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 10:00 am on 26th February 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 10:00 am, 26th February 2019

The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that reciprocity is key—it is crucial. Although we have it within our power to legislate to protect the rights of the 3.5 million here, we do not have the right to legislate in France, Germany or Spain. I am absolutely conscious of the very real concerns. We heard some of them in the evidence sessions, but I have also met repeatedly with representatives of those who live in EU member states, who are concerned.

We heard evidence from a lady whose name I forget about how important she felt it was to have citizens’ rights enshrined in primary legislation. I give the same answer I have given previously: the withdrawal agreement Bill will be the place for those measures. I am looking forward to taking the citizens’ rights elements through, but it is wrong to say that we have not enshrined them in legislation. We opened phases 1, 2 and 3 of the settled status scheme through the immigration rules, and it is my duty to lay the rules for opening the system fully by 30 March, so we have already enshrined those measures in legislation, albeit secondary legislation. We intend to do more through secondary legislation for when the scheme opens fully, and of course those rights will be enshrined in primary legislation through the withdrawal agreement Bill.