Immigration bill to end freedom of movement defeated in Lords

5 October 2020, 15:35 | Updated: 5 October 2020, 15:36

The government's immigration bill to end freedom of movement has been defeated in the Lords (File photo from January)
The government's immigration bill to end freedom of movement has been defeated in the Lords (File photo from January). Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The government's flagship immigration bill that would end freedom of movement rules in the UK post-Brexit has been defeated in the Lords.

A Labour-led demand for an independent review of how restricting free movement - at the end of the Brexit transition period - would impact social care saw peers defeat the government by 304 votes to 224 - a majority of 80.

It comes amid warnings that the legislation could ramp up staff shortages and deepen the crisis facing the sector, which is already under strain as it tackles the Covid-19 pandemic.

Monday's vote on the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill was one of three deferred from last week following technical issues with the House of Lords' remote electronic voting system.

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The government's defeat could lead to a legislate tug of war between the Commons and the Lords - known as parliamentary ping pong - where legislation is passed between the two chambers.

As well as putting an end to freedom of movement, the bill will also create a new points-based immigration system in the UK, similar to that practised in Australia.

Peers then voted against the government's plan to impose financial restrictions on Britons returning to the UK with their EU families from March 2022.

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A cross-party amendment defeated the proposal by 312 votes to 223 - a majority of 89 - which would prevent the introduction of entry conditions.

Shortly after, the Upper Chamber defied the government once again to support automatically granting EU children in care settled status in the UK.

The amendment, proposed by refugee campaigner and Labour peer Lord Dubs, would give children in care and care leavers automatic and indefinite leave to remain under the EU settlement scheme.

It was backed by 323 votes to 227 - a majority of 96.