Previous SectionIndexHome Page

18 Mar 2003 : Column 918—continued

Mr Cameron: Given that the Government are still trying to work out the exact level of immigration and get the statistics right, can the Minister explain why they have already decided to increase massively the number of work permits? When will she publish estimates on illegal over-stayers and illegal entrants? Without those two figures, a total is not possible.

Beverley Hughes: As I explained, the number of work permits is determined largely by demand. There is a rigorous process in which an employer has to establish

18 Mar 2003 : Column 919

that he or she has not been able to employ a member of the indigenous population; only then can they apply for a work permit to employ someone from abroad. In that sense, the system is established to fulfil the needs of employers in our economy, subject to their being able to show that they have not been able to employ someone who is already in the country. I will address the other questions raised about figures in a moment.

Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes): Has the Minister considered a system similar to the German Gastarbeiter system, whereby guest workers enter the country to do a job, and leave when the job is finished? Has she done any research into the implications for housing of 100,000 new immigrants every year?

Beverley Hughes: Work is ongoing within government to estimate the impact on a range of public services,

18 Mar 2003 : Column 920

including housing, health and education, of increasing people's ability to come here and work. That is an important question and it would irresponsible of us not to consider it.

The hon. Member for Mid-Sussex mentioned the estimate produced by Migration Watch UK that a net inflow of at least 2 million non-EU citizens will come to this country per decade. I find slightly puzzling the constant emphasis on non-EU citizens of Migration Watch UK and some Opposition Members, but I leave that for them to ponder. We do not accept Migration Watch UK's immigration projections as accurate—

The motion having been made after Ten o'clock, and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. Deputy Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

 IndexHome Page