Extent, commencement and short title

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 28th February 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 2:30 pm, 28th February 2019

My hon. Friend makes an important point. As with so much in immigration, it is important that we get the balance right. I have been concerned that there has been much scaremongering in recent months that the immigration exemption would be used by the Home Office to deny individuals rights in a sweeping way, or as an excuse for not providing reasons for the refusal of cases. That is simply not true.

The exemption as set out in the legislation is not a blanket exemption that can be used to deny rights in a sweeping way; it does not target any particular group or individual. There are very clear tests to be met. The immigration exemption is only applied on a case-by-case basis, and only where complying with certain rights would be likely to prejudice the maintenance of effective immigration control. We must be able to satisfy the prejudice test set out in the Data Protection Act before it can be used. The data subject may assert their rights through the Information Commissioner’s office and the courts, if that individual believes that an exemption has been wrongly applied.

The immigration exemption is entirely separate from measures designed to deal with ending the free movement of EEA nationals. It is a necessary and proportionate measure, which we believe is compliant with GDPR—a regulation introduced by the European Union that applies to all member states. I can categorically assure hon. Members that it is not aimed at EEA nationals and, in compliance with our public sector equality duty, it must be applied in a lawful and non-discriminatory manner. I hope that in the light of these points, the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton will withdraw the amendment.