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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:33 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green 9:33 pm, 28th January 2019

My hon. Friend represents an area with a university. So many universities have contacted Members with concerns relating to science and technology. The fact is that many people coming through—perhaps not top professors, but people who are technicians or those coming over on the PhD route—may not be earning the £30,000 that the Bill would require of them.

I want to be positive and say that we have an opportunity to put some things right. The Mother of the House, my right hon. and learned Friend Ms Harman, has put forward an excellent proposal to end indefinite detention and to bring us in line with European justice systems. Many of us have visited detention centres, for example Yarl’s Wood. The excellent work of Bail for Immigration Detainees and other voluntary sector groups shows that introducing proper procedures and stopping indefinite detention will lead to the speeding up of casework. Instead of having people languishing without any proper legal aid provision and individuals effectively falling off the radar of the Home Office, we would have a system where people’s decisions were made much more speedily.

Secondly, we have an opportunity to put right the anomalies that led to the Windrush scandal. Thirdly, we would have an opportunity to lift the ban on asylum seekers working, which my hon. Friend Mr Sweeney mentioned. Preventing asylum seekers from working results in the most incredible loss of human potential. They just sit around, not able to fulfil the key things they could contribute.

I was very pleased to hear the Home Secretary mention a more welcoming approach to students. In a written question, which I believe my office has already sent to him, I have asked him to confirm the exact detail. I understand from his initial remarks earlier this evening that he will be more generous, but we need reassurances for our tertiary education system.

In conclusion, I want to make some final points about the issues I have with the Bill. It appears that, following all the Brexit debates we have had and the various votes the Government have lost, the Government are still repeating the same mistake of giving Ministers incredibly wide powers and not really consulting with Parliament quickly enough. There is the nature of the Bill being rushed and the nature of the slogans around free movement. Finally, there is the short-term visa problem, which we know from hon. Members who have spoken could lead to the possible exploitation of those who are successful in attaining such visas. We need to look much more carefully at the evidence on visas. If short-term visas do lead to exploitation, what evidence do we have from other immigration systems that they actually work?

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for your indulgence in allowing me to speak despite not being in the Chamber for the whole of the debate.