Power to modify retained direct EU legislation relating to social security co-ordination

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:30 am ar 28 Chwefror 2019.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee of Privileges, Chair, Committee of Privileges, Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Standards 11:30, 28 Chwefror 2019

I beg to move amendment 26, in clause 5, page 4, line 21, at end insert—

“(11) The power to make regulations under subsection (1) may not be used to make regulations removing Title I, Title II or Chapter 1 of Title III of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004.”

This amendment would prevent the Secretary of State from making regulations which might remove the ability of British citizens and EEA nationals to aggregate pension rights and social security benefits.

Good morning, Mr Stringer. It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair again.

The amendment is intended to limit the extent to which the Government can make changes to social security provision by delegated legislation after Brexit. I place on the record my thanks to the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, to British in Europe and to Justice, whose evidence I drew on heavily for this amendment.

By virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, EU regulations relating to social security co-ordination —the so-called co-ordination regulations—will be converted into domestic law on exit day. The co-ordination regulations provide a reciprocal framework to protect the social security rights of people moving between European economic area states.

The co-ordination regulations do not create a single, harmonised system of social security benefits, nor do they guarantee a general right to such benefits. Instead, they ensure that individuals who move to another EEA state are covered by the social security legislation of only one country at a time and are therefore liable to make contributions only in one country; that a person will have the same rights and obligations of the member state in which they are covered, under the equality principle in social security co-ordination; that periods of insurance, employment or residence in other member states can be taken into account when determining a person’s eligibility for benefits, under the concept of aggregation; and that a person can receive benefits to which they are entitled from one member state even if they are resident in another. Those features are important for labour mobility and as a simple matter of equity, because people who have worked and contributed have a reasonable expectation of entitlement to the social security benefits that they have paid in for. I am concerned that clause 5 could be used to undermine those legitimate expectations.

The co-ordination regulations cover only social security benefits that provide cover against certain categories of social risk, such as sickness, maternity, paternity, unemployment and old age. Some non-contributory benefits fall within the regulations, but cannot be exported. Benefits that are categorised as social and medical assistance are not covered at all; my understanding is that they include universal credit, even though universal credit contains some contributory elements, so I ask the Minister in passing whether he might like to use clause 5 to address that apparent injustice.

The co-ordination regulations also confer on those who have a European health insurance card a right to access medically necessary state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any other EEA state. The home member state is normally required to reimburse the host country for the cost of the treatment. Will the Minister place on the record the Government’s intentions in relation to the European health insurance card, both in the event of no deal and in the post-transition period if a Brexit deal is negotiated?