Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:30 pm on 25th November 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord West of Spithead Lord West of Spithead Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Security and Counter-terrorism) 8:30 pm, 25th November 2008

My Lords, I will ask my team when that will appear; perhaps I may get back to the noble Lord on that.

On the soft launch, which the noble Lord raised, UKBA will be pragmatic and understanding on the arrangements. We will offer support and advice on what needs to be done, rather than immediately punishing minor breaches. We want the system to work for sponsors. We are not looking to make an example of employers who make honest mistakes. We want the new system to work properly and achieve what we hope for.

The issue of domestic workers is sensitive, and I understand the issues raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, the noble Lord, Lord Avebury and my noble friend Lady Turner. With regard to private servants, we have been in close contact with missions, which are aware of how the arrangements will work. To cut a very long briefing note down, we are committed to ensuring that future arrangements concerning those workers minimise any risk of abuse or exploitation. The current route for domestic workers in private households is being preserved, and then reviewed, as appropriate, after the first two years of operation of the new system, when we have properly road-tested our anti-trafficking strategy to try to get round the problem. If I have not said enough on that, I can get back in writing with more detail.

Moving on to ministers of religion and the Buddhist monks, there are provisions for religious workers in the new points-based system. They can enter either in tier 2 or in tier 5. I understand that officials have discussed the matter with the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, and the chair of the Theravada Buddhist Sangha in the UK and will continue to engage with them on the issue. Buddhist monks will be able to use tier 2 if they meet the English language requirement, or tier 5 if they cannot. I was not aware that if they are in tier 5, they are not allowed to do chanting or pastoral work. I will follow that up with the UKBA and see what the issue is there. I know that it is in dialogue with the noble Lord and we will see where that goes.