Examination of Witness

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Joe Owen:

That is a good question. That came through primary legislation with the 2014 Act, so there was an opportunity to discuss it. There was never really a White Paper. If you want a White Paper that sets out the hostile environment, you need to go back to Labour. I think it was in 2007 when they called it the “difficult environment”, or the “uncomfortable environment”, which put out a lot of the ideas that became the basis for the 2014 Act. Obviously, things changed, and it was not exactly that blueprint, but not much of a blueprint was laid out.

There is a question about what happened to some of the challenges that were picked up during that process. We know from the Government’s own impact assessments that they recognised that the right-to-rent measures, for example, would affect people of an older generation who had their rights guaranteed under primary legislation, whose documents might have been destroyed. It basically described the Windrush issue in a policy equality statement in, I think, 2015.

There is a question about the extent to which that was scrutinised, and what happened to that information afterwards. However, in terms of the level of scrutiny of the hostile environment, there was a piece of primary legislation, but there is an argument that there was not as much information White Paper-wise as you might normally expect.