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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:55 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:55 pm, 28th January 2019

The hon. Gentleman will know that immigration is a reserved matter, but it is very important that we engage with all nations, regions and communities. As we develop the new immigration system set out in the White Paper, I will ensure that that engagement happens and that we set up a system that represents the needs of the entire UK.

Fourthly, in addition to immigration measures, the Bill will allow us to adapt our benefits system as we leave the EU. It will enable the UK to change the retained social security arrangements for EEA and Swiss nationals. British people living abroad will also benefit. The social security powers in the Bill will allow amendments to the retained EU social security co-ordination regime. That will help us to deliver effective support for UK nationals abroad, including pensioners living in the EU. The rights of EU nationals already resident in the UK will be protected, but the powers will allow us to rapidly respond to the outcome of negotiations and to provide reassurance to those who are affected. Any future changes using those powers will be subject to normal parliamentary procedures.

This Bill is just the beginning of our future border and immigration system. We plan to phase in that system, to give individuals and businesses time to adapt. Of course, if we leave the EU without a deal, there will be no implementation period, but we will continue to deliver on the referendum result and end free movement. The automatic right to come to the UK will stop once the Bill is commenced. We will not hesitate to take back control of our borders.

As set out in our no-deal policy paper, which I will publish later today, we will also introduce transitional arrangements to minimise any disruption. Copies of the policy paper will be placed in the Library of the House. This will ensure that we take a practical approach and that the UK stays open for business. Under the arrangements, EEA and Swiss nationals will be able to come here for up to three months without a visa. They will continue to use e-gates, as they do now, and they will not face additional checks at the border. They will be allowed to work temporarily but will need to apply for leave and pay an application fee if they want to stay longer.

We plan to grant them three years’ leave, subject to identity, security and criminality checks. That will give us the time needed to run our EU settlement scheme for EEA and Swiss nationals who are already living here and ensure that there is no sudden shock to UK businesses as the future system is put in place. But the leave will be strictly temporary. It cannot be extended, and those who wish to stay will need to meet our future immigration requirements.

The transitional period will last until 31 December 2020, when our EU settlement scheme closes, and from that point on, businesses will be expected to check that EEA citizens have an immigration status before allowing them to start work. Let me be clear: this policy does not apply to those here before exit day, whose rights to live and work here in the UK will be protected by the EU settlement scheme. We want them to stay, and we value them hugely.