Motion E1 (as an amendment to Motion E)

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill - Commons Reasons – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 21st October 2020.

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Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Housing) 5:45 pm, 21st October 2020

My Lords, we may all have different views of this Government. While some might think that they are useless and incompetent, others might take a different view. However, I think that we would all agree that they certainly make many strange decisions—often ludicrous, inconsistent, contradictory and largely disappointing. This is one example. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, a consistent argument has been made about this issue, but the Government are just not listening. That is much to be regretted on the part of the Government because they should have given way on this point, but it is quite clear that they are not going to do so. I do not know if that is down to unelected advisers, the Home Secretary, or the general attitude of the Government as a whole. However, it is clear that they are not going to give way and that is most disappointing. For that reason, we are not going to support sending this issue back to the other place again because I do not think that the Government will change their position.

However, I have a few other comments to make. A few days ago, we had a debate about the costs to enable British children in care to get their British citizenship. The Government were happy to charge over £1,000; there was no issue about that at all. That is many hundreds of pounds more than the cost, so apparently there is no issue there at all. Here, of course, the Government have raised the issue of cost, saying that they are not sure and that it could be too much for people. I have equally made the point by asking for years why we cannot stop council tax payers having to subsidise planning applications. But no, the Government say that we have to continue letting those taxpayers subsidise such applications. That is completely ludicrous, contradictory and inconsistent, but that is what we have before us again today.

In all of these debates, I have never had an answer to this question. The point is made about how we cannot have certificates because they are not needed, everything is now digital, and we should not be worried about it. Yet, at the same time, we are handing out certificates to people who become British citizens. This is done in ceremonies in town halls up and down the country. You have to hand them out, they are signed by the Home Secretary of the day, and you tell the person that the certificate is really important. You hand it to them, a photograph is taken, and off they go with a document that at the moment is signed by Priti Patel. I have handed out hundreds of these things over the years, but I do not believe that those certificates are biometric. I think that they are a piece of paper. I might be wrong about that; perhaps they are biometric now and I do not know. Again, this is from the same department, so it is inconsistent and completely ludicrous. It is a real shame that the Government have not listened and that they are not going to do so. I think that that is much to the regret and shame of the Government.