"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Friday 5 July 2013

Lords debate

An excellent, and very welcome, debate, in the House of Lords this afternoon. I may write more on this at a future date but for now, a quick summary.

There were 11 speakers -
Labour : Lord Rosser (spokesman), Lord Parekh, Lord Judd.
Lib Dems : Baroness Hamwee, Lord Teverson, Lord Avebury, Lord Roberts of Llandudno.
Conservatives : Lord Taylor of Holbeach (spokesman), Lord Taylor of Warwick.
Crossbenchers : Lord Kilclooney, Lord Listowel.

Some of these names will be familiar to long-term readers - in particular Lord Judd (who chaired the 9th July parliamentary meeting last year), Baroness Hamwee (the lead on the APPG report), Lord Teverson and Lord Avebury have been very active.
Lord Taylor of Warwick provided a welcome Conservative voice calling for a review of the rules.

Of the speakers, all but one (Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the government spokesman) spoke against the rules as they stand. I sense a distinct sea change here, and it was notable that many more peers were engaged compared with the previous motion to regret back in October. This campaign will grow and grow. Frankly it's been clear for a long time that the rules are untenable as they stand, but let's keep pushing hard.

The Hansard is here for review :
(updated link 5/July/2013)
(a copy of the Hansard has also been mirrored here : http://www.scribd.com/doc/151956054/Hansard-04-July-2013 )

Baroness Hamwee :
A study by Middlesex University suggests that preventing up to 17,800 migrant partners—the Government’s estimate—from coming and working here will cost the UK as much as £850 million over 10 years in lost economic activity.

Lord Parekh :
My first concern is therefore simply this, and I really want to emphasise it: not allowing one to bring in parents and grandparents as long as there is someone else to look after them is simply morally unacceptable. It is also unworthy of a civilised society.

Lord Teverson :
I went to Buenos Aires over Christmas and the new year, because two members of my extended family had got married and had a son, who now has Argentinian as well as British citizenship. They invited us out there, and we met another British citizen who had married a Brazilian woman. Now they as a family can no longer come back to the United Kingdom.

Lord Judd :
I am really very disturbed that we are speaking with forked tongues on the issue of family. We keep emphasising the importance of family in our own society, but it does not apply to people who have been allowed through the immigration system to come and join us and make a contribution to our society. Either the family matters or it does not.

Lord Avebury :
... the Government have divided husbands from wives, parents from children, and elderly dependants from those who want to look after them in their final years. They have weakened family unity and made it harder for migrants to contribute their full potential to our society. They are violating the right to family life and will face challenges, I hope, in the courts.

Lord Taylor of Warwick :
The rules are such that children, including British children and babies, are being separated from their families. We know that the formative years of any child’s life are the most crucial. It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno :
I fear that the old British hospitality is becoming British hostility—that is how it looks to those overseas.

Lord Listowel :
I have several questions for the Minister. In formulating these regulations, was consideration given to the impact that they would have on children, particularly on those boys thus denied contact with their fathers? Can he say how many boys are unable to have regular contact with their fathers as a result of these rules? If not, can he say how many children are affected?

Lord Kilclooney :
I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and her colleagues on the good work of their group, because it is a thorough, detailed and excellent report and certainly enhances the good name of all-party parliamentary groups.

(Odd fact : three of the contributors to the debate have the given name 'John Taylor').

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