believe that a report could fill that gap. Indeed, the Minister might want to consider the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, in Committee and ask the MAC, from its expert perspective, to recommend improvements to the policing of the immigration system.

Given the awkward history of enforcement, which I have to say goes back to my own time in home affairs at Downing Street in the 1990s, I can well believe that our proposal for a report six months after the passage of the Bill might seem unpalatable to Ministers and their civil servants, who are all trying to do their best. However, I urge them to consider our proposal afresh. The Government publish many reports every year; I agreed to a number of reports in Bills over the years as a Minister, and they are currently being suggested in this House in respect of both trade and agriculture. The requirement need not necessarily be provided in this Bill but a legislative requirement would provide a useful element of parliamentary scrutiny. It would make effective action more likely and help the Secretary of State to do a better job. The report could be repeated subsequently to see how successful measures had been. We would certainly revisit a report of that kind in the private sector, where I have spent many years. I very much look forward to hearing from my noble friend the Minister. I beg to move.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am glad to support this useful and well-timed amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe. As she has so clearly described, enforcement has long been one of the weakest points in our immigration system. Despite that, it has faced an 11% real-terms reduction in its budget since 2015-16. The Home Office says that it

“continually looks for ways to reduce costs, so as to improve efficiency and deliver better value … for taxpayers.”

However, as the noble Baroness mentioned, since our Committee stage the Public Accounts Committee has published its report on immigration enforcement. It pointed out that the returns of those who have no right to be in the UK are “plummeting”. The report also criticises the Home Office for having provided the public with no information at all about the scale of illegal immigration for 15 years and points out that the Home Office

“failed to complete 62% of the returns it planned from immigration detention in 2019, compared to 56% in 2018.”

This may of course reflect the ever more strident behaviour of the legal arm of the immigration lobby, some of whom use late and sometimes spurious asylum claims to frustrate removals. Nevertheless, the performance of the Home Office can hardly be described as “better value for money”. Recent official statistics reveal that the number of failed asylum seekers who are subject to removal has doubled from 20,000 in 2014 to over 40,000 now. Clearly, more resources must be diverted to the task of removal, and those resources must be more efficiently targeted and implemented with determination.

Let me also make this point: it is important that the officials themselves should feel supported by the public, as indeed they are. We should avoid constant negative criticism—I hope that I have not done too much of it—as these officials are carrying out an important and difficult task. They need and deserve to be affirmed. After all, they are following due process and enforcing the rule of law, thus making an important contribution to the order that we cherish as part of our civil society. A report to Parliament on enforcement following up on the PAC report, as proposed in this amendment, would be a valuable next step.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts Portrait Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I have put my name to Amendment 1, which represents an important piece in the jigsaw of our new immigration system. We have just heard two very hard-hitting and detailed speeches from my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe and the noble Lord, Lord Green, about the vital role that enforcement plays and why it is so important that we check it is working effectively. In my few minutes, I want to focus on two aspects: transparency, to which the noble Lord has referred, and in particular fairness. The British public have a great interest in situations being fair, but both aspects will be needed in any enforcement regime that is to command public confidence over the longer term.

First, the present system is not fair to those people who try to come to the country legally. It cannot be right for other people to try to jump the queue with virtual impunity and at their expense. Good behaviour should have a proper reward. Secondly, it is not fair to the people who come here—these new arrivals—who will likely find themselves forced to work for below-standard wages in substandard accommodation, without any of the protections of the British state. It is modern slavery indeed. Thirdly, it is not fair to the British taxpayer who inevitably, in one way or another, usually hidden, has to foot the bill. Finally and most importantly, it is not fair to the members of our settled minority communities. Most but not all of the overstayers will be drawn from the races who make up our minority communities. Those members of our settled population, legally resident here and drawn from minority communities, are working hard to make a new life for themselves—and good luck to them. But they find their collective reputation damaged and undermined by a regime where many people are able to say that the system is not working and that they are somehow to blame.

How large is the problem? As is so often the case in this area, the data is imperfect. My noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe referred to that fact. I have not been able to find any Home Office assessment of the overall problem since 2005, which would now be very much out of date. However, the Pew Research Center, a well-regarded authority, suggested last year that there may be 1.2 million unauthorised migrants in the country, or about 2% of our population. Noble Lords may point out that those are figures from the world at large, but there are some statistics from the EU. As of 31 March 2020—six months ago—the Home Office reported that 171,000 Bulgarian citizens and 564,000 Romanian citizens had sought settled or pre-settled status in this country. However, other Home Office figures showed that, as of 30 June 2019, nine months earlier, there were supposed to be only 109,000 Bulgarians and 457,000 Romanians officially resident in the country. That is an underreporting of 168,000 from those two countries alone, which of course form part of the EU.

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Moved by
6: Clause 4, page 3, line 8, at end insert—
“( ) Any regulations made under subsection (1) which make provision to permit EEA and Swiss nationals to enter the United Kingdom for the purpose of taking up employment must include a specified limit on the total number of such persons to be granted permission for that purpose each calendar year.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would oblige the Secretary of State to place an annual limit on the number of EEA and Swiss nationals that may be granted permission to enter the UK to take up employment when making regulations under Clause 4(1).
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, first, I thank the Minister for her full and careful answers to a number of points that I raised in Committee. However, I now turn to Amendment 6.

Many noble Lords will have noted that I have retabled the three amendments that I put down in Committee. My reason is that the Government’s responses to these issues need further exploration—indeed, they set the tone for the whole new immigration system. The first of these amendments, concerning the cap, is by far the most important and of course is the subject of this amendment.

In Committee, I made the case for a cap with the powerful support of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, and I was also supported by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis—a man who clearly has the courage of his convictions.

I see that the Home Office has today announced a new nationwide campaign to ensure that businesses are ready for the introduction of the UK’s new points-based immigration system as free movement ends. I note that this is going ahead before this Bill has been passed by Parliament and before the new Immigration Rules have even been published.

The Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Mr Kevin Foster—by the way, I think he is the 16th Minister for immigration that I have dealt with—is reported to have said:

“Our new system has been designed with businesses in mind, treating people from every part of the world equally, welcoming them based on the skills they have to offer and how they will contribute to the UK, not where their passport comes from. It will be simpler for businesses to access the talent they need as we have removed the Resident Labour Market Test, lowered the skills and salary threshold, and suspended the cap on skilled workers.”


What it comes down to is this: the Government have cherry-picked advice from the Migration Advisory Committee to enable them to produce a policy that is entirely to the benefit of business and which, frankly, ignores the interests of British workers. Indeed, we now face a situation where millions of British workers will become unemployed and yet, for the convenience of business, the door will be wide open for an unlimited number of foreign migrants to come here and work. So, noble Lords may think it is “game and set” to the CBI. Maybe, but it is not “match”.

It seems that the Government are just ploughing on. Never mind that the MAC advised in January 2020 against the introduction of a tradable points system for the main work permit route—indeed, it pointed out that such a system had failed in the UK in the past, as some of us remember—and never mind that the Australians, on whose scheme this one is supposed to be based, have a cap on a number of key categories.

This policy is extraordinarily dangerous. The number of UK jobs that will be affected is huge—in the order of 6 million or 7 million. The number of potential candidates around the world who meet the A-level requirement and are of an age at which migration is quite common runs into literally hundreds of millions. How many of those speak enough English we do not know, but the point is that the numbers are huge.

Noble Lords will have noticed that the Government address these issues in purely economic terms. This is not solely an economic matter. The real-world impact on our own people is also extremely important. As I mentioned, we have a rapidly rising level of unemployment that will also run into millions, yet the Government’s policy not only ignores that baleful prospect but runs entirely counter to the sense of fairness that is such a strong British characteristic.

That, I am sure, is why public opinion is so strongly in favour of control. Nearly 60% of the public indicated in a recent YouGov poll that immigration has been too high and needs to be much more carefully controlled. Indeed so. Nor, by the way, is this a question of “Little Englanders”. A 2019 Delta poll found that the share of Scots in favour of a firm limit on the number of work permits was even higher than in England, 76% compared to 71%. Of course, the Scots are well-known for their common sense.

The central difficulty with the Government’s policy is the clear risk that the numbers will run away with them. If that were to happen at a time of high and rising unemployment, their credibility with key supporters would be shot. Yet the irony is that an effective precaution is a relatively simple matter: to introduce a cap on a monthly basis until the situation is clearer. Even now, it is not too late for the Government to rethink and remind the business community that they are a Government for all the people, not the tool of the few. What reason could they give for such a change? Simple: that this policy was drawn up, and indeed announced, before the full force of the Covid virus had struck the UK. What explanation could be clearer, simpler or easier to justify? I hope we will hear a cautious response from the Minister. I beg to move.

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Baroness Pitkeathley Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Pitkeathley) (Lab)
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There are no requests to speak after the Minister, so we return to the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for her response, which I will study very carefully. I welcome her indication that the Government will keep a close eye on the numbers. I hope that that will not exclude the possibility of introducing a cap if, in the light of experience, they feel that they should move quickly.

I am grateful for the widespread and powerful support from most noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, rightly appreciated that the proposed cap was to apply to immigration as a whole from 2021. Leaving aside the mechanics of this Bill, the policy issue is for immigration as a whole from next January.

I would like to correct one misapprehension which is important. We are not suggesting that 6 million or 7 million people will arrive. That is the number of jobs that will be open to competition under the new regulations. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 6 withdrawn.
Moved by
7: Clause 4, page 3, line 8, at end insert—
“( ) Regulations under subsection (1) must make provision for the Resident Labour Market Test (as set out in the Immigration Rules Appendix A: attributes) to apply to job offers where a job offer forms part of the application of EEA and Swiss nationals seeking to enter the United Kingdom for the purpose of taking up employment.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would require that job offers made to EEA and Swiss nationals which form part of an application for that person to enter the United Kingdom should first be advertised in the domestic labour market in accordance with the Resident Labour Market Test.
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, in Committee, the Minister quoted extensively from the Migration Advisory Committee. She said that the MAC had reported that it was “sceptical about how effective” the labour market test would be in giving settled workers the first opportunity to fill jobs—I think she just mentioned that again. She went on to quote the MAC saying,

“We think it likely that the bureaucratic costs of”—


a labour market test—

“outweigh any economic benefit”.

Her third quote was that the MAC thought it

“important to have protection against employers using migrants to under-cut UK-born workers.”

It continued:

“The best protection is a robust approach to salary thresholds and the Immigration Skills Charge”. —[Official Report, 9/9/20; col. 844.]


Those are the technicalities.

I have checked those quotations. They came from the MAC final report on EEA migration in the UK, dated September 2018. This report specifically recommended that there should be no change in the £30,000 general salary threshold that was in effect at the time—yes, no change. So those quotations have clearly been stripped of their original context.

If the Government are now keen to invoke the MAC, they might wish to note the committee’s previous findings. In February 2012, it said that increasing exemptions from the labour market test would mean:

“Resident employees stand to lose out from increased labour market competition.”


Again, in 2015, it said that the labour market tests

“help protect the domestic workforce from being displaced or replaced by migrant workers”.

Whatever it said most recently and in whatever context, it has clearly consistently recognised the impact of a labour market test. In the light of those previous recommendations and the lack of any subsequent detailed work by either the MAC or the Home Office to consider the potential displacement impact, the complete abolition of the labour market test is of considerable concern.

The context in which these proposals are now being considered, of rising unemployment, which a number of noble Lords have mentioned, and increasing youth unemployment, surely requires the Home Office to commission some serious analysis before implementing what could be a drastic step.

Further, the MAC, and worse still the Government, completely ignore the fact that widespread concerns about the abolition of the test are not just about economics. Other noble Lords have mentioned the importance of fairness. These matters are about fairness and perceptions of fairness. That explains why, as I mentioned in Committee, 77% of the public believe that employers should prioritise the hiring of UK workers.

At this point, I should like to recall that this amendment was powerfully supported in Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, both basing themselves on their experience of these matters at very senior levels of industry.

It is now obvious that the Government are struggling to justify a complete failure to give British workers an opportunity even to apply for jobs that are to be offered overseas. What this comes down to is whether the Government are going to cave in to the convenience of business or give British workers a fair chance. Which is it to be? Or have they already decided against British workers?

Finally, I notice that both the Labour and Liberal Democrat spokespersons avoided taking a view on this matter in Committee. They seemed to be unsighted. Perhaps they will take the opportunity of Report to clarify their positions. I beg to move.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I strongly support this amendment, to which I have added my name. Indeed, of the three proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Green, this is the one I have most hope of the Government accepting, in the context of the narrow EU-EEA focus of the Bill. I find it extraordinary that we should be thinking of dropping the long-standing requirement that jobs be advertised in the UK before overseas recruitment takes place. This will encourage employers, especially big employers, to recruit overseas without even trying the home market. We already have the benefit of the pool of 3.8 million or so EU citizens who have applied for the EU settlement scheme. Thanks to coronavirus, UK jobs are being lost everywhere, from the high street to our wonderful arts and entertainment industries.

In earlier discussions, defending the decision to dispense with the labour market test and the 28 days of domestic advertising it lays down, the Minister put a lot of emphasis on the salary thresholds and the immigration skills charge. I am not against the points-based system, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, seemed to suggest; however, with my experience of a number of industries, I think the thresholds look much too low, especially post-Covid. The skills charge has to be set against the recruitment fees that might have to be paid in the more demanding UK market. I appreciate, of course, that there will be scope to flex these numbers going forward—that seems to be what the Minister has been saying—however, I think this particular change is especially unwise.

While I do not rule out special arrangements for agriculture, mentioned earlier by my noble friend Lord Naseby, and for health workers—although the latter steals training and talent from countries that sometimes badly need it—we need our jobs to go to the home team wherever possible. We need a mechanism to encourage training, especially in the social care sector, which is crying out for suitable people, as my noble friend Lord Horam explained so eloquently in relation to Amendment 3. We are embarking on a skills revolution in the UK, and a jobs-first pledge, by advertising at home, should be part of our prospectus.

As I have said before, I am puzzled that trade unions such as USDAW, who I have worked so well with and who have done such a fine job in retail, are not strongly supporting the retention of some form of labour market test.

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Baroness Henig Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Henig) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There are no requests to speak after the Minister, so I call the mover of the amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank the Minister for her response. This is not the time to counter anything that she might have said, but I fear that the Government may come to regret their reliance on a group of economists, however capable they certainly are. For example, she made no mention of the concept of fairness. I think that most of us who have dealt with employees of any kind understand the overriding need for people in charge to be fair. Therefore, I was amazed that the noble Lords, Lord Paddick and Lord Kennedy, care so little, it would seem, about the genuine concerns of what I like to call real working people.

I will leave it at that, except to thank the other noble Lords who spoke with most effective support for our proposals. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 7 withdrawn.
Moved by
8: Clause 4, page 3, line 8, at end insert—
“(5A) Where regulations made under subsection (1) make provision for the minimum salary requirement for new entrants to be lower than the equivalent salary requirement for other migrants, the regulations may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.(5B) For the purposes of subsection (5A), “new entrant” means an EEA or Swiss migrant who meets one of the following criteria— (a) the migrant is switching from the Student or Graduate to the Skilled Worker route;(b) the migrant is under the age of 26 on the date of their application; or(c) the migrant is working towards a recognised professional qualification or moving directly into a postdoctoral position.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would require parliamentary approval of regulations which would make provision for the recruitment of new entrants to the labour market at pay rates below the general salary requirement under the new Points Based System.
Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

Noble Lords will be glad to hear that this is the last of my amendments. I realise that I have not declared my non-financial interest as president of Migration Watch UK, but I think that that is very well known in the House.

I retabled this amendment because the prospects for young British workers are getting substantially worse as the Covid crisis intensifies, yet the Government seem to be set on a policy that can only make matters even worse for this very important section of our workforce and, indeed, our society. I just cannot understand how they feel that they can brush this matter aside.

The Minister sent a letter to all Peers on 15 September after the second day of Committee. In it she said that, although some of the questions raised in the debate were outside the scope of the Bill—which they were—she has sought to answer them as fully as possible, and I am grateful for that. The annexe to that letter set out the current arrangements for the new labour market entrants from overseas so as to allow noble Lords to “compare and contrast” them with the new proposals. Unfortunately—I say this with care—the effect of this is unintentionally, I am sure, misleading.

The document provides extracts from the current rules that appear to show that new entrants can already be admitted at a similar low-salary level to that proposed with the rather clear implication that little will change. However, no mention is made of at least two fundamental changes that would indeed make a clear difference.

First, the new proposals will allow not just graduates to come and earn £20,000 or so a year, as at present; they will also allow young migrants to come to do A-level jobs for the same money, thus enormously increasing the numbers of those—from all over the world—for whom £20,000 for an A-level job will indeed be an attractive salary. One could perhaps add that many will have families already here who will encourage them and that this can lead to settlement. However, the Government’s own impact assessment states:

“Setting the new entrant salary threshold at 30 per cent below the experienced threshold is estimated to reduce salary thresholds for 55 high-skilled occupations but increase it for 16 high-skilled occupations.”


Secondly, I stress again that there will be no cap under the points-based system; that is quite clear at the moment—they are not putting in a cap. Therefore, the numbers of young people recruited will be constrained only by employer demand. Furthermore, the removal of the labour market tests means that employers can go abroad directly, whether or not willing candidates might be available in the UK. Noble Lords might remember that, some years ago, a factory in Northampton that makes sandwiches brought in a plane of 250 people to work there; they were not necessarily young workers, but they were brought in en masse. I checked later with the Minister responsible and found that that firm had not even been in touch with the local jobcentre.

That is just one example of the way employers have brought in—and could well do so in the future under the new conditions—significant numbers of young workers who would directly take the jobs of our own young workers. Therefore, taken as a whole, the annexe to the noble Baroness’s letter, although described as a response, does not actually answer any of the points I raised. Rather, it confirms that the position is in fact very much as I described it.

In a nutshell, this is a wholesale revision of the so-called new entrant route, to the considerable disadvantage of our own young people. I had hoped that it would be called out in the responses from the Opposition Front Benches, but I have no great hope of that in the light of what they have just been saying. Therefore, I await the Minister’s response again, and I beg to move.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I shall speak to this amendment, with which I have much sympathy. It seems surprising that we are offering a new entrant route, allowing employers to pay a third less than the headline rate, particularly as those with A-levels will now be able to come in as well as graduates, as the noble Lord, Lord Green, has just explained.

As a businesswoman with experience in quite a number of sectors, the going rates for the points-based system already look low and are likely to make overseas migrants attractive. That is especially true for the various professionals in the paper that my noble friend the Minister has helpfully circulated. That would be good news, for example, for US banks and legal firms in London, which should be employing local talent and not necessarily bringing it in from abroad.

Moreover, I think that the coronavirus will have had a dampening effect on some wage rates, so I think these numbers may already be out of date and, of course, it is important, as the Minister said, that the MAC keeps them under review very regularly. I hope I am wrong, but everybody has been saying that the tsunami of the coronavirus is likely to change the labour market.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

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]
- Hansard - -

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.

Amendment 8 withdrawn.

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

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Home Office

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

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Report stage & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Monday 5th October 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 121-R-II Second marshalled list for Report - (30 Sep 2020)
Baroness Garden of Frognal Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Garden of Frognal) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I apologise, but the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, wished to have a word after the Minister. I ask him to be brief.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

I was dropped accidentally—I was due to speak after the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford. I shall be extremely brief.

We have now had a very full and effective response from the Minister. We should be in no doubt: these amendments sound humanitarian and are no doubt well-intentioned, but in practice they would be wrecking amendments. It is surely obvious that anyone subject to removal would only have to prevaricate for 28 days, perhaps with the help of a lawyer, and he or she would then be released and free to join the very large number of illegal immigrants already in this country.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord but there is capacity for him to ask a short question of elucidation at this point, and that is all. If the noble Lord has a question, he is welcome to ask it, but I am afraid that that is all that is possible after the Minister.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

I will just say that I will vote against this amendment.