Absolutely. I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I think I referenced Lord Green’s evidence on children in an earlier sitting.
If the clause is left unamended, it will see us punishing children for their parents’ actions. If pursuing the goal of removing all forms of support is intended to cut the costs to the Government, the clause also fails on that account. We have received countless pieces of evidence suggesting that removing all support will see us simply pass the costs from central to local government. That was articulated during an evidence session by Stephen Gabriel, who said:
“if the Home Office stops supporting those families, that will potentially have a negative impact on the local authority. That could be a challenge for the local authority.”––[Official Report, Immigration Public Bill Committee, 20 October 2015; c. 71, Q162.]
Liberty has further made the point that, despite assurances from the Government, it seems inevitable that
“some costs will be transferred to local authorities because the…removal of accommodation and support, from children in particular, risks violations of the Article 3 prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment.”
Given all that, and given the strength of feeling evidenced in a number of contributions to the debate, I hope Government Members will give the amendment serious consideration.