I rise to support the Lords amendments 4 and 5.
Amendment 5 would ensure EU citizens receive physical proof of settled status, if requested. The Government has responded to calls for physical proof by saying that digital status cannot be ‘lost, stolen, damaged or tampered with’.
What a great argument!
Why don’t we move to digital passports? For EU citizens living in the EU their settled status certification will soon be as vital as a passport.
Also the government response is simply not true. Digital data is regularly lost and stolen. It is reported week after week. It is also not true that data cannot be damaged or tampered with.
The 3million has heard from an EU citizen of just that: the photograph of her digital status has been swapped with another, without her knowledge or consent.
22% of people do not have the essential digital skills for day-to-day life in the UK. Those that struggle with digital skills, for whatever reason, will not be able to access their status when they need it, without further help.
There is also widespread discrimination. From finding employment or a place to live, to opening a bank account.
A survey from the Residential Landlords Association found that 20% of landlords are less likely to consider renting to EU or EEA nationals, because it means extra hassle.
Only three responses to the JCWI survey explicitly stated that the landlord was willing to conduct an online check.
Is it any wonder that the lack of physical documentation is causing real anxiety?
Digital simply does not work.
Lack of physical documentation has very real consequences for EU citizens living in the UK. Amendment 5 simply ensures that EU citizens have the same quality of life housing and employment. The callous disregard of this government for people and their rights only because they are not British passport holders has been outrageous and sickening.
I also urge Members to protect children and families by supporting I also urge Members to protect children and families by supporting amendment 4.
I simply cannot understand the cruelty that drives this government not to guarantee family reunion.
What has become of this once tolerant nation whose rules were based on a humane response to hardship.
All too often it is now are children who lose their lives in the dangerous attempts to be reunited with a family member. Those children are already traumatised by conflict loss of family members and fear for their lives.
Families must be together and the UK should guarantee this. Removing safe and legal routes to the UK is cruel and counterproductive.
It simply increases the risk of dangerous journeys and exploitation by criminal gangs.
Research from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees shows that children are especially likely to resort to people smuggling when access to family reunion is delayed or at risk.
What is more, our communities are ready to support unaccompanied children, to give them a home and a chance to rebuild their lives.
Councils have pledged 1,400 places for unaccompanied child refugees in Europe, if only the Government provides them with a legal route. It is unspeakable that this government is not prepared to support the efforts of councils and local people whose hearts are simply in the right place.
We have a choice about the sort of country we want to be. Do we callously turn our backs on those most in need? Or do we uphold the values of compassion and humanity?
I urge the government and members across the house please do the right thing!
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