My Lords, along with the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, I support Amendment 60, which the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, spoke to so ably. It is a good thing for young people to come over to learn English here or to have adventure holidays or to do an exchange. We can all remember it if we had that opportunity. Those, who like me who were teachers, knew the benefit for children, and the children and grandchildren of many of us have taken this opportunity.
I cannot think of one reason why we would want to make it more difficult for these things to continue. It is one of those things that we can all agree on—it is what we would want for young people, whether they are our own children or somebody else’s. It is not just meeting people and learning the language, there is something about it that, perhaps, you only realise as you get older. The seeds that you sow in those early years, culturally and in terms of understanding, stay with you for life. Even if you do not come back to university in the United Kingdom in a few years’ time, in your heart you remain friends with somewhere you have been as a young person. I had an opportunity to be an exchange student in America when I was doing my teacher training. It has had a huge effect on me throughout my life. There is an affection, a loyalty and an understanding that I have never lost. Why would we want to make it difficult in the future for more children to have an opportunity like that?
There is a problem with the Bill. I do not think it is intentional, but an unintended consequence of the rules and regulations. It is not just a few young people who would be affected; most young people in this group travel with identity cards rather than passports, and that certainly makes it easier for the group organisers. If a card is lost, it is easier to replace it when you are abroad than it is to replace a passport. Quite simply, it is an extra cost, and parents will have choices—there are English-speaking nations other than ours that their children could visit. Therefore, it will make a difference. Schools are already trying to recruit for next year and they will be put at a disadvantage because we are now putting a further barrier in the way.
The noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, outlined the solution very clearly. Along with people who are here with European Union settlement status, for the next few years—at least, while we think this through—there should be the opportunity for people to make this kind of journey, restricted to 30 days once a year and very often to language schools approved by the British Council, with an identity card, rather than putting a barrier in their way and making them have a passport if they make such a journey.