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Amendment 2

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 14th January 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Immigration) 4:00 pm, 14th January 2020

My Lords, important points have been made about UK citizens in other European countries, and my noble friend Lady Miller and I have an amendment on one aspect of that which I think will be taken on Thursday.

The noble Lord, Lord Warner, referred to permanent residence status. I understand that while the numbers of people applying for permanent residence have dropped a bit, as one would expect given the rollout of the settled status scheme, they are still significantly higher than they were before 2016. One can only speculate about the reasons for that—I do not think we can know what they are—but permanent residence provided documentary evidence, and the physical evidence available through that route may well have been a reason for the high number of applications.

Points have also been made this afternoon about immigration rules. I cannot let the occasion go by without saying how much I would welcome rules that are simpler and cannot be changed without going through full scrutiny and parliamentary process.

I will make a couple of points on these amendments, which I wholeheartedly support. One is the importance of ensuring that people who have some sort of status are not impeded in travelling. I have come across this in connection with independent leave to remain obtained by a refugee, only the latest of a number of examples I have heard of people who have had problems with travel documents. There is something about not fitting the boxes that officials are given and need to tick. We must make sure that those with settled status can properly exercise their rights and come in and out of this country freely.

My other point was mentioned by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen, last night in summing up the debate. He said that there will be an “automatic reminder” to those with pre-settled status to apply for settled status. I urge the Government to work with the embassies and the groups that have been so involved in this process and made such helpful interventions and comments to ensure that whatever very necessary arrangements they put in place to remind people both that they will have to apply for settled status and that pre-settled status is different will work as well and efficiently as possible—taking account of human frailty, if you like.