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Amendment 2

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 14th January 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development) 4:45 pm, 14th January 2020

The noble Baroness is absolutely right. I think that my last statement was wrong, but I shall confirm that to her in writing.

The noble Baroness talked about people struggling, and I think that I have outlined some of the ways in which we are trying to help people to make their application. She will have heard me say previously how we have put money into various centres around the country to help people.

The noble Baroness also asked whether we are still granting permanent residence. Yes, we are.

On the question of why settled status is better than permanent residence, you do not have to be exercising treaty rights to get settled status; there is a more generous right of return—so five years rather than two years permitted absence—and there is an automatic entitlement, as a UK national, to benefits for those with settled status. However, that does not stop people from applying for permanent residence, and they do.

Finally, my noble friend Lord Hamilton of Epsom and the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, talked about UK nationals in the EU. I recall the discussion that we had about unilaterally guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens, but they asked about UK nationals in the EU. The withdrawal agreement that we have reached with the EU provides reciprocal protections and certainty on citizens’ rights. The agreement applies equally to EU citizens here and UK nationals in the EU, in their member state of residence, by the end of the implementation period. Ministers and officials have already engaged extensively with UK nationals across the EU and will continue to do so. I am very pleased to hear about the good experiences of the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, in Portugal.