I conclude where I began by paying tribute to the work of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in this important area. I have listened extremely carefully to what he, the noble Baronesses, Lady Lister and Lady Hamwee, and the right reverend Prelate have said. I am also grateful

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to the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers for its advice on these issues, and we hope that that will continue as the guidance is formulated. It will be essential that there continues to be close engagement with such partners as these new measures are taken forward. I regret, however, that we are not able to agree to the particular change that the noble Earl is seeking in relation to Schedule 11. I ask that he consider withdrawing his amendment at this stage based on the reassurances that I provided in my letter on 11 March and the ongoing engagement that we look forward to having with the noble Earl on these very important issues for this very vulnerable group.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for his encouraging reply. I should have acknowledged the meeting on 11 March with James Brokenshire. In particular, his offer for ongoing discussion with the Refugee Children’s Consortium is very reassuring. There is just one matter that I would like to clarify with the Minister. He said that this would apply only where there are no barriers preventing the return of these young people. That would include those young people who are here and who one would wish to return to their country but, for various reasons, they cannot be returned. For children who cannot be returned to their home country, for whatever reason that may be, would that be considered a barrier?

Lord Bates: I am happy to come back on that. Where it is not safe for the person to be returned because there is a real fear of danger, persecution or irreversible harm—I think “real” is a legal term in this context—we would not be able to return them in those circumstances. Basically, these are circumstances where there is no barrier; where the courts have looked at the case, and at the country to which the person would be returned, and adjudicated that they do not believe the person would be at risk and there is no reason for them to continue to stay in the UK. That is the definition that applies there.

The Earl of Listowel: I thank the Minister for that reply. Casting back to past Immigration Bills, it is not necessarily about the issue of safety but the right kind of paperwork. Often, if there seems to be some obstacle to returning a person to their home country, it is bureaucratic in nature. However, it does mean that they have to remain for some time here. I need to check my facts, but I look forward to the ongoing discussion with the Minister on these issues. I am very grateful to him for the pains that he has taken over this matter. I am very reassured by his response and look forward to clarification of this definition at Third Reading. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 123A withdrawn.

Amendments 123B to 123D not moved.

Amendments 124 and 125

Moved by Lord Bates

124: Schedule 11, page 180, line 41, after “made” insert “by the Secretary of State”

125: Schedule 11, page 181, line 6, leave out “or 2A(3)(b)” and insert “, 2A(3)(b), 10A or 10B”

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Amendments 124 and 125 agreed.

Clause 64: Transfer of responsibility for relevant children

Amendments 126 and 127

Moved by Lord Bates

126: Clause 64, page 57, line 3, leave out “or”

127: Clause 64, page 57, line 8, at end insert “, or

( ) a person under the age of 18 who is unaccompanied and who—

(i) has leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, and

(ii) is a person of a kind specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State.”

Amendments 126 and 127 agreed.

Clause 67: Scheme for transfer of responsibility for relevant children

Amendments 128 to 135

Moved by Lord Bates

128: Clause 67, page 58, line 3, leave out “first” and insert “transferring”

129: Clause 67, page 58, line 4, leave out “another local authority” and insert “one or more other local authorities”

130: Clause 67, page 58, line 5, leave out ““the second” and insert “a “receiving”

131: Clause 67, page 58, line 7, leave out “The scheme” and insert “A scheme under this section”

132: Clause 67, page 58, line 10, leave out “that section” and insert “section 64”

133: Clause 67, page 58, line 10, leave out “those authorities” and insert “the transferring authority and each receiving authority”

134: Clause 67, page 58, line 13, leave out “first authority and the second authority” and insert “transferring authority and each receiving authority under a scheme under this section”

135: Clause 67, page 58, line 17, leave out “the second” and insert “each receiving”

Amendments 128 to 135 agreed.

Clause 68: Extension to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Amendments 136 to 139

Moved by Lord Bates

136: Clause 68, page 59, line 1, after “to” insert “—(i)”

137: Clause 68, page 59, line 1, at end insert “or

(ii) provision which may be made under section 64(6) or (10),”

138: Clause 68, page 59, line 4, leave out “or (2)”

139: Clause 68, page 59, line 7, leave out paragraph (b)

Amendments 136 to 139 agreed.

Amendments 140 and 140A not moved.

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Amendment 140B

Moved by Lord Teverson

140B: After Clause 68, insert the following new Clause—

“Spouses and civil partners of British citizens

(1) The spouse or civil partner of a citizen of the United Kingdom shall be entitled to enter and remain in the United Kingdom in order to live with that citizen.

(2) The provisions of subsection (1) shall not apply in the case of a sham marriage or sham civil partnership within the meaning of section 24 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (duty to report suspicious marriages).

(3) The Secretary of State shall make rules for the purposes of this section.”

Lord Teverson (LD): My Lords, I shall not keep the House for a great deal of time. This is an issue which I believe to be fundamental, which is why I have brought it back on Report. I thank my noble friend Lady Hamwee for having simplified it down to its basic elements so that we get to the crux of the matter.

When we talked earlier this evening about bringing together families who were asylum seekers, it was interesting how the Minister agreed, as he obviously would do, that it is much better that asylum families are able to live together. I think that what is not recognised or realised by the vast majority of the population is that we do not in many circumstances allow British citizens to live together with their spouse or civil partner. There are many instances where British citizens who have married are not able to bring their spouse or civil partner to this country to live with them, or if they are abroad and wish to do that, they are effectively exiled. If they have children, who are then usually entitled to British citizenship, those younger citizens are also effectively exiled from their country of citizenship.

The reason for that is the requirement of a certain income per annum for the British citizen over a period of time to enable them to live with their chosen civil partner or spouse. It seems fundamentally wrong that we as British citizens are constrained about who we are able to marry or enter a civil partnership with and are unable to live in our home state. Not only is that fundamentally wrong; it is discriminatory in terms of income levels, with those in certain professions or work or those in certain regions less likely to be able to live with their spouse or civil partner in the United Kingdom, with their family, than are those in other trades and professions and other regions.

For a party and a Government who believe that family is of fundamental importance and for a party with many libertarians among it who believe in the freedom to marry and live with who you wish as long as it is not a sham marriage—clearly those exist, and the amendment takes that into account—I have brought this amendment forward again. I believe that there is a fundamental discrimination and a fundamental injustice in terms of what British citizenship should mean and the liberties that this country should offer to its citizens. On that basis, I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, at the previous stage my noble friend and I tabled an amendment that sought to change the financial thresholds that currently apply to spousal visas. The Minister gave as one

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argument for the threshold the need to protect families, saying that the Government want to see family migrants thriving here, not struggling to get by. But separation does not help people to thrive. The Minister thanked my noble friend for raising our sights at that point by talking about love. So instead of another amendment on financial thresholds, my noble friend and I have decided to say what we mean, which is this: do not set a financial threshold on love.

Lord Green of Deddington: My Lords, the amendment simply deletes a key requirement in a spousal visa. Noble Lords will remember that the Migration Advisory Committee was invited to make recommendations on what should be a threshold. I take the point that the noble Baroness would not like a threshold at all, but the recommendation was £18,600 as the level at which no income-based benefits were paid. The level at which the overall costs to the Exchequer would be zero was £40,000. That gives an indication of the cost to the taxpayer of abolishing this income requirement. It is surely not right that the taxpayer should be obliged to subsidise at such a considerable level the arrangements of other people. This amendment would drive a coach and horses through that requirement, and I hope that it will be opposed.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken on this amendment and I appreciate the knowledge and the strength of feeling of the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. He has put this as a matter of fundamental principle. I respect that, but I am afraid that we disagree on it, and I shall try to explain why the Government feel like that.

The amendment concerns the family Immigration Rules for British citizens which also apply to those who are settled in the UK and those here with refugee leave or humanitarian protection to sponsor a spouse or partner to come and remain in the UK. Of course, we welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, to work hard and to make a contribution. However, we believe that family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense and that family migrants must be in a position to integrate into British society. That is fair to the applicants and to the public and it is the basis on which the family Immigration Rules were reformed in July 2014 by the coalition Government.

The amendment would reverse those reforms by removing all requirements except the requirement that the marriage or civil partnership is not a sham. So the effect of the amendment would be to remove the minimum income threshold and accommodation requirements; to remove the requirement for basic English language speaking and listening skills; to remove the suitability requirements which prevent a foreign criminal from qualifying for leave; to remove the minimum age requirement; to remove the requirements which prevent the formation of polygamous households and prevent those with a prohibited degree of relationship from qualifying; and it would run counter to Parliament’s view of what the public interest requires in immigration cases engaging the qualified right to respect for family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as set out in the Immigration Act 2014. This would undermine our system for family migration. Understanding basic English and being financially

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independent, for example, help to ensure that the migrant spouse or partner can integrate and play a full part in British society.

12.15 am

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said that these rules, which Parliament passed, are discriminatory, but we feel that if British citizens wish to establish their family life together in the UK, it is right that their foreign spouse or partner should have to meet the requirements of the family Immigration Rules, which are geared to preventing burdens on the taxpayer and to promoting integration. The right to respect for family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights does not provide couples with an unqualified right to live in whichever country they choose. States are entitled to set requirements for family immigration that properly reflect the public interest. Indeed, the courts have upheld the lawfulness of the English language and financial requirements under the Immigration Rules, finding that they strike a fair balance between the interests of those wishing to sponsor a spouse to settle in the UK and of the community in general.

Those and the other requirements of the family Immigration Rules for spouses and partners provide the right basis, in our view, for sustainable family migration and integration. The amendment would undermine that. The rules that the coalition Government reformed in the last Parliament are having the right impact and are helping to restore public confidence in the immigration system. I hope, despite our difference in views on this, that the noble Lord will agree to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Teverson: My Lords, I thank the Minister for going through all of that. It is a difference of opinion on principle. That is what it is. To me, British citizenship means that you have that freedom. That is something that should be sacred to us as British citizens. We do not have that. I regret that. It makes the case slightly too strongly in certain areas, but clearly the Government are not going to move on this. That is a great shame, because a number of families are seriously exiled from this country and from being able to live with their wider family where they grew up because of these restrictions. Many of those would be no burden on the British taxpayer whatever. But I take the point and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 140B withdrawn.

Schedule 12: Penalties relating to airport control areas

Amendment 141

Moved by Lord Bates

141: Schedule 12, page 186, line 15, at end insert—

“(1A) A statutory instrument containing (whether alone or with other provision) regulations under paragraph 28(6) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.”

Lord Bates: My Lords, I can be brief. These are three relatively small amendments, responding to the report from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory

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Reform Committee, for which we are grateful. I am satisfied that Amendments 141 to 143, which stand in my name, fully respond to the concerns of the committee, which recommended that the affirmative procedure should apply to the power conferred by new paragraph 28(6) of Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971, inserted by paragraph 1 of Schedule 12 to the Bill.

I am also satisfied that the amended provisions will still achieve the policy objective of enabling the Secretary of State to impose financial penalties on owners and agents of aircraft where they fail to take reasonable steps to secure that passengers are embarked or disembarked only within designated control areas at airports. This accords with the committee’s long-standing approach that instruments that specify a fine or other penalty—or a maximum fine or penalty—that is not itself subject to an upper limit set out in the enabling Act should require the affirmative procedure.

I will also move Amendments 146, 149 and 150 in this group, which make it clearer that regulations under a provision that attracts the affirmative procedure may be combined with other regulations, but that, if this happens, the affirmative procedure applies. I beg to move.

Amendment 141 agreed.

Amendments 142 and 143

Moved by Lord Bates

142: Schedule 12, page 186, line 16, after “containing” insert “any other”

143: Schedule 12, page 186, line 17, after “Schedule” insert “and to which sub-paragraph (1A) does not apply”

Amendments 142 and 143 agreed.

Amendment 144 not moved.

Clause 72: English language requirements for public sector workers

Amendment 144A not moved.

Clause 80: Immigration skills charge

Amendment 144B

Moved by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

144B: Clause 80, page 65, line 7, at end insert—

“(3A) Regulations under this section must provide for exemption from a charge under subsection (1) in the case of an application for entry clearance or leave to remain made—

(a) to fill a skills gap directly concerned with the provision of education;

(b) by an institution whose primary function is the provision of education or skills training;

(c) to fill a skills gap directly concerned with the provision of health services; or

(d) by an institution whose primary function is the provision of health services.”

21 Mar 2016 : Column 2206

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, the immigration skills charge is a major innovation in UK immigration policy and very difficult to debate this late in the evening. Since Committee, however, I have had representations from the British Medical Association, Oxford and Cambridge universities, Universities UK, the Russell group and a very large number of other research institutes which regard this as a very important issue. I hope that the Minister will be able to provide at least some information, because we have not had any communication from him since we raised questions in Committee, nor have we had any letters. There is a real problem here of how we address a major innovation which the Royal Society, on behalf of the national academies, says will cost universities £25 million a year merely to deal with short-term secondees from foreign universities working on two-year post-doctoral fellowships in British universities. This is a serious issue to have to discuss late at night.

The idea was first floated by the Prime Minister in a speech last June. He stated that he would ask the Migration Advisory Committee to report on the subject. The Migration Advisory Committee reported on 20 January this year, after the Commons considered the Bill and had spent five minutes at the end of its Committee stage discussing this clause. In other words, it was not considered properly at all in the Commons. The Government have not yet had time to respond to the MAC report. The chairman of the MAC will be giving a briefing to parliamentarians on this issue tomorrow, the day after we have completed our Committee and Report stages. We raised a number of questions in our short Committee stage to which Ministers, as I have just said, have not responded.

The Minister, in responding in Committee could assure us only that,

“details about the rate and scope of the immigration skills charge will be set out in regulations to be laid before the introduction of the charge. At that point there will be an opportunity for an informed debate on the details ... There are likely to be legal implications of introducing exemptions”.

I understand that to mean that the Government do not think they necessarily can introduce exemptions from the charge for some sectors. He went on:

“the Government need time fully to consider the evidence about the likely impact … and whether any exemptions should be applied”.—[

Official Report

, 9/2/16; col. GC 174.]

I am told there are discussions under way with representatives of the universities and the medical profession and that various suggestions of ways forward have been hinted at but nothing has been made available to Parliament to guide any scrutiny of the proposals. Those consulted are not yet happy with the Government’s responses. Yet Clause 88(4) sets out that:

“Section 80 comes into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed”.

That is far earlier than most other provisions of the Bill. So much for the Prime Minister’s proposal last June that:

“As we improve the training of British workers, we should—over time—be able to lower the number of skilled workers we have to bring in from elsewhere”.

So much for the Minister’s comment in Committee that,

“the Government need time fully to consider the evidence”.

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The immigration skills charge is to be rushed into effect before the beginning of the next school and university year—I assume deliberately—to catch recruitment from outside the EU of teachers and academics for the 2016-17 year. I cannot see how either House of Parliament will have time or opportunity to consider the necessary detailed regulations that will be required between May and July this year, or how the Home Office, BIS, the Department for Education and the Department of Health will be able to agree by then what those regulations should spell out.

Amendment 151A seeks to delete subsection (4) of Clause 88. If the Minister cannot provide a justification for this rush to implementation, we may wish to return to this question at Third Reading.

I stand shoulder to shoulder with the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, in accepting that the failure to train sufficient British citizens in skills in demand is one of the most powerful pull factors in UK immigration. When hospital trusts announce that they need to recruit 15,000 nurses from outside the EU, head teachers are searching Australia, west Africa and Asia for maths teachers, and when IT companies are forced by shortage of skills within Britain to look for recruits in India, large numbers of additional migrants are pulled into the UK. That represents a long-term failure of labour market policy stretching back over several Governments. Net migration, as we all recognise, will not fall until vital parts of both the private and the public sector are able to train enough skilled workers from within the UK workforce.

The promise of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 should do much to close that gap, if the Government are successful in hitting the target. But we do not yet know enough about the apprenticeship scheme either. I read the Grayling public affairs comment on last Thursday’s Budget, which warned that,

“a current lack of policy clarity and consistency … may undermine the government’s target of 3m apprenticeships … With so little information available, employers will rightly be concerned about how the … system will work”.

Last June, the Prime Minister stated that improvement in training would come first, and then reduction in skilled immigration, but here we are presented with charges to reduce skilled immigration before the training scheme has been set up. We are promised an institute for apprenticeships from April 2017, the details of which also remain unclear. The skills charge is supposed to flow towards funding a scheme which will not be in operation for 12 to 18 months after it is imposed.

Of course, many skilled jobs are not subject to apprenticeships within the UK. Nurses are not apprentices and teachers are not apprentices. University researchers and teachers come with advanced degrees, not apprenticeship qualifications. Logically, therefore, such professions should be exempt from the levy. However, the Minister suggested in Committee that there may be legal problems with this. Can he confirm whether the Government see this as a universal charge on all entrants under tier 2 visas or whether exemptions for health and education, for example, are envisaged? The idea of charging Health Education England for visas for overseas doctors coming here for advanced training,

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or hospital trusts for recruiting nurses, seems absurd—funding them with one hand and fining them with another.

There is a large air of unjoined-up government about all this. We have just had announcements from other Ministers about extending maths teaching in schools, and the whole apprenticeship scheme depends on finding additional teachers in specialist subjects and skills. But there has been no announcement about a crash scheme for training extra teachers in maths or IT within Britain, no more than there has been any announcement on an emergency scheme to train more British citizens as nurses. Are we going to search for extra teachers from around the world and then penalise the schools and FE colleges that take them on?

Imposition of the charge on universities would be even more damaging, as many of those who have been in touch with me have argued. I am sure that they have sent similar briefings to other Peers. The global standing of British universities depends on the global circulation of academic researchers and teachers, with British citizens studying for advanced degrees abroad and experts from other countries researching and teaching here. Do the Government really want to discourage our universities from international exchange? Would they be happy if other advanced countries outside Europe followed this example and imposed penalties on British researchers whom they invited to join their research teams? None of us yet knows enough about the implications of what the Government are proposing in this highly permissive clause, and I see no sign that the Government understand the implications either. We cannot leave such important issues to regulations that have clearly not yet been drafted. I beg to move.

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn (Con): My Lords, I support this amendment in so far as it applies to the university sector and, indeed, to university research. It is the role of universities to employ the best people internationally and it is very important that they should be free to do so without the imposition of a charge which might, one gathers, amount to about £1,000 per researcher. That would have an unfortunate effect on many universities. It would cost several of our greatest universities several hundred thousand pounds a year and could be very detrimental, so I hope that the Minister will say a word or two to indicate that it would not fall directly on the university sector in so far as international research goes.

12.30 am

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe (Lab): My Lords, I will speak in favour of the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, to require the Home Secretary to make exemptions from the immigration skills charge for certain cases. I declare an interest as a member of the councils of UCL and of Nottingham Trent University.

The problem which the Government claim the charge is intended to fix is the underinvestment in the skills of our young people, particularly by employers. I do not think many in this Chamber would disagree with that. Action is certainly necessary on this; employers should be incentivised to invest in skills. However, like the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, I wonder how this charge

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will interact with the apprenticeship levy, and whether it might be more sensible to proceed with that vehicle as the primary means of increasing investment in apprenticeships and perhaps other forms of education and training. It would be useful if the Minister would comment on that.

The Government have suggested that the charge seeks to disincentive employers who perhaps too readily recruit from overseas in preference to training the domestic workforce. However, the Government have, on many occasions in debates in this House, commented on the impact of immigration on our higher education and research communities and made clear that they do not oppose the UK attracting the brightest and best from around the world to study, teach and research, and to help us to develop an innovative and growing economy. It is difficult to square this commitment with a charge that punishes employers for doing precisely that, particularly if this were applied in blanket fashion without appropriate exemptions.

The amendment also seeks to exempt the appointment of health professionals from the scope of the charge. It is worth pointing out that in many cases in the health sector the supply of suitably qualified candidates in the domestic workforce is at least in part dictated by government policy. To levy a charge on NHS trusts recruiting from overseas, when the number of qualified doctors, for instance, is entirely determined by government quotas, does not seem a sensible approach. It seems particularly perverse that these two sectors will surely be among the most heavily hit by the proposed charge if no exemptions are allowed for.

I accept that the Government have not yet set out their precise plans on this matter, and I understand that they will shortly set out their response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on tier 2 migration. I urge the Minister to give some reassurance to the House—and to the health, education and research sectors—about what provision will be made for these sectors.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, my noble friend filleted his remarks rather skilfully. I have been trying to do the same, but I think they are going to come out a little disjointed. I am sure we will be told that we will have the opportunity to scrutinise the proposals when regulations are laid. However, I think we know that we can debate but not scrutinise effectively when we have unamendable regulations.

In the public sector generally, particularly the health and education sectors that are publicly funded, I wonder whether there is a risk that the charge will in effect be recycled back into the sector—less all the administrative costs that are lost along the way—if the sector can actually train via apprenticeships. That is not, of course, the case for doctors and many other front-line healthcare professionals. Yesterday, when I was preparing a very much longer speech than this, I wondered about the logic of a charge whose the effect may well be to reduce the contribution of skilled workers because employers will simply not be able to afford them. We may be left in a worse position than we are in now. Undoubtedly, we should have enough information to be able to debate these very significant proposals, at

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the stage of primary legislation, in an effective, possibly even constructive, fashion. It is very disappointing that we are left without that possibility.

Lord Green of Deddington: My Lords, I very much agree with the thrust of the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. I think he was absolutely right.

Lord Bates: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, for moving the amendment. We have to remember that what we are seeking to do here is to introduce a levy in order to bring about some behavioural change in the way that people think about recruitment. For far too long it has been an automatic thought to recruit people from outside the European Economic Area without giving proper attention to whether those skills are there in the resident labour market. The immigration skills charge is seeking to provide some funding, first, to see if it causes the organisation to stop and think about whether there are alternatives from the resident labour market and, secondly, to provide some additional support through the funds raised by the levy.

Given the hour—and of course the noble Lord is familiar with the points I made in Committee—I am happy to put further thoughts in writing to him if that would be helpful. I will just deal with some of the particular points that he and other noble Lords raised.

There are exemptions to the charge. An exemption will be applied to migrants undertaking occupations skilled to PhD level. I would have thought that the noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, in terms of academia—

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am very interested to hear that. It was suggested to me in an email I had the other day from one of the groups that the department has been consulting that this had been floated but had not yet in any sense been agreed. Can the Minister guide me to where I could discover the status of such a proposal?

Lord Bates: In that case, I will return to my speech and go through it in context. This is something additional. The Government have considered advice from the Migration Advisory Committee and additional views from employers. Following careful consideration, I am able to announce that the immigration skills charge of £1,000 per migrant per year will be paid by employers who sponsor tier 2 migrants. The charge will be collected by the Home Office.

A reduced rate of £364 per annum will apply to small businesses and charities as defined in the Immigration Rules. This is consistent with other lower fees applied to these organisations. In addition, an exemption will be applied to migrants undertaking occupations skilled to PhD level. A list of these occupations is included in the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations. They are primarily science and research roles. There will also be an exemption for graduates who switch from tier 4 to tier 2 in order to take up a position in the UK. These two exemptions build on the Government’s strong post-study work offer for international students and are intended to protect the UK’s position as a centre of excellence for education and research.

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The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has confirmed that it will continue to consult with stakeholders. Indeed, when the Migration Advisory Committee was asked to look at this measure, it consulted with a wide range of groups, including the Russell Group of universities, of which of course Cambridge is an eminent member. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is continuing to engage with stakeholders, including devolved Administrations and other government departments, on how best to introduce these skills.

On the proposition that the legislation mandates an independent review one year from the date that the implementing regulations come into force, the Government believe in consulting those affected by proposed changes, and we have done that. As is good practice with any new measure, the Government will review the operation and impact of the immigration skills charge after a suitable period of operation. In addition, the Migration Advisory Committee will continue to provide independent advice to the Government on the UK’s migration policy.

The skills charge will help address issues that I know are of concern to many of us here: net migration and skills shortages. However, I hope that a commitment to a reduced rate and the exemptions I have described, together with a commitment to publish the draft regulations setting out the detail of the charge, will assure the noble Baroness and the noble Lord of the Government’s commitment to implement the charge in a balanced way.

The noble Lord, who has a distinguished academic background himself, rightly talks about the impact of this on universities. We are very conscious of our leading role in this area and will of course continue to engage. But it has to be remembered that, in the international competitive marketplace, other countries such as the United States, Australia and Singapore, all of which have both highly sophisticated labour markets and distinguished academic institutions, operate a similar levy. Of course, when the Migration Advisory Committee looked at this, it looked at international examples before agreeing to set the rate.

I hope the noble Lord will accept this in a spirit of generosity. In his Amendment 151A, he raises a point about the timing and when Clause 80 will come into effect, which the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, also mentioned. I hear the points that the noble Lord makes and I give him an undertaking that we reflect on this and come back at Third Reading with, I hope, something which will address the concerns that he expressed. I hope, in the light of that commitment, that the noble Lord may feel able to withdraw his amendment at this stage.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the Minister has been able to provide some reassurance, but not yet very much, and I would like to ask for a great deal more information. I have been able to discover a little about the levy in some other countries—I was not aware that the United States had a levy on skilled workers, let alone teachers at that level—and I would welcome, as I think would all noble Lords interested in this area, some more comparative information on this.

We have touched on the university question, which, given the strength of the academic lobby in this Chamber, is something which a large number of noble Lords are

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likely to be concerned about—although not just them. As I think I said to the noble Lord on an earlier occasion, I have talked to several head teachers in the last three months, who have said to me that they are scouring the world for maths and computer science teachers. They cannot find them in Britain. The Government’s response to that has to be either to say that for the next two years they will exempt from any immigration skills charge people who are going to help build up the skills within the younger workforce in this country in those key areas or to provide a crash course for training people and encouraging them into those professions—or possibly both. The same is true of nursing. We need a joined-up government approach and to expand rapidly the numbers of nurses in training in this country. Otherwise, we will go on importing large numbers of people from the Philippines, South Africa and elsewhere.

I am only half persuaded that the Government yet know what they are doing. An active labour market policy and signals to the private sector seem to me to be very important. But I look forward to hearing further from the noble Lord—perhaps he would like to arrange an all-Peers meeting before we get to Third Reading so that we can discuss some of these things in detail with those around the Chamber who are interested in it. We need a lot more information before we can be confident of what the Government are saying. On that basis—

Lord Bates: The picture I am trying to paint for the noble Lord is that we have listened very carefully, including to the advice from the Migration Advisory Committee. BIS continues to consult and engage with stakeholders on this. On the particular point he raises about teachers of mathematics, schools do not just have to scour Britain but can seek maths teachers from the whole European Economic Area market. They can also recruit them from among people who have graduated from tier 4, and we have a PhD level which, to give a little more information, covers chemical scientists, biological scientists, biochemists, physical scientists, social and humanity scientists and natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified, including researchers in research organisations other than universities.

My point is that we have done quite a bit. We have listened to the Migration Advisory Committee, we have consulted and I have said that I will give further consideration as to when they are introduced. On the other points which the noble Lord raises, if he really feels strongly about them, our position is that we have made our case strongly and that he should test the opinion of the House.

12.45 am

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, it might help the House if the Government could tell us when their response to the Migration Advisory Committee will be published. The committee made the strong statement that the impact of this immigration skills charge on the public sector was such that it should be carefully phased in, perhaps over a number of years. Will that be one of the issues that the Government will address in their response to the MAC report?

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Lord Bates: With the leave of the House, I will just say that I have recounted our response to the Migration Advisory Committee. We have listened to what it recommended on this. I said that we were looking at phasing it, which is in the noble Lord’s Amendment 151A. On the other amendments, we believe that the policy is very important. We will not change our position between now and Third Reading and, if the noble Lord wishes to test the opinion of the House, he should.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, a quarter to one in the morning is not the ideal time to test the opinion of the House. The Labour Benches appear to be almost entirely empty—they have abandoned their position. On that basis, I will not test the opinion of the House at this stage.

Lord Bates: I should just say for the benefit of the record that I notice on the government Benches a significant number of colleagues here present and very interested to listen to this debate and the Government’s position. The fact that the noble Lord’s Benches and the opposition Benches may be a bit thin at this hour of the morning is not the point; a lot of people are here who are interested in this debate.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: There is a strong argument that the way to make legislation on important issues is not in the early hours of the morning. However, on the basis that we have extensive further information and further consultation from the Government between now and Third Reading, I will withdraw my amendment.

Lord Trefgarne: No.

Some Lords objected to the request for leave to withdraw the amendment, so it was not granted.

The Lord Speaker decided on a show of voices that Amendment 144B was disagreed.

Amendments 144C to 144F not moved.

Amendment 145

Moved by Lord Bates

145: After Clause 84, insert the following new Clause—

“Duty regarding the welfare of children

For the avoidance of doubt, this Act does not limit any duty imposed on the Secretary of State or any person by section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (duty regarding welfare of children).”

Amendment 145 agreed.

Amendment 145A

Moved by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

145A: After Clause 84, insert the following new Clause—

“Fees for applications made by children to register as British citizens

(1) Section 68 of the Immigration Act 2014 (fees) is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (13) insert—

“(14) Notwithstanding subsection (9), in setting the amount of any fee in respect of an application for registration as a British citizen made by a person who is a child, the only consideration to which the Secretary of State may have regard is the cost of exercising the function.

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(15) Fees regulations shall provide for the waiver of the fee for an application for registration as a British citizen made by a person who is a child and is being provided with assistance by a local authority.

(16) Fees regulations shall provide for discretion to waive the fee for an application for registration as a British citizen made by a person who is a child on grounds relating to the means of the child and anyone exercising parental responsibility for him or her.””

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: The amendment would: limit the fee that the Secretary of State may charge for the making of an application to register a child as a British citizen to the cost incurred in dealing with such an application; provide that, where the child applicant is being assisted by a local authority, there shall be no fee; and, where the child and/or her parent or guardian has insufficient means, provide a power to waive that fee, because no such power exists at present.

The aim is to remove the barrier to children registering their entitlement to British citizenship and to two other children applying to register at the Home Secretary’s discretion that is all too often created by the Home Office fee. The amendment follows on from that moved by the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, in Committee, and I am pleased to see that he is very patiently still in his place. Like him, I am grateful to Amnesty International UK and the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens—or the project, for short—for drawing this issue to my attention and for their help with their amendment.

The noble Lord drew attention to the problems faced by an estimated 120,000 children in the UK without citizenship or immigration leave, despite the fact that many of them are entitled to British citizenship and many others could and would be likely to be registered at the discretion of the Home Secretary, if they were to apply. More than half of these children were born in this country. Unlike the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, this one is not limited to children in care; it is concerned with all children entitled under the provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981 to be registered as British citizens, and those others who may be registered if they apply. Given the various provisions in this Bill and its predecessor concerning such matters as the right to rent, access to employment and access to higher education, the importance of registration for these children is clear.

The project has much experience of the considerable barrier to children registering as British created by the fee, which rose last Friday to a staggering £936. When I tell people about this, they look at me open-mouthed and say that they had absolutely no idea. Nor, to be honest, had I until I was made aware of this issue. Not surprisingly, many children, and their parents and carers, cannot afford it, many local authorities are unwilling to pay the fee for children in their care, and it is unclear why local rather than central government should bear the cost of these children’s registration. The overall result is that children who could and would be British miss out and in many instances later face the prospect of being removed from the country in which they have lived for all or most of their lives.

The project provided some examples, including that of Danny, who was three years old when he was brought to the UK and was in receipt of assistance

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from social services. He had been offered a place at drama school but had no leave to remain. He was referred to the project as he was approaching his 18th birthday, and he was able to apply to register as a British citizen. However, he could not afford the fee and the local authority refused to pay it. Had one of the project’s volunteers—and it is totally volunteer-run—not paid his fee, Danny would have lost the opportunity to be registered on turning 18. Surely it is not right that a basic right such as this should be subject to the vagaries of a kind volunteer meeting the cost of accessing it.

It is especially shocking that by far the greater part of the fee is simply profit to the Home Office, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, pointed out in Committee. The cost to the Home Office in registering a child was calculated to be £223 in the previous financial year. The relevant impact assessment states that this cost will rise by more than 20% in 2016 to £272, although it is unclear why. The impact on children is not considered in that assessment, and their best interests, and the Government’s statutory duty to promote their welfare, are not considered. The assessment and other government statements failed to acknowledge the fact that in many of these cases what is being charged for is a pre-existing entitlement under the British Nationality Act 1981, and that the Home Office has not been asked to grant but is merely being required to register the child’s citizenship. In any case, making any profit, let alone one of £664, as is now the case, from a child’s entitlement to be registered as British is surely unconscionable, especially when it leads time and again to preventing children from registering at all.

A recent Written Answer to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, explained:

“The power to set fees that are higher than the cost of processing applications is contained within The Immigration Act 2014, which provides that the Home Office may take into account not just the cost of processing an application, but also the benefits and entitlements available to an individual if their application is successful and the cost of exercising any other function in connection with immigration or nationality. The Home Office does not provide exceptions … because the Home Office considers that citizenship is not a necessary pre-requisite to enable a person to exercise his or her rights in the UK in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. British nationality applications are not mandatory and many individuals with Indefinite Leave to Remain decide not to apply. A person who has Indefinite Leave to Remain may continue to live in the UK and travel abroad using”,

existing documentation. Again, the Home Office is failing to distinguish the registration of a pre-existing entitlement from other citizenship applications, particularly naturalisation applications. It is comparing apples with oranges. Those children who are entitled to register are not requesting some benefit from the Home Office but are requiring it to record what Parliament as long ago as 1981 determined to be their right. It is true that those who may apply to be naturalised are not in the same position, and it is correct that many of those with indefinite leave to remain—a prerequisite for applying to naturalise—do not necessarily want or need to be naturalised. Those entitled to register are entitled in the same way as those born in the UK to a British or settled parent are entitled to British citizenship.

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The Written Answer seems to imply that the registration of British citizenship is of no real importance to these children, yet in his post-Committee letter the Minister acknowledged the importance of local authorities enabling and encouraging children in their care who need to do so to make a timely application to regularise their immigration status or to register as British citizens. It can be critical for some of these children, because they risk losing their entitlement if they do not register before turning 18. Moreover, the guidance on the MN1 form on which children register as British states:

“Becoming a British citizen is a significant life event. Apart from allowing a child to apply for a British citizen passport, British citizenship gives them the opportunity to participate more fully in the life of their local community as they grow up”.

The project and Amnesty believe this amendment to be crucial to ensuring that children are not denied their right to citizenship because of their inability to pay. They are right to call our attention to what they dub profiteering on the part of the Home Office at the expense of children.

I imagine that the Minister is planning a response on the lines of the recent Written Answer from which I quoted. I hope I have shown why that Answer does not invalidate the case for this amendment. I would be grateful if he could take on board in particular what I said about this being a pre-existing entitlement. There is a real issue here. It may well be that we cannot resolve it today—today now being tomorrow—but I would be grateful if the Minister and his officials could look into it, ideally in discussion with the project and Amnesty, and consider coming back at Third Reading with a considered response. I beg to move.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I support what the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, has just said to the House. As she indicated, this is an issue I raised in Committee. It has been the subject of correspondence between the noble Lord, Lord Bates, and me and of Parliamentary Questions which I have tabled.

If Amendment 145A is accepted, it would mean that in setting a fee in respect of an application for the registration of a child as a British citizen, the only matter to which the Secretary of State could have regard is the cost of processing that application. The amendment provides that fees regulations must provide for the fee to be waived where the child is in care or otherwise assisted by a local authority. It provides for discretion to waive the fee in other cases on the grounds of the means of the child, his or her parents or his or her carers.

In many cases where children have a claim to be registered as British citizens, no application for such registration has been made. Under a number of provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981, to which the noble Baroness referred, the power to register the child exists only while the child is a minor. After I raised these cases in Committee, the Minister wrote in reply on 3 February and described what he called—the noble Baroness referred to this—the importance of local authorities enabling and encouraging children in their care who need to do so to make a timely application to regularise their immigration status or to register as British citizens. So there is nothing between us in that sense. We both agree about the desirability of that.

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However, I have had drawn to my attention, as has the noble Baroness, that in many cases the reason why no registration has taken place is precisely the size of the fee. As of 18 March 2016, the fee is £936. In these cases, where the child and/or the parents cannot afford to pay or the local authority will not pay, this money is simply beyond their means. The fee is set above the cost of registering the child, which the Home Office calculates to be £272, while in 2015-16 it was just £223. There is a massive discrepancy between that figure of £272 and the £936 that would be charged to the child in order to be able to register in these circumstances. How on earth can we justify that phenomenal difference? It seems to me like profiteering on children. It is quite indefensible and it is hardly a good advertisement for one-nation Britain.

1 am

Currently, in contrast to immigration applications, no provision is made for a waiver of the fee. While it can be argued that a fee cannot be charged where to do so would entail a breach of human rights, the Home Office has yet to accept that such breaches could arise in applications for British citizenship. I think that it should do so. I hope that it responds positively to the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and will not use the sort of procedure that was used a few minutes ago to prevent an amendment that is perfectly reasonable, and one that should be brought back at Third Reading if at this late hour a proper response cannot be given. If such a procedure were used to try to prevent a Third Reading amendment, that would be a discourtesy to the noble Baroness and to the House, and it would not bring any credit on the this Government either.

Lord Bates: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, for her Amendment 145A. It is important that the Home Office is able to run a sustainable immigration and nationality system in a way that minimises the burden on the taxpayer. When the figures are spoken about in terms of the amount of money that it costs, that has to be seen in the context of our commitment to achieve a self-funded border, immigration and citizenship system by 2019-20. That raises the question: when people are using our border service, our immigration system or our citizenship, why should the resident taxpayer population be the ones who have to pay for the benefit that is falling to the individuals making the applications?

The first part of the amendment would restrict our ability in setting a fee to take account of any factor other than cost. That would cost the Home Office at least £29 million per annum over the next spending review period, mainly from lost income on current plans. Such a reduction in fee funding would have a serious detrimental effect on the department’s ability to operate an effective border and immigration system.

We recognise that families normally bear the cost for applications made on behalf of children. As a result, the Home Office already sets a fee for a child to register as a British citizen at a rate £300 lower than the overall cost of adult citizenship applications.

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The second part of the amendment relates to those children receiving local authority assistance. Unaccompanied children in the UK generally seek leave to remain on protection grounds, for which no fee is charged. For a child in the care of the local authority, the Home Office waives the application fee for leave to remain on the grounds for settlement. This preserves the person’s ability to reside in the UK until they can afford to apply for citizenship.

The final part of the amendment, which would introduce a very broad provision to waive application fees, taking into account the means of applicants or parents, would be very difficult to implement in practice. It would be highly likely to lead to claims from applicants simply seeking to avoid paying, rather than those who were genuinely destitute, for whom there are already alternative and appropriate remedies that ensure that convention rights are protected. For children in family groups applying for leave to remain on human rights grounds, the fee is waived where the applicant is destitute or otherwise meets the published fee-waiver policy. Taken as a whole, this policy ensures that a person’s convention rights are protected, that the value of British citizenship is recognised and that the border and immigration system is adequately sustained and funded.

Citizenship can never be an absolute right, nor is it necessary in order for a person to reside in the UK and access our public services. A person who is settled in the UK is not required to become a citizen by a certain date: they can remain here until they can meet the criteria for doing so, including payment of the required fee. Overall, on balance, we feel that the existing arrangement strikes the right balance between fairness to individuals and fairness to all applicants, as well as to the resident taxpayer population. I ask the noble Baroness to consider withdrawing her amendment.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for persevering and staying up at this late hour to give me such strong support on this amendment.

I suppose I am grateful to the Minister—he did not have any option but to stay and respond—but I am very disappointed by his response. He seems to be saying that the immigration system depends on children paying this exorbitant fee to be able to carry on; that, bluntly, seems to be what he is saying. These children will become taxpayers; I find the idea that they are somehow a burden on the taxpayer terribly depressing. They have a right—I do not see why they should have to pay such fees.

I can quite see that there might be somewhere between what the amendment is calling for, which is that there cannot be anything above the cost to the Home Office, and the Government’s position, but we are talking about a difference of over £600 for a child between the cost to the Home Office and the fee. That seems to be a very large surcharge on these children to keep the wheels of the immigration system turning. It is well past my bedtime so I am not thinking very straight, but I am slightly flabbergasted by that argument. At least it is now in the open—what this has been about has been said very clearly.

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I am disappointed that the Minister has not been willing to give an inch, because there is scope there for some kind of compromise between the amendment and the situation as it stands. I am also disappointed that the Government are not prepared to think about it and talk to Amnesty and the project just to see whether there might be some way of coming to some kind of agreement to make this policy slightly less harsh than it is at present. The Minister may want to say something.

Lord Bates: I will say only that, with the existing arrangements for waivers for those who are in particular need, the policy is absolutely right and we stand by it.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: According to Amnesty, the waiver is limited, but I will have to look into that. The Minister talked about the right balance, but personally I do not think there is no balance there at all. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 145A withdrawn.

Clause 87: Regulations

Amendments 146 to 150

Moved by Lord Bates

146: Clause 87, page 68, line 35, after “containing” insert “(whether alone or with other provision)”

147: Clause 87, page 68, line 38, at end insert—

“( ) regulations under section (Information gateways),”

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148: Clause 87, page 68, line 42, leave out paragraph (e)

149: Clause 87, page 69, line 17, after “instrument” insert “—(a)”

150: Clause 87, page 69, line 18, after “Act” insert “, and

(b) to which subsection (2) does not apply,”

Amendments 146 to 150 agreed.

Clause 88: Commencement

Amendments 151 and 151A not moved.

Clause 89: Extent

Amendments 152 and 153

Moved by Lord Bates

152: Clause 89, page 70, line 2, at end insert—

“( ) But subsection (3) does not apply to the amendments made to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 by paragraphs 26A and 27A of Schedule 2 (for the extent of which, see the amendments to section 60 of that Act made by paragraph 26D of that Schedule).”

153: Clause 89, page 70, line 20, at end insert “, and

( ) section 60(6) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.”

Amendments 152 and 153 agreed.

Clause 90: Short title

Amendment 154 not moved.

House adjourned at 1.08 am.