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 10:15 am on 26th February 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 10:15 am, 26th February 2019

Opposition Members never, I think, let me get away with anything without proper scrutiny. The hon. Lady knows that I want to see the withdrawal agreement Bill passed. That is an important step. I am most enthusiastic and keen—nay, desperate—for us to get a deal; it is crucial that we do so, but I still firmly hold that the withdrawal agreement Bill, rather than this Bill, which is a straightforward Bill to end free movement, is the place to enshrine those rights. This Bill’s powers on free movement will of course be required both in the event of a deal and in a no-deal scenario, but they will be used differently if we have a deal, in which case the withdrawal agreement Bill will provide protections for the resident population.

The power in clause 4, which we shall probably come to later today, is similar to that found in other immigration legislation, and can be used only in consequence of or in connection with part 1 of this Bill, which is about ending free movement. I therefore do not believe there is a risk that it could be used to change immigration legislation for non-EEA nationals in ways unconnected to part 1 of the Bill.

Let me say in response to the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston that we have been clear that, after our exit, there will be no change to the way that EU citizens prove their right to work. They will continue to use a passport or an ID card until the future system is in place.

I have been clear that we will engage widely on the future system, which will come in after 2021. It will be a skills-based immigration system, which enables us to move forward, absolutely accommodating the needs of our economy, I hope—I have been candid about this since my first day in the Home Office—in a much simpler way. We are confronted with 1,000 pages of immigration rules, so there is certainly the opportunity to simplify enormously. I do not pretend that I have it within my power to “do a Pickles” with the immigration rules by doing the equivalent of his tearing up 1,000 pages of planning guidance and reducing it to the national planning policy framework, but we have to move forward with a system that is far simpler and easier to understand than what we currently have.