Amongst its provisions, the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill would give effect to the Government’s policy of ending freedom of movement once the transition phase ends at the end of December 2020. It would also confirm the continued right of Irish citizens to come to and work in the UK after the ending of freedom of movement and it would provide a power to amend, via regulations, retained EU law governing social security coordination.
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This government bill has nine clauses and three schedules. The bill’s two main purposes are:
- to repeal retained EU law on free movement to bring EU, EEA EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Swiss citizens within a single UK immigration system (part 1 and schedule 1); and
- to provide a power to amend, via regulations, retained EU law governing social security coordination (part 2 and schedules 2 and 3).
The bill would also confirm the existing rights of Irish citizens following the ending of freedom of movement. Ending freedom of movement was a Conservative Party manifesto commitment at the 2019 general election.
The bill was not amended during its committee stage in the House of Commons. At report stage, the House of Commons agreed to the Government’s amendments to the bill. These amendments narrowed the bill’s delegated powers to change social security coordination legislation in areas of devolved competence. They were made as a result of the Scottish Government’s decision not to support a legislative consent motion for the bill. Four non-government amendments were defeated on division. These were on the following subjects:
- Providing for an independent review of the bill’s impact on, for example, the health and social care workforce and the adequacy of public funding for the sectors.
- Limiting immigration detention to a period of no longer than 28 days.
- Delaying the application of ‘no recourse to public funds’ conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic until Parliament decided to reinstate them.
- Ensuring that an unaccompanied child, spouse or vulnerable or dependant adult who has a family member who is legally present in the UK would continue to have the same rights to family reunion as they would have had under Regulation (EU) No 604/2013.
The bill passed third reading in the Commons by 342 votes to 248.