Commonwealth citizens, like the Windrush generation, are a unique group who have built their life here and have contributed enormously to our country. I do not want anyone to be in any doubt about their right to remain here.
When these people came to the UK they were deemed to be settled in the UK under our legislation at the time. This meant some did not get nor need documentation to prove their right to be here. While the vast majority who came before 1973 will now have documentation that proves their right to be in the UK, there have recently been some cases where people have not been able to get the necessary documentation and have struggled to access public services.
To ensure this can happen as easily and smoothly as possible, the Home Office has set up a new dedicated team to help those people evidence their right to be here. The team will help applicants demonstrate they are entitled to live in the UK, have a dedicated contact point, and will be tasked with resolving cases within two weeks of when the evidence has been provided.
In relation to specific concerns about the report, I understand that the independent adviser, Wendy Williams, has not yet been submitted it to Ministers. I have been assured that once it is available, the Home Secretary will publish her report. I think it is vitally important that the Wendy Williams report is free of political interference.
Domestic Abuse Bill
Protecting women and girls from violence and supporting victims is of the utmost importance. To support this commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG), increased funding of £100 million has been pledged.
I welcome the announcement at the Queen’s Speech of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, and the Government is fully committed to enacting this vital legislation as soon as possible. I will closely examine the Bill when it comes before the House of Commons to ensure that it protects people as effectively as possible.
The Bill will create a legal definition of domestic abuse to provide clarity that domestic abuse can be financial, verbal and emotional as well as physical and sexual, and that it is about patterns of abuse over time. The Bill will also include the introduction of new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders.
I am also happy to see that the Government have allocated nearly £300,000 in extra investment to North Devon Council to support domestic abuse refuge services.
Minimum Income Requirement
I believe we need rules on bringing spouses from abroad into this country and on family reunion. A balance must be struck between the interests of those who want to bring their spouse to the UK and the interests of the wider UK community.
The Supreme Court has upheld the lawfulness of the minimum income requirement for spouse visas, which has prevented the taxpayer paying more and has helped to promote integration. The Supreme Court also agreed that a fair balance is currently being struck between those wishing to sponsor a spouse to settle in the UK and of the wider community.
That said, the Home Secretary has said that these rules will be kept under review and this question will form part of the Government’s approach to our new immigration regime when it is implemented in January 2021.
Support for Trafficked Children
Thank you for contacting me about providing support for trafficked children.
We must tackle every form of modern slavery, including human trafficking. It is welcome news that Ministers have secured commitments from other governments and institutions, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the EU, to tackle modern slavery, and has successfully lobbied for the establishment of the first ever UN Sustainable Development Goal to end modern slavery. The Government is also working bilaterally with priority countries to deepen law enforcement cooperation.
Guardians provide an additional source of advice and support for all trafficked children. A key part of the role includes one-to-one support for those children who lack a figure of parental responsibility for them in the UK. The ICTG regional practice co-ordinator works alongside statutory bodies such as our police, social workers and the wider Criminal Justice System to build a multi-agency approach to the safeguarding of these vulnerable children.
In 2018, the Home Office announced a review of the Modern Slavery Act, which considered the provisions in the Act regarding Independent Child Trafficking Advocates. You may be pleased to know that in line with the review’s recommendations, the Advocates have been recently renamed Independent Child Trafficking Guardians (ICTGs).
The Government remains committed to rolling out guardians nationally so that more and more children are able to access their rights.