By Jane – Campaigns and Public Affairs Team
This year kicks off with the Third Reading and Report Stage of the Criminal Justice Bill on Wednesday. We are concerned about the parts of the Bill that will introduce a Special Immigration Status for foreign criminals and their dependants, and have been briefing some key MPs who will scrutinise and probe these parts of the Bill.
In true Home Office style, as this Bill comes to a close, attention is being focused on a new Bill. The government plans to publish a draft Simplification Bill by the end of the year that will consolidate and simplify the vast swathes of complex legislation on immigration. We are pleased that the government is going to consolidate the current laws into a single coherent version of the legislation, but are concerned that important elements of the law will be ‘simplified’ and changed without adequate scrutiny in the process. We will obviously be on hand to try to make sure this doesn’t happen!
Later this month we are expecting new regulations on access to medical care for non-UK citizens and we will be lobbying hard for asylum seekers to be eligible for primary and secondary health care until they leave the UK. Past Refugee Council research has highlighted patients being denied treatment for cancer and pregnant women being forced to give birth at home – you can read the worrying research here.
In the summer the Independent Asylum Commission will publish their findings. They’ve been touring the country for almost 18 months, reviewing the asylum system from beginning to end and I’m looking forward to seeing what their report will say and recommend.
September will see us busy organising events at the three Party Conferences. We’ve already started to think about new and interesting ways we can engage with MPs and activists with events and debates. If you have any ideas about topics for such debates then let us know!