Amendment 44

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 14th September 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green 5:45 pm, 14th September 2020

My Lords, I offer the Green group’s support for all the amendments in this group. We have already had a strong, informative debate, so I will not take up very much of the time of your Lordships’ House.

I wish to address a couple of points. On Amendment 46, on comprehensive sickness insurance, the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, powerfully and clearly set out the discriminatory effects of this surprising—possibly illegal—application of the rules. I am particularly concerned about the differential gender impact: invariably, it is women in caring situations who do not have their own income who will be affected by this.

I want to speak briefly to Amendment 44 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. This can be described only as a modest and reasonable request for transparency, democracy and scrutiny from the Government. It asks them to show what their plans are for looking after the group—that will inevitably, by definition, be made up of more vulnerable people—affected by the inability to apply for settled status within the deadline. Debating this amendment in the other place, as well as in your Lordships’ House, would be a chance for scrutiny, as well as constructive engagement, the pointing out of flaws and making suggestions for improvement. Will the Minister consider this? We can assume, I hope, that we will receive many assurances from the Government about how they intend to use the right to late applications. The Government clearly already have in mind how this is going to look, so surely it would not be that difficult to set it out on paper.

I want to briefly follow on from what the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, said about technology. These days, what people have to do practically and how they manage their lives is increasingly digital. Maybe you have put a reminder to yourself in a digital calendar to do something. The deadline is there and you have done the right thing, but we all know that sometimes technology goes wrong: computers die and people lose passwords. The Government should be able to ensure a steady recording and reminder process. They do not perhaps always have a great record when it comes to IT projects, but this should not be very difficult or very costly. It would provide people with a security blanket, which is what all these amendments seek to do. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said in her introduction, we are talking here about enabling people to exercise the rights to which they are entitled. Surely that is something that the Government want to make as easy and practical as possible.