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EU Settlement Scheme

Volume 648: debated on Monday 29 October 2018

EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and society, and we want them to stay. The EU settlement scheme enables them to do so, in line with the draft withdrawal agreement. The scheme provides a simple streamlined process for residents and EU citizens and their family members to obtain their new UK immigration status.

The Roslin Institute in my constituency conducts world-leading scientific research, and it benefits significantly from the expertise of the EU citizens who work there. Given the Government’s plans to level down the rights of EU citizens living here from 30 March onwards and the false categorisation of many scientific researchers as low-skilled, what is the Secretary of State doing to ensure that EU researchers do not find the UK a hostile environment for themselves and their families and choose to go elsewhere?

The Government are supporting all those EU citizens who wish to stay in our country. As I said, we actually want them to stay, not just because of the economic benefits they bring but because they are part of our society and part of many of our families. So we want them to stay, and as we have made clear, whether there is a deal or not, they will still be welcome to stay. Our new immigration system will continue to welcome talent from across the world.

How does the Home Secretary propose to honour his promises to EU citizens living in the UK and to British citizens in the EU in the event of no deal? Will he now seek to negotiate and ratify a citizens’ rights agreement with the EU that would come into force if there were no wider deal?

We have made it clear that if there is no deal—which we do not expect, but we need to plan for all eventualities—all 3.5 million EU citizens in the UK will be allowed to stay and welcome to stay.

Today, I wrote to the Home Secretary about the Home Office illegally requiring DNA data for people’s immigration applications. We have just had the Windrush scandal, and the EU settlement scheme will be the biggest task that the Home Office has ever undertaken. With an additional 3.5 million EU citizens subject to the hostile environment, it will be a question of when, not if, another scandal will break. The Home Secretary has committed to conducting a review of the structure and processes of the Home Office. Will that review be fully independent, and will it roll back the hostile environment?

I gently remind the hon. Gentleman that the first Ministers to stand at this Dispatch Box and talk about the hostile environment were Labour Ministers. He should never forget that. Also, almost half the people affected by the Windrush saga were pre-2010. He should reflect on that as well. He is right to say that the EU settlement scheme is large and ambitious, and we are confident that it can be delivered. In our beta testing of the scheme so far, 95% of the people taking part say that it has worked very well for them.