Repeal of the main retained EU law relating to free movement etc

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 26th February 2019.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art 9:45 am, 26th February 2019

I hear the same evidence that my hon. Friend does. We represent constituencies in the same region, so that is not unexpected. Many people will respond that it should be fine, as there are plenty of people in Britain, and plenty of British people can do those jobs. However, unfortunately, that is to misunderstand the labour market. We have an ageing population. What, as we heard in evidence to the Committee, is the answer, according to those who want to put up the border and stop people coming here to do the decent and dignified thing by working in our country? It is to raise the pension age and ask people to work into their 70s. That is all right for people who do a desk job that is not physically taxing, but I do not really want to ask nurses whom I represent to work until they are 71 or 72. I do not think that would be appropriate. My hon. Friend made a good point.

My hon. Friend also talked about lack of simplicity in the new system. The Minister mentioned simplicity several times and the Law Commission will look into it. That is a good thing—and it is not before time. However, the fact is that free movement, like it or not, provides people with rights that are simple to understand and exercise. If we are to replace that system with a new one we had better have a good idea now—today—how we will give people an equal, or hopefully better, level of simplicity. For all the reasons that my hon. Friend mentioned, making people’s lives simpler in that way is vital. It is the best way to make sure that the economy can innovate and move forward. I find it hard to understand why the Government should move clause 1 at this point, without a guarantee of an equally simple, or even simpler and better understood system.