Domestic Abuse: immigration and nationality legal aid

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 17th June 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 2:00 pm, 17th June 2020

I very much appreciate the way in which the hon. Gentleman raised that. We have systems in place at the moment. I hope that, particularly on the topic of legal aid, I have been able to provide examples of women who were not eligible for DDVC getting access to legal aid support. We accept that there is more to do. We are coming at the matter with an open mind and an open heart. We want to get the evidence, so that in due course we can put in place the systems that will provide the best support. That, as well as helping people in their immediate circumstances, is the intention behind the pilot project.

I turn now to the matter of immigration control. We believe that lifting immigration controls for all migrant victims of domestic abuse is the wrong response. Successive Governments have taken the view that access to publicly funded benefits and services should normally reflect the strength of a migrant’s connections to the UK and, in the main, become available to migrants only when they have settled here. Those restrictions are an important plank of immigration policy, operated, as I have said, by successive Governments and applicable to all migrants until they qualify for indefinite leave to remain. The policy is designed to assure the public that controlled immigration brings real benefits to the UK and does not lead to excessive demands on the UK’s finite resources, and that public funds are protected for permanent residents of the UK.

Exceptions to those restrictions are already in place for some groups of migrants, such as refugees or those here on the basis of their human rights, where they would otherwise be destitute. Those on human rights routes can also apply to have their no recourse to public funds condition lifted if their financial circumstances change. Equally, migrant victims on partner visas can already apply for the destitution domestic violence concession, to be granted limited leave with recourse to public funds.