European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:55 am on 5th September 2019.

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Photo of The Earl of Listowel The Earl of Listowel Crossbench 11:55 am, 5th September 2019

My Lords, perhaps I may briefly raise some concerns about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on children in low-income families. I welcome this Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said in opening the debate, there is particular concern about families on low incomes, and the adverse economic impact on them that would follow a no-deal Brexit. In the course of austerity, we have seen families on low incomes suffering significantly. Cuts to local authorities have reduced support for vulnerable families. Consequently, what we have seen and what has been recorded in numerous reports is that the number of children coming into local authority care is rising year on year. Generally, it is children from the poorest families who are taken into the care of the state.

I warmly welcome this Bill as it prevents a no-deal exit. I am concerned that, if we proceed with a no-deal exit, we will see more harm done to these families. I am also concerned about the number of children who are not fully documented and who have uncertain immigration status, and in particular those in care. Local authorities are finding it difficult to get proper documentation for about 3,000 or 4,000 children in their care. In his response, I would be grateful if the Minister could address concerns about their welfare. In fact, he will not be responding. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, or the Opposition might say a few words about their concerns about the impact on low-income families and about the documentation of children with uncertain immigration status, particularly those in local authority care.