Immigration, Nationality and Asylum (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 18th March 2019.

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Photo of The Bishop of Durham The Bishop of Durham Bishop 6:15 pm, 18th March 2019

My Lords, it is striking how small a part asylum and resettlement have played in the conversation about a post-Brexit immigration system. Assuming—and praying—that we do not leave without a deal, I hope that discussion of these vital areas will not be limited to the margins of an already limited engagement with the immigration White Paper and the SIs. I have a series of questions for the Minister.

It might just be me, but I often struggle to see evidence of the Home Office applying the family test in SIs and other areas. Can the Minister assure me that the family test has been applied to these SIs? There is potentially a bit of a catch for people who have made an asylum application in an EU member state prior to 29 March, and who might have chosen to use the Dublin process for the purpose of family reunion. For such people, that might fall out if we leave on 29 March. Can the regulations be amended to ensure that, if they have made an application before 29 March, they will be able to use the Dublin process afterwards?

I endorse the questions of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and shall add a couple more. Of the 1,215 people reunited in the UK under the Dublin system in 2018, more than 800 arrived under Article 9, which allows people who claim asylum in another Dublin member state to join a relative in the UK who has been granted international protection. What assessment has the Minister made of how many of those people may have been eligible to be reunited under Part 11 of the UK’s Immigration Rules? Article 9 also allows people in other EU member states to join relatives in the UK who have been granted refugee status. It is concerning that people in these circumstances have had to travel to Europe to reunite, rather than being able to apply for refugee family reunion under the UK’s own Immigration Rules. What plans does the Minister have to improve access to refugee family reunion under Part 11 of the Immigration Rules, including by expanding eligibility and reducing the costs that families face?

I fully accept that we have to withdraw from the Dublin arrangements, but it is about protecting people, as the Government have promised, into the future. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, I am grateful to the British Red Cross for its advice on this.