Immigration Rules Advisory Committee for Immigration Rules for EEA and Swiss nationals

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 16th June 2020.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:30 pm, 16th June 2020

I am once again grateful to the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, and to others, for providing a further opportunity to discuss parliamentary scrutiny of the immigration rules and the powers to make them. Parliamentary scrutiny is an important issue, and one that I am aware members of the Committee are rightly very interested in. I will therefore take each new clause in turn.

I will first address new clause 31—I think I can respond pretty swiftly to this one. The UK Government work on the basis of collective responsibility. All policies are collectively agreed and reflect the views of all parts of Government. I may be the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, and I have the good fortune to speak for the Government on matters connected with our new immigration arrangements, but I can assure the Committee that the policies I put forward are the policies of the entire Government, which were endorsed in December’s general election by the British people. No other Minister standing in this spot would advocate any different policies.

The notion of collective agreement and collective responsibility has long been a feature of the way this country is governed, which is why legislation confers powers on “the Secretary of State” generically. Incidentally, this approach also has the benefit of future-proofing our legislation in the event of machinery of Government changes.

I have the utmost respect for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; both are doing excellent work in their posts and we are lucky to have them. But let me be very clear: were they to make immigration rules, they would be no different from those that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will be making, because this is a single united Government with a clear policy on these matters.

Our policies were put before and endorsed by the electorate, more detail was set out in a policy statement endorsed by the entire Government, and they represent the settled view of the Government as a whole. New clause 31 would therefore add nothing to the Bill. Having heard the explanation of how the Government system works, I hope the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East will withdraw it.

New clause 16 would require the Home Secretary to establish an immigration rules advisory committee to provide advice and assistance on any immigration rules relating to EEA citizens once free movement to the UK has ended as a result of this Bill. I have said previously that our new points-based system will be set out in the immigration rules. Those rules will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the usual way. The new clause seeks to add an additional layer of scrutiny, and will prevent the Home Secretary from making any immigration rules before an advisory committee is established by regulation. There is no justification for establishing a statutory advisory body to advise specifically on the rights of EEA citizens, who will be treated as other EEA citizens under the future immigration system.