Amendment 1

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 3:15 pm, 7th September 2020

My Lords, before I turn to Amendment 60 to which I have added my name, can I say, as a member of the Constitution Committee and a former chairman of the Delegated Powers Committee, I agree wholeheartedly with the searing criticism from the noble Lords, Lord Pannick and Lord Beith? I am appalled that we should start to have laws that are incomprehensible. It might be meat and drink for the satirist, but it should be no part of our arrangements.

By contrast, the amendment to which I have added my name, that of the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, is clear, straightforward and simple to understand. The noble Baroness gave a very good account of it and its intentions so I will not repeat them now for lack of time, but I want to make a serious point. If young people—minors—are not able to come to this country without a full passport, it is unlikely, when things return to normal, that many of them will come at all. They are far more likely to go to some other English-speaking country—one thinks immediately of the Republic of Ireland or even Malta. One might even think of the Netherlands, where it seems to me that they sometimes speak English better than we do.

Be that as it may, this is a very real worry. It is bad enough that young people have suddenly stopped coming over to schools and organisations as a result of Covid-19. Such organisations are in dire straits and we do not want to put some ghastly obstacle in their way as things gradually return to normal. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will look carefully at this to see if we can simply have the identity cards, which are used at the present time and are simple and easy to use. They would be using only those that are properly instituted by the various countries of the EEA and Switzerland.

There is a further problem, looking forward. Many people first come to this country as a youngster on an exchange. Very often they will return, perhaps for higher or further education. We do not want to cut that off at the beginning. That would be extremely short-sighted.

Some areas of the country have a number of language schools. I am thinking of where I live in East Sussex where, within quite a small area of Hastings, St Leonards and around, there are three notable language schools. The same could be said of the constituency in Plymouth of which I had the honour to be the MP. If one looks round at some of the seaside resorts, one will find a good many more there too.

This is a useful, small part of the major issues of which this Bill is party, but I believe it is very important and I hope that my noble friend will be inclined to accept the amendment.