For those reasons, and for the well-being of innocent children, the Bill should be amended before it leaves this House. I beg Her Majesty’s Government not to let their mind be poisoned by the rantings of some tabloid newspapers. I have given notice of various questions and look forward to helpful answers. I conclude by agreeing most strongly with the noble Lord, Lord Judd, when he said that what we need is a policy that will provide fairness and humanity, especially for children and families, in our immigration system.

8.41 pm

Baroness Benjamin (LD): My Lords, I speak in this important debate to focus on some of the issues concerning children and universities. I declare an interest as the vice-president of Barnardo’s and as the chancellor of the University of Exeter, where we continue to encourage high-quality applications for science and engineering programmes from a diversity of countries, in line with supporting the UK’s economic growth in that strategically important area. Support is needed, and the UK needs to send out positive messages in this global competitive market. Therefore, I wish not just to express the concerns of Exeter University but to echo concerns shared by many universities throughout the country, on whom the proposals will have the most detrimental effect in terms of international student intakes and regional economic developments.

The international student sector will be one of the groups most affected by the Bill, as it makes up 75% of those who are already subject to visa controls and are most heavily regulated and monitored. However, this group makes the most significant contribution to the UK economy. Making the process harder for them would deter many potential students from choosing the UK as a place to study. I worry that by implementing these proposals, UK education is likely to go backwards on its long established tradition of international cultural integration, competitiveness and co-operation.

In Exeter, as in many other UK cities, international students and staff make a significant contribution to the local economy. As a university and as a city, we wish to encourage international students to come to Exeter. Our major concern is that a number of clauses

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in the Bill—for example, those on the introduction of NHS charges, the requirements for landlords to check immigration permission before letting their properties, and the removal of appeal rights for in-country visa applicants—give the message that the UK is a difficult place to which to come to study.

Exeter’s international teaching staff, who are vital to developing the international reputation of the university, already contribute tax and national insurance from their salaries. Under these new proposals, they will now also have to pay an up-front levy to use NHS services. Many come to the UK with their families, which will make this a significant cost and may discourage them from working here. This would be our loss. I ask my noble friend the Minister: has this been taken into consideration?

Our university invests a lot of resources into ensuring that all international students have valid immigration permission. We perform this role effectively and diligently. I ask my noble friend whether he believes that landlords, with no training, will be able to do the same. There is a risk that many landlords will cease to let their properties to international students, placing these students at a disadvantage against their UK counterparts and increasing feelings of marginalisation.

The Government must make sure that the Immigration Rules deter fraudsters, criminals and those who wish our nation harm, but the Government must also show that we welcome genuine candidates. It is vital that this positive message be sent out across the world.

I now turn to children and young people. Many of the proposed policies will indirectly affect children, such as those in detention centres and those without refugee status. I hope that any legislation the Government are considering involving immigration detention for children will make sure that the well-being of children is a priority and will include safeguards to ensure that pre-departure accommodation, such as Cedars, where support is given by Barnardo’s, is used as a last resort and for the shortest possible time, in line with international standards of human rights. Children deserve this.

I also draw attention to the concerns of charities such as Kids Company, which deals with many serious problems involving children and young people who are impacted by their parents’ unresolved immigration issues. Some of these children were trafficked, and at 18 their lives come to a complete standstill. They do not have the legal papers to get employment or be able to access further education or take up university places offered to them to help them better their lives and make a positive contribution to Britain. Kids Company has said:

“We have to support a number of young people by paying for their food and accommodation because they are not eligible for housing benefit or subsistence, and because they cannot access benefits or get employment due to their unresolved status”.

Many of the young people are being sexually abused by men who allow them to stay in their homes in return for sexual contact. They are very traumatised, undernourished, humiliated and excluded.

Another significant problem is the abuse by a few unscrupulous solicitors who, knowing these young people are vulnerable, take their money and do not process their legal papers appropriately. These victims

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cannot hold the solicitors accountable because they do not have the know-how, and they are not legally defined here in the UK. Consequently, Kids Company has to pay the fee required by the Home Office to legitimise these unfortunate young people’s legal status as refugees.

The Government’s strategy is flawed in this area and needs to be addressed, as the numbers who find themselves in this position are growing. Many of these non-status individuals resort to crime and prostitution to survive, not to mention the psychological damage that they suffer. Kids Company has stated that this group now forms its biggest and most high-risk client group. They are arriving at its doorsteps daily through word of mouth. It describes the scale and severity of this problem as catastrophic; a problem that requires an international refugee protection programme, which I hope that the Government will consider.

These are just some of my main concerns on this important Bill. Many noble Lords have expressed some of the views which I, too, feel. I also look forward to hearing the Minister’s response and I truly hope that he takes a holistic view, with a clear head and moral conscience, and with our great country’s interest and reputation close to heart.

8.51 pm

Baroness Meacher (CB): My Lords, the economic and human rights issues raised by this important Bill have been effectively examined by noble Lords today. However, I and others well understand the Government’s need to find ways to reduce the impact of illegal migrants upon our hard-pressed health services and upon the British taxpayer. I also welcome the Government’s adjustments to the Bill following representations made over recent months. Particularly welcome are the exemptions for asylum seekers, refugees and victims of human trafficking.

Other noble Lords have spoken eloquently about the importance of perception and the need to avoid sending a message to the world that Britain is closed for business. I also want to refer to the powerful arguments against the creation of stateless persons; I simply endorse those contributions. I will touch only briefly on the provisions for private landlords and the NHS charging issue raised in Part 3. My aim is to raise a number of questions in the hope that the Minister can clarify the points raised before Committee, so that we might cut down some amendments that would be unnecessary in the debate at that point.

We need to understand the relationship between the existing system within the NHS to charge non-EU visitors to the UK for certain services and the combination of the proposed surcharge, payable before entry to Britain, with the plan to continue charging non-EU migrants for expensive health interventions. It seems that the Department of Health has been unable to assess fully the extent of the problem which these new provisions are designed to rectify. I recognise that a surcharge paid before entry to Britain is greatly preferable to charging people at the time of health treatment. If the surcharge were limited to short-term visitors and were the only charge, I would be inclined to support it. However, we know that the surcharge will apply much

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more widely than current provisions for visitors, and that migrants will continue to be charged as well for expensive treatments.

It is important to know what the threshold is for those charges for expensive treatments. If the threshold is in fact low, we could end up with a health surcharge and extensive charging for individual treatments. This would have equity implications for migrants and a significant cost implication for the NHS in administering the charging system. Most importantly, it would continue the unfortunate introduction of questions about affordability just when the person is going in for treatment. Personally, I am rather hostile to the very idea of introducing financial issues of affordability at the time of treatment, which is why I rather favour the surcharge idea. I hope that the Minister can clarify to what extent these charges will exist within the health setting.

A second question is whether charging longer-term migrants who are in employment and paying taxes and national insurance is regarded as reasonable by the Government. It would be helpful to know their rationale for this proposal. Have they undertaken an impact assessment of it on the willingness of overseas employees to come to this country and take up jobs here?

A related issue concerns British citizens who work overseas for some years and then return to this country many years later to take up employment here. It had not occurred to me that this Bill could conceivably affect them, but others have raised the question and it would be good to have the Minister’s reassurance that British citizens in this situation will not be affected.

In relation to primary care, can the Minister clarify whether access for migrants to initial GP and nurse consultations will include the prescriptions that would arise from many of these consultations, or will the prescriptions be charged in full to patients? The same question applies to community care. If a migrant with a mental health problem cannot access community care because they cannot afford it at the primary care level, have the Government assessed the risk of these provisions increasing the costs of secondary services that would, I believe, be provided free of charge in emergencies to migrants? They should be, but there is undoubtedly a relationship between providing good services in primary care and so reducing the impact on secondary care costs.

I put on record my strong support for my noble friends Lord Hannay and Lord Bilimoria and others who argue that foreign students should be exempt from the Bill. As others have said, higher education is an important export industry for this country. Yet foreign student numbers are falling fast, as others have pointed out. The Government plan to exempt halls of residence: if there is a rationale for that, then surely there is a rationale for exempting all student lodgings, for example. It seems that the Government are shooting themselves in the foot on that one.

On the more general issue of plans to use landlords as unpaid immigration officers, I share the concern of my noble friend Lord Best that landlords are likely to avoid by a very wide berth the possible hassle and fee, or fine, involved in unwittingly failing to spot an illegal migrant. This proposal could have a serious impact

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on the availability of private rented accommodation to all but the most obviously British of potential tenants.

The Government’s briefing indicates that the checks will be straightforward and quick for law-abiding landlords and tenants to comply with. Can the Minister clarify what is meant by “straightforward”? For example, if the landlord asked to see the prospective tenant’s passport, with a visa no doubt stamped inside, would that be sufficient to avoid future questions and investigations involving the landlord concerned? I hope that it would be.

The Minister referred to plans to protect vulnerable people. This is another area where I have to say that I am not convinced. Government briefing refers to “much simpler documentary requirements” for homeless and vulnerable people. The problem will surely be the absence of any documents in the possession of homeless people and of women fleeing domestic violence. I cannot imagine them having any bits of paper in their pocket in that situation.

Here we are assured that an e-mail Home Office service will provide the necessary information for some cases: if this has not been done within 48 hours the landlord can proceed and rent the property. For those with no documentary evidence we are told that there will be another option to obtain confirmation from the Home Office that the prospective tenant can rent a property, but no time limit is given for that process. Can the Minister explain the difference, again before Committee, because it really does not seem helpful? Some clarification at this early point could save the time of the House in Committee and I look forward to receiving the Minister’s information.

8.59 pm

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): My Lords, the introduction to the recent BIS publication International Education: Global Growth and Prosperity says:

“There are few sectors of the UK economy with the capacity to grow and generate export earnings as impressive as education … Overseas students who come to Britain to study make a huge contribution to our economy”.

As we have heard, BIS estimates that in 2011-12 overseas students in higher education in the UK paid £10.2 billion in tuition fees and living expenses. It says that they boost the local economy where they study, as well as enhancing our cultural life and broadening the educational experience of the UK students that they study alongside. Bravo to that.

The conclusion of the BIS report is that it is realistic for numbers of international students in higher education to grow by 15% to 20% over the next five years. However, the report warns that for this to happen,

“we must show that the UK values international students, will provide a warm welcome and support while they are here and will keep in touch after they go home”.

That all sounds pretty good. It is a pity that the reality is somewhat different. Even the report admits that there are some problems. It says, somewhat euphemistically at this point:

“There remain some misunderstandings about visa rules and post study opportunities to work. We must signal clearly that there is no cap on the number of students who can come to study

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in the UK and no intention to introduce one. Nor is there any cap on the number of former students who can stay on to work as long as they have a graduate job”.

It is one thing to say that we are open to international students but quite another to take responsibility for the service that students are receiving—one for which they are going to have to pay an even higher premium price.

As I say, there are a number of areas where the Bill needs close scrutiny. Clause 11 restricts appeal rights to cases involving a human rights, asylum or humanitarian protection claim. International students lost their right of appeal for initial entry clearance by means of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, but these new provisions will remove the remaining rights to appeal against a refusal of leave to remain. Applicants will instead be able to request an administrative review. Universities UK has suggested that the Government should retain appeal rights for applications for Tier 4 leave to remain and PhD-level jobs. Does the Minister agree that this proposal has some considerable merit?

Other noble Lords have already spoken about Clause 15 on residential tenancies. It is clear that international students already face difficulties in securing accommodation and are often made to pay large fees and advance rent payments. The Bill may result in landlords or agents refusing to even consider international students as tenants, or charging additional fees to cover the extra administration costs. In the student sector, tenancies are entered into often months in advance of the actual tenancy start date but that is something that international students may not be able to do, particularly if they have to prove their immigration status so far in advance.

While, as we have heard, the Explanatory Notes suggest that some student accommodation will be exempt—we will have to see the detail of that—there is concern that these measures will discourage private landlords from letting accommodation to international students and to university staff, particularly at peak times when they are under pressure to make decisions quickly. Given that many international students are young and living away from home for the first time, does the Minister not agree that this clause could cause considerable anxiety and add to the perception that the UK is unwelcoming?

Several noble Lords have expressed concern about Clause 33 on NHS charges and we, too, have some concerns about their introduction. As several noble Lords have said, there are concerns about public health. Universal primary care allows potentially serious health problems to be identified early, when they are preventable or easily and cheaply treated. This applies equally to long-term conditions as well as to infectious diseases. On an individual level, the proposals will make another change: international students already make a significant contribution to the UK economy, bringing in, as we have heard, more than £10 billion a year, while international academic staff, critical to our position as a world-leading university sector, pay taxes and national insurance while they are here. Why are they being asked to pay more? To add more trouble, the charge will have to be paid up front for the full duration of the visa.

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Taken as a whole, the requirements for students who wish to study in the UK are in many cases more stringent than in competitor countries, particularly in relation to language requirements, academic progression, limits on study time, the ability to bring in dependants and police registration. Introducing a surcharge for access to the NHS will, ironically, remove one area of relative advantage that the UK can currently offer. In combination, these measures may create the impression that it is now harder to secure a visa to study in the UK than anywhere else in the world. It will of course add significant up-front costs that will make us even more different from our competitors.

It is difficult to see how the aspirations of international education, global growth and prosperity can ever be realised if the Bill is not improved while it is in this House.

9.05 pm

Baroness Manzoor (LD): My Lords, the fact that I am not addressing the wider implications in this Bill regarding students, detention caps and the positive contribution immigration makes does not mean that I do not have interest or concern in these important areas. I align myself with comments by my noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lord Dholakia and the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria.

As many noble Lords have stated, it is widely acknowledged there are significant delays and inefficiencies in the administration of immigration law, and this Bill will need to have greater clarity if it is not to add to this complexity. As the former Legal Services Ombudsman for England and Wales, I know the importance of having in place effective and efficient systems for casework and of ensuring good quality decision-making. Like other noble Lords, I note with some disappointment that the latest statistics at the Home Office reveal that 32% of deportation decisions and 50% of entry clearance applications were successfully appealed last year. This is a high margin of error in casework. Yet Part 2 seeks to erode independent oversight in appeal rights making them difficult to access and curtailing judicial discretion. On present information on the quality of casework, it does not seem fair or just. Can the Minister reassure the House that he will ensure that the current quality of casework will be improved before reducing the opportunities for people to challenge decisions as the current standards in casework are a great concern? As my noble friend Lord Teverson said, it is an issue for competent management.

Clauses 33 and 34 in Part 3 could also potentially create new layers of bureaucracy for the NHS, as well as having some serious implications for race relations in the country. This may have unintended consequences. The clauses as they stand may require individuals to prove their identity before accessing services. In practice, this will invariably include individuals who are British citizens. As the noble Lord said, this may create unnecessary mistrust and suspicion. I would be grateful if the Minister can address these concerns to ensure that the myth does not become a reality.

As someone who has worked in the NHS for many years, I understand why NHS staff are not best placed to check the immigration status of their patients or to

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check that any surcharge payment was paid when a visa was first granted. Indeed, immigration status changes constantly, and it will be difficult to ensure all patients’ information is kept updated or to make sure that healthcare systems are equipped to understand immigration issues. Nurses’ and clinicians’ duty of care is to their patient and should be entirely focused on assessing and treating their clinical needs.

What about the healthcare and treatment of the children of individuals who have not paid the surcharge who become ill? Can the Minister give some reassurance that children will always receive free healthcare whatever the immigration status of their parents, as is their right under law? Like the Royal Collage of Nursing, the Terrence Higgins Trust and others, I believe that unless there is clear evidence that non-EU migrants are placing a significant burden on the NHS, the main focus should be on improving the current arrangements for chargeable patients. I pose the question: why is this not working now and, indeed, will this Bill improve it? If evidence shows the current system is not working effectively, then steps should be taken to rectify this, rather than applying a blanket approach to charging longer term migrants, who—and I agree entirely with the Royal College of Nursing—if in employment, will already be contributing to the NHS through taxes and national insurance. This is neither fair not equitable, as the noble Lord, Lord Patel, said. However, I welcome the Government’s decision to maintain free access to GP consultations, and maintain the current exemptions to charging, and in future to the surcharge, and to continue to include asylum seekers, refugees and victims of trafficking. But charging for healthcare in Clause 33 and redefining who counts as an ordinary resident—Clause 34—could increase the number of vulnerable people living in the UK. Even though infectious illnesses will be treated for free, having a two-tiered system will create confusion, and could delay and discourage people seeking the most appropriate help or having no help at all. This clearly has implications regarding public health and may end up costing the NHS more, particularly as the surcharge paid by migrants may not find its way into the NHS purse.

The Terrence Higgins Trust states that the current proposals will also have a negative impact on the Government’s efforts to, “reduce attendance and admissions to A&E, reduce undiagnosed HIV, and reduce late diagnosis of HIV”, and “improve long-term health and wellbeing of the population”.

I would be grateful if the Minister would address these issues, as I, like the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, would prefer answers at this stage rather than having them debated in Committee. I am sure the Government would not wish to create a bigger problem than the one it is currently claimed exists in the NHS, and hope that they move to a more research and evidence-based approach to immigration.

9.11 pm

Baroness Prashar (CB): My Lords, listening to this debate this afternoon and this evening, I have had a real sense of déjà vu, because the question of international students has been raised in the last two years, and the call for rational debate on immigration was first made

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by the Runnymede Trust when I was a director in 1982. But it seems that we never make much progress. At this stage I will inevitably be repeating what has already been said, for which I make no apology, because the strength of feeling is so strong it is worth repeating some of the points that have already been made.

This Bill seeks to create a hostile environment for irregular migrants. In so doing, I am afraid it will create a hostile environment for migrants seeking to enter or remain in the UK through legal channels. It will have a negative impact on international students, on public health generally, as we have heard, and put landlords in an invidious position. I fear the hostile environment it seeks to create for irregular migrants will be hostile to all of us. Proposals such as: administrative removal; extending immigration officers’ powers to use reasonable force by allowing them to do so in the exercise of all powers under any Immigration Act; indefinite retention of biometric information without justification and sufficient safeguards; removal of rights of appeal on any grounds other than asylum and human rights; denying any independent review to anyone else who makes an immigration application; and the introduction of landlord checks and new health charges for temporary migrants, raise not only practical questions but also questions of liberty and justice, principles on which we pride ourselves.

It is regrettable that in the other place a great deal of attention was paid to migration from Europe, but the most worrying aspects of the Bill were not properly scrutinised. It is very much to be hoped that this House will give sufficient time to scrutinise the Bill and its impact on migrants and society in general. I endorse the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, about the question of leadership, because it is leadership that is required if we want a proper, rational and calm debate. I hope that this House will have a cool look at some of these provisions to make sure that they do not erode liberties and justice, and do not have a negative practical impact on some of the groups mentioned.

In my capacity as the president of UK Council for International Student Affairs, I highlight the impact that proposals such as the abolition of appeal rights and their replacement with a system of administrative reviews; the requirement for all landlords to undertake immigration checks; and the introduction of a health levy are likely to have on international students. I shall concentrate on some of the practical aspects.

As we know, international students and their dependants often need to appeal against decisions by the Home Office to refuse applications for visa extensions when completing their degrees or moving to higher-level courses, for a wide variety of reasons. It is now officially accepted that nearly 50% of appeals are upheld because the decisions were unsound in the first place due to technical errors, which does not inspire much confidence that the administrative reviews will work. The Government’s claim that administrative reviews have been successfully introduced for entry clearance decisions overseas does not hold. They point to the small number of reviews that result in decisions being overturned, but evidence from members of UKCISA

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tells a different story. Given the time required for these reviews and when the students have so little time, very few risk going through the process, preferring to submit a repeat application at an additional cost. Furthermore, attempts to limit Article 8 will have an adverse impact on students as they will not be able to rely on this in future applications, or challenges to refusals or removal action.

We know of no evidence of tier 4 students abusing the appeals system, but there is extensive evidence of errors by the Home Office staff. The danger is that similar officials would conduct administrative reviews and could come to similarly erroneous decisions. Removal of appeal rights is not only unjust but ineffective; natural justice demands that that this should be preserved for all, and not just for students.

The proposal for immigration checks by landlords is fundamentally flawed. Let us look at the facts. There is no evidence that international students present any difficulty in this area. International tier 4 students have their immigration status checked by the sponsoring educational institution as part of their compliance procedures, so why duplicate? We have seen that even the now former Minister for Immigration had difficulty verifying the immigration status of his cleaner. Even employers with professional HR departments have very considerable difficulty assessing immigration status and the vast variety of schemes and immigration stamps that exist; it is very easy to make mistakes. It is, therefore, difficult to see how landlords will be able to make appropriate judgments. The majority will play safe and consequently those of different colour, accent or origin will suffer. Where is the justice in that?

Then there are concerns about the availability of documents when visa extensions are being processed for those continuing to higher education courses, just when the same paperwork may be required for new accommodation. The requirement essentially to have a visa before renting accommodation, a process which is often done online, will make it difficult if not impossible for international students to arrange accommodation securely in advance of arrival. I know that there is now an exemption in the Bill for university-managed accommodation, but this does not address the potential problems as the vast majority of students are in privately rented accommodation. This proposal should be withdrawn altogether or at least all students should be exempted.

I turn to the health service levy. The principle of introducing any sort of health service charge for international students is unnecessary and unjustified. International students already pay the full cost of their education and all their living expenses, amounting to total earnings of £13.6 billion annually for the economy. They support local economies, paying VAT and tax on part-time earnings. They are, therefore, making a major financial contribution to the UK. There is no evidence to show extensive abuse of the NHS or health tourism.

As the levy, if imposed, will be paid with the visa application, it will be seen as an increase in the visa fee—yet another disincentive. The Government argue that other countries do this, but this does not take into account the fact that other countries have taken positive

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steps to attract international students. In our case, it is the cumulative effect of our policy towards international students—biometrics, entry clearance, institutional immigration checks and police registration—that acts as a major disincentive.

Consequences are evident. The Russell Group universities say that in 2010-11 new intakes of postgraduate students from India at Russell Group universities dropped by 21%, with a further 18% drop anticipated in 2012-13. They say that even the growth rate in new students from China has now started to taper off. By contrast, Indian postgraduate student numbers to the US increased by 40% in 2013. Visas granted to Indian students across all levels in Australia rose by 22% in the year following the introduction of a more open immigration policy. Visas granted to Indian students in Canada rose by 8%.

We all know that after many years of growth, 2012-13 saw the first reduction since records began in the number of non-EU higher education students and, for the second year running, a reduction of 25% in students from India and 19% for students from Pakistan. In April 2012, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister, the honourable Anand Sharma, reminded UK Ministers that Indian IT companies were considering relocating from the UK as a result of difficulties in the UK immigration system. He also emphasised wider issues such as visas for business trips and restrictions affecting Indian students hoping to study in the UK. That was two years ago.

The Government, in their report, International Education Strategy—Global Growth and Prosperity, said that their approach was a warm welcome for international students, and explained that there was no cap on the number of international students who could come to the UK, and that they would support students when things go wrong in their home. However, the proposals in the Bill run contrary to the intentions of this strategy. Because students are part of the overall government target to reduce migration, they are getting caught in these measures.

On a number of occasions, as my noble friend Lord Hannay said, EU Sub-Committee F, of which I am a member, has said that international students should be removed from the public policy implications of the Government’s policy of reducing net migration. We have argued that nothing short of this will enable the UK to remain competitive in attracting international students. The IPPR report published in December 2013 argued that the Home Office’s net migration target had created a perverse incentive for the Government to reduce the number of international students officially counted as migrants in order to achieve an overall reduction in migrant numbers. They said that this was harming the UK economy. This is an opportunity to change the policy, remove international students from this target and stop them getting caught in these proposals. I very much hope that the Government will pay heed to these issues and that I will not have a sense of déjà vu 10 years on.

9.23 pm

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, it is about time that this country had a sensible, calm and balanced approach to discussing immigration and asylum. We seem over

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recent years to have indulged in hysteria, false facts and scaremongering. That does not help us as a country to make sensible decisions.

Perhaps I may share a little experience and give this issue a lighter touch. Recently, I was in a café-restaurant with some friends and, from her accent, the waitress was clearly not British—she was from somewhere in eastern Europe. As I usually do, I asked, just out of interest, “Where are you from?”. She said that she was from the Czech Republic. We asked, “What are you doing here? Are you here to work, study or what?”. “No”, she said, “I am here to have fun. That’s all. When I have had fun, I am going back to the Czech Republic”. I thought that that just about put it in the right perspective, when compared with all the hysteria about these people coming here. She just wanted to have fun because she saw London as a place where she could do so, perhaps more fun than in her own country.

On the whole, however, this debate does not have much fun to it. It is gloomy and the climate of opinion on migration and migrants has been generally hostile. There are, of course, problems. None of us believes in sham marriages. We should deal with illegal immigration, provided there is evidence, not just accusations. As my noble friend said, we have to have a basis for any policy so we know what we are doing and why we are doing it. We know that immigration has been of overall benefit to this country. The difficulty is the imbalance between the contribution made by immigration to Britain and the economy, compared with the local areas where people settle and where there may be more pressure on services. Although the country as a whole benefits, the areas where migrants—or some of them—tend to settle need a bit more help with housing, health, education and transport. If there was no such imbalance, the whole thing could be managed better. A lot of the skill in immigration policy is in dealing with this imbalance so that we go on benefiting, as a country, but local communities are given the help to which they are entitled, given that they are contributing to benefits for the whole country. That should be the basis of a policy followed by any British Government.

I turn to some details of the Bill. I am concerned that some policies may be intensive in staff time at the Home Office and elsewhere and there may well be problems with the adequacy of resources. Other noble Lords have mentioned rights of appeal. There must be a concern that cuts in legal aid will make these less effective or meaningful. The Joint Committee on Human Rights talked, in its report, about constraints to the right of a tribunal to consider a new matter. That constraint has been applied, in Clause 11, so that the Secretary of State decides whether any new matter can be dealt with by a tribunal. Why can the tribunals not decide themselves what is sensible in relation to cases before them? The Bill will also increase the potential for judicial reviews, some of which may have to take place on behalf of people who are no longer in the country. That is virtually impossible to do. In any case, the Government are increasing the likelihood of judicial reviews at a time when the Lord Chancellor has protested that there are already too many.

Many references have been made to difficulties with Clause 15 and later clauses dealing with residential tenancies. It is very unpleasant for individuals to have

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to check on others and say: “Produce the evidence so I can let my flat to you”. This is neither the topic of the Bill nor a popular cause, but I sometimes wonder—without advocating them—whether ID cards might have dealt with a lot of these things painlessly, fairly and sensibly. However, the country has moved away from that, although ID cards would have helped on this and a number of other things too. Anybody coming to the country could have been given a temporary ID card to cover them while the basis of their stay was being resolved. There is a difficulty with residential tenancies and I fear that some of the policies might lead to more homelessness, especially for children.

In his very nice opening speech, the Minister made the Bill seem much blander and nicer than it actually is. This is a skill on his part but does not help us very much. He said it was the Government’s aim not to have children in detention. I cannot remember what the position is at the moment. Some of us have campaigned for years, both under the previous Government and this one, arguing that children should not be detained under immigration powers. What is the position and, if it continues, when will it be phased out?

I turn to the subject of health. As has already been mentioned, the prospect of charging for maternity care is alien to the best principles of decent healthcare. It would, surely, be right to exempt all pregnant women and children from charges. Starting antenatal care after 20 weeks is a risk factor, as is not attending antenatal appointments and screening. There is also a risk to the health of the child and an increased chance of infant mortality. Should not all pregnant women and new mothers have a GP and other primary care services for free, including access to prescriptions and whatever else is necessary? I think that it would be right to exempt from charges asylum seekers, refugees, children in local authority care and victims of trafficking. What will the position be as regards refused asylum seekers and undocumented migrants? Will they face NHS charges, including for primary care and A&E treatment?

I turn to the question of victims of trafficking. Admittedly, if they have been recognised as victims of trafficking, they may be helped by the Bill, but of course we know that quite a number of such victims are afraid to present themselves lest they be treated as illegal immigrants. I have heard this from NGOs and others in all parts of the country. There is a real concern about this. If we are to deal with victims of trafficking, we must not allow the authorities or the powers-that-be to make them criminals. They should be seen as victims and not as criminals. Therefore, the registration system for assessing eligibility for NHS treatment must not be linked to the Home Office in such a way that accessing treatment can be used as a means of immigration enforcement. The danger is that that will happen.

We know that it is hard for a homeless person to register with a GP. The result is that homeless people attend A&E six times more often than the general population and they stay in hospital for three times as long. This is at a time when everybody is trying to find ways of reducing pressure on A&E departments, yet the consequence will be to increase it.

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Of course, there are problems with charging systems. The chair of the BMA council regarded the proposed charges as “impractical, uneconomic and inefficient”. I understand that the Department of Health did a piece of qualitative research among health professionals last year, and there is a concern that,

“the cost of setting up a new complex infrastructure may outweigh any increase in income”.

If that is not enough, the headline on page 24 of today’s Evening Standard—I am not sure how authoritative this is—reads: “GPs turning away refugees to avoid ‘staggering’ task of registering them”. That bears out the point that I have just made.

I turn briefly to the question of work. I think that it would be right to allow asylum seekers to work if an initial decision in their case was not made within six months. It seems to me that letting people hang on unemployed, unable to work and in very poor circumstances is not sensible either for them or for the country. My suggestion is limited to those whose cases are not decided initially within six months. If they worked, there would be a lesser burden on taxpayers and a route out of poverty for asylum seekers. I understand that at the moment 5,500 asylum seekers have been waiting for more than six months for an initial decision and are still unable to work. It would also avoid the negative consequences of prolonged economic exclusion and forced inactivity. Those would all be bonuses. Surely it would be more sensible to let asylum seekers work in the circumstances that I have described.

Before I finish, I want to say a word about the deprivation of citizenship. I understand that this should be strictly limited to instances where a person can immediately gain another nationality, but, as I understand it, nothing in the Bill would prevent deprivation of citizenship taking place. Sometimes, citizenship can be taken from a person while that person is not in the country. There have been instances of that—not many but a few. It seems to me that it would be quite wrong if we took away citizenship from an individual, who would be left high and dry and effectively stateless.

The way that we deal with vulnerable people, immigrants and asylum seekers is a test of what sort of country we are. It is a test of our commitment to human rights and it is how we are judged on the international stage.

9.34 pm

Lord Paddick (LD): My Lords, as my noble friend Lady Hamwee said, this Bill is not one that a majority Liberal Democrat Government would have brought forward. We have worked in coalition to improve this Bill and it is clear from what noble Lords have said that more needs to be done.

It is important that this Bill should be put into context. What is it trying to achieve? I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, that most reasonable people do not believe that there is a danger of this country being overwhelmed by a tsunami of immigrants. We do, however, have to be very careful about the way in which we use statistics in this area. My noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts talked about population growth. Can the Minister confirm that, in 2012-13, only 20% of the population growth in the UK was due to immigration?

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My noble friend Lady Hamwee also suggested that we should examine what underlies hostility and fear towards immigrants. Perhaps the most commonly raised issues from those who oppose all further immigration are the claims that immigrants are taking our jobs and homes. As my noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece described in relation to the care sector, there are so many areas of industry and public services that would grind to a halt if it were not for those workers whose origins are overseas—whether they are first or subsequent-generation immigrants. It is not a phenomenon unique to the United Kingdom that immigrants, children and grandchildren of immigrants become the mainstay of the workforce in certain sectors. As my noble friend Lord Dholakia said, one in four NHS doctors is a migrant. Those who oppose immigration do not talk about the many thousands of jobs that immigrant entrepreneurs create by bringing investment and innovation into the country. Not only do immigrants as a whole contribute more to the British economy in taxation and national insurance than they take out in benefits, they also start businesses that employ many thousands of British people from every background.

As far as taking our homes is concerned, I wish there were more homes that immigrants could be accused of taking. The appalling lack of social housing and what, in some areas, is laughingly called affordable housing means that they are effectively out of the reach of hard-working families. Vast swathes of housing—particularly newbuild in London—are snapped up by overseas investors who have no intention of becoming immigrants. These are the real culprits, not immigration. It is much easier and politically expedient to blame immigrants for the housing crisis which successive Governments have created by their failure to build homes, particularly in the social sector.

There is no hope of considering this Bill objectively—as my noble friends Lord Avebury, Lord Taverne and Lord Roberts of Llandudno have said—if it is done against the distorted backdrop painted by UKIP, the Daily Mail and their sympathisers. They may have convinced too many of the electorate that the consequences of the economic recession for the labour market and the failure to build our way out of the housing crisis are the fault of immigration. It is easier to blame others than it is to blame ourselves, but we should not fall into the same trap. Listening to this debate, I am pleased that none of the Members of your Lordships’ House has done this.

We must have sensible, reasonable and practical controls on immigration; these are needed to address real problems with our existing rules and practices. We must, however, not have irrational, draconian and impractical measures to address the fictitious spectres created as scapegoats for the real challenges faced by families in this country.

The large number of noble friends who have spoken has made the depth of feeling and the concerns we have about this Bill very clear. As my noble friend Lord Teverson said, it is not just the measures; it is the damaging message that we are hostile that a Bill such as this sends to the rest of the world. Many in your Lordships’ House today, including my noble friends Lady Benjamin and Lord Clement-Jones, have expressed

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concerns about the effect of the Bill on overseas students, whose numbers should not be included in overall immigration figures in any event. We have learnt about the practical difficulties, particularly for overseas students seeking accommodation, that would be presented if this Bill goes through as it is.

The most important reform that we wish to see has nothing to do with this Bill. We want the correct immigration decisions made when the application is first considered. The UK Border Agency clearly was not working effectively and we welcome bringing immigration issues back within the Home Office. But, no matter what the grounds for appeal are or the number of appeals that are allowed, if currently 50% of appeals are successful the Home Office is not getting it right first time. Many of the problems with the current system—delays, indefinite detention and the detention of children—are the consequences of not getting it right first time.

Government effort and energy should be focused on improving the current system before implementing some of the changes proposed in this Bill. We want changes that work and, where we do not know whether they will work or not, we want them piloted. That is why the Government have agreed initially to limit the power to require landlords to check a tenant’s immigration status to one pilot area, rather than nationwide, as suggested by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon. Over the weekend, we saw how difficult it is to check someone’s immigration status. Clearly that will be a major difficulty and we need to see how it works in practice.

Not much has been said about the fact that this Bill allows immigration officers to use reasonable force in the exercise of any of their powers, not just for removal. Coupled with the ability to take biometric information from those whom they suspect of being illegally in the country, that makes these high-profile raids on businesses run by people from traditional illegal immigration areas such as the Hong Kong Chinese even more worrying.

Detention without trial also is a serious issue, as Parliament has made clear even where terrorism is suspected. Not to allow appeals against detention within 14 days of proposed deportation without the authority of the Secretary of State is a worrying development. Replacing appeal to a judicial tribunal against a refusal to allow entry with an administrative review, when current appeals are running at about a 50% success rate, is again a concern. As my noble friend Lady Manzoor has said, were the decision-making in the Home Office already of a very high quality, we might be more relaxed about this measure. That may be a useful way forward in addition to, but not instead of, a right to appeal.

My noble friend the Minister no doubt will say that, with 87% of applications already being granted, there should be a higher degree of confidence in decision-making in the Home Office. However, the fact is that the 50% of appeals which are granted are the only ones subjected to a rigorous review. We do not know whether the decision-making in the 87% of cases is correct.

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While many would support “deport now, appeal later” in relation to foreign criminals, allowing the Home Office, with its current record, to be the sole arbiter of what constitutes,

“a real risk of serious irreversible harm”,

as the only grounds for not going ahead with it, and extending the power to those whose presence the Secretary of State alone considers to be not “conducive to public good”, seems to give powers to a body that currently has a poor record of judgment.

Clearly, the Article 8 right to a family life needs to be balanced against the public interest—it is not an absolute right—but for the courts to be instructed what weight Article 8 rights should be given appears to me to be an interference with the balancing judgment that has previously been the sole responsibility of the courts.

It may be right that some of those from abroad who have not paid national insurance contributions should be charged for treatment under the National Health Service, but surely this should not apply to those who come here legally to work and who will in effect be paying twice through the charge proposed by this Bill and through their own national insurance contributions.

The Liberal Democrats want to support rational and practical steps to ensure that a firm but fair immigration system is in place. We need to be convinced that the measures proposed in this Bill will actually work without unintended and unacceptable consequences.

9.45 pm

Lord Ramsbotham (CB): My Lords, I declare a number of immigration interests. As Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons I was responsible for inspecting all places of immigration detention, during the course of which I found much wrong with the system, such as the use of inappropriate detention rules which, fortunately, I was able to correct. From 2007 to 2009 with my noble friends Lady Mar and Lord Sandwich I was a member of an independent asylum commission which submitted three reports to the then Government, containing detailed analysis of what was wrong with the asylum system and numerous recommendations for improvement.

In 2008, I forwarded a carefully researched dossier to the Home Secretary, entitled Outsourcing Abuse, which listed details of more than 70 cases of injury to failed asylum seekers undergoing enforced removal. In 2010, I was a member of a government advisory board on the use of child detention, whose recommendations I hope to see realised in this Bill. Finally, in 2011-12 I chaired an independent commission on enforced removals whose recommendations were forwarded to both the Home Secretary and the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee. This followed the death of an Angolan, Jimmy Mubenga, in an aircraft at Heathrow at the hands of G4S escort officers and on which the coroner’s inquest verdict was unlawful killing. Therefore, I hope that noble Lords will forgive me if I focus tonight on the clauses and schedules in the Bill to do with enforced removals.

Before that, I must declare my acute disappointment that yet again a Government have failed to tackle a major millstone that prevents the immigration system

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from being able to function properly: namely, the 502,412 unresolved cases, of which more than 190,000 were in the migrant refusal pool in July 2013. I was first introduced to this problem one day in 1997 while visiting Birmingham prison, where I was told that a number of foreign national prisoners had gone on hunger strike. When I went to see them I found that they were not foreign nationals who had committed offences, but Asian people who had been living in England for more than 20 years, most married with families and many with their own businesses. They had suddenly been rounded up, mostly in Yorkshire, and taken to Birmingham purely because it appeared to have space, so that their details and their right to remain could be checked. The trouble with having such a millstone around a system’s neck, particularly when resources are limited, is that progress is impossible because so many staff have to spend their time trying to keep its head above water. By progress I mean such things as introducing time limits on the completion of essential bureaucratic processes.

I was faced with a similar, but far smaller situation, when I was commanding troops in Belfast. Every base had a card index for everyone who lived, or had been questioned, in an area, going back several years, which was used to verify the identity of anyone stopped on the streets. Then we were issued with a computer system, but no guidance as to how it was to be loaded with data on literally thousands of cards. The only possible solution was to ground all my military policemen for two weeks and sit them at computers until they had transcribed every detail.

The only way that the Home Office will remove its millstone is to do something similar and draft in temporary staff until the millstone is cleared. Only then will there be time and space for change and improvement. Because of the avoidable damage that a chaotic and dysfunctional immigration system—which seems likely to be made worse by some of the proposals in the Bill—does to the national image, I would have expected that to have been appreciated and actioned years ago. I await the Minister’s comments on that suggestion with interest.

I turn now to Clauses 1 and 2 of Part 1, Clause 58 of Part 5 and Schedules 1 and 7. One of the depressing things about submitting a report to the Home Office, however constructive and well researched, is that you know that no one there will take a blind bit of notice of anything that is not produced in-house. My commission was appalled to find that the restraint techniques used by contracted private sector escort officers were required by the Home Office to be used only in prison. No one had bothered to check with the NHS, which had rejected the pain-compliant prison techniques, devising its own pain-free ones that were more appropriate for patients. Neither had the police, who come under the Home Office and who had developed pain-free techniques suitable for use in crowded and restricted public places such as river ferries been consulted. No training requirements were laid down and escort officers were neither accredited nor licensed. No one in the Home Office is qualified to do this, but no one had thought of approaching the Security Industry Authority, which is.

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As the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, said, the standard of casework is abysmal. All too frequently, escorts are told nothing about the characteristics of the understandably concerned people whom they are to escort until shortly before a flight.

Independent oversight was totally lacking until the Chief Inspector of Prisons was invited to observe a return flight and was appalled at the way in which escorts talked openly to and about returnees in front of him and them. Extraordinarily, independent oversight is said to be the responsibility of the Home Office Professional Standards Unit, which is incapable of doing what is required and bizarrely is itself overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which has nothing to do with asylum casework. It is hard to imagine anything less fit for purpose. We also strongly recommended improved powers for the Immigration Services Commissioner to deal with rogue advisers.

As this detail had not been found by the Home Affairs Select Committee, which had published a report previously on enforced removals, I discussed our findings with its chairman in the fond hope that he might take them formally into evidence in a reopened inquiry, in which case the Home Office might take them seriously, too. But despite assurances from time to time, he has not yet done that, so I hope that amendments to the Bill will provide the vehicle. I do not believe that Clause 1, or paragraph 5 of Schedule 1, which allows untrained and unlicensed immigration officers to use unspecified but allegedly “reasonable force”, when there is such an authentic catalogue of unreasonable force being used by those on Home Office contracts, including a charge of unlawful killing, should be allowed to stand. I go further by suggesting that it would be wholly irresponsible of this House not to try to ensure that current practice is wound up in favour of something more akin to our claim to be a civilised nation.

There is much else in the Bill about which other noble Lords have already expressed their unease. Yet again, we seem destined to spend long hours trying to improve legislation produced in haste and rushed through the other place without sufficient time for scrutiny. Bearing in mind how many Members of Parliament have regular contact with immigration problems in their constituencies, I am surprised that so little was done to amend what was laid before them. No doubt making up for that deficiency is a prospect to which the Minister looks forward with eager anticipation.

9.54 pm

Baroness Williams of Crosby (LD): My Lords, I am grateful to the Chief Whip for suggesting that I might step into the gap for a moment or two and I shall be very brief indeed. What we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, gives us great concern about the extension to all immigration officers of the power to use so-called “reasonable force” to bring about whatever the order before them is. I suspect that the noble Lord knows better than almost anybody else in this House how all these things operate. Unless we consider closely the illiberal power that we are effectively giving to every last immigration officer, this House should seriously ask how far it can possibly go along with it.

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The second thing that I want to say is that, if noble Lords wanted proof of the huge contribution that immigrants have made to this country over the years, they only need to look around this House during this debate. I should declare my own involvement as, along with my noble friend Lord Dholakia, I am a patron of the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group. One of the most amazing occurrences is the group’s ability to recruit hundreds of volunteers from the neighbourhood of Gatwick, who come to be with, befriend, speak to and advise those who are locked up in that detention centre. That shows that, as my noble friend Lady Hamwee said, given the right leadership, the people in this country are capable of responding in the most warm and generous way.

I will conclude by asking three direct questions of the Minister, who is thorough in paying attention to the views and opinions in this House, which are always taken seriously, as they should be. The first relates to the interesting and detailed suggestions made by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. How far have those been taken into account in reconsidering what the first tier should be able to bring to its attention in making the kind of decision that might actually be unquestionable, good, accurate and able to last? In all my life in politics—since I was myself a Minister of State at the Home Office—this has been the holy grail. Can we not find an answer in the first tier, to avoid the endless agony of paying legal costs and all the rest of it for a second, third, fourth and fifth tier? My first question therefore is: how far will the solid suggestions made by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, be part of the changing and reform of that first tier?

The second question relates to the health surcharge. Here, my noble friend Lady Manzoor made extremely important points, but I want to add another. The BMA, the British Medical Association, which represents all doctors in this country, and the National Aids Trust, NAT, which looks in particular at HIV, have both spoken as clearly as they could about the great danger of any kind of fee at this level. For example, people visiting A&E or going beyond the GP whom they first see who advises treatment would be brought into the area of having to pay. How much will that discourage people who are already desperate for money from going to their GP, let alone going to A&E?

Yet we have in this country two major threats in infectious diseases. One is HIV, which is relatively easily transferred, and the other, which we have not so far mentioned, is drug-related tuberculosis, which is gaining ground every month that passes. This is partly because people are coming from parts of the world where there is extensive drug-related tuberculosis. This must be caught early, to ensure that it is not passed on. My noble friend Lord Patel—who, along with several others who came to this country in the last generation or two, has made such a contribution to the health service—knows very well the dangers that we are talking about.

The third question relates to something that we have not talked about at all, strangely enough: a distinctive flaw in the flow of immigrants to this country. To put it bluntly—and I do not mind being blunt in this brilliant debate—it is relatively easy at the

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moment for somebody who is truly wealthy to get into this country without too many problems with immigration. At the present time there are whole blocks of flats, very possibly including a block of flats that may emerge from Battersea power station, being auctioned in Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere for people who want a second home in London. That is not helpful to anybody. Above all, if the people who are part of that are people who have a lot of wealth in tax havens, it will not do immigration as such any good. However, if you are a poverty-stricken asylum seeker who has been fighting for democracy in your country, living with great risks, you will find it terribly difficult to get into this country, however hard you try.

I conclude with this. It was the late Aneurin Bevan, that great Labour statesman, who once said that you do not need to look into the crystal if you can read the book. Look around this Chamber, read the book, ask yourself what immigrants have brought to this country and be thankful for it, and let us make sure that we are not part of what one might call the narrowing of the British imagination by closing the door to the huge gifts and innovations and treasures that our flow of immigrants over the years have brought to this country.

10 pm

Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Lab): My Lords, with the permission of the House, I, too, should like to speak briefly in the gap. I apologise, but I was unable to be in the House until six o’clock today, and so did not put my name down for the debate.

My major concern about the Bill is its wide-ranging implications for the safety and welfare of children, not least the proposals to limit children’s access to healthcare and housing. Those and other proposals run counter to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Further, Clause 14 would restrict Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, but I notice that the Minister asserts on the front of the Bill that it is compatible with the convention. I would like him to explain how that can be.

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act imposed a statutory duty on the Home Secretary to have concern for the welfare of children. It is a requirement for the Home Secretary to ensure that regard is had for children’s safety and welfare in the implementation of government policy on immigration, asylum and nationality. That clearly includes the Bill, but the Explanatory Memorandum makes no mention of children apart from a brief comment in relation to the provision on biometric information. I do not understand how that can be.

There are other crucial issues in the Bill, such as the restriction of appeals, the effect on higher education institutions, about which we heard from many noble Lords, and more general access to healthcare and housing to people unable to prove their status.

As we all know, cuts are being made to the level of staff in the UK Border Agency, but that does not make it in any way appropriate for the gap to be filled, at least in part, by asking nurses and landlords to become the gatekeepers. What does that say about this country and the whole question of the compassion

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that we offer? My noble friend Lord Judd spoke eloquently on that, and it is lacking in the proposals in the Bill.

By common consent, the Bill was denied proper consideration in Committee in another place. We have six days of Committee in your Lordships’ House, which offers the opportunity for that imbalance to be corrected and to deal with some of the ways in which the Bill needs to be amended. I look forward to contributing to that process.

10.03 pm

Lord Rosser (Lab): My Lords, we have had a lengthy, interesting and, at times, passionate debate. Some noble Lords have addressed the general approach to immigration and the overall thrust of the measures contained in the Bill. Other contributions have homed in on the implications of specific clauses and proposals, such as limiting the right of appeal for First-tier Tribunal cases when the real problem that needs addressing is the number of decisions appealed that are determined as being wrong.

Among other areas of concern regularly referred to this evening have been the impact of the proposals on international students, undocumented migrant children and landlords and prospective tenants. However, in the comments at the beginning of the debate, my noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon pointed out that it is equally relevant in this debate to talk about what is not in the Bill.

Before moving on any further, it is worth pointing out that the Bill has not been subject to the most thorough of consultation processes. Prior to the Bill, there was no draft Bill, Green Paper or White Paper. The Bill also appeared to be delayed in the other place for reasons which may have had more to do with internal issues within the larger party in the coalition than any other factor.

Then, 24 hours before the four-and-a-half-hour debate that was Report stage in the other place, followed immediately by a very brief Third Reading, the Government published a major new clause on deprivation of citizenship for conduct seriously prejudicial to vital interests of the United Kingdom. This left little or no time for the Government’s proposed new clause, giving a significant power to the Secretary of State, to be considered in detail, including, for example, what would happen to people made stateless—my noble friend Lady Kennedy of The Shaws referred to this—and why there was no provision for judicial oversight. These were hardly the actions of a Government keen on providing the appropriate opportunities for scrutiny of their proposals by Parliament.

We also had the spectacle on Report in the other place of the Home Secretary’s speaking against one of her own Back-Bencher’s amendments, on deporting foreign criminals, to her own Immigration Bill. Having said that the amendment would be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, and would significantly undermine the United Kingdom’s ability to deport foreign criminals, the Home Secretary then failed to vote against it.

Finally, this weekend we heard that the Minister for Immigration, who proved himself not to be the greatest admirer of this House during the controversy on

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House of Lords reform, had resigned, since it appeared he had employed someone who was an illegal immigrant. This happened after the Government have repeatedly said that there will be no real difficulties for landlords in carrying out the new requirements in this Bill to ensure they are not renting accommodation to illegal immigrants. If a Minister for Immigration can get it wrong, there must now be even bigger question marks over the practicality of at least some of the proposals in this Bill and over the actual impact they will have on immigration in contrast to the headlines when they are first put forward.

My noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon made clear earlier our agreement that immigration needed to be properly and effectively managed, our agreement that we need to tackle illegal immigration and our agreement that we need to ensure that, when appropriate, foreign criminals are deported. On these important points, however, the Government have been wholehearted in their rhetoric and half-hearted in their actions. The infamous van and its advert, to which some noble Lords have referred, sums up this Government’s approach. Border and immigration staff have been reduced, the number of illegal immigrants deported has fallen and the number of businesses fined for using illegal workers has almost halved between 2009 and 2012. The Bill is silent on remedying the causes of these failures by the Government.

How much better it would have been for community relations in this country and for the whole tenor of the debate on immigration if the Government’s action had been wholehearted and the Government’s rhetoric half-hearted rather than the other way round. What is needed is a reasoned debate about making sure that immigration delivers positively for our country. That includes having appropriate measures to control immigration, tackling illegal immigration and abuses of the system, having an overall approach to addressing the impact of immigration on people’s lives—to give two examples, in the labour market and the housing market—but also recognising the benefits that immigration has brought to our country. That will not be achieved through legislation that was not properly scrutinised in the Commons and through legislation whose passage appears to be geared, as far as the Government are concerned, to deadlines related to elections in the middle of this year, if not beyond.

The Government have said they are going to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands by May 2015. The objective is presumably 99,999, even if that means its being secured at the cost, to our country, of people leaving whom we should want to stay and highly qualified people, including university students, whom it would be in our interests to attract, not coming to this country. Can the Minister tell us whether the Government are on track to meet their declared policy objective within the timescale laid down and what contribution the Bill is expected to make, if any, towards meeting the Government’s target on net migration and over what timescale?

Much of the Bill relates to illegal immigration, which is not covered by the Government’s “tens of thousands” objective. The Bill seeks to transfer some responsibility for controlling illegal immigration to

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specific groups of citizens of this country and, by implication, away from the Government. It does not, however, address the issue of exploitation and abuse of immigrants which, for so long as it is allowed to continue, contributes to the level of illegal immigration. Although we share the Government’s objective of wanting properly controlled and managed immigration, it does not let them off the hook of having to make the case for each one of their proposals in the Bill.

Making the case means providing hard evidence on the extent and nature of the problem or issue that the Government are seeking to address; providing hard evidence that the practical implications and feasibility of what is proposed have been thought through; and providing hard evidence that the claimed impact of what is proposed on the problem or issue that the Government are seeking to address is also a realistic expectation. For a start, the Government’s own impact assessment states, without any caveats, that the Bill,

“will make a significant contribution to reducing illegal immigration”.

That could be the case but I hope that the Minister will be able to provide the hard evidence and figures on which that statement is based, including telling us by how much the proposals in the Bill will reduce illegal immigration.

It will also help detailed consideration of the Bill if the Minister could indicate which of the measures proposed in it the Government consider will make the biggest contributions towards reducing illegal immigration or impacting on the net migration figure. It is only right that we should have that information because concerns have been raised about some specific proposals in the Bill and, in some cases, the potential unintended consequences on law-abiding British citizens, legal visitors and visa holders who contribute positively to our country. People need to be in a position to make their own judgment on whether the evidence on the changes that the proposals will actually deliver justifies the risk of any associated unintended consequences if these cannot be addressed. What will not help would be if it becomes clear that there are proposals in the Bill that are here for show rather than effectiveness.

One proposal on which there has been some comment is that defining public interest in relation to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights when considering immigration cases. The Bill seeks to put on the statute book the terms of the most recent Immigration Rules. It is moving guidance or rules into law passed by Parliament, with a view to tying down how the judiciary interprets the public interest and the weight that should be attached to it in immigration cases. That is a significant development and the Minister set out the reasons for the Government going down this road in introducing the Bill. We have a whole raft of guidelines on sentencing across a range of offences and on the weight that should be attached to different factors. It would be helpful to know whether the way that the courts are interpreting other guidelines or rules is also a cause of concern to the Government and, if so, whether they are considering enshrining any of those in statute.

Coming back to the reasons for the Government including Clause 14, can the Minister give some indication

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of the number of judgments since the revised Immigration Rules came into effect which the Government have felt did not properly reflect the terms of those rules, in respect of what the public interest requires and the weight that should be attached to it? What number of judgments have there been which the Government feel have reflected the terms of those rules? Can the Minister also indicate what the Government anticipate will be the effect of passing Clause 14 into law on the number of people coming into and leaving this country in a calendar year?

Finally in respect of Clause 14, can the Minister spell out the evidence the Government are relying on to insert, as a statement of fact, its wording that,

“persons who seek to enter or remain in the United Kingdom”,

and who are able to speak English,

“are less of a burden on taxpayers”,

than—one assumes, although the Bill does not say it—those who cannot speak English and who are seeking to enter or remain in the United Kingdom? I am not saying that the proposed wording is factually incorrect but if such wording is to be enshrined in the law of the land, the Government ought to be clear about the hard evidence on which it is based and place it on the record.

In his introductory speech, the Minister spoke about policies and proposals in the Bill striking the right balance, and the Bill not making the United Kingdom less attractive to legal migrants. From the speeches today it is clear that most of your Lordships do not share this somewhat idyllic view of the Bill as currently worded. However, one opinion expressed by the Minister that will not be disputed is that over the coming weeks, as he said, this House will give this Bill the serious scrutiny that it now demands and needs.

10.15 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, this has been a long but thorough, wide-ranging and thoughtful debate on a topic of great interest inside this Chamber and in Parliament in general, and to people outside. Immigration is a topic regularly discussed the length and breadth of this country.

As I said at the beginning of the debate, it is important that we recognise the positive contribution that migrants have made to this country. I could not agree more with my noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby. Migrants will continue to make a great contribution to this country. It is none the less right and proper that Parliament acts where necessary to bring the legal framework that underpins our immigration system up to date, and to ensure that the welcome that we extend to migrants brings benefits to us all.

I have said that this has been a wide-ranging debate and if I were going to cover a fraction of the points in my reply this evening, we would be here long after taxis—indeed, I suspect, long after midnight. This would perhaps tax my ability to give satisfactory answers. I will seek to address the general issues that have been raised in the debate, but I hope that noble Lords will allow me something that I have frequently sought in debate and that is to write a commentary, which I will

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also copy to the Library, for all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate and seek to address in detail the many questions that have been raised.

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, who wrote to me and indicated those issues that he has raised. We can see that they are significant ones and I think that the whole House would like a response to them, but to go into that detail now might take quite a while. My noble friend Lady Manzoor suggested that we should try to find ways of responding before we get to Committee. The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, made the same comment. So I will try to get a commentary on the debate to noble Lords for the beginning of the week when we come back after our recess, which will give people time to consider it before we go into Committee on this Bill.

Noble Lords know that my approach to legislation is to try to engage with and reassure them, and learn from them the points that they are making, and seek an understanding between the Government and this House. I have already had a meeting with the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and my noble friend Lady Hamwee. I expect that that week when we return will be a busy one for engagement. I hope that any noble Lord who would like to see me for a chat about a particular issue will get in touch with me. I see myself as a servant of this House in that respect.

Before I go into any detail, perhaps I can start by referring to some speeches that I think tried to give the House a sense of the context in which we are discussing this issue. My noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater tried to put the issue that the Government face into context. We heard from the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, a most excellent speech, if I may say so, which referred again to the bigger picture in which the policy decisions that we are talking about in the Bill need to be considered. My noble friend Lord Dholakia referred to the contribution of migration to this country. The noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, made a brilliant speech, if I may say so—not one in which I could agree with everything that he said, but it was good that he expressed that point of view. It is a challenge for us in government to respond to the points that he made.

My noble friend Lord Eccles sought a reasoned approach, which I hope this House will bring to the subject. It is very easy to get passionate about this issue because people’s lives are affected by decisions that Parliament makes, but I hope that we can discuss it in a rational and positive way; that is certainly the way in which I see the legislation and myself. My noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots made, yet again, a remarkable speech, challenging some of the views of other noble Lords but, I think, putting at its heart social cohesion and putting migration—economic migration in particular—into some context, which challenged much of our received opinion on the issue.

Britain is now outpacing many of its competitors in its economic recovery. English is a global language and we have diaspora communities from across the world living in the UK. This is why it is not surprising that the UK is a destination of choice, not only for those who benefit our country but for many who wish to benefit themselves. We have many fantastic world-class

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universities drawing students to our shores but, sadly, not everyone who says they are here to study intends to do so. The National Audit Office reported that up to 50,000 students may have come to work, not to study, in 2009-10. Back then, student visa extensions were running at over 100,000 per year, with some serial students renewing their leave repeatedly for many years. So, while many have reminded me that student numbers are now down, we must remember why. The “Panorama” documentary broadcast—which, of course, none of us has been able to see, but about which we have heard much—would appear to have highlighted further abuses in the mainstream student route, rather than the student visitor route, as the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, suggested. If the student route is indeed so abused, that should remind us why we need to be cautious in considering suggestions that students should be excluded from the net migration target.

The UK has a great offer to attract the best international students. As the noble Lord, Lord Winston, said, this is principally because of the quality of the education that is offered here. Those with the right qualifications, sufficient funds to cover their fees and maintenance costs and a good level of English can study here. There is no limit on numbers. Visa applications from students sponsored by universities increased by 7% for the year ending September 2013. I accept the fact highlighted by the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, that the number of first-year Indian students in our universities declined slightly in 2012-13, but that followed a period of soaring numbers. The number of Indian students admitted to the UK doubled between 2008 and 2009. There may also be other factors at play; for example, the other day in Grand Committee the noble Lord himself mentioned the decline of the strength of the rupee. Further, in December 2013, the British Council published a survey of more than 10,000 young people across India. High-quality courses and institutions remain by far the greatest pull factor for students when choosing whether to study at home or abroad and—this is the most important thing—the UK was the most favoured destination and was chosen by 21% of the respondents.

The noble Baroness, Lady Warwick of Undercliffe, whose expertise in and knowledge of the university sector I recognise, reminded us that the UK is the second most popular destination globally for international students. We are conscious of this and of the need to continue to make the UK attractive. The Bill does not undermine that. While numbers from India are down, by contrast there was strong growth from China, where numbers were up 6%, Malaysia, where they were up by 3%, and Hong Kong, where they were up by 15%, which shows that there is nothing intrinsically wrong in policy terms that is putting off high-quality students.

There have been suggestions from many noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones and the noble Baronesses, Lady Warwick and Lady Meacher, the noble Lord, Lord Winston, and other noble Lords, including, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, with whom I have debated this issue before, that there should be exemptions from the health charge for students on the basis of the contribution they already make to the UK. My noble friend Lady Barker challenged the evidence

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base, but the Department of Health has estimated that the cost to the NHS of temporary migrants is about £900 million, and students would be responsible for a significant proportion of that. I accept that they are young and fit, but they still need medical treatment.

Not only should students make a contribution to what they take, but we are not alone in requiring a contribution. A student applying to Harvard in the USA would in most cases be required to pay a fee of $958 per year to access basic health services. To access Harvard’s more comprehensive health insurance plan would cost a further $2,190 per year. In contrast, it would cost a foreign student applying to study in the UK around £450 for three years of NHS coverage under these proposals.

The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, said the money would go into the Consolidated Fund rather than the NHS. It does say that in the Bill but Clause 33 allows the sums collected to be applied in a way specified by order and—to reassure noble Lords on this point—on 20 January the Chief Secretary to the Treasury confirmed to departments and the devolved Administrations that the money that is collected by these charges—£200 in the main and £150 for students—will go directly to health services.

My noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby cautioned us about charging for treatment and warned about its consequences. Indeed, a number of organisations have submitted their views on this issue. I hope noble Lords will allow me to respond to them in the commentary that I am sending.

I now turn to the question of housing and the point made by many noble Lords about the proposals relating to landlords. Students have nothing to fear from the landlord proposals. They have passports with visas which are easy for landlords to check. Landlords are used to managing lettings to students who have yet to arrive in the UK, and the regulations will not impede these arrangements continuing.

Noble Lords will have received a fairly thick, chunky, briefing document. I know it is rather late, but at least we have got it before Second Reading. We did not know who would be speaking at Second Reading. I recommend that noble Lords read it. There is a lot of detail in there for noble Lords.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister. Could he just comment on the fact that visas are quite often not available at a very late point? Indeed, some students suddenly find that, having arranged to come to this country, they cannot do so, because the visas are held up, or in some cases, withdrawn. Can he say how the Home Office can avoid that situation, which creates a great deal of tension and strain?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am grateful to my noble friend for raising that issue. I cannot respond to it immediately, because I do not want to give a meaningless response, but I hope she will allow me to come back to her on that so we can have the full picture before Committee. I was just making a general point that students, perhaps, have less anxiety in this area, because of the nature of the visas that they have coming here.

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The noble Lord, Lord Best, whose expertise in these matters I recognise, and my noble friend Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, asked about the complexity of checks landlords will be required to conduct. The landlord check is undoubtedly simpler than that which employers must conduct. There are fewer technicalities, and with all migrants now being issued biometric visas, or biometric residents’ permits, the documentation is becoming much easier to manage.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, the noble Baronesses, Lady Warwick and Lady Lister, the noble Lords, Lord Judd and Lord Hylton, and my noble friend Lord Roberts all raised how the Bill will impact on children. Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 places a duty on the Secretary of State to safeguard and promote the welfare or best interest of children in the UK; Clause 14 of the Bill makes specific provision for it when the best interests of the child mean that the public interest does not require removal. The Bill does not change or undermine the Section 55 duty, which requires the Home Office to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in the UK. The children duty continues to apply to all cases involving children in the UK. I hope that reassures noble Lords. Children in care are not subject to the NHS treatment charges. The Bill does not change that, and there will be an exemption from the surcharge for these children and other vulnerable groups. I will be providing more detail on the exemptions in time for consideration in Committee.

We will also address some other notions about access to childhood immunisation and other public health issues. I want to reassure noble Lords on that point, and I am sure I will be able to do so.

On the appeals measures in the Bill, we want to see faster, better decisions being made in the first place by the Home Office. All noble Lords would agree that that is a desirable outcome. The Home Secretary has made great strides in this area with her reform of the former UK Border Agency. The customer service that applicants receive has improved, and is improving further. We are not complacent, but the administrative review approach to be introduced is not novel; it is used for overseas visa applications, for example. Last year, 20% of requests resulted in the reversal of the original decision, so it does work. There is a proper scrutiny of the process, and 90% of requests were dealt with in less than 28 days.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, does the Minister realise that the figure he has just given is a cause of worry—that 20% of visa applications from overseas were found to have been successful by the administrative review process that now takes place, but formerly, when they had the right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal, 36% of them were successful? Something is wrong with the figures there.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I do not think that there is, my Lords. My noble friend misunderstands the degree to which the appeal process has tended to be used to consider new evidence and new material that has been produced by applicants, which could be dealt

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with through an administrative process much more efficiently that would avoid the late delivery of papers and documentation, which has complicated many cases and prolonged their proper consideration.

The courts will still play an important role in cases that engage fundamental rights. I assure noble Lords on that. However, if an applicant does not qualify and their application is refused, an appeal should not be a way of prolonging their stay in the United Kingdom for months and, as noble Lords will know, in some cases for years. Many noble Lords have cited statistics on allowed appeals. My noble friend Lord Avebury did so, along with the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and my noble friend Lady Manzoor, who cited that as evidence of poor decision-making on the part of the Home Office. We believe that just over half the appeals are allowed because of casework error, and administrative review will resolve that. After casework errors, most appeals succeed on Article 8 grounds. When someone believes that they should be allowed to stay in the UK on human rights grounds, they should make a claim on that basis to the Secretary of State. Refusal of that claim will give a right of appeal protected by this Bill. We also need to keep the appeal statistics in perspective. Some 89% of applications from students and workers seeking to extend their stay in 2012 were granted rather than refused.

The evil of statelessness is well understood and that is why, in the shadow of the two world wars of the 20th century, so much work was done to reduce it. The noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, made that clear. We have heard impassioned contributions from her as well as from the noble Lords, Lord Ahmed and Lord Rosser, on that subject. The proposal in the Bill on deprivation of citizenship is an important measure, one that we anticipate will be used in very few cases but which we consider to be necessary to protect the vital interests of the United Kingdom. The measure is very tightly drafted; it falls within the scope of our declaration under the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and goes no further. Where the power will be used is in the anticipation that the majority of persons concerned can acquire another nationality. The Bill will return our legislation in this area to the position that the United Kingdom held as recently as 2003. There are safeguards, and I know these will be further examined by the House in due course.

Lord Dubs: The Minister said “the majority”, but what about the others? It means that some will miss out on this, does it not?

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I think that we can take it that we will discuss this matter in some detail in Committee. The views expressed in Second Reading here this evening have given us at least the scope of the measure. Our assessment is that this is likely to be very rarely used, but it is for situations which present a threat to the vital interests of the country. I think that people might want the Government to be in a position to exercise that, which is why the proposal is in the

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Bill. But let us discuss it. As ever, when the noble Lord debates issues he makes a good point, and I shall seek to satisfy him before we get into Committee.

If I may say so, I am looking forward to debating this Bill, which is an important part of the coalition’s legislative agenda. I welcome the engagement that we have already had on the Bill, and I think that we have established, even in this Second Reading debate, a sense of dialogue that I hope we will be able to

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continue. I should like to think that we will have a number of meetings before we meet again in Committee, and I look forward to continuing these discussions. In the mean time, I commend the Bill to the House and ask it to give the Bill a Second Reading.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at 10.41 pm.