Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 25th November 2008.

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Photo of Lord Avebury Lord Avebury Spokesperson in the Lords (Civil Liberties), Home Affairs, Spokesperson in the Lords (Africa), Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs 8:45 pm, 25th November 2008

My Lords, I am afraid that I am not going to withdraw the Motion, for the reasons that have been thoroughly ventilated. The noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, says that she is not coming with us into the Division Lobby. Nevertheless, she said that she believes that the Government should scrutinise these rules more thoroughly in the Home Office. The noble Baroness, Lady Turner, said that the changes should be further discussed. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds said that he hoped we would disapprove the changes.

We are not against the points-based system as such but against the botched way in which these changes have been introduced. The Minister did not clear this up in his reply. We are grateful to him for the one concession that he made on dependants. This will be very useful, but it is a drop in the bucket compared with the criticisms that have been expressed by your Lordships this evening. The noble Baroness, Lady Turner, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and my noble friend Lady Williams talked about the domestic workers. We do not have the guarantee that persons employed in diplomatic households will be permitted to change employment like everyone else, when we all know from the Kalyaan study that there is plenty of evidence of the abuse of domestic workers.

The centre of the discussion has been the muddle over the universities, which the Minister has not cleared up. Although he told us that there were discussions between the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, and the Prime Minister at No. 10—we are pleased to hear that—we must decide on the rules this evening. If we pass them, I do not know how the Minister will make provision for the universities to license research workers, for example, or find some other way of allowing them to enter in the large gap that must inevitably occur between now and the establishment of the umbrella organisation. He says that that organisation might be Universities UK. However, we have been told that it definitely does not want to do this, and there are very good reasons why it should not do so. We are therefore left with the problem that if we allow the rules to go through in their present form, the whole structure through which research workers come in from overseas will grind to a halt. We also find, as I explained, that the same is true of medical graduates coming in to work in PCTs who have hitherto been authorised by the work permits issued to the PCTs.

In view of the fact that the Government have not thought through the scheme and need an opportunity to amend it in the light of the criticisms expressed this evening, I wish to press the Motion to a Division.