Duty to commission an independent evaluation: health and social care sectors

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 30th June 2020.

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Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) 5:00 pm, 30th June 2020

I wish to speak to new clauses 26 and 28, and to support new clauses 1, 7 to 10, 13 and 29. I believe this Bill is hugely flawed and potentially damaging because of the atmosphere it will create and the way in which it will undermine people who make a valuable contribution to our economy. If we accepted the jigsaw of amendments, we could turn the Bill on its head and it could become a positive and welcoming piece of legislation, which would value people who come to this country and make a contribution. It would welcome children, reunite them with their families and send a positive message to the rest of the world.

New clause 26 would remove the right-to-rent charges, which the High Court ruled in March 2019 caused landlords to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity when demanding proof from proposed tenants, and therefore breached their fundamental human rights. I would think that a right-thinking Government would want it in the Bill, to protect those human rights.

New clause 28 is about the sharing of data between public bodies such as police, the national health service and schools with the Home Office for immigration enforcement purposes. That is a fundamental pillar of the hostile environment that has appalling implications for those it affects, and often prevents victims and witnesses of crimes from coming forward for fear of being detained or deported.

As I say, those two new clauses could fit with the jigsaw of amendments placed before Parliament today, and fundamentally change not just the Bill but the atmosphere it creates and how it treats those who come to this country in search of a new life, including those whom we have for the past three months gone out many Thursdays and applauded for the contribution they make to our national health service and social care—the contribution they have made by putting their lives on the line for us. Instead of demanding a surcharge from them to work in that service, we should offer them indefinite right to remain in this country.

By making these changes, we would move away from the hostile environment, which I learned the origins of today, and I have to say that I am not as concerned about those as Conservative Members are. I am concerned about the impact it has had and continues to have on this country. I therefore ask the Minister and the Government to seriously consider these amendments, which would send out a message that we value people for who they are and the skills they bring to this country, and not just the monetary value of what they earn. We could do away with the NHS surcharge and allow those who have contributed to remain in this country and feel valued. We could create a system that reunites lonely, vulnerable, displaced children with their loved ones and gives them an opportunity to have a fine life, a good life in this country. We could say that we recognise that it is inhuman to keep people in detention for more than 28 days, and we could give asylum seekers the right to work, to contribute, to bring their skills to the table and help build and enhance our society and our economy, rather than denigrate them, rob them of their dignity and see, as a result, the sort of tragedy we witnessed in Glasgow last week.

We could send a message that we want to welcome people, that we will value them, and treat them humanely and with compassion. That is the country I have always understood us to be. An hon. Member said earlier that some of us on the Opposition Benches just do not get this country. I would contend that it is those of us on these Benches who do get this country, who get the people in this country and who get what they want to offer the people who come here to make a contribution and who have helped to make this country what it is.