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Written Statements

Volume 696: debated on Wednesday 26 May 2021

Written Statements

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Defence

Immigration Fees: Public Consultation

and There is a long and proud tradition of non-UK service personnel serving in the British armed forces. Together with their British and Irish counterparts, they defend the UK at home and abroad. The British armed forces are renowned and respected around the world and applications from non-UK personnel are always welcome and of a high calibre. The Ministry of Defence is a modern employer and embraces recruiting talent from all elements of society and the advantages of continuing to have non-UK service personnel serving in the British armed forces and the diversity and skills they bring are hugely valued.

Non-UK service personnel are exempt from immigration control during their regular service in the armed forces. Many of these brave men and women who serve our country may wish to stay in the UK after their service and use the skills they have gained during their service to contribute positively to our society. In order to do so they must regularise their immigration status, however, some are deterred from applying to regularise their immigration status because of the costs of doing so. In order to assist those who wish to remain in the UK after their discharge, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office have already agreed to extend the period that non- UK citizens who are members of the British armed forces can apply for settlement in the UK from 10 weeks before their discharge to 18 weeks before their discharge.

We are also announcing the launch of a public consultation on a draft policy proposal on the settlement fees which apply to non-UK service personnel on leaving the armed forces. The draft policy proposal allows for the Government to waive settlement fees for non-UK service personnel who meet certain criteria should they apply to remain in the UK at the end of their military service.

Currently, the Home Office charges a fee on each individual who wishes to regularise their immigration status by applying for indefinite leave to remain in (or enter) the UK, more commonly known as settled status or settlement.

Under the draft policy proposal, the UK Government would waive the fee charged by the Home Office when the non-UK service person applies for indefinite leave to remain (or enter), if they have served in the regular HM armed forces for at least 12 years and wish to settle in the UK following their service.

We are seeking public opinion on whether the Government waiving settlement fees for service personnel is something which is right and appropriate to do, and also to invite input on the scope of the policy.

The public consultation has been published today and will run for six weeks.

[HCWS57]

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Events Research Programme: Contingent Liabilities in relation to Cancellation Compensation for Event

I am tabling this statement for the benefit of all Members of this House to bring to their attention the departmental minute issued today that provides the House with notice of a series of small contingent liabilities created by my Department. This is in relation to a policy to compensate event organisers participating in phase two of the events research programme in the event of their cancellation if public health concerns were to give rise.

The world-leading events research programme ran its first phase of nine pilots—with some running multiple events—in April and May to inform decisions around the safe removal of social distancing at step 4 of the road map. A second phase of events will continue to build on existing evidence and collect additional data to inform organisers and consumers on the logistical and practical considerations of reopening events safely. The pilots cover a range of settings, venues, and activities so that findings will support the full reopening of similar settings across multiple sectors.

The Government will provide compensation on a discretionary basis to event organisers should a pilot event be cancelled due to public health reasons.

This compensation will be capped at £300,000 per event and will cover costs incurred in relation to participation in the programme only—e.g. admission of spectators, recognising the fact that these events would have taken place in line with roadmap restrictions should the programme not exist. In the case of the Liverpool events, as these have been put on specifically as part of the programme, the Government will compensate organisers in full should an event be cancelled, but this will be capped at £300,000 in total across the Liverpool events.

The Government do not intend to cancel any event in the programme, however public safety comes first and therefore it is prudent to provide this assurance to the organisers assisting the Government in reopening the economy.

A copy of the departmental minute will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS58]