Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
34: Clause 4, page 3, line 8, at end insert—“( ) Prior to regulations being made under subsection (5), an impact assessment of the effects of those regulations on the recruitment of international research and innovation staff to the United Kingdom must be laid before Parliament.”
In parallel to this Bill, the Government are taking through the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill to ensure that we have an effective regulatory system post Brexit. As the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, explained at Second Reading, we must do all that we can to support the UK’s thriving life sciences industry. He described a world where big data, artificial intelligence and genetics have become enormously powerful engines of innovation, and where engineering and computer science have combined with medicine to generate exciting new medical developments.
It is vital that changes being made in the immigration system protect the excellent UK medical research environment, which drives vital progress for our patients. That is contingent, as Cancer Research UK has reported, on the maintenance of the UK’s leading research environment and our continuing ability to attract, recruit and retain global scientific talent at all levels. It is this mixture of domestic and international talent that supports our thriving research environment. For example, 31% of the UK’s Nobel prize winners in science were born outside the UK, while 50% of Cancer Research UK’s supported PhD students are not from the UK, rising to 76% of postdoctoral researchers at its institutes.
I welcome the Government’s ambition to make the immigration system work for science and research, but the science and research community has real worries about the cost of the system, particularly in comparison to other countries. The current UK immigration system is already one of the most expensive in the world. The total average up-front cost for a tier 2 skilled worker visa, typically used by scientific workers, is 540% higher than the average cost in other leading scientific nations. Most of Cancer Research UK’s researchers say the ease with which their dependants can access public services and take up work is a key factor in choosing a research destination, yet a researcher coming to the UK with a family of four faces nearly £10,000 of fees if they want to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Much of that cost is associated with the health surcharge.
At the moment, research organisations will often step in and pay these charges, but they themselves are struggling financially, particularly given the uncertainty about research grants post Brexit. Cancer Research UK estimates that a typical institute that it funds could face additional costs of between £300,000 and £800,000 once EEA workers move on to the new system. That is a lot of money which should be spent on research activities.
The new global talent visa will play a crucial role in attracting the scientific talent the UK needs. It is a welcome step, but it also retains fees at a damagingly high level. A five-year visa would incur up-front costs of £2,608 for a researcher looking to move here. It is more expensive than India, France, Australia, Germany and Japan. The global talent visa is designed for experienced research staff, but many who are early in their careers or in vital technical roles will not be eligible. We need the new immigration system to work for all the members of a research team. That means attracting researchers early in their careers and ensuring that vital technical staff, who are after all the backbone of many research teams but who are often not that highly paid, are made to feel welcome to live and work in the UK.
The reduction of the salary threshold to £25,600 is a positive step, but researchers who are not eligible for the global talent visa will still be required to apply via the tier 2 route, which is both costly and bureaucratic. Technical staff, particularly outside London, may still fail to pass the salary threshold and will thus be excluded from the chance to contribute to our research environment. For technicians in particular this route is daunting and, as I have said, it is far from certain that they will earn above the £25,600 salary threshold the system proposes.
Amendment 34 is a constructive approach to encourage the Government to undertake an impact assessment of the effects of these regulations on the recruitment of international research and innovation staff in the United Kingdom. These people are vital to the future prosperity of this country. We believe that the Government should delay exercising the power to modify visa charges until the evaluation has been received, so that they can be fully informed about the impact of fees on recruiting these very talented people. I hope that, as a result, the Government will then bring forward a reduction in the total visa costs for researchers and their dependants, a review of the costs faced by medical researchers through the NHS surcharge and consideration of exemption. An option to spread fees over the lifetime of a visa to reduce up-front payments should be considered, along with an improved, digitised system to streamline visa applications and prepare for an expected increase in demand. I really hope that the Minister and the Government will listen to this sympathetically. I beg to move.
My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 69 in my name. Our creative industries are hugely successful, generating over £111 billion for the UK economy. Over the past decade, the sector has grown twice as fast as the UK economy as a whole and is part of a bigger creative economy employing more than 3 million people and generating value across the whole supply chain.
Music is a key component of our creative industries. UK Music’s inaugural Music by Numbers report revealed that in 2018 the UK music industry contributed £5.2 billion to the UK economy and that the total export revenue of the music industry was £2.7 billion. British artists account for one in eight albums sold around the world. Music tourism made a £4.5 billion contribution to the UK economy in 2018.
Given the unique nature of the sector, the high volume of freelancers, micro-businesses and performance and project-based work, it is vital that any new visa system is both shaped by and tailored to the creative industries. This is primarily a services and content-driven sector, so the ability to tour and easily move the people, equipment and materials they travel with is vital.
For many roles, too, there is a shortage of applicants with the required skills, experience or qualifications. The UK is a prime destination for the production of music, offering globally recognised recording studios, composers and performers. Our music producers are used by international musicians. Not only does this ensure a continued influx of talent into the UK; it also creates employment opportunities for UK-based music producers, performers, engineers, music technicians and so on.
The market for touring musicians and composers is extremely competitive, and the UK needs to be easily accessible to continue to attract international talent for continued global investment in the UK. As the Minister is aware, and as I and others argued on Second Reading, the creative sector wants to see the Government provide a simple way for European Union musicians and other artists to tour in the UK, and request reciprocity in the trade negotiations. This would mean extending the permitted paid engagement scheme, allowing for multiple visits and permit-free festival arrangements for EU citizens, and for multiple visits and the seeking of a reciprocal touring visa with the EU to enable creators and performers to travel temporarily and to take their equipment with them, tax free.
The UK already offers visa-free entry, including for work purposes, to non-visa nationals. However, the scope of that route for non-visa nationals is too restrictive, and it does not provide any certainty, because ultimately, it is down to the discretion of the UK border official to assess whether the musician is qualified to perform the paid engagement, or that the paid engagement relates to their area of expertise, qualification or occupation. The details provided by the UK Government in the context of the UK points-based immigration system require further clarification of the status of musicians.
European musicians need to be able to tour without restrictions. This includes the transportation of their equipment, and it applies not only to performing musicians but also to song writers, composers, performers and producers, who often travel for work-related purposes. The crew—the trusted people whom musicians rely on when touring—need to be expressly included within simplified touring provisions. This affects UK musicians touring Europe as well as European Union or EEA musicians touring the UK. So we need clarity in any trade agreement that performers and their equipment can tour throughout the European Union without restrictions. Offering a simple solution to musicians or composers intending to perform in the UK would provide a good negotiating position to ensure a favourable system with the EU and other countries, based on reciprocity.
At present, because of freedom of movement for people, UK performers can play a concert in Amsterdam one night, then simply travel to Paris the next night, with no associated costs or red tape. Following the end of the transition period, this freedom will end for UK musicians, unless there are appropriate measures in place to support touring musicians, composers and so on. Countries such as France have traditionally required work permits for performances by artists from non-EU countries. A new reciprocal system is needed post-transition, to ensure that musicians and their crew can operate across Europe in an economic and unbureaucratic way, preserving vital economic and cultural links.
Costly bureaucracy will make touring simply unviable for many artists, putting the development of future globally leading UK talent at risk. This has become even more urgent following the social distancing measures and other restrictions imposed on live events. Most musicians, composers and everyone else involved in the successful organisation of live music events are self-employed or operate as small and medium-sized businesses. Social distancing restrictions will render impossible any economically viable live events at least until the end of 2020, with catastrophic consequences for the live music sector. Based on the figures for live music in UK Music’s Music By Numbers report, the loss to the sector will be at least £900 million.
Any new system for musicians and their crew needs to be in place by the end of the transition period. The solution would be to update the current permitted paid engagement approach, as I have mentioned. However, it is clear that these desirable reciprocal arrangements cannot simply be willed into place by UK primary legislation. Therefore, it is important that the need for these arrangements is at the forefront of our negotiators’ minds.
Amendment 69 is designed to ensure that the Government, at a very early stage, publish their
“assessment of the impact on musicians, actors and others involved in arts and entertainment activities, including broadcasting, of the ending of rights to free movement of persons under retained EU law.”
The report must include consideration of
“the routes by which EEA and Swiss nationals who work as musicians, actors or in other arts and entertainment activities, including broadcasting, can obtain permission to work in the United Kingdom following” commencement. It must also include details of any reciprocal rights granted by the UK for UK citizens involved in those activities.
I am delighted that this amendment is supported by my noble friend Lady Hamwee, the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bull. All are doughty champions of the creative sector. I focused largely on musicians and associated performers, because that is where the impetus for this amendment has largely come from. However, it is also of great importance across all the performing arts. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, I am very pleased to follow the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and will speak in the same area. I will speak to Amendment 69 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, to which I have added my name, and to my own Amendment 75. I am particularly indebted to the Incorporated Society of Musicians for its briefing.
There is considerable overlap between these two amendments, particularly if one understands the term “business”, as used in my amendment, to be business in any form. I will return to that point in a moment.
I wish to associate myself with a passionate and inevitably elegiac speech made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, on the first group of amendments on Monday. While some people did vote to limit permanent immigration to this country, they did not vote for their own movement—the movement of UK citizens—around Europe to travel, work or study abroad to be curtailed, or for temporary visits in either direction to be affected. But the side of the argument that, “What we do to others will be done to us”, has been almost entirely ignored, and continues to be, even though the loss of free movement will have a direct effect on the livelihoods of British workers—including those resident in the UK—unless an agreement is reached.
I did have a little trouble getting the third limb of my amendment, regarding reciprocal arrangements, into the amendment. I could only do so—as I think the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones could with his amendment—with the preceding phrase “for the purposes of comparison”, even though we are discussing the direct effects of the Bill as things stand.
The second thing that has been to a large extent ignored and greatly underestimated is our services sector, which depends on free movement. This is extraordinary, because we are, and have been for some time, primarily a services nation. Services are responsible for 80% of our GDP and just over half the UK’s services exports are to Europe, our closest neighbour.
My amendment would cover many areas, from engineers to IT and the creative sector, all of whom have concerns about the effect of the loss of free movement and, consequentially, the essential importance of a mobility framework between the UK and the EU. I think we will discuss this when we debate the Trade Bill. Of course, the experience of all these sectors in the UK ought also to be providing a basis for the immigration arrangements of those visiting our country for similar purposes.
The UK’s creative services before Covid were, as the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, said, worth over £111 billion a year and they employ over 3 million people. I gently remind the Government that the UK’s music industry alone—just one part of the sector—is worth almost four times as much as the fishing industry and is important too, as the whole of the creative sector is, in terms of soft power. If fishing, important though that industry is, is holding up a trade deal in other areas such as services, I wonder whether the Government are losing their sense of perspective about what is important in the round—I emphasise: in the round—for this country.
There is a particular concern for the performing arts, including music, whose business in Europe is touring, although not exclusively so. Has the Minister seen the ISM’s 2020 report How Open is the UK for the Music Business? It shows that the current immigration system, which is intended to be applied to EU nationals in the new year, is not fit for purpose. Specifically, this includes the permitted paid engagement route—it is not being applied in the manner that, I admit, I helped to negotiate—the standard visitor route and the tier 5 temporary worker, creative and sporting visa route. All those routes have been criticised by artists, promoters, tour managers, music agents and festival organisers. It has become increasingly difficult for non-EEA musicians to obtain visas or to work in the UK, and indeed the same is true of other areas of the creative sector. If this is to be the basis of a reciprocal agreement, things do not bode well.
From our perspective, it is essential that an arrangement is made with the EU rather than having to go through the nightmare of doing this with 27 individual countries. The recommendation of the Incorporated Society of Musicians is that either the commitments of mode 4 should be extended to include performing or that a multi-entry touring visa, valid for two years and covering the EU, is introduced and that EU nationals are treated in a similar vein. It is becoming clear that mode 4’s conventional interpretation of business activity is too narrow.
Also, as a result of the loss of the four freedoms, the Government need urgently to negotiate a cultural exemption for the temporary transportation of instruments and equipment or cover the cost of carnets, scrap plans to introduce a charge for musical instrument certificates, maintain the health insurance, ensure that the A1 certificate system continues to be recognised in the EU, and expand the list of CITES-designated points of entry and exit. Transportation by ferry will not be possible between Belfast and the mainland. I hope that all this is being looked at.
It is also important to understand that there is an inherent sense of reciprocity in our creative sector—which I am sure is true of other areas considered in this grouping—which stands apart from reciprocity as a necessary part of a trade agreement. Much of this is about an exchange of ideas and culture, which is one reason why it is so difficult for many of us to accept the loss of freedom of movement. Nevertheless, in the long term, the better the arrangements we make for our temporary visitors, the greater will be the benefits for us. Some of the arrangements that I have mentioned will apply also to other services, but the performing arts provide an example of some of the widest range of concerns.
Amendments 75 and 69, like others in this group, ask the Government to develop an evidence base to inform later decision-making. The problem is that time is not on our side. The arts in particular, perhaps more than any other area, have been knocked for six by Covid. It is essential that there is an arrangement for our creative sector by the end of the year, otherwise that sector in particular will suffer a double whammy. The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, expressed it very well on Monday when he said that while
“we are legislating in the dark for the withdrawal of many rights of EU citizens coming here, it is also true that we are legislating in the dark for the rights that we are going to be taking away from UK citizens that they can currently exercise in respect of their travel and legitimate business on the continent.”—[
We are in the dark at the moment. I hope very much that that will not continue to be the case and that we will see some light and hear positive assurances in the next few weeks.
My Lords, within this grouping, I support amendments that protect reciprocal rights of United Kingdom citizens and those of EEA countries and Switzerland. Following current changes regarding immigration, these include the need for regular impact assessments on skills shortages, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, in Amendment 59; the emphasis of the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, in Amendment 75, on assisting arrangements for short-term EEA and Swiss nationals for business purposes; equally to do so, as advocated in Amendment 69 by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and others, to achieve free movement of persons involved in arts and entertainment activities; and to do the same, as urged in Amendment 97 by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol, for members and representatives of faith communities. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, also reminds us, in Amendment 34, of the importance of continuous
“recruitment of international research and innovation staff to the United Kingdom”.
I come now to my own Amendment 76 on
“Leave to enter for education, research, training and student exchange”.
It goes without saying that, from the Middle Ages, when it was notably in evidence, free movement in education has always been part of the United Kingdom’s and Europe’s culture and expectations.
Nevertheless, when, shortly before it was created in 1949, Winston Churchill urged a Council of Europe for the healing of wounds and the bringing together of minds, by implication he also did so in terms of education, research, training and student exchange. As a result, in 1953, the United Kingdom signed the European Convention on the Equivalence of Diplomas leading to Admission to Universities as well as the European Convention on the Academic Recognition of University Qualifications.
Predating our membership of the European Union as this did, yet continuing our proactive membership of the Council of Europe, which we do, the case for following Churchill’s advice in these respects is all the stronger now that we leave the European Union.
I hope that my noble friend the Minister agrees and is able to accept Amendment 76.
My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendment 97 in the name, specifically, of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol, on whose behalf I speak today. However, before I do so, I express my sympathies with the other amendments in this grouping with deep concern particularly around the creative arts and the music industry. I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Hollins and Lady Hooper, who have kindly added their names to Amendment 97, for their support on this issue.
I state a simple fact when I say that faith cannot be contained by borders and that faith groups do not fit neatly within national boundaries. They are both local and global communities made up of individuals united in common belief and sharing in common structures of organised life. Our shared convictions and organisational structures reach across nations and continents. The migration of people is an inevitable result.
This issue that this amendment addresses—namely, that the Government should be aware of implications that the Bill has for faith communities—was raised by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark at Second Reading. I am grateful to the Minister for her comments on that day, when she stated that the Government greatly valued the contribution that migrants made to faith communities in this country.
In principle, this amendment is as simple as ensuring that individuals can come to the UK for reasons connected to their faith where needed. As the Minister said at Second Reading, changes were made to the visa system in 2019 for religious workers and ministers of religion. The new requirement prohibited tier 5 religious workers from filling roles as ministers of religion and, instead, individuals had to apply directly through the tier 2 sub-category for ministers of religion.
Previously, most Roman Catholic dioceses had used the tier 5 religious worker visas for priests to come here on supply placements while parish priests were away for short periods of time because of sickness, training or annual leave. These supply placements are essential to ensuring that worship continues, while keeping parish activities running smoothly.
Furthermore, other faiths, particularly Hindus and Sikhs, have used this visa because there is a lack of religious ministers within the UK, so they needed support from abroad. Unfortunately, the requirement introduced in 2019 has more than doubled the costs incurred. For small faith groups and those without significant funding, this is compromising their opportunity to practise their faith and will disproportionately affect the poorest areas and communities.
In July 2020, Roman Catholic bishops met with the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration to outline some of these challenges. On behalf of my Roman Catholic colleagues, I thank the Government for their engagement but urge them to establish a clear timeline for this issue to be resolved. The Government need to continue to work with faith groups to better define the difference between “minister of religion” and “religious workers”. Currently, these categories are imperfectly defined and fail to capture the lived experience of faith groups. I hope that the Minister will commit to reviewing the definitions of “religious workers” and “minister of religion” while actively consulting many denominations and faith communities in order that faith groups can continue to take part in not only their local but their global community.
My Lords, while I associate myself with all the amendments in the group, I rise to speak in support of Amendment 69 and thank the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for introducing it so comprehensively. In the UK’s creative sector we have something that really can claim to be world-leading. As we have heard, the sector makes a significant contribution to the UK’s GVA, to employment and to services exports. Also, unlike many parts of industry, this sector has for some years been growing in every region of the UK. Therefore, in addition to its considerable contribution to the UK’s cultural, social and economic well-being, the creative sector can play an important role in the Government’s levelling-up agenda.
Yet it is a sector at risk, because its success has been built over the last three decades or more on the four freedoms enabled by membership of the EU, with ease of mobility the freedom most highly prized by artists and cultural organisations. I worked in this sector for over 30 years as artist, producer, commissioner, manager and director, and I lived the benefits of that mobility. It enabled me to develop my artistry and skills within different environments and in front of different audiences, to build valuable creative networks, to be challenged and inspired by artists trained in different ways, and to innovate in the spaces where different voices, values and views come together. The UK’s artistic and cultural success has been underpinned by these easy interactions across borders.
That success has also been underpinned by ease of access to talent from our nearest neighbours. A quarter of the occupations on the tier 2 shortage occupation list are in the cultural and creative industries. In the most economically productive areas of the sector, domestic skills gaps mean that 30% of staff have been recruited from the EU, while EU workers fill gaps in less lucrative subsectors like my own—dance—and museums. The skills gap is so pronounced and so specialist that, even had we started on the day after the referendum, we would still not have been able to train up a homegrown workforce to fill the gap by the time the current supply route closes down.
We have heard repeatedly that this new points-based system will allow access to so-called high-skilled workers and the brightest and the best. This amendment creates an obligation on government not only to test that assertion but also to test the impact on the bright young talents of the future. According to the latest report from the Migration Advisory Committee, several creative and artistic jobs may be deemed “high-skill, low-pay occupations”—something you do not really need to tell me. Many young artists like me do not train at universities, let alone go on to the postgraduate qualifications that would earn us an additional 10 points, and our salary levels are certainly not a proxy for our skills.
Given this, emerging artists are unlikely to accrue the necessary points for entry. I have known several dancers from EU countries who took jobs at the bottom of the ladder at basic salaries, spoke little English and certainly had no PhD, but we had the privilege and the pleasure of watching them develop from promising talent to international superstar, becoming valuable agents of soft power for the UK and, in some cases, achieving the status of national treasure. However, if they were applying for entry next year, I am not sure that they would notch up the crucial 70 points that they would require.
The Government have also been clear that they do not intend to create an immigration route for the self-employed. The creative workforce is 38% freelance and we have heard, over and over again, in this Chamber about the critical role freelancers play in the cultural ecology. The Creative Industries Federation has said that:
“Given the project … based nature of our sector” and its scale, bringing the route for temporary workers from the EU in line with rules currently applying to non-EEA nationals will be,
“hugely damaging for the creative industries … 95% of creative businesses employ fewer than 10 people”.
These businesses are reliant on specialist temporary workers to provide essential services on an occasional basis, often at very short notice. As the cost for each individual temporary worker’s visa is likely to be over £200, the financial and administrative burden this presents could be overwhelming.
An Arts Council survey of almost 1,000 stakeholders found that the top priority for arts organisations, post Brexit, was to ensure the continuity of short-term mobility between the UK and the EU. This was even more important to them than replacing EU funding, even though this has been worth approximately £40 million each year.
In leaving the EU, we are leaving behind our automatic right to work across borders. That was our decision, and the curtain has fallen on that particular debate. This amendment would shine a spotlight on the impact of this decision on one of the UK’s most productive and successful sectors and help ensure we do all we can to sustain and enhance its success into the future. As someone whose career owes so much to that easy and reciprocal mobility, it was a pleasure and indeed an obligation to put my name to this amendment.
My Lords, I too have considerable sympathy with all the amendments in this grouping. However, I am happy to follow the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, as a co-mover of Amendment 97, and will confine my remarks to that new clause. This is, as the right reverend Prelate had said, a probing amendment. We hope that the Government can use this debate to clarify the next steps and perhaps give us some idea of a timetable.
I appreciate that the definition of faith communities may give us some difficulties but, as a Roman Catholic, I wish to present some of the challenges facing the Catholic Church in relation to the changes being introduced in this Bill. The Catholic Church is, after all, a very international body. Movement between different countries within religious orders, and for educational and other purposes, is an integral part of that internationalism.
In the course of preparing my brief for this debate, I have learnt a lot about the various categories of visas, something I was previously unaware of. I can fully appreciate what a struggle it is to cope with all the requirements. As the right reverend Prelate has said, most Catholic diocese have previously used tier 5 religious worker visas, for the reasons that he stated. Supply placements are essential, as they allow us to continue attending mass, while also keeping parish activities running smoothly. The new requirement, introduced in 2019, was for anybody who was preaching to use tier 2 minister of religion visas. That has more than doubled the cost incurred by parishes arranging supply cover. For some parishes, this is unsustainable and that of course compromises people’s opportunity to practise their faith.
Furthermore, seminaries that conduct formation in English are not necessarily recognised by the Home Office as meeting the English language requirement under the tier 2 route. This means that many priests, who may have been educated to postgraduate level in English, are nevertheless required to take a language test, with extra logistical and cost implications. Unless some changes are made, the situation will of course be further aggravated as a result of the end of free movement following Brexit. Priests coming from European Union countries to provide supply cover will now also be subject to the same regime.
This new clause is intended to give the Government the opportunity to keep Parliament informed, and I look forward to hearing from the Minister about government thinking on this issue.
My Lords, I am delighted to take part in this debate, and I am sympathetic to the amendments which have been debated and explained so clearly and positively. I particularly support Amendment 76 in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, to which I have attached my name. I shall be brief.
One of the greatest opportunities for young people is to pursue education, research, training and student exchanges in another country. It is not always young people, but they make up the majority. That is the purpose of this amendment. We would like these opportunities to be entirely on a reciprocal basis, and I hope if we pass this amendment and establish this principle now, other countries in the EU and elsewhere will follow suit.
Amendment 34 on the cost of visas was ably moved by my noble friend Lord Hunt. Clearly, if the visas are so costly, that would negate the purpose of this amendment, so I would like to see the amendments working together. Perhaps, we should put a clause in about the cost of visas, but the way it is now is fairly clear.
Although this opportunity for travel rose enormously in the post-war years, it is not a function of the EU, though the EU did help. Free movement has existed for the purposes of education and research for many centuries in Europe. It is well within the European tradition, not dependent on the structural changes within the EU. As a result of the EU, however, all these things was greatly enhanced. I hope that this freedom of movement and educational travel will be part of our young people’s future in the years to come, even when we are not inside the EU.
We all know and have met young people for whom the opportunity to travel for study and education is a supreme benefit. It is something many young people want to do, and some of them are dismayed that this door might close for them when we left the EU. It is important to ensure that our departure from the EU does not mean such an opportunity is closed to young people but is still open.
I repeat that it is not just young people who want this education but older ones. It is part of the vision we want for Europe. The noble Lord who moved the amendment referred to Winston Churchill and his importance in the Council of Europe, and we have a lot to learn from that and other international organisations. I am a member of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly myself, and these other international organisations can help further international education in the broader sense.
This is an amendment about vision. I hope that the Government will accept it.
My Lords, I speak in support of Amendment 69 in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Bull, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty. I thank them for their valuable insights in supporting this amendment.
I particularly want to speak about the arts in Scotland. The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe is the world’s largest, and probably greatest, arts festival. It normally runs for nearly a month, with around 55,000 performances of over 3,500 shows across more than 300 venues. The cancellation of this year’s festival probably cost over £1 billion in lost receipts, with a further £200 million lost by the Fringe and much more in spin-off activities. Orchestras, opera, dance, rock and pop have all suffered loss and all depend on international performers. As a result of Covid-19, we need to ensure that adequate support for Scotland’s arts enables them to survive and that when performers return, travel and visa restrictions are as frictionless as possible.
I am advised that Capital Theatres in Edinburgh has incurred huge losses as a result of the cancellation of the festival and has relied almost entirely on furlough payments for income since then. Apparently the Scottish Government are sitting on the cash allocated by the UK Government for support of the arts in Scotland, so will the Minister say what discussions there have been between the UK Government and the Scottish Government to ensure that this money is allocated in a fair and timely fashion to keep the arts afloat?
As we move slowly back to being able to put on live events, it will be essential that artists and performers can move quickly and freely across borders. Of course, events planned ahead may have time to process the necessary approvals, but they can take time and money and the quicker and easier the process is, the better. We also know that people often need to travel at short notice to fill a need that unexpectedly becomes available, for example because of illness or injury. People in the arts sector who are based in Scotland also want to know that they can travel across the EU at short notice to take up opportunities without undue restrictions. What assurances can the Government give that the freedom that performers currently enjoy will continue? I do not mean just the headline acts but those less well known who are just building their careers and reputations, to whom the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, referred. The headliners may get the movement they need, but others may hit the buffers of bureaucracy.
For a good number of years Aberdeen ran an international youth festival and I know that some acts which the organisers—my great friend the late Roy Thomson, and Nicola Wallis—sought to have appear had to be cancelled for lack of travel approval at the last minute, but at least they knew then that acts from across the EU would not face similar late cancellations. Will the same be true next year? I predict that once Covid-19 restrictions can be safely lifted—let us hope it is in time for next year’s festivals—there will be a hunger for live events. Much of what has been lost cannot be recovered. There are not enough days, venues or performers for that, but more events than usual might occur. It will be tragic economically and socially for the viewing and listening public and for players if friction over travel permits inhibits productions and hence ticket sales.
This amendment rightly demands action within a month. The Government’s cavalier approach to a no-deal exit could lead precisely to a situation where the arts suffer penalties as any disputes are resolved. Let us hope that the Edinburgh festival and other events across Scotland can return with renewed vigour next year. Let there be no disputes over travel to limit the potential. If we leave without a deal and face a stand-off while we eventually get together to negotiate a deal but in the meantime all kinds of disruptions and obstacles are put in the way, that break after transition will make the restoration of the freedoms we have enjoyed until now much harder.
The arguments against Brexit have very often focused on the economy. Indeed, in the context of the arts, it has been argued that they are valuable to the economy, but this is also about our mental health, our cultural life, our quality of life and what makes life worth living. If the Government want to ensure that Britain continues to have the richness of cultural opportunity that it has enjoyed hitherto, will they please listen to those who have spoken to these amendments and act accordingly?
My Lords, I appreciate that much has already been said about this group of amendments, but I wish to make a few brief remarks on them. First, on Amendment 69 I accept that the creative industries are having a challenging time. I accept that there are some extremely wealthy people in the creative industries, but the vast majority of people in those industries have in the past been living on average incomes, and that was before the serious impact of Covid-19. Many have not been able to do their job at home, never mind not being able to travel more generally to perform their skills. How do the Government intend to underpin the ability of our best musicians and most talented creative artists to work across European member states, and their fellow artists within the creative industry to work here?
I shall make some remarks on Amendment 97. I suppose I should declare an interest as a minister of the gospel. I support the overriding principle of monitoring closely the impact of government policies on the rights and activities of those with deeply held faith across our society. It is important that we ensure that they are not unfairly disadvantaged. At the same time, I accept that those coming into the UK to preach or to carry out pastoral work should be held to similar standards to those in other professions, in terms of their grasp of the English language and the wider contribution they make to society. Northern Ireland has a large and vibrant faith community. There is a strong record, ethos and desire among local people of all ages to travel abroad to do missionary work, to spread the good news of the gospel of redeeming grace and make a difference to the lives of children and young people less advantaged than themselves. It is imperative that the Government continue to facilitate flexible routes for people across the United Kingdom to carry out their religious and humanitarian work.
It is also the duty of the Government to impact-assess the effects of their measures on the freedom of religion and assembly on an ongoing basis. Over the centuries, the United Kingdom has been richly blessed by the representatives of faith communities being able freely to enter our land for purposes related to their faith. I want to ensure that there shall be no hindrance to the exercise of our religious liberties; indeed, the battle for religious freedom was fought and won at great cost and we must guard it lest it be undermined in any way.
Finally, I will make a few remarks about Amendment 34. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to be vigilant about the effects of these regulations on the recruitment of international research and innovation staff to the United Kingdom. We need to be sure that the United Kingdom is an attractive place for such international research and innovation staff because we are regarded as a world leader in many fields of science and research. This legislation must not hinder nor act as an impediment to our research endeavours. Only the brightest and best will ensure that we continue to lead and not simply follow other nations.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord McCrea. I support Amendments 69 and 75 and the idea of reports on how things work out on arts, entertainment and business visitors. I believe that we should cover UK business interests in the EEA and Switzerland substantively and not just for comparison purposes, as proposed in the amendments. Talented endeavour must flow both ways. Reciprocity, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, is what we need. Business growth is vital to Britain, especially at this difficult time, and the arts and entertainment, hit especially badly by Covid-19, are some of our most important and vibrant business sectors in normal times right across the UK, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, said.
Frequent business travel is also important both ways, more generally in services and in particular in financial services and retail, which I know well from my own experience. We are facing a novel situation and it is right to assess things as we go along, particularly in areas so sensitive to changes in the rules on free movement. Reports to Parliament would help us to keep an eye on the practical problems that may arise with the wide range of changes that the Government are planning. I am not convinced that the economists on MAC can do this for us.
My Lords, there can be absolutely no doubt that two aspects of life that remain great about Britain are: first, the quality of our cultural and artistic life, not least music, and the richness of what has been built up by so many musicians; and, secondly, the outstanding nature of our universities. I have had the privilege to be involved in the governance of Newcastle, Lancaster and the LSE. Indeed, I remain an Emeritus governor at the LSE. What is important about that tradition in our universities is its inescapable dimension of international life. It is so much the international quality of what is going on in higher education that makes it so rich.
Let us take the LSE, for example. I went to the LSE as an undergraduate quite soon after the Second World War. There had been an outstanding contribution and influx of knowledge, culture and perspective from emigrés from Nazi-occupied Germany. We must not let anything undermine that tradition of richness, with its inherent involvement by its openness towards the world community. The quality of higher education itself simply cannot be separated from the contribution made by so many people from different traditions being part of it.
I strongly support this group of amendments and hope that the Government will be able, in spite of all their other misdemeanours, to see the opportunity here for a real investment in our future.
My Lords, I rise to support Amendment 59 but, in fact, having listened to the debate and read them a bit more closely, I in fact support most of the amendments in this group. Most of them refer to two things that I care very much about. The first is holding our Government to account, which seems to be something that gets increasingly difficult as days go by. Secondly, I feel very strongly that, if you do not assess things, you are not going to get things right. Clearly, all the issues in this group need assessment. As the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, said, we need an evidence base or we simply cannot know whether we are doing the right thing. Almost all these amendments seem like common sense, and I hope that the Government listen.
My Lords, I add my strong support for Amendment 69 in this group with regard particularly to the impact on musicians. I shall try not to repeat too much of the detail of the points already so powerfully made by the noble Lords, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Bruce of Bennachie, and my noble friends Lord Clancarty and Lady Bull.
Through a combination of Brexit and Covid-19, musicians have suffered a perfect storm of career-threatening body blows. Covid-19 has made many forms of musical performance impossible and severely restricted most others. On top of that, many musicians depend for a significant part of their income on touring or performing overseas, often at short notice, which may be severely affected as a result of the ending of free movement. As we have heard, that impact could take a variety of forms relating to obtaining visas, transporting instruments, obtaining health cover or, indeed, avoiding having to pay double social security contributions.
I do not need to remind the House, particularly after this debate so far, that this is a sector that not only creates enormous economic, social and cultural value for the whole UK but has suffered perhaps more than any other from the impact of Covid-19, with little prospect of any significant improvement before November at the earliest, for those who can survive that long. We owe it to the sector to ensure that the ending of free movement for EU musicians under this Bill, and any resulting reciprocal arrangements introduced by other countries, do not impose additional constraints on the ability of musicians to resume their activity on a meaningful scale, not least because our cultural ties with Europe and the rest of the world will be even more important after political links with the EU are severed.
I very much hope that the Government will succeed in negotiating and implementing a reciprocal system whereby none of these issues will arise, as I am sure they are committed to doing. However, I strongly support the amendment since it requires them to report specifically and at an early stage on the expected impact of the Bill, not just on musicians but on other creative sector workers, including setting out what routes are available for EU and EEA musicians to perform here in the UK. We must not allow our standing as a world leader in the music and creative sector to be jeopardised or lost because of a failure to recognise, and where necessary mitigate, the impact of the Bill and the new immigration system that it supports.
By the same token, I also support my noble friend Lord Clancarty’s Amendment 75, requiring the Government to report on the effects of the Bill on temporary business visits, which I hope will extend to musicians coming to perform.
I do hope that the Minister will look carefully at addressing the issues raised by these amendments and recognise the urgency that other noble Lords have emphasised.
My Lords, a lot of the speeches have understandably focused on the problems that are likely to arise in the arts and the creative sectors, including for musicians. My noble friends Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Bruce of Bennachie, and other noble Lords including the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, have also focused in particular on the arts.
The noble Baroness, Lady Bull, rightly raised the problem of freelancers and people who are needed at short notice and for short periods who have specialist skills that lend themselves to that sort of freelance and self-employed status. My noble friend Lord Clement-Jones and others rightly stressed the need for multiple-visit visas, touring visas and a reciprocal system, because this cannot work unless there is close co-operation with our EU partners.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, made a good point. It is not that we wish the fisheries sector anything but well but, given the weight of fishing in the economy, which is a tiny percentage, well under 1%, compared with the contribution of services in general, which is over 80% of our economy, the disproportionate attention that fishing is getting in the Brexit negotiations for the future relationship—if those negotiations, as we hope, are going somewhere—is, quite honestly, incomprehensible.
The arts—the creative sector—are extraordinarily valuable, not just to London but to other parts of the country, including Scotland, and perhaps Edinburgh in particular. Other sectors are rightly mentioned in the amendments, from business to tech, from research to faith communities, and these all demand a great deal of attention from the Government.
The organisation techUK has stressed that tech talent is in huge demand globally, so any friction makes the UK less attractive. Currently, apparently, a tier 2 visa can take 23 weeks to process, so techUK urges that the Government ensure that the new points-based system significantly reduces that time. techUK also makes a good point about how the fee system needs to be transparent and easy to understand. We have discussed the level of fees and whether the Government should have delegated powers in setting them, which some of us are worried about. Transparency is important. techUK says the current system is fragmented and the plethora of different charges and add-ons acts as a deterrent to hiring talent because, in addition to salaries, total costs include the sponsor licence, the visa, the immigration skills charge and the immigration health surcharge. This makes recruiting overseas workers more challenging.
The ending of free movement will have a huge impact. For EU nationals, where the cost to business has been zero, it rises to £8,400 for a five-year sponsored visa. That is for the main applicant only, not for any family members. It will be £9,500 if proposed increases to the immigration health surcharge take effect. This is much greater than the cost in Australia, France, Germany and Canada. It will be a big deterrent for talent to come here in the future. techUK asks for transparency over where the money is going for other charges, such as the immigration skills charge. That would give employers confidence in the future immigration system. It is a fair request.
The City of London is obviously very worried, but financial services are not just about the City. The sector accounts for considerable employment throughout the country, in cities such as Leeds as well as Edinburgh, which I have already mentioned in relation to the arts. The City is worried about future changes to the Immigration Rules getting no real parliamentary scrutiny. It points out that the UK’s status as the leading professional service centre is the key contributor in attracting other professions and workers. There is a clustering effect, particularly evident in fintech and other tech sectors.
There is a great deal of anxiety in the arts and other sectors of the economy over how the system will work for them. There is a great deal of trepidation. Another point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, was that many arts organisations are very small. They cannot bear the administrative costs, the visa costs and the staff time to deal with all this.
Finally, the Government have to think about the children. It always used to be that the wives—these days one would say the spouses—got forgotten. A lot of people will not move unless their spouse can get a job as well. That is quite understandable when there are two qualified professional people in a couple. That goes for the children as well. The treatment of children—another subject we have discussed this evening—will be a factor in the success of the future immigration system. I hope to hear some reassurance from the Minister that these issues, so important to our artistic and economic life, are being given at least the same level of consideration as the fisheries sector.
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath has made a compelling case for his amendment to be agreed. Almost every day in the media we hear about decisions, actions and the direction of travel of the Government in this area, and mostly it causes me and many others great concern. My noble friend set out the concerns of the science and research communities that the actions of the Government will do irreparable damage and that our competitors in the United States, Germany, France and elsewhere frankly cannot believe their luck. As my noble friend said, these people are vital to the future of our country.
We need an impact assessment on the effect that these regulations will have on the recruitment of international research and innovation staff to the UK. In my opinion, to move forward is very unwise, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, will see the strength of the argument in this respect.
What is not acceptable is for Government to hide behind saying that this is the will of the British people. No one voted to put the NHS under further strain, or to put at risk world-leading research or the ability of the United Kingdom to remain a place where talented people from the European Union can come and advance our knowledge and international reputation, ensuring that we remain at the top table. That is without talking about interference in the referendum by foreign powers, which alarms every democrat in this country.
Let us be clear: this has the potential to be an absolute disaster and, I suspect, the focus of another U-turn when the reality and enormity of the decisions being made without proper assessment of the risks involved finally hit home for the Government.
Amendment 59, in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Rosser, is one that seeks to help the Government and Parliament by requiring the Secretary of State to present a report on how the changes made to the Immigration Rules for EEA and Swiss nationals have affected skills shortages in the labour market. This power expires after five years, as by that point we will have a clear understanding of the direction of travel and, I hope, will have acted on the issues raised. I suspect that this will not find favour with the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson, but I also suspect that this is exactly the work that the Secretary of State will have to ask his officials to do, as the Government will need to understand the effect of their policy decisions and then take corrective action if it is to the detriment of the UK.
I am supportive of Amendment 69 in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Hamwee and Lady Bull. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, set out quite startling figures—the billions of pounds at stake if we get this wrong. In this debate it is hard to understand what benefits there are to the UK. As we have heard in the discussion, huge damage is being done and the Government are, frankly, struggling to find mitigations. They are just suggesting that we should not worry because it will all be alright on the night.
I want to pay tribute to the work of the Musicians’ Union, Bectu and Equity in standing up for their members, and to other organisations such as the Incorporated Society of Musicians—which the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty—mentioned, UK Music and many other organisations that have raised the concerns in the arts and the creative and entertainment industries. We cannot overstate the additional problems and risks to those individuals affected, and to our future prosperity as a nation, if we mess this up.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, is right that we seem to have forgotten that what we do to others will be done to us. It would be hugely damaging and, frankly, unforgivable of the Government not to fully understand the enormity of the risks to our economy and individuals and not to take action.
By their very nature, the creative industries are dynamic. They work at speed; things change. You have a job here this week, then an opportunity to work in Germany next week, then in France, then back to the UK. Equally, artists come from abroad and work here. As we heard from my noble friend Lord Judd and many other noble Lords, they add to the rich nature of our artistic and creative offer that people want to spend money to see.
The noble Baroness, Lady Bull, told the Committee how ease of access to talent has had tremendous benefits for our country. As she said, we have often seen a young person, a promising artist, rise to become an international star here in Britain.
Not everyone who travels to the UK comes here for our weather. Our arts and cultural offering are usually top of people’s agenda and what they want to do. The pandemic has devastated this important sector, but when it gets back on its feet—whether it is the Edinburgh festival; the Festival Fringe; the Aldeburgh Festival; one of our fantastic production companies producing world-class television; the local pub, the starting place for young bands and singers; or places such as Clubland in Southwark, where young people in the past used to get their first experience of acting on stage and where a very young Maurice Micklewhite, better known as Michael Caine, first took to the stage—if we are not welcoming to talent from home and abroad and do not facilitate an ability to travel to perform or work on the technical side of production and gain expertise and knowledge, we as a country will be losing big time. This amendment seeks to arm the Secretary of State with the information they need to avoid a potential disaster if this goes wrong.
Amendment 75 in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, seeks to add a new clause to the Bill to arm the Government and Parliament with details of the effect of the arrangements
“for temporary entry and stay of EEA and Swiss nationals for business purposes” and to provide a comparison with the arrangements for UK nationals travelling to the EEA and Switzerland. This would help understand the effects and, where the effect has been detrimental, provide the evidence to facilitate changes for the benefit of the UK economy and the well-being of its citizens.
Amendment 76 in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and my noble friend Lord Dubs seeks to put a new clause in the Bill, which again I fully support. It requires the Secretary of State to make provision by regulation
“for a visa for education, research, training and student exchange.”
The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, gave good examples of why our international educational offering is so important. With our actions and spoken words, we have done huge damage to the international student market here in the UK. There are good economic reasons for having large numbers of international students studying here in the UK, but there are also important soft power reasons for having large numbers of students from abroad having a positive, welcoming experience here in the UK, as my noble friend Lord Judd said when he spoke about the richness of our offer and how important it is to the UK and the world. These young people will go on to have careers in all sorts of professions. Some will reach the very top of their professions, and them having a positive, favourable view of the UK that developed and started in their student days here must never be underestimated.
I also support Amendment 97, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Hooper and Lady Hollins. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, can support it, but, if he cannot, I hope he can give reassurance to faith communities that nothing in the Bill will prevent their members coming to the UK for reasons of faith. I am also a Catholic. I remember attending as a child the English Martyrs Catholic Church in Walworth. Often priests, usually from Italy, came there to spend a bit of time in the parish. That was important to the community then and I think it is important now, as it is to other dominations and faiths. We need that reassurance tonight from the Government.
This has been an excellent debate, although it is now getting quite late. I hope the noble Lord, despite the time, will spend quite a lot of time answering all these important questions when he responds.
I thank the noble Lords who tabled these amendments for the passion with which they introduced them and all noble Lords who have participated in, notwithstanding the hour, an interesting and impassioned debate.
Many of these amendments seek to provide a statutory requirement to report on or evaluate the impacts of new immigration measures, and I am pleased to say that I do not think there is a great deal of difference between the Government’s position and that of the noble Lords who moved and spoke to these amendments. It is absolutely right that new policies should be monitored and properly evaluated, and their effects considered in full. As the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, said, powerful arguments have been made on that point throughout our debate. That is particularly true when the changes are as significant as the ones we are introducing in January with our new points-based immigration system.
That is why we have published a detailed impact assessment to accompany the Bill and deliberately—and unusually—ensured that it not only covers the provisions of this Bill but the anticipated impact of the new immigration system. I make this point to illustrate that the Government are certainly committed to understanding the impacts of the changes we are proposing and bringing about. The Government are also preparing an impact assessment which will provide further analysis of the new skilled work rules. The Regulatory Policy Committee is currently considering this assessment, and it will be published alongside the rules.
Furthermore, as now, we will continue to publish detailed quarterly immigration statistics, ensuring that they make clear how many people are coming under each main visa route. The Home Office is also working with statisticians in the Office for National Statistics and other government departments to make better use of the data we hold to enhance our understanding of migration in the round.
The highly skilled and talented people mentioned in this debate, whether researchers, ministers of religion, artists or entrepreneurs, are all people whom we warmly welcome and encourage to come to the UK. We recognise the varied and very important contributions they make to our society, communities and economy, which is why we continue to offer dedicated immigration routes to cater for them.
Turning specifically to artists, entertainers and musicians, I appreciate the passion which many noble Lords have expressed for the UK’s creative sector and its unquestionable success—it is a passion I share—particularly in the current challenging climate. Like the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Bennachie, we all greatly missed the Edinburgh Festival this summer. This is why we have a range of options available to people working in the creative industries to help them come to the UK.
Once free movement ends, we intend to treat EEA citizens as non-visa nationals for the purposes of short visits, meaning they can come to the UK to perform at events and take part in competitions and auditions without needing to apply for a visa. Friends of mine who work in the creative industries and frequently travel internationally for auditions have made that point to me directly. For those who wish to stay in the UK for longer, the current tier 5 route for temporary creative workers will continue to cater as it does now, permitting a broad range of creative workers to live and work in the UK for up to 12 months at a time. However, as the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and others have rightly urged us, we are determined to get this right and ensure that these talented people choose to work and base themselves in the UK.
In addition to keeping labour market data under careful scrutiny to monitor pressures, Home Office analysts will lead a comprehensive evaluation of the new immigration system. This research will involve analysis of migration system data and the first-hand experience of the people using it. It will be conducted over a number of years so that we can benefit from proper insights and make any necessary improvements.
While independent scrutiny plays a vital role, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, said, I part company with some of the noble Lords who have spoken this evening, as I do not believe we need to create a new mechanism for this. We are very fortunate that we have the Migration Advisory Committee, which has been mentioned many times already and which is widely recognised for its expertise and independence. It was established more than a decade ago and has been of great benefit to successive Governments, and to successive Parliaments in holding those Governments to account, by producing detailed and thoughtful reports and recommendations. Long may it continue to do so. As noble Lords will recall, we have expanded the Migration Advisory Committee’s remit so that it not only responds to specific commissions but also has the ability to comment on any aspect of immigration policy as it sees fit. In line with that, the MAC will be producing an expanded annual report. I therefore see no reason to replicate what we already have, particularly where it could risk duplicating or undermining the MAC’s independent and impartial rigour.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, on behalf of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol, spoke with great ecumenism on people of all faiths. He raised the point about the particular impact of these policies on smaller faith groups. Of course, any changes to policy have to take into account the obligations under the Equality Act, which, of course, has been done following consultation with a wide variety of groups from people of all faiths, as the right reverend Prelate has acknowledged. It is certainly right that those playing a leading role in faith groups—whether that is in our churches, synagogues, mosques, gurdwaras or temples—should be required to have a strong command of the English language. That is so that they can best enjoy their time here in the UK and so that the wider community can benefit from that time here. We recognise that faith is a calling and that the terms of appointment differ from traditional employment models, and that is why our dedicated routes do not require specific qualifications or a salary threshold and why we want to make absolutely clear that people of all faiths will certainly be welcome here to do their important work through our new system.
My noble friend Lady Hooper mentioned the discrepancy between the fees paid in tier 1 and tier 5. It is true that not all of those who are now using the tier 2 visa want or, indeed, need those additional benefits that tier 2 provides, but the Government, as I hope she will understand, must balance a number of factors, including the administrative costs of processing an application, the benefits likely to be accrued by a successful applicant and the wider costs of the immigration system. However, the options we provide for religious workers allow individual organisations to make the appropriate choice for their particular circumstances.
The noble Baroness also raised the issue of the English language test for Roman Catholic priests who have completed their seminary training in English. Exemptions currently exist where applicants have been awarded a recognised degree. If not, I hope she will understand that it is important that a priest’s ability to speak English to a sufficient standard can be verified; their standards in Latin can be left to their diocese.
I turn to Amendment 76, moved so eloquently by my noble friend Lord Dundee and spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs. It has given noble Lords the opportunity to discuss the important issue of immigration for the purpose of education, training, research and exchange. The Government strongly welcome those who want to come to the UK for those purposes. I share my noble friend’s aim to ensure that there are means by which talented individuals from the EU can continue to come to the UK to participate in our world-leading academic sector. The UK is proudly one of the world’s leading destinations for international education already, and hundreds of thousands of students choose to come to the UK to study. I recognise, however—and the Government more widely recognise—that we must not stand still if we are to continue to be such a destination, particularly as we have seen this year, given the impact of Covid-19.
With that in mind, we will launch a new graduate route next summer, enabling international students who have successfully completed their degrees to remain in the UK for two years post study, if they are graduating at an undergraduate or masters level, or for three years post study for doctoral graduates. The people using this new route will be able to work or look for work at any skill level, to kick-start their careers here in the UK.
As for researchers, we recently announced new plans to establish the UK as the world’s leading research and science superpower. Simplifying and streamlining the immigration system forms a significant part of these plans. In February, we launched the reformed global talent route, which allows highly skilled individuals, including talented researchers and scientists, to pursue their work in the UK. That, as has been noted in this respect and in others tonight, caters for people in the early stages of their careers as potential leaders in their field, as well as for those already well established.
As part of our reforms, we removed the cap and expanded the list of eligible science fellowships to benefit from accelerated entry to the UK. We also introduced a new fast-track scheme for world-leading scientists, top researchers and mathematicians, managed by UK Research and Innovation. We also welcome people to the UK for training and exchange purposes. Under the Government’s tier 5—government authorised exchange—schemes, we offer a temporary work route for people seeking to undertake work experience, work-based training or research. Each such exchange scheme is endorsed by a government department, ensuring that they can all be tied to the UK’s wider strategic objectives. We also facilitate short educational exchanges under the Visit route, through which visitors can attend conferences, carry out independent research and undertake work-related training.
Our new points-based immigration system will apply equally to people from Europe and people from the rest of the world. That is a key part of the new policy. EEA citizens will be able to come to the UK for each of the purposes that my noble friend raised in his amendment.
We will also be opening a new student route soon. EEA citizens who wish to come to the UK to study from
The amendment also seeks to prevent the Secretary of State imposing any English language requirement on EEA citizens coming in for the purpose of education, research or training. While EEA citizens often have excellent English language skills, we currently exempt only nationals of majority English-speaking countries, and those who have certain qualifications obtained in English, from demonstrating their English language skills through a secure English language test. The Government believe that it is a reasonable expectation that those coming to do research or study in the UK are able to speak a satisfactory level of English, to ensure that they are able to understand their work or course, and to enable them to integrate in the UK.
The amendment also seeks to permit EEA citizens to come to the UK to study in schools. Currently, we permit international students to come to the UK to study at independent schools under the tier 4 child route, and this will continue in future under the new child student route. We do not permit international students to come to the UK for the purpose of studying at a state school, as education paid for by the taxpayer is, rightly, reserved for children with a statutory right to education in the UK.
Given the availability of existing and new routes through which EEA citizens will be able to apply, I do not believe it is necessary to create another route, as proposed in the amendment. Moreover, the creation of new routes exclusively available to EEA citizens, as proposed by these amendments, would undermine the principle of a single global system whereby those who want to come to the UK are not treated differently based on their nationality. Accordingly, while I understand the intent and support the sentiments behind the amendments, I do not believe they are necessary, and I invite the noble Lords who tabled them not to press them.
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, will not mind if I intervene briefly before he speaks.
I do not think that the Minister can be in any doubt about the powerful concerns that noble Lords have expressed during this debate. First, I thank all those noble Lords who have spoken in the debate on my Amendment 69. Of course, it is part of a pattern across the board in other areas, including universities and the tech industries, which my noble friend Lady Ludford mentioned as well.
I thank the Minister for his response but he is placing an awful lot of weight on the Migration Advisory Committee making an impact assessment in this area. I will read extremely carefully what he has to say but the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, had it right when she expressed doubt over whether that was the right body to be carrying out this kind of assessment: a rather cold, hard, economic assessment that does not take into account many of the other surrounding circumstances involving our creative industries.
The Minister thinks that the amendment, by creating this kind of assessment and report, would replicate what is already there. I beg to differ: this is a separate, and rather different, arrangement, particularly with respect to its consideration of reciprocity. A number of noble Lords were in agreement that reciprocity was extremely important. I thought that the testimonies of the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, were particularly important; they spoke from their personal experience. That is not something that the Migration Advisory Committee would deal with.
I will certainly read with interest and care what the Minister has had to say but we may wish to come back to this really important subject—which has gained such support across the House—on Report.
I thank the Minister for his response to the debate. He should be in no doubt of the importance that noble Lords place on these issues, whether it is innovation and research, the arts and creative industries, our universities or our faith communities. I think it very likely that we will come back to these matters on Report.
Would the Minister be prepared to ask his office to go through the debate in the next few days? He could write to us all, as there may be some more points to which we have not had full answers. This may actually assist the Minister; these things might not come back at the next stage.
I thank both noble Lords for their comments. They reinforce the passion of the advocacy made by noble Lords this evening, across a very wide range of sectors and subject areas. I absolutely will go through Hansard and ensure that I follow up on the range of points made in this long, but valuable and important, debate covering a number of important topics.
My Lords, this has been a very good debate. It is good that so many noble Lords took part in the discussions. My Amendment 34, also in the name of my noble friend Lord Patel, is clearly concerned with maintaining our thriving life science sector, particularly by looking at the current fee structure, which is likely to be so inhibiting to many people coming to the UK.
However, the debate has clearly gone wider. We have heard about the importance of the movement of priests and faith leaders to this country, the movement of young people in education and travel, and of course the performing arts. As a patron of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Charles Court Opera, I entirely sympathise with noble Lords who are concerned about the perilous state of the arts at the moment and who want to see it thrive in the future.
I see a direct link between the performing arts and scientific sectors. My noble friend Lord Judd pointed out that the UK excels at both. Both enjoy huge international reputations, both sectors enjoy many talented people coming from abroad, and many of our talented people go abroad as well. We are concerned that the impact of the Bill, the Home Office actions, the cost of visas and the associated health surcharge will be a great inhibitor of this in the future. As my noble friend Lord Kennedy said, our international competitors look at what we are doing and cannot believe their luck.
Obviously, I have listened very carefully to the Minister. In a sense his response was a technical one to say, “Well, you don’t need a further impact assessment because we’ve already done one, we’ve got another on the way, and we’ve got the MAC to help us as well.” Frankly, as regards the future of our life science sector and performance sector, the MAC is the last group of people that I would go to for advice. The problem with the Minister’s answer is that in giving a technical one, he has not really responded to the underlying concern that so many noble Lords have about the future of these highly important sectors.
Clearly, we will come back on Report, and I believe that the House of Lords is prepared to make it very clear to the Government that they need to do more to protect these sectors. Having said that, I thank all noble Lords and beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 34 withdrawn.
Amendments 35 to 38 not moved.
Clause 4 agreed.