Examination of Witness

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 12th February 2019.

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Chai Patel:

At the moment, non-EU immigration law is extraordinarily complex. Supreme Court judges, Court of Appeal judges, immigration experts and immigration lawyers have all said in public that it is almost impossible for anyone to navigate, let alone for people who are expected to do so without necessarily having perfect English or legal aid. To a great extent, the reason why it is so complex is that immigration rules have been made over many years and over many Governments, and they are frequently made in response to political pressures, without very much consideration of the consequences or of the underlying evidence for making them. They just pile on top of each other and you end up with a system that does not work for anyone.

You have that in the context of a Home Office that has been underfunded for some time and which has seen real-terms cuts to its funding over the past few years. It is now about to be asked to move from a system of free movement, which was, as the Minister said, a light-touch and simple system, to one that is potentially very complex. You, as parliamentarians, are being asked not just to approve that move but to approve the Home Office taking complete control over how the new system is going to work at a time when successive Home Secretaries and Prime Ministers have failed to construct a system that works when they have had the power to do so. At this time, Parliament should not be abdicating its responsibility to scrutinise and to decide what the immigration system should look like. At the moment, from everything that we have seen, the Home Office is not capable of administering the existing system.