Immigration Bill — Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:12 pm on 10th February 2014.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:12 pm, 10th February 2014

There is no specific exemption for the small landlord or landlady any more than there is for the small employer, as noble Lords will know. None the less, we will have the opportunity to debate the detail of these provisions when we get to Committee. In introducing the Bill at this Second Reading, I am trying to present those general principles which underline it.

I was starting to talk about health insurance. On migrant access to healthcare, the current position in the UK is very generous. While temporary migrants do not qualify for state benefits, those coming to the UK for more than six months usually qualify for free healthcare on their arrival in the UK. Unlike many other countries, we do not levy access charges or require health insurance. The Bill will address this by requiring non-EEA migrants who come here for more than six months to pay a health surcharge. The money collected will be channelled directly to front-line NHS services. Visitors and illegal migrants will not pay the surcharge; they will continue, as now, to be fully liable for the full cost of most NHS treatment charges. We have exempted a number of vulnerable groups from having to pay.

The health charge has been designed to be simple and cost effective to operate, avoiding administrative complexity that would erode the financial benefit to the taxpayer.