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Mr. Lilley: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Keith Vaz: I will do so if the right hon. Gentleman's intervention is about chefs.

Mr. Lilley: As a crass economist, may I ask why there is a shortage of chefs? Could it be that their pay is not enough to attract people from the community in this country to do the job? The rate is held down by the constant flow from abroad.

Keith Vaz: No, that is not the reason. The right hon. Gentleman can go and visit his fine Indian restaurant in St. Albans. I dined in the Royal Bengal with his next-door neighbour, the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning), only last Thursday, when we talked about the chefs who come to Hertfordshire. They come there because those restaurants advertise in jobcentres and in the ethnic press. They advertise to find somebody who is able to take up that employment at the price that is right for the industry. They get no responses because nobody wants to work in those restaurants, not because of the price, but because they do not have the skills.
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The problem is partly cultural. The Home Secretary said that his special adviser on these matters was Mrs. Delia Smith. I picked up the last Delia Smith cookbook, but I saw no curries in it. The Home Secretary and the Minister think the answer is to set up training schools for chefs. The younger generation do not want to become chefs. They want to find other careers. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. He can come with me and I will show him restaurants. The younger generation do not want careers in that industry. It is not a question of money. That is why restaurant owners have to look abroad.

Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central) (Lab): The point that my hon. Friend is making about chefs applies equally to halal butchers of the most expert, religiously trained and skilful kind.

Keith Vaz: Absolutely, and my hon. Friend will not find many of those in Hertfordshire. People have to be brought from abroad to fill such posts. That is what worries me.

I like the Minister. I have known him for many years and I know that he cares deeply about the ethnic minority community. He is assiduous in attending their functions, eating their meals and being part of the local community in Harrow, so he has first-hand experience of these matters. I put him to the test. He tells me that the new points-based system will deal with the 20,000 vacancies in the industry. He says that the people who do not qualify as chefs and who have no skills will qualify under one of the other tiers and will come from one of the new member states of the European Union.

We welcome the arrival of those from the new member states. They have made a huge contribution to our economy. Almost 330,000 have come to the UK and helped our economy greatly. They are doing jobs because they have the skills to do those jobs. Only a tiny minority of those who came from the new member states are on benefits. If they come in order to work in restaurants, they come on a temporary basis. That is not a career path for them, as it is for someone who comes from Sylhet, joins a Bangladeshi restaurant in Harrow and wishes to learn the skills and remain part of that industry. That is the difference between the short-term fix that the arrival of the new member state population will give us, and the long term.

My hon. Friend the Minister is right to say that when Germany, France and the other countries change their derogations and allow Polish and Czech workers to go to their countries and work on the same basis as we allow them to work in the UK, we will have the same shortage again and we will have to look abroad. I ask him to be very careful about this. The industry is important for us and we want to make sure that it remains successful, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East said. Please monitor the scheme and make sure that there is a long implementation so that if things go wrong, we can put them right. In the end, when we judge the new scheme, the proof will be in—to coin a phrase—the rasmallai.

9.14 pm

Jeremy Wright (Rugby and Kenilworth) (Con): I preface my remarks by saying that whenever this House debates immigration, it is important that we use clear
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and precise language. We must also set our remarks in the proper context. I therefore want to make it perfectly clear that I am not merely tolerant of immigration into this country but positively in favour of it.

As other right hon. and hon. Members have said, immigration contributes not only to our economic life but, far more broadly, to our cultural, political and social life. Perhaps this debate has been far too narrowly focused on economics, although I fully understand that that is because it is primarily about a system for managing economic migration. Nevertheless, it is right to recognise the other effects that immigration has and to say very clearly that we should not regard immigrants who come to this country for economic purposes merely as a transitory work force who are here only to satisfy our economic needs—because they can do much more, and should be encouraged to do so. I am referring primarily to the tiers in the system that may lead to economic migrants remaining in this country in the long term, or permanently, and subsequently becoming fully fledged citizens of this country. That is an exceptionally worthwhile progression, and surely something from which we, as well as they, can benefit.

Whenever we debate immigration we should face up to the hard truths. Perhaps in this House above all, those of us who feel strongly on this subject should be able to say what we think. There should be no check on what we say based on a fear that we may have of being labelled in a certain way. Whatever the Minister may have said at the outset, there is very little dispute between Members on either side of the House about the fact that it is clearly true that not everybody who wishes to come to live and work in this country can be accommodated here.

The Government have therefore sensibly conceded that there must be a mechanism whereby we decide which of those aspirant immigrants can come here and which cannot. The points-based system has a great deal to commend it, as is clear from the fact that Members on both sides of the House have spoken in favour of the general principles that underpin it. In effect, it assesses potential immigrants on the basis of what they have to offer this country economically. It can also inform the way in which we engage with recent immigrants once they have gone through the process that the system defines and we know who can come here to work, who will stay for the long term and who for the shorter term, and in what way they will contribute economically to this country.

Once we have established the principle whereby we allow people to migrate economically into this country because they have something to contribute, which is perfectly sensible, we can easily apply it to everything else that immigrants do in this country. Immigrants contribute not only to our economic life but to our arts, drama and music, and, as the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) eloquently pointed out, to our culinary life. It is vital that we regard all those aspects in the round.

If we say to economic immigrants, "You are welcome in this country if you have something to contribute to our economy," we would also be right to say, "You have the obligation to contribute in other ways, too, if you stay in this country in the long term. You are obliged to participate in our life as a nation and comply with our laws." A crucial point, which the system recognises but
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the Minister did not mention specifically, is expecting people who come to participate in the life of the country to learn the language. It is right to include language ability in the assessment criteria. We, as a nation, should offer those who come to live here opportunities to learn our language so that they can participate fully. That must be our objective.

I would congratulate the Government if they took a profoundly sensible step, which would have a long-term impact on the way in which those who migrate to our country are assimilated, and help to welcome them as they should be welcomed. The Government should develop a system whereby those who become citizens of this country undergo a ceremony that formally recognises that. It is right to welcome those who become immigrants to this country properly. There should be formal recognition of those who commit to this country and become a citizen of it or an immigrant to it. They should be told that they are welcome and that we hope that they contribute not only to the economic life of our country but in many other ways.

Mr. McNulty: The elements that the hon. Gentleman properly describes are not in the document because it deals with the managed migration system. As I said to the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mark Hunter), we have    substantive policy documents on integration, nationality, settlement, citizenship rights, the right to life in the UK and tests of language requirements, all of which I am more than happy to send to the hon. Gentleman. He makes fair points, but they are not appropriate for inclusion in the document.

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