The amendment is in my name along with those of Tim Loughton and my right hon. and learned Friend Ms Harman. I am very pleased to have that cross-party support. I also place on record my thanks to the Refugee and Migrant Children’s Consortium, and in particular the Children’s Society, which has helped me considerably, not just with preparing the amendments we are discussing this afternoon but in pursuing my interest in the impact of Brexit on children, going back to our debates on article 50 more than two years ago. It was good to have the Children’s Society give oral evidence to us last week; I am sure that other Members will agree that that was helpful.
Amendment 27 would require the Government to undertake a best interests assessment before an EEA child could be removed from the United Kingdom. There are around 2 million EU national children and parents with dependent children living in the UK who will need to change their immigration status through the European settled status scheme or secure citizenship rights following Brexit. We know from history and examples around the world—we heard about them in oral evidence two weeks ago—that large-scale projects intended to change the immigrant status of significant cohorts or populations are riddled with challenges, from poor design to low take-up. If just a small proportion of the hundreds of thousands of European children already in the UK do not settle their status through the settlement scheme or secure citizenship, the number of undocumented children in the UK could rise substantially. Despite the Government’s commitment to a simple EU settlement scheme, a significant number of children currently living in the UK may find themselves subject to immigration control if they fail to secure their status and become undocumented.