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9 May 2007 : Column 247

Philip Davies: As ever, my right hon. Friend is right. According to a survey conducted by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, the public believe that a quarter of all Government expenditure is wasted, although I suspect that that is a conservative estimate. I am sure that there is plenty of money available—and, in addition, a large amount would be saved because it would be unnecessary to chase people around the country.

Stephen Pound: The interest shown in this debate may be a reflection of the seriousness of the subject that the hon. Gentleman has raised. May I return him to new clause 6 and ask him what figure he proposes for the maximum number of non-EU nationals to be granted indefinite leave to remain? Will he also answer the question asked so perceptively by the very talented right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight) and tell us which country they would come from? If the hon. Gentleman came up with the figure of, say, half a million, would it matter if every one of those people came from Pakistan, for example? But perhaps he has other ways of responding to the question.

Philip Davies: I am, as ever, grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his contribution to the debate. The new clause states that the number is to be decided annually by the Secretary of State. We would consider the situation at the time, but my guess is that we could sustain immigration to this country of about 50,000 a year—certainly no more. That figure is much lower than it is at present. On the hon. Gentleman’s second point, it would not matter to me which country the immigrants came from; the issue is how much immigration our country can sustain, both economically and culturally. Immigration puts pressure on housing—about one in three new houses is built merely to deal with immigration. It puts pressure on our public services, schools and hospitals, as well as on the taxpayer, so we need a sustainable figure.

Mr. Byrne: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way to me again as I want to press an important point. From the figures published recently by the Office for National Statistics, he will know that 145,000 people came from the European Union in 2005, so if EU migrants were uncapped under his proposals there might be a bit of a problem. No cap for EU migrants is significant because 48 per cent. of net migration is from the EU.

Philip Davies: The Minister is absolutely right, which is one of the reasons I want Britain to regain control of its borders. To do so we need to leave the European Union, but that is a debate for another day. However, I agree with the Minister that the scale of immigration from Europe, especially eastern Europe, is colossal and I want us to regain control of our borders to deal with it.

Mr. Clappison: Does not the Minister’s point cut both ways? Since 1997, there has in fact been a substantial increase in net migration from non-EU countries as a result of Government policy, in large measure, to extend work permits that were not granted before 1997.

9 May 2007 : Column 248

Philip Davies: My hon. Friend is absolutely right and I pay tribute to all his work on the issue, highlighting the scandal of the level of immigration to this country.

New clause 8 would increase the age at which someone could enter the UK through marriage from 18 to 21. The hon. Member for Keighley (Mrs. Cryer), who is my constituency neighbour, has done much hard work on that issue, especially forced marriage. Although increasing the age from 18 to 21 would not necessarily stop people being brought into the country for forced marriages, it could help to get rid of that scandalous practice, which is used to obtain entry to the UK. The new clause would help to reduce immigration, as well as helping to deal with the horrific practice of forced marriage, about which the Minister, like the hon. Member for Keighley is also concerned.

My new clauses are common-sense proposals that would instil an awful lot of the British public’s confidence in our immigration system that has been distinctly lacking over the past 10 years or so. Even if the Minister will not agree to my proposals, I hope that he will at least look carefully at the issues that they raise, understand that they are of great concern to the British people and try to find a way of addressing some, if not all, of them.

Mr. Byrne: This has been an extraordinary debate, and a nice way to complete—I fear—Report.

Some of the interventions were helpful, especially on the question of limits. We have been watching the debate among Opposition Members on that subject for some time. It was at spring conference, back in 2003, that the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith), who is not in the Chamber, called for quotas on refugees. “This is real action” was, I think, what he said. Of course, the hon. Member for Ashford (Damian Green) threw out that policy some time ago. However, the Conservative party went on to propose quotas in 2005. Although that policy was proposed two years ago, we have yet to hear precisely what the numbers would be. As has been pointed out, it is very difficult under the current arrangements to set a limit on EU migration. The fact that EU net inflow is 48 per cent. of UK net migration raises the question whether any attempt to set a limit would be meaningful or meaningless.

Mr. Greg Knight: Although it is all very interesting hearing the Minister speculate about what my party’s policy might or might not be, will he focus on the real issue by telling us what happens in practice? He read out earlier the guidance under which immigration officers operate, but what happens in practice when someone who is asked to remove a veil refuses to do so?

Mr. Byrne: The answer is simple: they are escorted into a room and an immigration officer will take any step that he or she judges to be necessary to verify their identity. The options do not stop simply at asking someone to remove their veil; if necessary, we will fingerprint them. That is precisely how we discovered more than 200 failed asylum seekers trying to leave the country. We did so through tougher exit controls.

The right hon. Gentleman would be right if he were to point out that that kind of operation would become much more difficult if the Conservative party were to
9 May 2007 : Column 249
follow through on its commitment to shut down the British identity infrastructure. It will be interesting to discover whether the Conservative party supports the Bill this evening. Key measures in it are those to introduce compulsory biometric identity cards for foreign nationals.

We know from a letter sent by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) to the Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell, in February that the Government are now “formally on notice”—I believe that that was the phrase used—of the Conservative party position to shut down the national identity infrastructure and that it is now to carry any associated risk or contingent liability. Let me tell Members about one of those associated risks and contingent liabilities: this country will be left defenceless in the fight against illegal immigration, whether that defence is at our border controls or at our border posts abroad when we issue biometric visas to those applying to come to this country for the first time.

Damian Green rose—

Mr. Byrne: I sense that the hon. Gentleman wishes to say something.

Damian Green: The suggestion that my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) talked about abolishing the biometric infrastructure traduces what he said in that letter. The Minister is invoking the novel constitutional doctrine that if a Government sign some long-term, expensive ill-advised contracts, another party would not be allowed to carry out its manifesto pledges even if elected. He is talking nonsense on that point.

However, I want the Minister to return to the subject of EU immigration. Ten minutes ago he described the level of immigration from within the EU as a problem. Does he really mean that?

Mr. Byrne: I do not think that I described the issue of EU immigration as a problem, because it has proved to be of substantial benefit to this country. The hon. Gentleman cannot get away from the point that his right hon. Friend’s letter was extremely clear that his party would switch off the national identity infrastructure of this country, despite the evidence that we have heard from people such as Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, who I think is chairing his party’s international security and policy commission, and Lord Stevens, who has consistently spoken in favour of identity technology and who is chairing another of the Conservative party’s policy commissions—the one on border controls. The right hon. Gentleman wrote that in his letter also despite the evidence of people such as Sir Andrew Green of Migrationwatch UK, who has looked at the question carefully, and of the business community and of trade unions. All of them have said that if we are to stop illegal journeys and illegal jobs we must lock down people’s identity. I hope that the Conservative party will follow through on any decision it votes for tonight by either underlining or withdrawing its commitment to shut down Britain’s identity infrastructure.

9 May 2007 : Column 250

I want to highlight for the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) some advice that was given by Michael Portillo. He said in 2004 that he doubted whether any Tory Government would be as rigorous in capping immigrant numbers as they claimed, given that no previous one had taken effective action to arrest the flow. It is absolutely right that we have to make sure that only those—

It being Six o’clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker put the Question already proposed from the Chair pursuant to Order [5 February].

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Deputy Speaker then proceeded to put the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Clause 5

Registration Regulations

Amendment made: No. 16, in page 4, line 29, at end insert—

‘(4A) Regulations under subsection (1)(b) may not make provision the effect of which would be to require a person to carry a biometric immigration document at all times.’.— [Mr. Byrne.]

Clause 31

Automatic Deportation

Amendment proposed: No. 34, in page 16, line 6, leave out from ‘whom’ to end of line and insert ‘the condition under subsection (2) applies.’.— [Paul Rowen.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 59, Noes 466.
Division No. 110]
[6.1 pm


Alexander, Danny
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Davey, Mr. Edward
Farron, Tim
Foster, Mr. Don
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robertson, Angus
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Willis, Mr. Phil
Wishart, Pete
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Jenny Willott and
Mr. Dan Rogerson

Abbott, Ms Diane
Afriyie, Adam
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Allen, Mr. Graham
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baldry, Tony
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barker, Gregory
Barlow, Ms Celia
Baron, Mr. John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Roger
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brennan, Kevin
Brokenshire, James
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browning, Angela
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butler, Ms Dawn
Butterfill, Sir John
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Conway, Derek
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Curry, rh Mr. David
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Evennett, Mr. David

Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Hayes, Mr. John
Healey, John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hendry, Charles
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Herbert, Nick
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Glenda
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Key, Robert
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lammy, Mr. David
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Lepper, David
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Main, Anne
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Maples, Mr. John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McCrea, Dr. William
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Mercer, Patrick
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Mundell, David
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Osborne, Sandra
Ottaway, Richard
Owen, Albert
Paice, Mr. James
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, John
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Scott, Mr. Lee
Seabeck, Alison
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shaw, Jonathan
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Sheridan, Jim
Simmonds, Mark
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela

Stuart, Mr. Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tami, Mark
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Vaz, rh Keith
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Frank Roy and
Tony Cunningham
Question accordingly negatived.
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