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EU Settlement Scheme

Volume 662: debated on Thursday 27 June 2019

6. What recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the effectiveness of the EU settlement scheme. (911596)

17. What recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the effectiveness of the EU settlement scheme. (911610)

I have regular discussions with Home Office Ministers regarding the EU settlement scheme. The scheme is operating well, and I am pleased that more than 800,000 applications have been received, and that almost 700,000 people have already been granted settled status.

The Government have reached a bilateral agreement with Luxembourg to ensure the rights of UK citizens living there, and Luxembourgish citizens living in the UK. Those rights include the right to vote and stand in local elections. Similar agreements are in place for citizens from Spain and Portugal, but we have not had confirmation for EU citizens from other countries. Will the Minister guarantee that no EU citizen will have their name deleted from the UK electoral roll as a result of a no-deal Brexit?

The hon. Lady is right to point to those important bilateral agreements. We want to secure more of those, but the Government have no plans to change the register. It is the responsibility of Cabinet Office Ministers to look at the domestic franchise, and they have assured me that they have no plans to change that in the foreseeable future.

There is no back button on the app. I have been told of a citizen who mistakenly clicked to send a hard copy rather than completing online. When he tried to remedy that, the app told him that his application was withdrawn, and that he would have to wait three months to reapply. When will the Government admit that this “computer says no” system is an embarrassment, dump it, and restore some dignity to these citizens?

The hon. Lady raises a specific case, and if she would like to write to me about it, I would be happy to take it up with colleagues at the Home Office and ensure it is looked into. The numbers suggest that the scheme is working well, and that the vast majority of people are being granted settled status quickly. Of course, if it is not working properly in particular cases, we need to look into those and solve them. This scheme is about helping people to prove their status and allowing them to stay, and that is what we want it to do.

What discussions has the Minister’s Department had with the Home Office and the Local Government Association about applying for settled status for children in the care of local authorities? It is feared that some of them are being wrongly refused settled status, offered only pre-settled status, or that the local authority or the corporate parent is not applying for settled status for them at all.

The hon. Lady makes an important point that has been raised during questions to this Department before. I have taken it up with the Department for Education and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that all efforts are made to make sure that children in care are properly entered into the settled status system by those who care for them. I am happy to forward that correspondence to her so that she can see the follow-up that has already been done on that front.