Extent, commencement and short title

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration, Asylum and Border Control) 2:00 pm, 28th February 2019

I will speak to new clause 36, but I also fully support everything that the hon. Member for Torfaen has said about amendment 21. I can be very brief, given what he has said. As was revealed earlier, I used to practise as an immigration lawyer; this was a decade ago. Back then, the immigration rules were horrendously complex, but since then there have been hundreds of changes to the immigration rules and they have multiplied in size. I cannot remember what the figure is, but the appendices have just about every letter of the alphabet in their title. The system is ludicrously complex. The issue is not just that the rules are complicated; as we have heard, the evidential requirements are also incredibly complicated.

It is easy enough to say that we hope the settled status scheme is not too complicated, but that is not an end to the matter. It will be complicated for many people to access. People also have to make decisions and understand whether they actually need to apply, and that could be hugely complicated for some people. Some people will not be sure whether they have British nationality. Some people will not understand whether their right to permanent residence under existing EU law means that they do or do not need to apply. There is the situation of Irish citizens, for example, in Northern Ireland. All sorts of people are already asking questions about how this system applies to them. It is not a straightforward matter.