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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:11 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 7:11 pm, 28th January 2019

I am deeply worried about that. The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point that I am just coming to. The settled status scheme has been rolled out just this month, and with it has come the grotesque sight of families who have built their lives in the UK being forced to register just to carry on with their lives as normal. As the hon. Gentleman has just stated, every glitch in the technology—every moment that the computer says no—will have a devastating effect on people who should feel welcome here. Research estimates that one in 10 EU citizens could fall between the gaps and never be registered at all. People will get the wrong status as a result, which means more problems for them and massive problems for the Home Office years down the line. Mark my word: this is the beginning of a Windrush mark 2.

What will replace freedom of movement? Well, this Bill does not even really tell us. We have to guess, and businesses will have to guess. The Bill is silent on the very issue on which it is supposed to be legislating. It just extends powers to future Governments to do as they please—any future Government with any intentions, without any security or scrutiny from this House. Are we really supposed to trust the Home Office, no matter its future leadership, to do whatever it pleases on this vital matter—the very Department that brought us the Windrush scandal, with British citizens kicked out of their jobs and homes, and even locked up in detention cells, and that brought us the hostile environment of harassing immigrants in their homes, workplaces and even when they went to their local A&E?