Amendment to the Motion

Part of Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 - Motion to Approve – in the House of Lords at 4:40 pm on 22nd October 2020.

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Photo of Lord Bowness Lord Bowness Conservative 4:40 pm, 22nd October 2020

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for her introduction and the clarity that she has brought to these issues. That said, I have great sympathy with the views expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, although, for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, I cannot support a fatal amendment. I will listen to what my noble friend says in answer to the points raised by the noble Lord.

My attention was brought to these instruments by virtue of their title on engaging citizens’ rights. We need to take the greatest care with the rights of those who, until now, have enjoyed with us not only national but European citizenship.

My first observation about all three instruments is that they are extremely difficult to follow. It may be that I am no good at following these matters but, given the many cross-references to other pieces of primary, European and secondary legislation, we are trying to uncover very tangled documents. While that might not matter for us, and I understand that these issues are complex and must be legally correct and certain, the rules set out in the instruments engage and affect citizens, some of whom will not have English as a first language. There is reference in the Explanatory Memorandum to publication of guidance, which might be fine, but not all official guidance, in my experience, is easy to comprehend, and posting these texts or the guidance on a website will not be sufficient. What efforts will we therefore make to reduce these measures into plain language for citizens to understand without the need for a lawyer, and how will we publicise them? We hear a great deal from Ministers telling us to get prepared for Brexit, but we do not know quite what we are preparing for and we need some clarity.

My second general point relates to the statement in each Explanatory Memorandum that no consolidation version is planned. Surely, with as many pieces of legislation from disparate sources such as these, that should be considered.

Regarding the instrument on frontier workers, I am surprised that there has been no consultation on implementation, even if the Government are bound to produce the regulations. Nor do I understand the statement that the instrument does not affect small businesses, even if they employ frontier workers. The Minister has confirmed that that the application for frontier workers will be free of charge. Can she confirm that the certificate will be free of charge? Further, while the Explanatory Memorandum states that the permit

“can be issued in a digital form”,

does that mean that a hard copy will be available? If so, why are we making a distinction between this permit and the confirmation of settled status?