Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 5:30 pm, 13th March 2017

That point is very well made and it leads me on to my next point. There is another group of EU nationals, who are unlike those we have already been talking about, whom we all want to protect and who are here working and contributing. A significant number—although they are only a small percentage—of EU nationals in Britain have broken the criminal law. There are four and a half thousand EU nationals in prison. They are legally resident in this country. Lords amendment 1 would mean that when they were released from prison after they had served their sentence, it would be very difficult for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who is sitting on the Front Bench, to remove their right to stay in this country and deport them to their home country, which is what I want us to do. I would like us, as a country, to be more generous to those who come here to work, contribute and study, but to be less generous to those who come here to break our laws and violate the welcome we give them and the trust we place in them. I do not want to fetter the hands of Ministers in doing that. The amendment is poorly drafted and does not provide that reassurance, so I ask the House to reject it.

The final thing I shall say about EU nationals relates to the point made by Joanna Cherry. I listened carefully to what she said about her Lithuanian constituent—I hope her constituent will forgive me, but I did not catch her name. I hope that when she was talking to her constituent, the hon. and learned Lady was able to reassure her by explaining the clear assurances that the Prime Minister of her country has placed on the record about wanting to make sure that people like constituent are able to say.