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Clause 57

Regulations

Amendment made: 5, page 49, line 24, at end insert—

“() regulations under section (Extension to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)(1) or (2),”. —(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment provides that regulations made under the new clause inserted by NC7 will be subject to the draft affirmative procedure.

Clause 59

Extent

Amendment made: 6, page 50, line 17, at end insert—

‘( ) “Sections (Transfer of responsibility for relevant children) to (Scheme for transfer of responsibility for relevant children) extend to England and Wales only.”’ —

(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment provides that the new clauses inserted by NC3 to NC6 extend to England and Wales only. Regulations made under the new clause inserted by NC7 may be used to apply the provisions in Wales.

Schedule 9

Availability of local authority support

Amendments made: 7, page 121, line 40, at end insert—

“After paragraph 1 insert—

“1A (1) A person to whom this paragraph applies is not eligible for assistance under section 23C(4)(b), 23CA(4) or 24B(2)(b) of the Children Act 1989 (grants to meet expenses connected with education or training) which consists of a grant to enable the person to meet all or part of the person’s tuition fees.

(2) The duty in section 23C(4)(b) or 23CA(4) of that Act and the power in section 24B(2)(b) of that Act may not be exercised or performed in respect of a person to whom this paragraph applies so as to make a grant to enable the person to meet all or part of the person’s tuition fees.

(3) This paragraph applies to a person in England who is aged 18 or over and who—

(a) has leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom which has been granted for a limited period,

(b) is an asylum-seeker, or

(c) has made an application for leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom which has not been withdrawn or determined.

(4) In this paragraph “tuition fees” means fees payable for a course of a description mentioned in Schedule 6 to the Education Reform Act 1988.”

1 Dec 2015 : Column 262

This amendment prevents local authorities in England from paying the higher education tuition fees of adult migrant care leavers deemed to be overseas students because of their immigration status. Instead, to obtain such support, the person will be required to qualify under the Student Support Regulations.

Amendment 8, page 123, leave out lines 10 and 11 and insert—

“(c) who is not a relevant failed asylum seeker, and”.

This amendment and amendment 9 define those who are or may be supported under section 95A of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and who therefore may not be supported under the regulations made under paragraph 10A of Schedule 3 to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

Amendment 9, page 123, line 12, at end insert—

“( ) A person is a “relevant failed asylum seeker” for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)(c) if the person is a failed asylum seeker within the meaning of Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and—

(a) the person is receiving support under section 95A of that Act,

(b) the person has made an application for such support which has not been refused, or

(c) there are reasonable grounds for believing such support would be provided to the person if an application by the person for such support were made.”

See the explanatory statement for amendment 8.

Amendment 10, page 123, line 23, after “82(1),” insert—

“( ) the appeal is not one that, by virtue of section 92(6), must be continued from outside the United Kingdom,”.

This amendment excludes appeals which must be pursued from outside the UK under section 92(6) of the 2002 Act from the reference in paragraph 10A(3)(b) to an appeal pending within the meaning of section 104 of that Act.

Amendment 11, page 123, line 29, after “that” insert

“a person specified in regulations under this paragraph is satisfied that”.

This amendment clarifies that the local authority or another person specified in the regulations is to be satisfied that condition D in sub-paragraph 10A(5) of Schedule 3 to the 2002 Act is met in order for support to be provided under that sub-paragraph.

Amendment 12, page 123, line 30, at end insert—

“( ) Regulations under this paragraph may specify—

(a) factors which a person specified by virtue of sub-paragraph (5) may or must take into account in making a determination under that sub-paragraph;

(b) factors which such a person must not take into account in making such a determination.”

This amendment provides that the regulations made under paragraph 10A of Schedule 3 to the 2002 Act may specify factors which a local authority or another person may or must, or must not, take into account in determining whether condition D in sub-paragraph 10A(5) is met.

Amendment 13, page 124, leave out lines 16 and 17 and insert—

“(b) who is not a relevant failed asylum seeker, and”.

This amendment and amendment 14 define those who are or may be supported under section 95A of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and who therefore may not be supported under the regulations made under paragraph 10B of Schedule 3 to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

Amendment 14, page 124, line 18, at end insert—

“( ) A person is a “relevant failed asylum seeker” for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)(b) if the person is a failed asylum seeker within the meaning of Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and—

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(a) the person is receiving support under section 95A of that Act,

(b) the person has made an application for such support which has not been refused, or

(c) there are reasonable grounds for believing such support would be provided to the person if an application by the person for such support were made.”

See the explanatory statement for amendment 13.

Amendment 15, page 124, line 31, after “82(1),” insert—

“( ) the appeal is not one that, by virtue of section 92(6), must be continued from outside the United Kingdom,”.

This amendment excludes appeals which must be pursued from outside the UK under section 92(6) of the 2002 Act from the reference in paragraph 10B(3)(c) to an appeal pending within the meaning of section 104 of that Act.

Amendment 16, page 124, line 36, at end insert—

“( ) Regulations under this paragraph may specify—

(a) factors which a person specified by virtue of paragraph (b) of sub-paragraph (4) may or must take into account in making a determination under that paragraph;

(b) factors which such a person must not take into account in making such a determination.”

This amendment provides that the regulations made under paragraph 10B of Schedule 3 to the 2002 Act may specify factors which a local authority or another person may or must, or must not, take into account in determining whether support needs to be provided under sub-paragraph 10B(4).

Amendment 17, page 125, line 19, at end insert—

“(1) Paragraph 15 (power to amend Schedule 3) is amended as follows.

(2) After paragraph (a) insert—

“(aa) to modify any of the classes of person to whom paragraph 1 applies;”.

(3) In paragraph (c) after “remove” insert “, or modify the application of,”.

(4) After paragraph (c) insert—

“(d) to enable regulations to be made providing for arrangements to be made for support to be provided to a class of person to whom paragraph 1 applies;

(b) to apply paragraph 1A in relation to Wales;

(c) to make provision which has a similar effect to paragraph 1A and which applies in relation to Scotland or Northern Ireland.”

In paragraph 16(2)(d) (power for regulations or order under Schedule to make consequential provision) after “amending” insert “, repealing or revoking”.”—(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment amends paragraphs 15 and 16 of Schedule 3 to the 2002 Act so that regulations made under them may apply, or make equivalent provision for, the changes made to that Schedule by Schedule 9 in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Clause 25

Search for nationality documents by detainee custody officers etc

Amendments made: 3, page 32, line 20, leave out “strip” and insert “full”.

This amendment and amendment 4 replace the term “strip” search with “full” search to reflect more appropriately the nature of the power.

Amendment 4, page 33, line 10, leave out “strip” and insert “full”.—(James Brokenshire.)

See the explanatory statement for amendment 3.

1 Dec 2015 : Column 264

Clause 34

Appeals within the United Kingdom: certification of human rights claims

Amendment proposed: 27, page 39, line 6, leave out clause 34—(Stuart C. McDonald.)

The House divided:

Ayes 260, Noes 304.

Division No. 136]

[

6.16 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

Ashworth, Jonathan

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bardell, Hannah

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Black, Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Butler, Dawn

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Cherry, Joanna

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

Day, Martyn

De Piero, Gloria

Docherty, Martin John

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Ferrier, Margaret

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hayman, Sue

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hillier, Meg

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hosie, Stewart

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Paisley, Ian

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Pugh, John

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Shannon, Jim

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Marion Fellows

and

Owen Thompson

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Davies, Byron

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Elliott, Tom

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Frazer, Lucy

Freer, Mike

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Kinahan, Danny

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Sarah Newton

and

Simon Kirby

Question accordingly negatived.

1 Dec 2015 : Column 265

1 Dec 2015 : Column 266

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1 Dec 2015 : Column 268

Third Reading

6.29 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

We have heard considerable debate and lively discussion as the Immigration Bill has been discussed today and at the various other stages. A range of views and concerns have been expressed and considered amendments have been voted on. As we come to Third Reading, it is important that we remember why the Bill is so necessary, so I want to reflect on what we believe the Bill will do.

As I said on Second Reading, we must continue to build an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and people who come here legitimately to play by the rules and contribute to our society. That means ensuring that immigration is balanced and sustainable and that net migration can be managed.

I am sure that the whole House will agree that, without immigration, this country would not be the thriving multiracial, multifaith democracy that it is today. Immigration has brought tremendous benefits—to our economy, our culture and our society—but, as I have said before, when net migration is too high, and the pace of change too fast, it puts pressure on schools, hospitals, accommodation, transport and social services, and it can drive down wages for people on low incomes. That is not fair on the British public and it is not fair on those who come here legitimately and play by the rules. So since 2010 the Government have reformed the chaotic and uncontrolled immigration system that we inherited, and instead we are building one that works in the national interest.

This Bill will ensure that we can go further in bringing clarity, fairness and integrity to the immigration system. I would like to thank right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House for their constructive contributions in shaping this Bill during its parliamentary stages, and all those who have been involved in working on it: the members of the Committee, the House authorities, the organisations who gave evidence to the Bill Committee, and those who responded to all the consultations and provided briefing on the Bill. I thank and commend my right hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration for the thoughtful way in which he has steered the Bill through the House. It has been important and substantial work. I want to highlight briefly some of the measures in the Bill.

The exploitation of vulnerable people by unscrupulous employers is an issue that has been raised by victims’ campaign groups, charitable organisations and Members

1 Dec 2015 : Column 269

in this House many times before. We know that labour market exploitation can be committed by organised criminal gangs, and it is clear that workers’ rights need to be enforced more effectively, and that the current regulatory framework needs improvement. This Bill will create a new statutory Director of Labour Market Enforcement to oversee and co-ordinate the drive for more effective enforcement across the spectrum of non-compliance.

The House will appreciate that illegal working remains one of the principal pull factors for people coming to live in the UK illegally, so we are taking the necessary step of making illegal working a criminal offence. This addresses a genuine gap in our ability to use proceeds of crime powers to seize and confiscate the profits made by those who choose to break our immigration laws. But we should be clear that this measure is not intended to—nor will it—punish the vulnerable, such as those who are trafficked here and forced to work illegally. The safeguards provided in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 will continue to protect people in those circumstances. Instead, we want to deal with those illegal migrants who choose to work here illegally when they should, and could, leave the UK. But we must also target the employers who facilitate illegal working. The Bill will allow us to strengthen sanctions for employers who knowingly turn a blind eye to the fact that they are employing illegal workers.

We also know that a great deal of illegal working happens in licensed sectors. The Bill will ensure that those working illegally or employing illegal workers cannot obtain licences to sell alcohol or run late night take-away premises. Similarly, we will be requiring licensing authorities to check the immigration status of taxi or private hire vehicle drivers. The message is simple—illegal working is wrong, and it will not be tolerated.

Too often, illegal migrants ignore the law, remain illegally in this country and take advantage of our very generous public services. That cannot be allowed to continue, so we will further restrict access to services. We will make it easier for landlords to evict illegal migrants while also introducing new offences for rogue landlords who repeatedly rent to illegal migrants. We will crack down on those driving while in the UK illegally by ensuring that, if they hold UK driving licences, their licences can be seized and taken out of circulation. We will also strengthen the consequences for those continuing to drive without lawful immigration status, including powers to detain their vehicle.

We will create a duty on banks and building societies periodically to check the immigration status of existing current account holders so that accounts held by illegal migrants can be closed or frozen following a court order.

It is right that we address the appeals issue so that we can remove people with no right to be in the UK. In 2014 we introduced our deport now, appeal later scheme, which has helped us to deport over 230 foreign national offenders. In our manifesto, we committed to extending that to all human rights cases, provided it does not breach human rights. The Bill allows us to do just that, to ensure that illegal migrants who have not been offered leave to remain cannot frustrate the removal process.

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We will also ensure as a result of the Bill that when foreign criminals are released on bail we can place a satellite tag on them so that we know their whereabouts and can improve public protection.

The Government are clear that we have a duty to offer support to those who come to the UK and seek our protection while their claim is being assessed. But it cannot be right for that support to continue once it has been established and confirmed by the courts that an individual has no need of our protection and could, and should, leave the UK. Such individuals are illegal migrants, and to support them further would be unfair on those who do need our protection and our support to establish a new life here. The Bill redresses that balance and removes incentives to remain here illegally.

Two other aspects are important. Controlling our borders is vital in protecting national security. It is imperative that we know who is seeking to enter the UK and that we are able to stop them if they seek to do us harm. The Bill gives Border Force officers more powers to intercept vessels at sea, increase penalties for airline and port operators who fail to present passengers to immigration control, and automatically apply UN or EU travel bans to stop dangerous individuals coming to the UK.

Secondly, in line with our manifesto, we will ensure that customer-facing public sector workers are able to speak English. Where communicating with the British public is a vital part of the job, fluent English should be a prerequisite, and through this Bill we will legislate to ensure that this becomes a reality.

When the Government first came to power in 2010, the immigration system that we inherited was chaotic and uncontrolled. Over the past five years we have taken great strides forward in reforming it. We have tightened immigration routes where abuse was rife, shut down more than 920 bogus colleges, capped the number of non-EEA migrant workers admitted to the UK, reformed family visas, and protected our public services from abuse. These reforms are working, but we must go further. This Bill will build on our achievements and ensure that we have an immigration system that is firm and effective, fair on the British public and on those who come here legitimately, and, most importantly, serves the national interest. I commend this Bill to the House.

6.37 pm

Andy Burnham (Leigh) (Lab): As the Home Secretary said, we have had a lively and thorough debate, if not a genuine dialogue, as the movement from the Government has been minimal. We have not won many amendments but we have certainly won the argument. For that, I thank my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) for the assured and expert way he led for the Opposition on the Bill. He was, of course, our star summer signing and, like one of Mr Wenger’s best from the old days, he has managed to outshine his considerable reputation already, with more to come.

I would also like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion), who brought an invaluable insight from her outstanding work on tackling the exploitation of children, and my hon. Friends the Members for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck), for

1 Dec 2015 : Column 271

Workington (Sue Hayman), for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) and for Blackburn (Kate Hollern) who served on the Committee. Our thanks go too to the co-Chairs of the Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen) and the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), and to the third-party organisations that the Home Secretary referred to, which made a very important contribution.

Figures were published last week that I believe set the context for this Third Reading debate. The ONS reports that net migration has reached a record high of 336,000—up 82,000 from last year and 101,000 higher than the level it was when the Prime Minister came to office. I heard the Home Secretary’s comments about the record of the previous Government. She needs to have a look at her own record before she comes to this House and points the finger in this direction. That is the record of her Government. Let us set it against what they promised.

The Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto made a solemn pledge to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands”. “If we don’t meet it, boot us out,” said the Prime Minister. The 2015 manifesto made the same pledge—and we now know that, rather than reducing net migration, the Government are increasing it by tens of thousands. That is the Home Secretary’s record, and it is lamentable even by the standards of the Government. The Home Secretary likes to go to the Conservative party conference and talk a tough game, but the truth is that she cannot escape her own record. The very scale of the gap between her rhetoric and the reality continues to erode public trust on this most important and sensitive of issues.

As I made clear on Second Reading, I will always support practical measures to deal with the public’s legitimate concerns about immigration, and there are some measures in the Bill that we support—particularly the emphasis on labour market enforcement and English language requirements in public services. What I will not do, however, is lend our name to desperate attempts to legislate in haste and to half-baked measures that owe more to a PR exercise to camouflage a record of failure than a considered attempt to create the firm but fair immigration system of which the Home Secretary spoke.

We will refuse to give the Bill a Third Reading tonight because the Government have failed to listen in Committee and failed to produce any meaningful evidence that the measures in the Bill will have any more success than the steps that they took in the last Parliament. Worse, by legislating in this ill-conceived way, they have produced a Bill that could have a number of unintended and pernicious consequences, as my hon. and learned Friend the shadow immigration Minister so skilfully exposed in Committee.

First, the Bill could undermine all the progress made on tackling modern slavery and human trafficking—for which, actually, the Government deserve some credit. Secondly, the Bill could leave desperate children utterly destitute. Thirdly, it could lead to discrimination in the workplace and the housing market and erode important civil liberties and human rights. I shall take each issue quickly in turn.

I have real concerns that the creation of a new offence of illegal working could deter vulnerable people, such as trafficked women and children, from having the courage to come forward to report rogue employers and

1 Dec 2015 : Column 272

criminal gangs. Those unscrupulous individuals already hold the whip hand; the tragedy is that the Bill will strengthen their grip over these most vulnerable of people. The House should reject the Bill. Working to put food in your kids’ mouths should never be a criminal offence. More broadly, if employees fear losing wages or even imprisonment by coming forward to report employers, might not the effect of the Bill be the reverse of what the Home Secretary wants? Might it not actually increase the size of the black market?

Those are genuine concerns and I have not seen any convincing evidence from the Government to suggest that they are misplaced. Although the Government have remained unmoved during the Bill’s passage through this House, I feel sure that their lordships will wish to push them hard on this issue in another place.

Steve Rotheram (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Government are focusing on the wrong party in the Bill? They should be concentrating—[Interruption.] They should be concentrating, as the Home Secretary should while I am speaking, on clamping down on unscrupulous employers who prey on the misery of people forced into terrible conditions, such as those exploited on Britain’s building sites. I have actually seen that with my own eyes.

Andy Burnham: My hon. Friend has more experience than anybody in the House of the workplaces that might be most affected by the Bill. He is absolutely right to say that unscrupulous employers—sadly, they do exist in the construction industry—will feel emboldened by the Bill. They will know that exploited people on building sites will no longer have the courage to report them to the authorities. [Interruption.] The Home Secretary says that is “desperate”, but those people are desperate and she is putting them in a worse position. She needs to think about that before she puts the Bill into law.

Another concern is about clause 34, which removes support from families—a power that the Home Office has long sought; the proposal was put to me as a Minister and piloted under the last Labour Government. The official evaluation of that pilot found no evidence of increased removals but plenty of families going underground and losing touch with the authorities. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Central said in the debate, there is also the shunting of costs from the Home Office to local authorities.

In the end, however, the question we need to ask ourselves is much more fundamental: should any child—whoever they are, wherever they come from—be denied food and clothes while they are on British soil? I do not think so and I would venture to say that most Members on both sides would, in their heart of hearts, think the same. The great irony is that it was the then Conservative Opposition—specifically, the shadow Home Office team—in the last but one Parliament who led the charge against what was then known as clause 9. They were right to force the then Government to pilot this change, and we were right to drop the whole idea once the results of the pilot were clear. If what they said was right then, why is it not right now?

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) on raising widely held concerns about the need for

1 Dec 2015 : Column 273

immigration rules that allow for the reunification of refugee families. She spoke powerfully about that. I hope that the Government will continue to look at this, particularly at new clause 11, which calls for a review of the rules.

Finally, I turn to the concern about the potential of the Bill to increase discrimination and erode basic rights and liberties. We live in the most challenging of times when there is no shortage of people with extreme views who seek to set race against race and religion against religion. We are legislating in a febrile climate in which discrimination can easily flourish, and this House must take great care that nothing we do adds to that. The right response to these challenges is not to erode important rights and liberties but to do the exact opposite—to protect and champion them. Given the huge backlog in the Home Office and its consistently poor record on initial decisions, the deport first, appeal later approach could undermine Britain’s position in the world as a bastion of fair play and higher ideals. Despite the evidence published by the Government, I remain concerned that the threat of imprisonment to landlords who rent flat or houses to people without immigration status could lead to discrimination in the housing market, and a greater sense among black and Asian young people that they are being victimised.

Let me end on a more positive note that gives us a glimmer of hope for the Bill’s onward passage to another place. I am pleased that the Minister, whom Labour Members have time for, has conceded significant ground on immigration detention. That has had strong support from Members on both sides, including the hon. Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller), who has Yarl’s Wood detention centre in his constituency and has long called for a more humane system.

Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) (Lab): Last Thursday, I attended Yarl’s Wood having spoken to a number of charities that are assisting people there. I met a young lady of about 25—she does not know exactly how old she is because she is an orphan—who was trafficked from her home country of India. She has now been taken into detention at Yarl’s Wood and does not know when she will get out. She is 25 weeks pregnant and absolutely terrified. She spoke to me about many basic healthcare services being denied to her. [Interruption.] I appreciate that the Minister has said that this will be looked into, but does my right hon. Friend agree that it is a matter of extreme urgency?

Andy Burnham: I do agree with my hon. Friend, who puts her point very well. There are obviously concerns about the case she mentions given the question of the inappropriateness of detention for children, pregnant women, and victims of rape and torture. The Minister acknowledged the issue of minimising the time spent on administrative detention, and the effectiveness of administrative detention, and we are grateful for his recognition of that.

It is reassuring that on this issue, at least, the Government have shown a willingness to listen, but that is only the start of what they need to do. They will need to do a lot more listening, particularly to their lordships, before this Bill is in a fit state to reach the statute book.

1 Dec 2015 : Column 274

6.48 pm

Stuart C. McDonald: I, too, place on record my thanks to all the organisations that have supported and advised MPs during the passage of this Bill. We have had a passionate and thoughtful debate and we have one final, brief chance to debate further, so I intend to take it.

Some would wish to criticise the Immigration Minister in the light of the latest abject failure to make any progress on the net migration target, but not us: we are critical of the net migration target itself, which long precedes the Minister. On Second Reading, I described the net migration target as unhelpful and unachievable. Last week’s announcement suggests that my description was far too understated. The immigration target is, frankly, total bunkum, complete baloney, and utterly bogus. There is no research or plan that explains why tens of thousands is the right target or an achievable target. Indeed, we learned today that the Chancellor’s spending plans appear to depend entirely on the net migration target being spectacularly missed. Without forecast inward migration, we will not be able to see through the spending plans that he set out last week. It is time for an honest debate on immigration about what is desirable and what is achievable.

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP): Week after week at my constituency surgeries, I am left speechless as I try to explain to people coming from the most difficult of circumstances and wanting to seek a fresh home, make a fresh start and contribute to our society and economy, why this Government refuse to let them in. Does my hon. Friend agree that the net migration target is completely ideological and has nothing to do with what is actually good for the country?

Mr Speaker: I could never imagine the adjective “speechless” being applied to the hon. Gentleman.

Stuart C. McDonald: I agree with my hon. Friend.

Such an honest debate must include discussion of how we assist communities that face challenges because of significant levels of migration. It must be about how we incentivise migrants to live in the parts of the United Kingdom that most need them and can most easily accommodate them. It should be about whether and how we can properly count those coming in and out, and how we can enforce the rules we already have, rather than create endless new rules. The debate must no longer proceed on the basis of the vicious climate of hostility policy that the Government pursue, and which affects all of us. We need a better approach to migration than the ludicrous one-size-fits-all target, which actually incentivises—my hon. Friend alluded to this—the exclusion of husbands and wives, the persecuted and the bright young students who will be the leaders of tomorrow.

We should reject this flawed Bill, which is designed to pursue a flawed target. Indeed, saying that it seeks to pursue that flawed target is in itself almost certainly being too kind, because it has zero chance of getting us anywhere near the target. This is not pursuit, but pretence. The Bill has been well described as “immigration theatre”. That is the fundamental flaw at the heart of the Bill, but there are so many problems with its pernicious clauses that it is not possible to do them all justice in the time available.

1 Dec 2015 : Column 275

The Government may feel compelled to be seen to do something about net migration, but in reality the Bill will do nothing to resolve the challenges of migration, nor to maximise its benefits, and it will not certainly achieve the bogus target. However we look at it—from the perspective of the rule of law, human rights, the best interests of children, or just simple common decency—the Bill is pretty desperate stuff. I encourage Members to vote against it on Third Reading.

6.52 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I will speak only very briefly. Unfortunately, the Home Affairs Committee sitting has prevented me and other members of it from being in the Chamber, though the hon. Gentleman for Cumbernauld and the rest of the places he represents—

Mr Speaker: The hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald).

Keith Vaz: I knew you would remember, Mr Speaker. The hon. Gentleman did tell me that he would be in the House to speak on behalf of his party, which of course he does so very eloquently.

I join the shadow Home Secretary and the Home Secretary in welcoming all the good work done by Members on both sides of the House in scrutinising the Bill, particularly the new shadow Minister for Immigration. The shadow Home Secretary has stolen him from the Home Affairs Committee. He says he is the star striker—he is not yet the Jamie Vardy of the team, but he is going that way. Sorry, I could not think of an Arsenal player; otherwise I would have mentioned him.

I think that I have served longer than any other Member in the Chamber at the moment, with the exception of the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond), who had a short gap to be the First Minister of Scotland. In the 28 years I have been in the House, we have had about 20 immigration Bills., Every time we have one, the Home Secretary in successive Governments has got up at the Dispatch Box and said that, as a result of passing the Bill, immigration will be kept under control, the system will be much better, illegal migration will be reduced and that is the end of the show as far as such matters are concerned. Unfortunately, it never ends up like that: we pass legislation, and I am afraid that at the end of the day we have to come back again to pass another Bill.

I hope that that will not be the case with this Immigration Bill, because during the next four years until the next election I do not want the Home Secretary—either the right hon. Lady or her successor, although I am sure she will be in office for a long while—to have to come back and tell the House, “Well, it didn’t quite work, so we’re going to try something new.” My concern is not with passing legislation, although that is of course what the House is for, but with the way in which we administer the legislation. As reflected in the reports of the Home Affairs Committee, my concern has always been with the administration of the Home Office.

The Home Secretary has taken great strides. She has abolished the UK Border Agency and replaced it with a much more effective organisation. Sarah Rapson and her team are doing a much better job than their predecessors. However, there are always examples of situations in which illegal migration is not under control.

1 Dec 2015 : Column 276

Only yesterday, as a result of work done by the BBC in the south-west, undercover reporters posing as illegal migrants went to various places in Kent and Sussex and offered themselves as employees—

[

Interruption.

]

I can send the Home Secretary the video. They offered themselves as employees to work illegally in those two counties, and they were offered jobs at £2.80 an hour. They were also given advice by the employers on how to evade enforcement officers.

So no matter what legislation we pass here, at the end of the day we need an administration that is fit for purpose. I hope that, as a result of passing this legislation, we will get more focus on how we enforce the law, to ensure that those who wish to come to this country legally—students and others who genuinely want to study and work here—can do so, and that those who want to come here illegally will not be allowed to do so and will not be allowed to offer themselves for employment and to be put at risk by unscrupulous employers. There is a huge job of work to be done on the way in which we deal with enforcement, and if we can get the enforcement section of UK Visas and Immigration up to the same standard as the other parts of the organisation, it will make a huge difference. I hope that the Home Secretary will take that message with her as she continues her long journey running the Home Office.

The Select Committee heard today from the head of the UK Border Force, Sir Charles Montgomery, that he had not yet been told what his allocation was to be following the cuts—or should I say the austerity measures —at the Home Office. The Home Secretary fought a good fight with the Chancellor to protect the budget for counter-terrorism and policing, but she obviously did not win the fight in respect of the Home Office’s other functions. I hope that Sir Charles will be given that information as soon as possible, because protecting our borders, especially in the current climate, is one of the key concerns of the House and, I know, of the Government.

6.57 pm

Richard Fuller: I am grateful to you for calling me to speak, Mr Speaker, particularly as it was not possible for me to be here for the majority of the Front-Bench speeches. I want to follow on from some of the comments of the Chair of the Select Committee, the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), about the passage of the Bill.

To be honest, I am interested not so much in what is in the Bill as in two important things that have been revealed by our discussions. The first is that there exists across Parliament a wish to see fundamental reform of the way in which we manage immigration and detention, and that wish is shared by people of all political views, from those who take a hard line on immigration to those who take a more lenient view. Secondly, there are indications—the early green shoots of spring—that the Home Office recognises the existence of that cross-party consensus. This is a tribute not only to Members of the House but to the all-party group and to Sarah Teather, the former Member for Brent Central, who instigated it. I appreciate being able to put this on record.

6.58 pm

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): I am grateful to you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to speak briefly in this important debate.

1 Dec 2015 : Column 277

My hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller) said that it is important that this House reaches a consensus on immigration and on this Bill. It is also vital that the country recognises that there is a consensus about dealing with the immigration challenge. When all of us, a few months ago, stood on the doorsteps talking to our constituents, many of them said, “First and foremost, you must deal with the challenge of immigration.”

The right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) says that we must not keep legislating and I suppose he is right, but I believe that this Bill will play a significant and signal part in signalling to our constituents that we are serious about dealing with the challenge. This Bill will deal with the challenge and I commend it to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The House divided:

Ayes 307, Noes 245.

Division No. 137]

[

6.59 pm

AYES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Davies, Byron

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Elliott, Tom

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Frazer, Lucy

Freer, Mike

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Hermon, Lady

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Kinahan, Danny

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mary

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, David

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Sarah Newton

and

Simon Kirby

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Arkless, Richard

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bardell, Hannah

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Black, Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Butler, Dawn

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Cherry, Joanna

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

Day, Martyn

De Piero, Gloria

Docherty, Martin John

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hillier, Meg

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hosie, Stewart

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mulholland, Greg

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, rh Angus

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Streeting, Wes

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Weir, Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Noes:

Sue Hayman

and

Jeff Smith

Question accordingly agreed to.

1 Dec 2015 : Column 278

1 Dec 2015 : Column 279

1 Dec 2015 : Column 280

1 Dec 2015 : Column 281

Bill read the Third time and passed.

business of the House

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Orders No. 15(2)(a) and No. 41A(3)),

That, at this day’s sitting, the Motion in the name of Chris Grayling relating to sittings of the House may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour, and Standing Order No. 41A relating to Deferred Divisions shall not apply.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.

deferred divisions

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 41A(3)),

That, at this day’s sitting, Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to the Motion in the name of Priti Patel relating to Social Security.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.

1 Dec 2015 : Column 282

Social Security

7.13 pm

The Minister for Employment (Priti Patel): I beg to move,

That the draft Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 26 November, be approved.

The order will ensure that the people of Northern Ireland can benefit from the radical programme of welfare reforms enabled by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 in Great Britain. That landmark act ushered in a new welfare contract with the British people. It said to those who are able to work, “Work will always pay”. It said to the most vulnerable in society, “We will continue to provide you with the support you need”, and it said to the taxpayer, “Your hard-earned money will be spent responsibly”.

This new contract reflects principles which continue to guide our welfare reform programme—that work is the best route out of poverty, that spending on welfare should be sustainable, that people on benefits should face the same choices as those in work, and that the most vulnerable should be protected. Those are the principles that underpin the Welfare Reform Act 2012, and they are the principles that underpin the Order in Council before the House today.

Before I turn to the specifics of the order, I want to remind the House of the desperate need for welfare reform in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. When we took office in 2010 nearly 1 in 5 households had no one working, the number of households in which no one had ever worked had nearly doubled, and nearly 1.5 million people had been on benefits for most of the previous decade. The welfare system, with its byzantine complexity and perverse incentives, had allowed people to become detached from the rest of society, trapped in worklessness and dependency.

Over the past five years, we have stuck to our economic plan, delivered welfare reform and seen great progress: employment is up over 2 million; there are over 680,000 fewer workless households; and the number of people claiming the main out-of-work benefits has fallen by 1 million. In Northern Ireland, too, there have been improvements in the labour market, with 33,000 more people in employment than in 2010 and the claimant count down nearly 30% over the same period, but there is still much more to do. Northern Ireland has a lower proportion of its working age population in work than any other country or region of the UK; 130,000 households have no one in work; and 5% of those claiming the main out-of-work benefits across the UK as a whole are in Northern Ireland, which is well above its share of the UK working-age population.

In rebalancing Northern Ireland’s economy to meet the challenges of today’s global economy, we are tackling these challenges and creating jobs. Economic reforms, such as the proposed corporation tax reduction, will be vital, but economic reforms alone will not create a more prosperous society or improve the life chances of people trapped in dependency. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has said many times in this House, economic reform must be complemented by social reform. We must ensure that people are supported and incentivised to take advantage of the opportunities that economic growth can create, and that is what the order does.

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Improved incentives are at the heart of universal credit. The single taper rate ensures that work will always pay, and the stronger conditionality framework encourages claimants to do everything they reasonably can to find or prepare for work.

Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind): The Minister will know that the Belfast agreement created two statutory organisations: the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. What consultation have the Government conducted with them on these welfare reforms?

Priti Patel: Full and public consultation has taken place, and all the information has been made available repeatedly.

Early evidence suggests that universal credit is making a difference. Compared to current jobseeker’s allowance claimants, universal credit claimants look for work more, enter work faster and earn more. The benefit cap is also having a positive impact in Great Britain, with capped households 41% more likely to go into work than similar uncapped households. It must be right that the people of Northern Ireland benefit from these reforms, so the order provides the legislative framework to implement them in Northern Ireland, as well as replacing disability living allowance with the personal independence payment, which helps towards additional living costs associated with a long-term health condition or disability and is based on how a person’s condition affects them, not on the condition they have; reforming contributory benefits so that they align with universal credit conditionality, including through the introduction of a claimant commitment as a condition of entitlement; time limiting employment support allowance to underline the principle that with the right support claimants are expected to return to work; and introducing tougher penalties for benefit fraud.

The transitional provisions in the order allow the Secretary of State to exercise the vast majority of regulation-making powers in the first instance, and our intention is to introduce the regulations in the early new year, working with colleagues in Northern Ireland. It will be for the Northern Ireland Executive, however, to implement the changes, and regulations relating to the top-ups outlined in the Stormont House and fresh start agreements will be taken forward by the relevant Northern Ireland Department in the Assembly.

It is important to remember what the order is about and what it is not about. It is not intended to diminish Northern Ireland’s devolution settlement. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has made clear, the legislative approach we are taking has arisen at the request of the Northern Ireland parties, and the Assembly has given its consent. The order also reflects the draft Northern Ireland Welfare Reform Bill, which has been debated at great length in the Assembly over the past three years. Accordingly, the order includes a number of amendments that reflect the will of the Assembly, including an 18-month limit for higher level sanctions and discretionary payments.

This order is about building and delivering the fresh start agreement. It is about supporting hard work and aspiration, and creating the right incentives for people to fulfil their potential and create a safe, secure and self-sufficient life, supported by, but independent from,

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the state. It is about making sure that spending on welfare is sustainable and fair to the taxpayer, while at the same time protecting the most vulnerable. Building an economy based on higher pay, lower taxes and lower welfare is both right for the UK and right for Northern Ireland. I commend the order to the House.

7.20 pm

Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab): It is important to be mindful throughout today’s debate of the events that have led us to this point. It is now almost a full year since the Stormont House agreement was finalised, after months of negotiation between five Northern Irish political parties, involving representatives of the UK, US and Irish Governments. Those negotiations sought to reach a lasting solution to some of the problems that have afflicted Northern Ireland not just in recent years, but throughout its history. The agreement made a substantial amount of progress on some of the most contentious issues, including flags, parades and dealing with the past, while also seeking a way forward on issues such as welfare reform and the devolution of corporation tax.

The Stormont House agreement marked a turning point, but in the longer term it has not provided a conclusive resolution to most of the issues that the parties sought to address. Divisions have remained in the 12 months since and have escalated at frequent intervals. On more than one occasion this year, it appeared that there was a genuine risk not just that the devolution settlement might collapse, but that we might see a return to direct rule for the first time in almost a decade. Whatever their disagreements, it has always been clear that none of the parties wanted that. Neither, of course, did hon. Members on either side of this Chamber.

My hope is that today marks the end of a difficult process that none of us wants to see repeated. The Northern Ireland (Welfare Reform) Act 2015, which received Royal Assent this week—together with this order, which it enabled—takes an important step towards bringing the events of the last 12 months to a close. I suspect that no one will see this order as a perfect solution. Most will nevertheless regard it as necessary at least, in so far as it paves the way for an end to financial penalties and a return to stable government. The Opposition will not, therefore, be voting against the order today, just as we did not vote against the enabling Bill, which became law last week.

We have serious concerns about many of the Government’s welfare reforms and, as the Minister knows, we have not held back from expressing them at the appropriate time. We have also, however, been consistent in our view that these debates are not the right forum for rehearsing the arguments we have been making elsewhere. We sincerely hope that, in bringing recent disagreements over welfare reform in Northern Ireland to a close, this legislation will mark the beginning of a new chapter in its history. It is hoped by many that it will pave the way for progress on long stalled issues, including the devolution of corporation tax, as I mentioned, as well as a voluntary redundancy scheme to mitigate the impact of recent civil service cuts on Northern Ireland’s workforce.

We particularly welcome the provisions made for transitional protections, extending over a number of years, to help to mitigate the impact of some of the

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most significant changes. These include important protections for existing claimants affected by the bedroom tax and the transition from disability living allowance to the personal independence payment. I understand that agreement has also been reached for a number of changes to be made to the way that universal credit will be implemented in Northern Ireland, which include exemptions from the requirement for single household payments, provisions to allow the housing costs element to be paid directly to landlords and protections in the sanctions regime for lone parents seeking work.

These are all welcome compromises on the part of the Department for Work and Pensions. Although they may not address all the concerns that have been raised about welfare reform in Northern Ireland, they will nevertheless go some way towards mitigating the impact on some of the most vulnerable among those affected.

Mr Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP): The hon. Lady is rightly outlining some of the beneficial mitigating measures that will come into effect in Northern Ireland. As a Member of Parliament in this part of the United Kingdom, does she perhaps look on the package in Northern Ireland with some shades of envy for her own constituents?

Emily Thornberry: I appreciate that some of the compromises that the DUP have reached for Northern Ireland are not outcomes that we have managed to achieve on the mainland. Many of the policies that I see in front of me are certainly things that the Labour party has called for, so I congratulate DUP Members. Let us call a spade a spade. These are all welcome compromises on the DUP’s part. Although they may not address all the concerns, they nevertheless go some way towards mitigating the impacts on some of the most vulnerable among those affected.

We must remember that the divisions that recent negotiations have sought to heal go far beyond welfare reform alone. As such, finalising this agreement will allow progress to be made in other areas, making available additional funding for the Police Service of Northern Ireland to step up its efforts to fight terrorism. There will also be new funding for community initiatives, among them efforts to bring down the peace walls that have historically divided Northern Ireland’s communities. The compromises reached on the part of the DUP helped to get the exceptional circumstances of Northern Ireland recognised. Disagreements no doubt remain, but the settlement reached between Stormont and Westminster nevertheless presents an opportunity to draw a line under the difficult events that we have lived through in recent months.

7.26 pm

Dr Alasdair McDonnell (Belfast South) (SDLP): I rise to speak briefly on this vexed issue because, quite simply, all that has to be said and can be said on the issue has been said. My hon. Friends and I have made our position abundantly clear on many occasions, but I could not let this statutory order pass without expressing my regrets. It is entirely regrettable that the role and responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly has been eroded and undermined as it has by the Government, by the DUP and by Sinn Féin.

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It is not clear to me whether Sinn Féin and the DUP did not realise the implications of locking into the Welfare Reform and Work Bill in the legislative consent motion, or whether they did not care. That is the situation we are in. It is particularly odd when the DUP actually voted against the Bill in this House, but then signed up to it in the Assembly.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I have listened with some incredulity to what the hon. Gentleman has said. Does he not accept that the Welfare Reform and Work Bill and the agreement for Northern Ireland represent a better deal for Northern Ireland than any other part of the UK has received? Indeed, the Labour party has already indicated its envy of the Northern Ireland deal, so will he not accept the good deal that we have—one that beats anywhere else in the United Kingdom?

Dr McDonnell: The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. The difficulty about it is that the DUP would have settled for a lot less. DUP Members argued for less time and again. Quite simply, I agree. The SDLP feels that, although the deal has its merits in some places, there are big gaps in it in others. Quite frankly, what we need to ensure is that those gaps are filled.

Ms Margaret Ritchie (South Down) (SDLP): Does my hon. Friend recall meetings we had with the noble Lord Freud in the other place back in February 2012 and in November 2012, when he indicated to our party delegation that those mitigations were then in place? Does my hon. Friend agree that it took some time for the then Minister for Social Development to come to his senses and realise that those mitigation measures would be in place?

Dr McDonnell: I thank my hon. Friend for her comments. I agree. I recall the meeting she mentions. In my opinion, what she is reflecting is the fact that it was a complex issue and it still is a complex issue. What comes to mind immediately—and I am glad that the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) drew my attention to it—is that the negotiation skills of Sinn Féin and the DUP have been very flawed. Quite simply, they were prepared to settle for a very bad deal, and now they are settling for just a bad deal.

I believe that we in the SDLP were right to argue that the Chancellor would have to introduce mitigation in relation to tax credits, and in due course he did, thus making that part of the debate redundant. Indeed, the £60 million top-ups are not only redundant but unnecessary. There must now be a debate about exactly where the money will be reallocated, because that is not clear. The SDLP believes that, instead of carving up poverty, we must establish a clear strategy that will relieve our present situation and enable us to concentrate on prosperity rather than welfare. However, that is a discussion for another time and another place.

Our party has argued for legislation in the Assembly but, failing that, while we have a high regard for the Secretary of State in many respects, we have been honest and open about the fact that, in this instance, we want to curb her influence and the undermining of the spirit of devolution. It is just a pity that Sinn Féin Members are not present to vote either with or against the Conservative Government. I do not know how they

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would vote on this occasion, but it is disappointing for us that DUP Members are being gung-ho here and voting in favour of these measures.

Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con): The hon. Gentleman is an extremely valuable member of the Select Committee. Does he accept that, in the spirit of devolution, which involves a power-sharing rather than a straight democratic arrangement, it is necessary for parties to make compromises? Yes, they can state what they really believe in, but at the end of the day they must make compromises in the spirit of devolution, because failing to do so could risk bringing down the devolution settlement itself. Indeed, that nearly happened.

Dr McDonnell: I fully respect our learned and hon. Friend and the issue that he has raised, but I put it to him that no party has been more willing to compromise on a whole range of issues than the SDLP. We were there at the beginning, we are there in the middle, and we will be there at the end, working to create consensus and partnership.

7.32 pm

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): I want to make it clear that the responsibility for this matter being debated in the House today lies fully with the SDLP and with Sinn Féin—and the Greens: the wee Green man in the Assembly. They used the powers that were available to block the legislation, created a constitutional and financial crisis in the Assembly, and hurt the many hundreds of thousands of people who found that for the last year the budget of the Assembly had been in disarray. The only way out of the impasse that had been created by the SDLP and Sinn Féin was to bring the legislation here. At the end of the day, common sense prevailed, and that is why we are in our present position.

Mr Gregory Campbell: Does my hon. Friend recognise that, on top of the problems that have been caused by the SDLP and Sinn Féin, more than £100 million worth of fines were levied on the Assembly as a result of that intransigence?

Sammy Wilson: Of course, that £100 million-plus could have been used to deal with many of the pressing problems faced by my hon. Friend’s constituents and mine, and, indeed. the constituents of all of us in the House tonight. They could not benefit from hip operations, eye operations or special needs provision in schools because money had been drained from the Northern Ireland budget unnecessarily. Let us be clear about this. The responsibility for the legislation being brought here rests with those who took the view that they did, even after concessions had been made. I want to thank the Ministers on the Treasury Bench who listened to the special case in Northern Ireland, albeit they made us pay for the changes ourselves. Nevertheless, they recognised there were special conditions in Northern Ireland and they were prepared to be flexible. I suspect that caused some difficulty for them with their constituents, because the same arrangements were not available here on the mainland. Nevertheless they were made available in Northern Ireland—although, as I said, the Northern Ireland Executive had to pay for the changes made.

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This was always going to be a difficult issue because of the parity principle. It is one of the reasons why at the very beginning when devolution was being set up we questioned whether welfare should ever be devolved; departure from the parity principle was always going to be very difficult. The arrangement was that, so long as Northern Ireland stayed in line with tax changes and benefit changes in the rest of the UK, through the annually managed expenditure, whatever the cost of welfare would be, it would be met by the Exchequer; it would not have to be found locally, but would be met by the Exchequer. It was perfectly legitimate to say, “We’re not going to allow you to go and do your own thing and then expect the Treasury to pick up the bill.” We expect there to be that parity principle and, that being the case, the devolution of welfare to the Northern Ireland Assembly was always going to create difficulties if parties decided to dig their heels in and ask for radically different arrangements.

It has been mentioned that my party voted against some of the things contained in the Bill at Westminster. That is true, but there are many things we voted for. We supported the benefit cap. We supported the move to universal credit and the simplification of benefit arrangements. We supported the principle that benefits should be set at a level to make work pay, and not to penalise people who went out and worked. We supported all those things, but there were things we were not happy with. We voted against them here. In some cases we were able to negotiate differences in Northern Ireland, and in some cases we were not, but we faced up to the reality that once the legislation had passed through Westminster the Northern Ireland budget was not going to be able to bear the cost of not implementing it in Northern Ireland.

It is ironic, however, that the SDLP should say Sinn Féin and the DUP rolled over to the Government on welfare reform. Let me give one example. When the hon. Member for South Down (Ms Ritchie) was Minister for Social Development, she put through a lot of statutory instruments that simply reflected welfare changes here and were introduced in Northern Ireland, very often without any debate. Indeed, it was her successor who introduced in Northern Ireland the removal of the spare room subsidy for the private rented sector, and then railed against it when it was introduced for tenants in the public rented sector. There was not a word about it in the Northern Ireland Assembly when her colleague Mr Attwood introduced that. So we can see a certain amount of conflict between the anti-welfare rhetoric of the SDLP and its willingness on many occasions to introduce welfare changes through the Assembly.

Lady Hermon: Instead of concentrating only on the SDLP, I would be intrigued to find out what persuaded Sinn Féin, after months and months of saying no to welfare reform, to agree with the DUP—and do not tell me it was the charm of the DUP; just explain why they changed their minds.

Sammy Wilson: As I have mentioned to the hon. Lady before, because she has asked me this previously, Sinn Féin has on many occasions adopted an intransigent attitude. It said it would never turn its back on the IRA, but at St Andrews we insisted that it had to turn its back on associations with all those who were involved in criminality before we were—

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Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Obviously, we are broadening the debate into other areas we are not expected to deal with, and I do believe we could have quite a bit more business to come.

Sammy Wilson: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon) is now going to have to do without an answer to that question because you have made it clear—

Mr Deputy Speaker: I am sure you can have a cup of tea later in order to answer it.

Sammy Wilson: Mr Deputy Speaker, you have made it clear to the hon. Lady that I would be digressing if I went down that route. The good thing is that Sinn Féin did face up to the reality that we could not go along a route where we did not have a sustainable budget and could not deliver services in Northern Ireland, we were going to hit a constitutional crisis and the devolution settlement was going to be under threat if we did not deal with this issue. I do not see what happened as a cop-out on our part, because we had always advocated that, if this matter could not be dealt with in the Assembly, it should be dealt with here—my only regret was that the Secretary of State did not take the powers earlier. Perhaps it is better that the powers were handed to her by the Northern Ireland Assembly and therefore we have this order tonight.

Ms Ritchie: Does the hon. Gentleman not recall that, when I was Minister for Social Development, I facilitated the request by the Social Development Committee, under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr Campbell)? He and others asked me whether it would be possible for money to be paid directly to the landlord rather than the tenant as part of housing allowance, in order to ensure the protection of tenants, and I was very glad to do it. Does the hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) also agree that the whole purpose of those statutory instruments was to ensure that money was got to people as quickly as possible, in order to take them out of poverty and into a situation where they had money?

Sammy Wilson: The whole point of the order before us is that it allows for those changes to be made in Northern Ireland. The range of the changes has been highlighted here tonight: the exemption from the spare room subsidy changes; the direct payments to landlords; the split payments to households; and additional funding for those who would be affected by housing benefit changes to their rates. All those have been facilitated as a result of the negotiations that took place—under the auspices of a Democratic Unionist party Minister; the DUP negotiated many of those changes. As I say, we were pleased that the Government were prepared to be flexible, albeit that their largesse did not extend to funding those changes and those had to be funded from the Northern Ireland budget.

The good thing about this order is that it removes something that was toxic in the Assembly. Until December next year, any welfare changes will be done through this House and therefore the kind of impasse that we have experienced before will be removed. That is good for the stability of the Assembly. It is good that we have an order that reflects some of the changes that we believe

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were necessary and some of the amendments we wish to have in the legislation. Overall, it is a good part of the package. We are not ashamed of it. We do not believe it dilutes devolution. It is a recognition that the current blocking arrangements in the Assembly created problems that we had to find a way around.

Lady Hermon: I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene again. I am sure that he would like to correct the record. Instead of describing an Assembly Member as a “little Green man”, perhaps he could explain that that Member of the Legislative Assembly is in fact a member of the Green party, and one of the six MLAs in North Down. I am sure that he would like to correct the record.

Sammy Wilson: The MLA is a man. He is quite small, and he sits in the corner of the Assembly, and he is also a member of the Green party. Members can take from that what they wish. He and I have a long record of conflict in the Assembly.

I welcome the order before us tonight. There is other welfare legislation that will have to come before this House. I look forward to it going through, so that the problems that welfare was causing in the Northern Ireland Assembly should not cause an impasse in the future.

7.45 pm

Ms Margaret Ritchie (South Down) (SDLP): Tonight we are dealing with the Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order, which implements provisions contained in the Welfare Reform Act 2012. Specific changes include top-up powers and a different sanctions regime.

Unfortunately, owing to the actions of the Democratic Unionist party and Sinn Féin, we see the surrender and return of these welfare reform powers to Westminster, and the reintroduction of the undemocratic Orders in Council, which we thought we had consigned to the legislative dustbin when devolution returned on 7 May 2007. Orders in Council are undemocratic, because no provision is made to allow amendments. I do not think that anyone would deny that.

As Members are aware, last week the SDLP tabled a number of amendments to the enabling Bill at Committee stage which dealt with the detail of this Order. Although I do not intend to reiterate our rationale, I will say this: the amendments would have restricted the Secretary of State’s powers to interfere with Northern Ireland’s welfare system.

On one amendment in particular, namely the sunset clause, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Minister made no attempt to justify voting it down. That sunset clause was set at 31 December 2016—

David Simpson (Upper Bann) (DUP): Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms Ritchie: If the hon. Gentleman will let me complete my point, I will come back to him.

There was no response to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) when he asked why the sunset clause should not be made more temporary, and set at 1 June 2016. That would have reflected the new mandate following the elections in May.

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The arbitrary date seems to have been chosen more for neatness than for any consideration of the processes and structures in the Assembly.

David Simpson: I have the greatest respect for the hon. Lady. I wish to give her an opportunity to express her regrets—or does she, along with her party, in fact express any regrets?—that £100 million was sent back to the Treasury, which could have been used for the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland. Will she express that regret?

Ms Ritchie: On that point, I can well recall that there was robust opposition to those fines by my colleagues in the Assembly. Let me ask the hon. Gentleman this: do he and his colleagues regret the fact that there was an in-and-out approach to ministerial office by the DUP back in September, which resulted in very long waiting lists for health and in many people still having to wait for surgical procedures?

This debate and this Order reflect the Government’s attitude and the disregard for the Assembly’s democratic processes on the part of the Government and Sinn Féin and the DUP. This sunset clause has been presented by other parties as the cut-off point in the Secretary of State’s interference in our welfare system, but of course that is not the case. The legislative consent motion voted through by the DUP and Sinn Féin locks Northern Ireland into the welfare provisions.

May I remind you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that DUP Members walked through the Lobby with us to vote against the provisions, yet they have joined Sinn Féin in signing up to this? My colleague in the Assembly, Mr Attwood, received a letter from the DUP Minister for Social Development last week, confirming that our constituents would face a benefit freeze for four years up to 2020 and that Westminster would have the power to impose an even lower benefit cap—lower than £20,000 for the North. That is what the DUP and Sinn Féin have locked us into. Such a four-year freeze will mean real reductions year on year for people on income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance and universal credit. It will mean a freeze for constituents, whether those of my hon. Friend the Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan), of the hon. Members for East Derry (Mr Campbell), for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) or for Upper Bann (David Simpson), or of the right hon. Member for Belfast North (Mr Dodds).

Sammy Wilson: Does the hon. Lady accept that most people in Northern Ireland do not regard a benefit freeze on the scale that she suggests, which is equivalent to take-home pay of £37,000 for someone in work, as unreasonable, and that if we are talking about making work pay, such a benefit freeze is essential?

Ms Ritchie: May I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that the standard of living in Northern Ireland is much higher and that we are talking about a benefit cap. I remind the hon. Member for East Antrim not to lead people in a slightly different direction by confusing a freeze with a benefit cap. The debate on this Order in Council, which has 140 clauses, is really about the needs of families and individuals who need to access the benefits system. People do not do that because they

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want to; they are forced into it because they cannot find a job, have lost their job or they live in an area where there have been considerable job losses. In Ballymena, in the constituency of the hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley), there will be considerable job losses as a result of closures at Michelin.

We are all united in a desire to build a more united society where there will no longer be peace walls, and we have a stable economy with plenty of economic growth and productivity and stable political institutions. We want to ensure that we can live, and people with families can rear them, in relative comfort. It is not a lifestyle choice to be in receipt of benefits; as I explained, many people are forced into such circumstances because they do not have a job or they have some form of disability.

I would like the Minister responding on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions to explain the calculation of the top-ups and which budget they will come from. Will they come out of the existing Department for Social Development budget or the Social Security Agency budget, or will there be a raid on the discretionary fund, which will disadvantage other people?

I take on board the fact that there is a top-up regime, and I hope that that money will be safeguarded by the Treasury to ensure that money flows to people. We do not want to see a sanctions regime lead to youth homelessness, which has been an emerging phenomenon in Germany and here in England and Wales, where benefits sanctions are in operation. Such sanctions can often bear down on the individuals and families least financially able to tolerate them. None of us, no matter what our political perspective or affiliation, would want that to happen to any of our constituents.

In conclusion, I would like to touch on a rather bizarre criticism levelled at my colleagues by hon. Members representing the DUP. They suggested that there was some contradiction in our argument that Northern Ireland’s welfare powers should be legislated for in Northern Ireland and, in the absence of that, our attempt to protect claimants through our amendment put to this House last week. There is no contradiction. We believe in democracy and in the processes of both the Northern Ireland Assembly and this House to scrutinise and amend legislation. Just because the DUP and Sinn Féin undermined the processes of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the SDLP will not undermine the role, duty and responsibility of this Chamber.

To my knowledge, Sinn Féin has been oddly quiet on this issue. Its only response to the trade unions protesting outside its offices on the issue at the weekend was that it supported the unions in

“directing united opposition against the Tory government in London”—

by handing over powers to that same Tory Government. That is rather bizarre and ludicrous.

The most important thing is that we are able to build on the political institutions and on sound economic growth and productivity in a balanced way throughout Northern Ireland, and that people are not worse off as a result of this measure—that is, people who are forced into the benefits system because of a lack of opportunity and jobs.

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7.57 pm

Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): I shall contribute briefly to the debate. I welcome what the hon. Member for South Down (Ms Ritchie) said about wanting to move Northern Ireland forward, building the economy and creating peace and stability in Northern Ireland. We have common cause in that. That is precisely why we believe that the fresh start agreement, including this welfare element, is so important. Without it, Northern Ireland would have gone backwards. We would, in effect, have gone back to direct rule. It would have taken many years once again to get devolution up and running, with all that would result from that.

There is no point adopting the self-indulgent, luxurious position of wishing that circumstances were different. That is the fact of the matter. We had to address a very difficult situation. The rule of parity was implemented by Ministers when I first because Social Development Minister back in 1999. I remember that the first thing we discussed with the civil servants was the issue of parity. Revisiting this point, it is interesting to note that it is cited specifically in the Belfast agreement, which the SDLP was instrumental in agreeing. That principle is enshrined in section 87 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Parity is important. Without maintaining parity, the Northern Ireland Executive can make changes. The Northern Ireland Assembly can depart from legislation and provisions passed here, but on the principle that any additional costs would fall to be met by the Northern Ireland Executive out of the block grant. To close our eyes to that reality and pretend that things are otherwise and wish them so is simply not sensible, rational politics.

We faced up to the issue. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) eloquently set out, we voted against but we also clearly supported some elements because we believed that they were best for the Government’s welfare agenda. We opposed others and then made a strong effort in the Assembly and in direct negotiation. I pay tribute to Nelson McCausland, the previous Department for Social Development Minister, for getting mitigations, which the Government accepted. We then put those forward in the Assembly. The Bill was first introduced in October 2012 and reached its final stage in May 2015. It still did not get through because of SDLP, Sinn Fein and Green party opposition.

The process is not undemocratic; remember that the Northern Ireland Assembly passed a legislative consent motion on 18 November by 70 votes to 22. The principle of devolution has been observed and the integrity of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s right to legislate has been specifically preserved. The Assembly has given its consent through that motion.

Finally, I want to put on the record the improvements and additions that Northern Ireland now has compared with elsewhere. There are the top-ups, which amount to many hundreds of millions, and the exclusion of the so-called bedroom tax. As has been outlined, we have seen the end of fines. I will not go into the figures, but those fines were having a detrimental effect on ordinary people and services in Northern Ireland and we have put a stop to them. Given their previous attitude, if the SDLP and Sinn Fein had had their way, they would continue.

We are also getting £25 million of new ring-fenced funding per year for five years to address welfare error and fraud in Northern Ireland. The UK Government

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have agreed that half of any savings generated in the next five years can be reinvested by the Northern Ireland Executive. Those are just some of the improvements on the welfare side as well as all the other advantages from the fresh start agreement, building on the Stormont House agreement.

We would prefer the legislation to have gone through the Assembly—of course we would. However, we faced up to the reality: if we had gone on the way we were, we would have ended up making suffer those we most wanted to protect.

Tom Elliott (Fermanagh and South Tyrone) (UUP): I am not arguing against the legislation by any means, but I seek clarification. The top-ups available under the disability living allowance and the personal independence payment through the Stormont House agreement are not available under these proposals—instead, they are down to the three-person panel. This is just a matter of clarity. Obviously, Sinn Fein has a different perspective from that of Stormont House.

Mr Dodds: As I understand it, the Executive are establishing a small working group under the leadership of Professor Eileen Evason to bring forward proposals within the financial envelope set out by the Executive, including administrative costs, to maximise the use of additional resources. The issue will be for the Executive to determine following Professor Evason’s recommendations.

I thank the Government for the expeditious way in which they have brought this matter through the House of Commons at the request of the Northern Ireland Assembly. This is a good day for Northern Ireland, and I certainly support this legislation.

8.3 pm

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): I have to start by disagreeing with the very last point made by the right hon. Member for Belfast North (Mr Dodds). I am not here to thank the Government for introducing, by a direct-rule-style Order in Council, legislation that I opposed. The Democratic Unionist party may be happy to endorse by fiat direct rule legislation, parts of which they supposedly opposed; earlier, the hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) was honest enough to concede that his party had supported parts of the original legislation in 2011 and 2012.

I want to correct the misrecord that has come from some of the hon. Members behind me. Whenever the legislation was going through, we, as part of due diligence, were trying to get the Assembly to address properly and anticipate the implications of the legislation that passed through this House, precisely to make sure that we could mitigate and influence it and anticipate what mitigation measures and top-ups were needed to maximise whatever bit of discretion devolution could give us. DUP Members voted the proposal down in the Northern Ireland Assembly. They said that we were scaremongering. They said, “Leave it ’til we see how the legislation comes through and then our Minister will be able to negotiate some mitigation.” The mitigation that their Minister produced—we have heard Members repeat it tonight—was basically the same mitigation that Lord Freud told us in February 2012 would be available, so no additional concessions were got.

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We wanted additional concessions. We said in the Assembly that concessions were available and that we needed to advance further mitigation, but DUP Members stalled. Yet now they make a virtue out of saying that their Minister manfully negotiated and pulled a rabbit out of a hat on concessions that were available all along anyway.

That is a dereliction on the part of DUP Members, because they did not get anything that was not already available in February 2012. We put it on the record that it was available then, and we could and should have got more if the Assembly had combined in that effort. DUP Members decided that they had sufficient confidence in the legislation that was being put through by the coalition Government here and in themselves not to create an all-party approach. An all-party approach should always have been created. I previously understood that Sinn Féin believed in such an all-party approach, but of course that tune has changed several times in the course of this whole exercise.

Let us be very clear about the content of the order: it gives effect to the 2012 Act. It basically introduces the Northern Ireland version of the 2012 Act with tweaks and adjustments, some of which were always going to be available anyway. When we first said that we were getting these concessions in 2012, the DUP said that we were scaremongering about the Bill and that we did not need to be looking to concessions. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) is chuntering away, not content with making his usual intervention; he is apparently the only Member of this House who would intervene on himself. Let us be very clear: we are told here that these concessions were got by the DUP, and at home that they were got by Sinn Féin. We have to ask, “Where are the additional concessions beyond those that Lord Freud told us were available in February?”

Ms Ritchie: Does my hon. Friend well recall the meeting with Lord Freud in February 2012 at which he stated quite clearly that these, shall we say, mitigations would include a slightly different sanctions regime and the ability for welfare payments to be paid to claimants fortnightly rather than monthly? Does he agree that those sanctions were agreed at that time and there was perhaps an unwillingness by the DUP to bring them forward through the welfare reform legislation in the Assembly?

Mark Durkan: I fully concur with my hon. Friend’s memory of that meeting. Let us be clear, because we dealt with this in the previous debate as well: at the time, the DUP Minister indicated that the computer system would easily facilitate fortnightly payments, or even weekly if it came to that, and that continuing direct payments to the landlord would not be a problem. He also said that the first time he had heard about Northern Ireland’s particular issue with the bedroom tax was from us, and that his officials had not had it raised in any of their meetings with the Department for Social Development. Of course, at that stage he had had no meetings with the DSD Minister and had none planned. When we consider who was doing due diligence in relation to staking out these issues and seeking these concessions, we should remember that that was the situation.

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Tom Elliott: As I understand it, last December’s Stormont House proposals were accepted by the SDLP as well as Sinn Féin. Is the hon. Gentleman now saying that this is a worse deal or a better deal than the Stormont House proposal?

Mark Durkan: I will answer the right hon. Gentleman’s question: I think it is a worse deal. We not only have this order to transpose the 2012 Act—all the parties in Northern Ireland said they had difficulties with that legislation—but the way in which this is being taken forward means that the Government in Whitehall now have the power, by order, to transpose the Welfare Reform and Work Bill currently going through Parliament. That needs to be understood, because the legislative consent motion passed by the Assembly endorsed all the welfare clauses of the current Bill, as originally tabled. DUP MLAs voted to endorse all the clauses, even though they had voted for amendments to delete some of them or to insert additional clauses. Within a period of weeks, they voted with an entirely different attitude in relation to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, hiding behind direct rule. I therefore think that the deal is worse.

We must remember that the order will not only have the immediate effect of transposing most of the 2012 Act as implemented in Great Britain, but also provides a power, simply by virtue of regulations, to change a lot of the terms and conditions of the benefits, and can almost disappear some categories of benefits in the 2012 Act. In essence, we are being signed up to that without so much as a provision stating that when this direct-rule power is exercised, there must still be a legislative consent motion in the Assembly. We have been treated to the fiction that while we have direct rule, we have not lost any devolution because all the powers still exist on paper in the Assembly. That means it will supposedly be entirely in order for MLAs to table motions in the Assembly to amend such areas or to come up with their own private Members’ Bills, so we will have the nonsense of parallel, competing legislative strands. That is the sort of fiction and nonsense to which we are being treated.

Let us be very clear that the problem does not relate to the political or legislative processes; the real problem is the potential impact on people whose benefits and living standards will be affected as a result. Let us remember that when the Welfare Reform and Work Bill goes through—it has now been endorsed by a legislative consent motion—it will change the limited work capability element of universal credit for new claimants from April 2017. It is quite clear that although the decision-making power, which the Secretary of State has under the enabling legislation that went through over a week ago, will end in 2016, the effect of the decisions made under that power will not die with the power. The changes in relation to the limited work capability element of universal credit for new claimants will come in, meaning a reduction in the value of current payments of almost £30 a week—from £102.15 to £73.10. That is why all the health charities and disability campaign groups are so opposed to clauses 13 and 14 of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. Unfortunately, Northern Ireland is now sealed into that by virtue of the legislative consent motion and the measure previously passed by Parliament.

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There will be a similar reduction in the amount paid to those in the employment and support allowance work-related activity group. We know from hon. Members representing constituencies in Great Britain that that is one of the notorious vexations. We have heard about just how the work-related activity group has been treated in practice, and about some of the bizarre interpretations, decisions and procedures that people have had to go through. We are now locked into a lot of that courtesy of both the legislative consent motion and this order. We do not have reason to be happy if we take seriously what our friends in all parties across the House are saying in raising their valid concerns. That also goes for some aspects of the sanctions. The time limit on the sanctions is different, courtesy of the efforts that we all made in relation to Stormont House.

I want to make it quite clear that we were signed up for Stormont House in December 2014, because the terms of the agreement stated that the proposals would be developed and brought to the Assembly. When the Bill was brought to the Assembly, however, nothing in it had changed. That is why we tabled a series of modest amendments, which would not have shattered the Stormont House agreement in any way, and which the British Government confirmed would not have stretched or undermined their understanding of what was operable under the agreement. But no, the DUP decided to veto the proposals and, on top of that, Sinn Féin decided to vote down the amendments even though the Tories had voted down similar amendments here in the original 2012 legislation. So those were the people who decided that we were not going to take Stormont House forward on an all-party basis, as had been agreed. I want to put this on record, because I do not think that enough people have understood what happened.

I will make one concession to the Government. A lot of the wriggle room that we had in the Stormont House agreement came about as a result not only of the top-up mitigations from the Executive’s own budget but of the understanding that the Department for Work and Pensions and the Treasury were going to allow the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland a certain amount of leeway in the interpretation and operation of some of the measures. That is one reason why the big money that it was thought would be needed to make good some of Sinn Féin’s demands was not actually needed after all. The funds did not need to come out of the Executive’s budget because of that leeway being allowed.

However, some of us recognised that the arrangement was time-limited. We were worried that the effects of the welfare cap—which is not to be confused with the benefit cap—would, over time, squeeze and reduce that comfort. We said that we had to be honest about that. The SDLP was also very clear about saying at Stormont House that we had to be up front and public about the fact that, when the next wave of cuts came, we would not be in a position to say that they could be sustained out of the Executive’s budget and that we could not make a claim on the block grant to try to make good those claims. We said that we had to say that up front so that people understood it. Sinn Féin did not want to acknowledge that fact because it was still locked into the pretence that it could say it was protecting all existing claimants and all future claimants for ever more, amen. We never joined in that pretence, but no

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other party joined us in making that candid declaration that we could not constantly find more and more hard shoulder to run on.

That brings me to the points that were made earlier about the fines. We were asked whether we regretted the fines. We resented those fines, those penalties, those levies, those savings forgone. We have been told by the Secretary of State that they are not fines but savings forgone. I notice that the right hon. Lady did not contradict DUP Members when they were calling them fines; it is only me who gets contradicted. Whatever they are called, we resented them because they were an exercise in budget bullying. The DUP never objected to that budget bullying; indeed, one might think that they were actually in on the tactic, and in on the threat about not renewing the computer system.

The fact is that the Assembly was being bullied. I have said before that I do not believe that the Treasury will treat the new suite of devolved capacities for Scotland in relation to welfare reform in this way. I know that Scotland’s deal on welfare is not perfect. Its operation will be problematic, but I am pretty sure that the Treasury will not resort to the kind of tactics that it used against the Northern Ireland Assembly when it comes to dealing with clear differences of view between the Scottish Parliament and the Westminster Government. I believe that it will take a different course.

If we are to be honest about this issue, we must be clear that there is a need to consider whether we need to realign the devolution of welfare in future so that the situation is sustainable. When the sunset clause in this legislation kicks in, and if there is some other mid-term welfare reform package in this Parliament, we do not want the Assembly to spasm into crisis for exactly the same reason.

We said at Stormont House and elsewhere that perhaps we should realign towards something more akin to the Scottish model of devolution. In Scotland, the burden is to take an interest in the benefits that people rely on if they have disabilities and long-term conditions. That points towards a way that we could go that would allow us to be more complete in the protections that we say we are offering people and perhaps provide a more sustainable course for the future.

That answers the point that the hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) made about the architecture of the Good Friday agreement and devolution in the first place. There might be a need to look at realignment, as we have declared. Indeed, I declared that a number of years ago. However, we have not had any takers at any of the talks. If people want to do that, they will find that it could go ahead.

The way in which the implications of this order and the orders to follow are being sold is wrong. Remember that this is only the first of a number of orders that we will get, courtesy of direct rule. Indeed, it is more direct direct rule than we had before, because when a lot of the Northern Ireland social security legislation was passed under the old style of direct rule, it was taken through the House by Northern Ireland Office Ministers. Now, we have direct rule by the DWP, thanks to the way in which Sinn Féin and the DUP have decided it will happen.

It is wrong for parties that oppose these changes to benefits and sanctions to say in respect of making sure that these cuts and changes will happen by direct fiat

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and by the hand of a direct-rule Minister in the DWP, “Well, that was a good deal because we saved devolution.” Who was threatening devolution? The only parties that were threatening devolution and the institutions were Sinn Féin and the DUP. They contrived the brink and we all had to teeter on it. When they were saved from themselves in the end, they said that they had done a good job by getting concessions that were available anyway—they were not concessions at all.

That is the nonsense and dishonesty that lies at the centre of the politics of this. We are not one bit happy or content. We are not thankful to the Government for this at all. There were ways of dealing with these issues. They should have been taken in a mature way by devolution—

Sammy Wilson: Mature?

Mark Durkan: They should have been taken in a mature way by devolution, using the Assembly to anticipate when the legislation which has come through here—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for East Antrim is one of the people who said that we did not need to worry about the implications of the Welfare Reform Bill when it was here in 2011. He said that we were scaremongering and he voted down moves to deal with the issue in the Assembly. Now he is saying that we should be happy with what direct rule will do over the next 13 months. That will have an effect on benefits and people’s living standards for a long time to come, not least people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

Those people are not just worried about the implications of the Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Act 2015 and dissatisfied about the arrangements for personal independence payment, which need to be improved on the basis of the experience in the pilot areas in England, but they are also very concerned about the implications of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which will change a lot of the terms and conditions attaching to universal credit. The very basis on which the original 2012 Act was sold here and the very basis on which the DUP tried to retail that Act in the Assembly was the prospectus for universal credit. Already, those terms and conditions are being changed adversely. As we pass this order, other legislation is coming through that will fundamentally change them. That is not a good deal for the people who are on these benefits.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That the draft Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 26 November, be approved.

High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill: Instruction (No. 5)

Ordered,

That it be a further Instruction to the Select Committee to which the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill is committed–

(1 ) that the Select Committee have power to consider–

(a) amendments, to accommodate the requirements of landowners and occupiers and changes to

the design of the works authorised by the Bill, relating to:

i. the London Borough of Hillingdon;

ii. the parishes of Denham, Grendon Underwood, Hogshaw and Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell in the County of Buckinghamshire;

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iii. the parish of Greatworth in the County of Northamptonshire;

iv. the parish of Middleton in the County of Warwickshire;

v. the parishes of Drayton Bassett, Hints with Canwell, Longdon and Weeford in the County of Staffordshire;

vi. the parish of Bickenhill in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull;

(b) amendments for purposes connected with any of the matters mentioned in sub-paragraph (a);

(2) that any petition against amendments to the Bill which the Select Committee is empowered to make shall be referred to the Select Committee if–

(a) the petition is presented by being deposited in the Private Bill Office not later than the end of the period of four weeks beginning with the day on which the first newspaper notice of the amendments was published, and

(b) the petition is one in which the petitioners pray to be heard by themselves or through counsel or agents.

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.— (Mr Goodwill.)

sIttings of the House (2 December) (motion)

Ordered,

That, at the sitting on Wednesday 2 December, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Standing Order No. 21 (Time for taking Questions) and Standing Order No. 23 (Motions for leave to being in bills and nominations of Select Committees at commencement of public business), no Questions or Motions for leave to bring in bills shall be taken; and after Prayers, the House shall proceed immediately to the Motion in the name of the Prime Minister relating to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

National Health Service

That the draft National Health Service (Licensing and Pricing) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 2 November, be approved —(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6), and Order of 24 November)

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will appoint Sir Robert Owen and John Thurso to the office of ordinary member of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority with effect from 1 January 2016 for the period ending on 31 December 2020.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Rating and Valuation

That the draft Non-Domestic Rating (Levy and Safety Net) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 26 October, be approved.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

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National Election Expenditure

That the draft European Parliamentary Elections (Miscellaneous Provisions) (United Kingdom and Gibraltar) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 21 October, be approved.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): With the leave of the House, we shall take motions 11 to 14 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Taxes

That the draft Double Taxation Relief and International Tax Enforcement (Canada) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 27 October, be approved.

Corporation Tax

That the draft Double Taxation Relief and International Tax Enforcement (Jersey) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 27 October, be approved.

That the draft Double Taxation Relief and International Tax Enforcement (Guernsey) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 27 October, be approved.

Capital Gains Tax

That the draft Double Taxation Relief and International Tax Enforcement (Kosovo) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 5 November, be approved.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. There are a large number of petitions to be presented, and I hope that it will be of assistance to the House if I set out how we shall proceed. Once the first petition relating to school funding model has been read to the House, with its prayer—I am looking for Mr Graham Stuart—subsequent petitions on the same topic should not be read out in full. Members should give a brief description of the number and location of the petitioners, and state that the petition is “in the same terms”. Members presenting more than one petition should present them together.

When Mr Stuart has presented his petitions, which will not be possible if he is not here within the next few seconds—

Sir Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder if I could seek your advice. I believe that I am the third or fourth named Member in the list of those presenting a petition, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart), to whom you have referred, has kindly offered to present petitions on behalf of quite a number of other hon. Members. What would be the procedure for him, when presenting all the other petitions on behalf of other hon. Members who are unable to be here this evening? I know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman) intends to present a petition after my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness and before me, and the process could become quite complicated unless fully and clearly explained by you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

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Madam Deputy Speaker: I thank Sir Edward for his beautifully, and slowly delivered, point of order, which was a master of theatricality. The answer to his perfectly reasonable question, which I am also delivering lente, is that the next person on the list, the right hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman), who is in her place—if somewhat out of breath—will present the first petition.

Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that a huge number of Members are waiting to present their petitions tonight and I do not therefore wish to detain the House too long. I also know that the petitions are on an extremely important matter. However, given the huge interest in tomorrow’s debate, I wonder if you can give any guidance on the amount of time for which Members might be able to expect to speak in that debate.

Madam Deputy Speaker: That is a most interesting point of order, and I can tell the hon. Gentleman and the House that, as far as I am aware, a very large number of Members have indicated that they wish to speak in tomorrow’s debate. I cannot at this point give any indication as to how much time will be available for each Member, but I have every confidence that Mr. Speaker, at the very beginning of the debate, will—in his usual way—be likely to give an indication that if all Members are as brief as they can be, it would be courteous to other hon. Members who wish to speak.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Given the interest in the proceedings that will take place in the House tomorrow, in which it is likely that a very large number of right hon. and hon. Members will wish to take part and given that the motion provides that the House should finish at 7 pm, can you give the House some guidance? If an extremely large number of Members wish to speak, can that time be extended to, say, 10 pm?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I can answer the hon. Gentleman on that point most readily, because the House is already aware of the motion allowing the House to sit tomorrow until 10 pm.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder if you could help me on the debate tomorrow. It is obvious from these points of order that there will be a large number of people who want to speak in that debate. Would it be possible for the Chair to indicate to those people the timeframe within which they may be able to speak—[Interruption.] My point of order is popular with the House—[Laughter.] That would be most helpful to Members who have many duties to fulfil, so attending the Chamber can be difficult as far as timing is concerned.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Your point of order is indeed popular, Mrs Gillan. I can answer it in the same way that I answered the previous point of order. I would estimate that Members could calculate that some 90 or 100 colleagues will wish to speak tomorrow, and they should therefore consider the amount of time that will be available for the debate, from 11.30 am until 10 pm; subtract from that the amount of time that is likely to

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be taken by the Prime Minister, who I am sure will take many interventions, and by the Leader of the Opposition, who I am sure will take just as many interventions; and divide the remaining time by about 80 or 90. That will give hon. Members an indication of the time. Anyone who cannot do arithmetic can come to see me at some time tomorrow and I will work it out for them.

I trust that the variety and slowness of these points of order have given a certain hon. Gentleman enough time to get his breath back. When I explained to the House, some time ago, how the large number of petitions would be dealt with, most Members were not present. For the convenience of the House, therefore, and with my apologies for repeating myself, I will explain once again.

Once the first petition, relating to the school funding model, has been read to the House, with its prayer, subsequent petitions on the same topic should not be read out in full. Members should give a brief description of the number and location of the petitioners and state that the petition is in the same terms. Members presenting more than one petition should present them together.

When Mr Stuart has presented his petitions, he should proceed to the Table and hand his first petition to the Clerk, who will read out the title in the usual way. For subsequent petitions, Members should proceed directly to the petitions bag at the back of the Chair. I will call the next Member immediately after the previous Member has finished speaking. At the expiry of half an hour, no further petitions may be presented orally, but they may be placed in the petitions bag and will be recorded as formally presented. I call Mr Graham Stuart to present his petition.