Tier 5 Religious Worker Visas — [Mike Gapes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:09 pm on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of Ged Killen Ged Killen Labour/Co-operative, Rutherglen and Hamilton West 3:09 pm, 4th July 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention, and I absolutely agree. Another senseless decision seems to be based once again on the ideology of the Conservative party, rather than on any evidence. The Catholic Church in Scotland is in no doubt whatever that the changes will mean fewer priests will be able to come to Scotland to support local parishes. Perhaps the Minister can tell us, if he is aware, what assessment has been made of the likely impact of the changes. How many people have been refused under the new system who would have been granted a visa under the old one? Is the Home Office aware of how many other people are likely to be refused entry at a later date?

We all have casework that demonstrates how often the Home Office gets decisions wrong. My hon. Friend Chi Onwurah raised in a debate in this place just a few weeks ago concerns revealed in the Financial Times that the Home Office is using algorithms to process visa applications. Many of my constituents have had applications inexplicably refused, usually because of Home Office errors, which were later overturned following an intervention from my office. As the hon. Member for Glasgow East said earlier, we do not want to get into the wider debate, but I will mention the recent example of my constituent Sabir Zazai, the chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council. He was being honoured by Glasgow University for 20 years of remarkable contribution to civil society, but his father almost missed out on going to the graduation ceremony, where he was to receive his honorary doctorate, because he was refused a visit visa. That is exactly the type of case that speaks to the heart of the issue that we are talking about today, although we are talking about a different tier of visas.