Hostile environment and EEA nationals

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration, Asylum and Border Control) 11:00 am, 5th March 2019

I will speak briefly in support of the broad thrust of the new clause—I might have suggested a slightly different approach—which effectively draws attention to the hostile environment, or compliant environment, as it is sometimes known now. Essentially, in the light of the court case that the shadow Minister referred to, it is now absolutely time that we have to roll back on the hostile environment altogether.

I stumbled across some of my notes from during the passage of the Immigration Act 2016, when the Government essentially ignored all sorts of warnings about the right to rent and various other hostile environment measures and decided to press ahead. Thanks to the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, we have since found that the Government made next to no effort to monitor the impact of the measures they had introduced. That sequence of events is also exactly what happened with Windrush; warnings were ignored and the Government pressed ahead without looking at the consequences for the people they were warned might be adversely impacted. That is exactly the same as with the right to rent and other hostile environment measures.

I place on the record my congratulations and thanks to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the Residential Landlords Association and various others involved in that case, which they have been fighting for a long time. Their briefings in 2016 were absolutely clear: their testing found that people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds were being discriminated against when they approached landlords, as was anyone who was not able to produce a British passport.

In the light of that scathing judgment from last week, surely the Government cannot just press ahead with the extension of hostile environment measures to EU nationals. Surely they must now say that they accept that judgment and intend to roll back from the right to rent and other hostile environment policies.