A HOME Office minister has reassured elderly Italians living in Bradford that they have nothing to fear from Brexit, after a peer from the city raised their concerns in the House of Lords.

The Bradfordians, who are mainly women, came to work in the mills around the district and have lived here without any issues for around 60 years. Many of them do not have a British passport, but have children and grandchildren born in this country.

As reported in the Telegraph & Argus on Tuesday, they now feared having to apply to stay in the country as EU citizens.

But Baroness Williams of Trafford told the Lords: “Like any EEA nationals who settled in the UK before 1973, the Italians in Bradford already have indefinite leave to remain and do not need to apply to the EU settlement scheme.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Brexit fear grips Bradford Italians

Her comments came after the women’s plight was raised by Bradford-born Liberal Democrat Lord Tony Greaves.

He told the Lords: “I am talking about Italians, particularly ladies, who came to Bradford as mill girls 60 years ago and are now therefore mainly in their 80s. One of them said: ‘Now we are foreigners in Italy, we are foreigners over here’.

“They are old people; they are racked by dismay and anxiety. Many of them do not know what to do and are astonished that they have to apply for something which was granted to them – the right to live in this country – when they first came. On 15 January, the Bradford Telegraph & Argus had a headline ‘Bradford Italians gripped by Brexit fear’.”

Lord Greaves drew similarities to the plight of the Windrush Generation, who migrated from Commonwealth countries between 1948 and 1971.

They were classed as British citizens and granted leave to remain in the country for as long as they wanted, but the Home Office did not keep a record of those given permission and some were deported decades later.

Lord Greaves added: “Do the Government understand that this group of people is in exactly the same position as the Windrush people?

“They are old and do not need the worry in their lives, which may put some of them into what a long time ago people called a decline. What are the Government doing to withdraw those threats from them and simply to leave them alone?”

Lord Greaves’ Liberal Democrat colleague, Lord William Wallace of Saltaire, asked: “Some of these Italian women were recruited directly by Salts Mill to work in Saltaire.

“When I first moved there with my family, we had Italian-born as well as Polish-born neighbours.

“There is real concern among these elderly people, who in most cases have British citizens as their children and grandchildren.

“Many of them have been in care homes for several years and do not find filling in forms easy.

“Is there anything that the Government can do to ease the anxieties of those people by making it absolutely clear that they are guaranteed settled status for the rest of their lives?”

Baroness Williams said the Bradford Italians had nothing to fear.

She added: “They can if they want make a free application to the Windrush scheme for documentation to confirm that status.”