EU Nationals: Citizenship Applications

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th April 2018.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I am extraordinarily grateful to the hon. Lady, from whom we have already heard—we may have another dose of her later, but not in substantive questions, because that is in contravention of the procedures of the House.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

The Home Secretary may remember that in November last year I raised the case of a constituent she met at the TARA—Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance—project in Glasgow. My constituent has been granted one year’s discretionary leave to remain, not the asylum that she was seeking, and the Home Office continues to mishandle the case. Will the Home Secretary please look into this issue further? I am very concerned that this woman is not getting the support that she needs.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The hon. Lady will appreciate that I cannot answer that question on the Floor of the House, but if she writes to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, we will look into it.

Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

What additional resources her Department is providing to ensure that all citizenship applications from EU nationals are processed before the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

The Home Office continually reviews its capabilities to ensure effective delivery of the Government’s agenda, which includes assessing how our priorities will impact on the workforce and capabilities required. We are on track to increase European casework staffing levels at UK Visas and Immigration to 1,500 ahead of the settlement scheme’s launch later this year.

Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

I thank the Home Secretary for her response. The already socially excluded are likely to have the most difficulty in completing settled status applications in time. According to the Migration Observatory, 64,000 non-Irish EU citizens said that they had never used the internet. How will the Home Office ensure that those people can complete their online settled status applications in time?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

I am glad to have the opportunity to answer the hon. Gentleman’s question. The settled status application process will be very straightforward and very swift, with an assumption that people will get their status when they apply for it. We need to recruit many people and expend money to get this right, precisely because we need to make sure that we have the resources and facilities available for people who are not comfortable going online. We are aware of that and will be getting advice, and we will make sure that we have a system that works for everybody.

Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

EU citizens have a clear pathway to British citizenship, but British Indian Ocean Territory nationals, many of whom were exiled and denied citizenship, do not. I would be grateful if my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary could consider my private Member’s Bill, to ensure that justice is restored to those British nationals, for whom we are responsible.

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

I know that my hon. Friend has taken a particular interest in that. We spoke about it when I saw him in his constituency, and of course I will engage with him carefully on his private Member’s Bill.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The Home Secretary will be aware of the Law Society’s new evidence that the Government are losing 50% of immigration appeals. Given that the workload of this flawed immigration system is about to have the biggest increase in its history, with EU citizens applying for citizenship and then settled status after Brexit, what is she doing to sort out the complete mess of the immigration system?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

I think that in the core of that question there was an inquiry about the settled status of EU citizens, which I know is the right hon. Gentleman’s particular concern. As I said in response to a previous question, we are making sure that the new system will be completely online and straightforward to use, and the default position will be to accept.

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry Conservative, Broxtowe

I am pleased to hear that the Home Secretary is confident about EU citizens, but there is widespread concern as to whether her Department has enough resources, and we now learn that the Windrush generation are going through what seems to be a nightmare system. What assurances can she give us, especially in relation to the Windrush generation, who, after all, are British citizens in the eyes of many of us?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

My right hon. Friend makes a fair point. I know that there will be an opportunity for me to answer questions on that later. I am very concerned about how the Windrush generation have been treated, and I will be making some further statements about what we are going to do about that. She is right to identify that they have the right to be here, and I will make sure that the Home Office delivers on that.