Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:14 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration, Asylum and Border Control) 1:14 pm, 26th June 2019

There should indeed be wholescale reform of the visit visas and related decision-making processes. Families find themselves in a particularly horrendous position because the family visa rules have been tightened so much that so many family members cannot come here permanently. But when they come to visit, they are then accused of coming here under false pretences in order to stay deliberately, so they are in a Catch-22 situation. I will return to family visas in a moment. The point I am trying to make is that if we do not learn the lessons from these disastrous mistakes, we are bound to repeat them, and there is a serious risk that the Government are going to do just that with the 3 million EU citizens.

As an increasing number of voices across the House—including the Home Affairs Committee—have said, the EU settled status scheme has a fundamental flaw at its heart. Even with the best will in the world and even with the Home Office pulling out all the stops to try to make the scheme work, hundreds of thousands of EU nationals in this country will not be aware of or understand the need to apply. They will lose their rights overnight and will be thrown even deeper into the hostile environment than the Windrush generation. The Government must therefore enshrine the rights of EU nationals in law, leaving them to use the settled status scheme as a means of providing evidence of status, rather than actually constituting the status itself. The Home Office must listen; otherwise this Parliament will have to make it listen to protect our EU citizens from the same disastrous fate as the Windrush generation.