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EU Settlement Scheme

Volume 660: debated on Thursday 16 May 2019

6. What recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the effectiveness of the EU settlement scheme for European economic area nationals. (910922)

This is a hugely important scheme designed to help EEA and EU citizens take up their rights and deliver on the Government’s commitment that we want them to stay. I regularly meet colleagues in the Home Office to discuss the scheme, and it is important to note that the Home Office has received more than 650,000 applications so far, with thousands more being received every week. Applications are free and there is plenty of time to apply.

If the Government really wanted to make non-UK EU nationals feel welcome and wanted them to stay, they would make this an easy system. In fact, people have to have the right phone. If they do not have the right phone, they have to go to an ID scanning centre. But just look at where those centres have been placed; they are all around London, so the Secretary of State’s constituents and my constituents have to travel all the way to Bedford, Peterborough or London. Why is there not at least an ID scanning centre in every county?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the accessibility of the scheme, and I agree that it should be accessible. There are going to be 200 assisted digital locations across the UK to support people to register, including one in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency of Cambridge, which he should welcome.

It is all well and good for the Minister to say that there are going to be these centres, but they are not here yet. My constituents are having to travel to Glasgow for ID scanning because there is not an opportunity to do that in Aberdeen, where there is only a small library centre. I am incredibly concerned—this issue has been highlighted to me—that women fleeing domestic violence are being told that that, because their application is a bit more difficult, they will have to go all the way to Glasgow, when they are already suffering from destitution as a result of domestic violence.

I take on board the hon. Lady’s point and I am happy to discuss it with colleagues at the Home Office. As well as the assisted digital locations and the scanning centres that she mentioned, it is also possible for people to apply via the Android app. My colleagues at the Home Office have also been in regular talks with Apple to ensure that applications can also be made through its devices. There is a whole range of ways in which people can apply. Face-to-face support at home is also available to help particularly vulnerable people complete their applications.