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Pamela Nash: Sorry, does the hon. Gentleman want to intervene?

John Hemming: I am asking the hon. Lady for her view.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. Mr Hemming, sit down. This is not a personal discussion between you and Pamela Nash of the points you might want to make later. May we have a bit of order? Pamela Nash, you have the Floor. If you give way to John Hemming, could you indicate accordingly, so that I can call him?

Pamela Nash: Apologies, Madam Deputy Speaker. I will not let anyone intervene again.

I strongly believe in an NHS free at the point of need. Arrangements are in place for people to pay, when that is required, but we have had no clarity about how the provisions will be policed or expanded. I agree that we need an immigration policy that protects our constituents from increasing global financial pressures, but we do not want them coming up against unintended consequences as a result of measures in the Bill, on which there has been a lack of consultation. I worry about the risk to public and private health. Moreover, this debate has thrown up areas of contention in the referendum debate and problems with having different arrangements in Scotland and England. If the Bill removes long-held reciprocal agreements with countries that we are friends with and to which our constituents wish to travel, I would be very concerned. Finally, I am concerned that the Bill will cost constituents more than it benefits them.

4.11 pm

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley) (Con): It is a pleasure to speak in the debate and to welcome the Bill.

Immigration remains among the issues that most concern my constituents; that was the case in the run-up to the last general election, and it is still the issue most raised on the doorstep. Not totally surprisingly, perhaps, my constituency does not experience huge immigration—according to the last statistics I saw, I had two of the five most ethnically English towns in the country—but there remains a fear of immigration. What people see, perhaps in neighbouring towns, causes them concern, perhaps over and above the real extent of the problem. Nevertheless, they are concerned—and they express their concerns regularly—that too many people are coming here illegally and not being sent back home. They are especially worried that serious criminals who complete their prison sentences are not being deported, and they are worried that our public services and housing cannot cope with the population increase.

It is right that the Government address those issues and try to restore confidence in the system; we all want an immigration system that people can have faith in. We want to get this right so that “asylum” can cease to be a dirty word and we can be proud to take people who are in desperate need. I am not sure that most of my constituents think that way now. Rather, they are concerned that the system is being abused and that everyone who arrives here has no reason to be here.

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While welcoming most of the Bill, I want to focus on some of its key areas. From my relatively limited immigration casework, I know that this can be a byzantine system that sometimes produces bizarre results. Reading some of the verdicts, I find it hard to work out what the facts of the case are or how the verdict bears much relation to those facts.

Dr Huppert: The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight the byzantine complexity and the errors in decision making. Does he agree that the Government’s priority should be to ensure that decisions are made correctly?

Nigel Mills: That should be a priority for every Department. I serve on the Work and Pensions Committee. Sadly, the DWP’s administration processes too often come up with the wrong decisions, but the problem is often fixed by a mandatory reconsideration process within the Department.

It would be interesting to hear from the Minister how the review process would work. I think it is the right idea, however, because we do not want to be troubling the courts and tribunals with mistakes in the system. If they can be corrected within the Department, that must be a more cost-effective, fairer and quicker system for all involved. We need to know that the person doing the reconsideration is independent, and not just defaulting to the previous decision—because he knows the guy who took it and so it must have been right. We all want a system that gives clear, quick, fair and accurate decisions first time around, avoiding a labyrinthine process that subjects people to an awful wait while trying to establish their status, which makes them miserable and gets them stuck in the system for longer than necessary.

That is a genuine concern for my constituents: why is the system still so slow? Let us get it right first time. If the person has no right to be here, let them be told that so that we do not have to go through multiple different appeals down different routes. The proposal that those with no right to be here no longer need a separate removal notice has to be right.

I also agree about article 8. We need to get the balance right between the interests of the public in this country and the interests of the person making the claim. I am not sure our courts have been interpreting that correctly. We have a right to be protected from serious criminals. I speak as someone who generally favours deregulation and does not favour imposing new burdens on people, so it is with some caution that I welcome the proposals to ask landlords to start checking the immigration status of their prospective tenants. I have an interest, as I rent out a house in Nottingham where Iused to live. I use an agent, so I am pretty certain I will be safe from these rules as long as the agent is competent.

There is a real public interest in trying to make sure that it is harder for illegal immigrants to avoid the system and stay here without a right to do so. One of the ways we can do that is to ask landlords to make sure that the person they are renting out to has a right to be here. In my constituency, most letting agents go through some hugely extensive and complicated processes, and take a lot of money off tenants, to check their credit history, references from previous landlords and all manner

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of things. I am not sure that it is that much of an extra burden to ask them to check a person’s status as well. Clearly there are some whose position is so complicated that it will not be easy for a landlord or agent to come to a clear understanding. That is why we need a service from the Home Office that gives a clear and quick answer and says, “Yes, you can rent to this person. No, you can’t rent to that person.”

Having worked with clearance mechanisms in my previous life, I know that getting that to be quick and accurate will not be straightforward, but it has to be the right thing to do. We need a system that is clear enough so that not every landlord seeks a clearance every time to be 100 per cent. safe. We need a clearance system that works and is used only where there is some doubt and not where there is clearly an easy situation to determine.

Most of us would think that it is ridiculous that someone who has no right to be here can get a UK driving licence or a UK bank account. That should never have been the case and it is right to stop that so that someone cannot build up a life here that they are not entitled to have, because that can make it harder for us to deport them.

I have no need to detain the House at great length. I welcome the Bill, which represents a real step forward. I am sure my constituents will welcome it, although there are things that sadly we cannot do which they would have liked to see in it. There is a great deal of concern about what will happen next year when restrictions on Romania and Bulgaria are lifted. We need to understand what can be done to make sure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. But this is a welcome Bill, and I look forward to it having a speedy passage through Parliament.

4.17 pm

Mr David Lammy (Tottenham) (Lab): I am very grateful to make a contribution to this debate and of course my remarks are informed by the experience of being the son of immigrants; my father arrived in this country in the 1950s, but is no longer alive. The remarkable greatness of Britain that allows me to be here representing my seat in a sense conveys the importance of the debate; it is what is great about this country. In discussing immigration, migration and, indeed, emigration, we balance and underline that greatness, which gives us the diversity that we all cherish.

I am also informed by two particular experiences over the past few years. One was an experience that many hon. Members will share, particularly those representing so called “safe seats” or those who have ministerial office in government. During general elections, we end up out of our constituencies, travelling around the country, holding balloons in shopping centres and persuading people to vote for our parties. I found myself in North West Leicestershire with our candidate Ross, campaigning in Coalville. We were greeted—well, not greeted; many people tried to avoid us—and I got stuck in a conversation with a young man called Scott. He supported Leicester City; I support Spurs. We had a long conversation about this and then I plucked up the courage, not to ask him to marry me, but to ask him who he was going to vote for. At that point, I was set back because he told me he was going to vote for the British National party. I said, “What do you mean? Why are you going to vote

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for the BNP?” He described himself as a brickie, and he told me that eastern Europeans—“the Poles”, as he called them—had come to that part of the country and undercut his wages. He said they were preventing him from being employed. He pointed to his four-year-old son and said, “I’ve got to feed this boy. That’s why I’m voting for the BNP.” That is a difficult argument to counter, just as it was for my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown), who so badly fumbled it at the last general election, and for all hon. Members across the House.

Another factor was the riots. People talk about them starting in Tottenham, but they spread to very different areas. I have strong memories of members of the English Defence League on the streets of Enfield Town, just two miles away, chanting “England, England, England” and handing out leaflets saying that we had to do something about the African gangs. That is the context of this debate, and these subjects have to be handled very sensitively indeed.

Why was that young man in Coalville, Scott, so concerned about immigration? His wages were being undercut and he often could not get a job. Was it not the job of the Government properly to enforce the minimum wage? Was it not the job of the Government to be tough on unscrupulous employers? In London at the moment, we have a crisis involving school places, and people are voicing their concerns about the situation. Surely it should have been the job of successive Governments to deal with that. People complain about housing and about the benefits bill, but successive Governments have failed to build sufficient housing in this country. There is concern out there, but that concern should fall right back on us here. Successive Governments have failed to deal with the issues that stoke those concerns.

Before I came to this place, I had the privilege of taking a law degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and I then made it to Harvard law school. I learned a lot about our constitution and about the constitution that was forged in the United States of America. In both those places, it is important to remember that the foundation of our democracy was the Magna Carta; I am not quoting this for the sake of it. It states:

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled. Nor will we proceed with force against him except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”

Why then, in 2013, are we returning to the subject of appeals and denying civilised human beings the right of appeal? Why do we tell people that it is okay for them to go back to Afghanistan? Why, after the debate we had on Syria, are we telling people that it is okay for them to go back and launch their appeals from there? Why, given the debates that we have on international development, do we expect people to go back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and launch their appeals from there? Just a few months ago, we were having a debate in this place on the residence test and the changes to judicial review. Those changes will mean that far fewer people will be able to exercise their rights.

The sense that we are choking our democracy is coming from a number of different directions; it is not exclusive to this debate. It places a stain on all that we have achieved in this place, and all that we expect our

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young people to understand about our democracy, if we are not honest about why our services are feeling the pressure. Our Prime Minister says that he wants to see an end to the something-for-nothing culture, but if we are not honest about what fosters that, we give the wrong impression.

Let me go back to the period when my father arrived in this country, the 1950s. It was a period of austerity, with the country just coming out of rationing, a period in which we celebrated the coronation of our current Queen and a period of crisis, the Suez crisis, but it was also a period during which it was typical and usual to have on landlords’ doors in this country, “No Irish, no blacks, no dogs.” We forget that at our peril. That is why I will absolutely not vote for a Bill that encourages landlords to go down that road again and that does not have the necessary understanding, restrictions and knowledge of our history. Believe me, anyone in this House who knows anything about the Irish community will know that “No Irish need apply” has been a consistent phrase in our country’s history, and we are now going back to a place where we hand our landlords the power to make such decisions without the necessary experience to determine the validity of a stamp in a passport.

Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con) rose

Mr Lammy: I will not give way.

Many people in this country from poor and working-class backgrounds do not have a passport. They have not applied for one. They do not go off to France or southern Italy on holiday every summer, or save up to go to India or the Caribbean. They are lucky if they get to Skegness at best. They have no passport and now they will be forced to buy one because landlords cannot always determine where somebody is from and will want to be sure. Those people without passports will be passed over and others will get preferential treatment.

My father would be rolling in his grave and I can tell Members who would be smiling: Peter Rachman, that famous landlord in Notting Hill who caused so much damage to so many people. It is an absolute shame that we are going down this road.

Despite all the Government’s discussions of the importance of our global economy, anyone who believed in the importance of trade and our export market would do nothing to damage the higher education sector, which brings in £14 billion from the students who come to this country. Every vice-chancellor would say that this Government have got things wrong in their treatment of students and higher education, just as 82% of landlords are asking, “Please do not give us this power. We do not want the power, we are not policemen and we do not want to do this. The Government should do this.” What is the Government’s record? What about the UKBA? How effective is it as an agency? How does it stack up on the list of effectiveness? It is one of the most appalling agencies we have ever seen in this country and that is why the Government have had to tinker with it, change it, get rid of it and take it back into the Home Office.

Why, when 70,000 appeals are being made, 50% of which succeed, would the Government deny people the right to appeal? It is because of the race to the bottom, because of the UK Independence party and because we have failed to have the honest discussion with the British public about what we have failed to invest in. Yes, the

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last election was marked by this issue, but in 2005 I had to canvass across the country while looking at the posters with that scribbled writing, “It’s okay to talk about immigration—it’s not racism.” I remember those Conservative party posters. We will have that debate again and I hope that the British people will recognise the nastiness at the core of the discussion. In the end, we do down our country when we walk down that road.

4.29 pm

Simon Hughes (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (LD): It is a privilege to follow the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy). He knows that I have great respect for him and his huge experience. He and I, like every other Member of Parliament for Greater London, come to this debate representing a huge number of people from all over the world. That is also reflected in the experience of my hon. Friend the Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather).

I should declare an interest, which can be found in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. My brother and I inherited from our late mum, who died a couple of years ago, a house that we rent to non-Brits, as it happens, through a letting agency. I will come back to the question of lettings later.

I come to this debate from two perspectives. First, I regularly do a huge amount of immigration and asylum work, which is consistently about 40% of the work in my constituency. The overwhelming experience of that casework, which is frequently acute, is that far too often the wrong decision is made at the beginning. Of course, some people abuse the system, but many do not, and come here perfectly properly. I am talking not about asylum seekers but about immigrants who come here legally but may overstay and so on. When they go to officials to put their case, we often have an enormous struggle to try to deal with that. The Minister, to whom I pay tribute for his courtesy in always dealing with matters I bring to him, as did his predecessor—and whom I rarely trouble, because I seek to deal with his officials—knows that in the end many colleagues become hugely frustrated because the most deserving cases imaginable are not understood or dealt with properly in the system.

The overwhelming concern—I have checked with the person who leads in my constituency office on immigration and asylum work—is not to introduce lots of new legislation but to provide a system that works well by making administrative improvements. That has always been the case, but sadly there is still a huge backlog of cases both in immigration and asylum, and a huge number of cases that go to appeal.

There are some really good people working in what was the UK Border Agency and is now part of the Home Office again. I pay tribute to them, and I am grateful for their courtesy, but there are some poor people who do not understand immediacy and the way in which things should be dealt with. There are some very good people in our outposts around the world who deal with cases, but as the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), the Chair of the Select Committee, said, it is illogical to ask the same person to review a decision that they have made and expect them to think that it is the wrong decision only a few weeks later.

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Secondly, we must proceed carefully when we seek to legislate yet again on immigration and asylum. When I served in opposition, for too long I saw Governments introduce immigration Bills, few of which sorted out problems to the extent that people could say that they were a great success. However, there are real issues, and our constituents and the country are concerned. Of course, people are fair-minded, I hope, and would always realise that we are a country of immigrants—they are from around the UK, from outside the UK and Europe, and from all over the world—and that in London and many cities, and most of the UK, immigration has enriched our culture hugely. None the less it needs to be controlled, and there has to be a limit. We also need to make sure that those who are here illegally do not remain here illegally.

One of the things that my party tried to do at the last election was put this issue on the agenda. It was difficult, because the issue of addressing illegal migration has over the years been something that the public have found hard to come to terms with. President Obama has sought to do so in the United States in a brave way with Churches and faith groups across the parties, and in this country the issue has not gone away.

We need a firm but fair immigration system, and we need firm processes for policing it. I also believe that, because we are a country of islands, we should not opt into the Schengen agreement, and that we should have our own border controls. It is not a view that all the colleagues in my party take, but it is an advantage in managing migration to deploy that tactic. Irrespective of other European controls we should have our own. I have always taken the view that we should check people out as well as check people in, and that when we admit other countries to the EU we should have gradual admission. The right hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Mr Blunkett) made the wrong decision to allow mass admission in one go from the eastern European countries. In the end, everyone accepts that that was the wrong decision. Again, I think I was in a minority in my party at the time in arguing that the process should be phased.

We should be clear that the Bill does not deal with asylum. Asylum cases will, I hope, always be dealt with compassionately. We must be seen to be a country that is always willing to receive people who come to us fleeing persecution because of their politics, faith, gender, sexuality or whatever else it might be. I hope the Minister will say amen to that.

I hope, too, that we will always be positive that any changes that we make have been tried and tested and will not have disproportionate or unfair outcomes. That is why I am troubled that yet again we are dealing with a Bill that has not had pre-legislative scrutiny, that was not preceded by a Green Paper or a White Paper and that has not been the subject of full consultation. This is bad legislative process and there is no need for it. There is no immediacy that means that we have to get the Bill on to the statute book in two minutes. We must do better. We had the same problem with the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. This Government, whom I support, have said that we will do these things better. Well, we must do them better consistently. Whatever view we take of the Bill, there is no disadvantage in pre-legislative scrutiny and going through the proper processes to

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make sure that unintended consequences are avoided. I regret that that has not been done and as a result I may not be able to support the timetable motion. We need much more time to examine the Bill and I am sure the Joint Committee on Human Rights, on which I serve, will want to look at it too.

I have three other quick points. Colleagues on the Opposition Benches—they include the right hon. Member for Leicester East, whose speech I entirely agree with, and others—have made the point that we have not looked at the Bill in the context of the changes that we are making to legal aid and judicial review. They are all interrelated issues. I have outstanding promises from Ministers on the Front Bench that they would review previous changes. If we reduce the chances of people going to court to challenge decisions, then reduce the chance of an appeal at all and then insist that people go back to countries from which it may be very difficult for them to appeal, we are denying the right of appeal altogether. We must be extremely careful about that, but we need simpler appeal systems. I welcome the fact that that is on the agenda of the Bill. We have too many different processes and they need to be brought together, but they must be simplified in a way that makes them both workable and understandable.

We must make sure that we do not breach international conventions, especially in relation to children. I am not satisfied that the Bill does that, and the Joint Committee on Human Rights has not been satisfied in relation to other legislation. We have obligations nationally and internationally that we must fulfil. The Government have done well. Our Government ended the detention of children for immigration purposes, which I welcome. My hon. Friend the Minister was party to that, as were other Ministers, and we must not now undo the good work that we have done in relation to children.

On the parts of the Bill that deal with marriage and civil partnerships, nobody wants to condone sham marriages and sham civil partnerships. We must have robust processes for dealing with that, and in principle those changes are welcome. I have no objection to people from outside this country being required to pay for public services. It seems to me that that is the proper principle, and therefore the proposal that the national health service has a charge is one of principle. I support the principle. The question is whether it is practical and how it is going to be implemented. It also seems proper to have a bank account control mechanism that means that people who are legally not meant to be here cannot process their moneys around and be supported in doing so. The same principle, for me, applies to driving licences. I have severe problems, however, believing that the residential tenancy plans will work. I know that that is a pilot scheme and that it will be trialled only, but it will be very difficult for honourable, perfectly respectable landlords to carry out that process properly, and I would prefer that that part of the Bill were not included.

I indicated earlier to the Home Secretary that there are sufficient good things in the Bill to make it worth taking on to Committee stage and looking at carefully, but I hope the Government do not try to push us to rush things. I hope they will be responsive to constructive criticisms from those of us who deal with this sort of work in huge volume every day of our lives. I hope that at the end we can get the message out that we should have tough immigration policies, we should be firm but

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fair, but we must make sure that we have a better system that works behind those policies, and we should be clear that another set of legislative changes will not solve all the problems that are a legacy of poor, incompetent Home Office government over many, many years.

4.39 pm

Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) (Lab): I am glad to be able to speak about the Bill. I have taken an interest in immigration policy for very many years, first as an administrative trainee in the Home Office, and secondly as somebody who year on year is in the top 10 of MPs processing immigration casework. I have also, of course, taken an interest because I represent a constituency with very many immigrants from all over the world, and, finally, because I am the child of immigrants. I say from my knowledge and experience of the immigration system that it is bedevilled by poor administration and rushed and incoherent legislation, motivated by short-term political advantage—and I do not except the Labour party from that. I am afraid that this Bill is more of the same.

I say right at the beginning that there are many details in the Bill that I agree with—which is not surprising, because some of it merely puts into legislation matters that were regulations under the Labour Administration—but I deplore the rhetoric and I deplore the political direction of travel. I remind the House that immigration as an issue has been freighted with emotion since the days of Enoch Powell, and since those days immigration has been a synonym for black, Asian and foreign-looking people—for “the other”. Any Member of the House who pretends that immigrant, immigration and anti-immigrant rhetoric does not have that underlying narrative in British politics is being naive.

If people do not believe me, I urge them to read the report of the royal commission on alien immigration in 1903 and the subsequent Aliens Act 1905, which deal with exactly the ideas that those on the Government Front Bench are trying to push forward today. What people say about east European migrants today is what was said about east African migrants in the ’60s, what was said about west Indian migrants, what was said about Jewish migrants to the east end after the first world war, and what was said about Irish migrants in the 19th century: driving down wages; living in terrible housing conditions; assaulting our women. It is always the same narrative, which should be a clue to the House that it is always the same issue.

I remind Government Members who think that they can get away with all this anti-immigrant rhetoric and not pay an electoral price that the Republicans in the United States thought that. They went to town with anti- Hispanic, illegal migrant rhetoric; they thought that anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric was a huge vote winner. But at the election they found that perfectly legal migrants ran, not walked, away from Republicans. Not just Hispanic migrants but Chinese, Japanese, Indian migrants—every migrant community—voted in unprecedented numbers for the Democrats, in what was a difficult election for them in many ways, because when people of immigrant descent hear that anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric they think, “Actually, they are talking about me, my dad, my mum, my auntie, the people on the landing.” Government Members should not think that they can continue down this anti-illegal immigrant path and not pay a price with

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the votes of the children and grandchildren of migrants. The danger with the Bill is not just that it will create the hostile environment for illegal immigrants that the Home Secretary was boasting of, but that it will tend to create a hostile environment for all of us of immigrant descent and our children.

I know as much about the UK Border Agency and abuse of the system as anyone. I worked in the Home Office and I knew about Croydon. People say that the Government inherited a shambolic immigration department from the Labour party, but as long as I have known the immigration department it has been dysfunctional and shambolic, and there are systemic reasons for that. It was always seen as an outpost of the Home Office in Whitehall and no one wanted to work there, so it was allowed to remain in a welter of administrative confusion. I bow to no one in my knowledge and my disapproval of the chaos, unfairness, inefficiency and poor administration of the immigration department. I also know—this has not been mentioned—of the abuses practised on my constituents by so-called immigration advisers. People talk about abuses of the system, but they are often triggered not by people who are simply looking for a better life for their family but by a class of so-called immigration advisers who systematically rip them off. My constituents come to me years later and I have to try to pick up the pieces of a case that was mishandled right from the beginning by people motivated only by profit.

I agree with what my long-standing friend and colleague, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), said about administrative problems, and I give him every credit for his work on the matter over the years. I also agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra) said about people who are left in limbo, even though they are here legally, because the UKBA has not sent them their paperwork. There are systemic problems with the UKBA, but that does not justify trying to turn doctors and landlords into immigration officers on wheels. We need to deal with what is wrong with the administration before we ask untrained people to pursue matters that the Government and a state agency should deal with.

I want to say a word about what people hear on the doorstep, which keeps coming up in this debate. I hear about that from Government Members, and I am afraid that I hear about it from some hon. Friends. First, let us kill the myth that Labour had an open-door policy on migration. I have an office with filing cabinets stacked full of files about the thousands of cases that I dealt with year on year under a Labour Government. There was the issue of the miscalculation of the number of people coming from the eastern European accession countries—no one denies that—but if there was an open door, why did so many of my constituents have to wait years and years, divided from their family, to bring their children in? There was no open door. Far from apologising, the Labour party should make that point more clearly and more often.

What do we hear on the doorstep? I can believe that Members hear people complaining about immigrants. I have the children of West Indians complaining to me about eastern European migrants. However, in an economic downturn people always complain about the other, and want to blame the other for their economic circumstances.

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Of course we as politicians should deal with the underlying issues when people complain, whether about a lack of housing or job insecurity, but we must not allow public policy to be driven by people who are frightened of the changes they see around them, of economic insecurity and of the fact that the so-called upturn is not helping their living standards. We are now in danger of passing yet another ill thought-out Bill to go on the pile that has been heaped up since the 1960s.

Let us not forget that much of what we hear on the doorstep about immigration is simply not based on fact. It may be easy to say to people, “Oh, yes, you’re so right, we’re going to have fewer of them; we’re going to do this; we’re going to do that”, but politicians should deal with the facts first rather than pander all the time to urban myth, which leads to a downward spiral of rhetoric.

Turning to the content of the Bill, other Members, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander), have dealt with the issue of landlords. Even landlords’ organisations are against the Bill. Richard Lambert, the chief executive officer of the National Landlords Association, has said:

“Existing referencing will pick up immigration issues anyway”.

Gavin Smart of the Chartered Institute of Housing has said that the measures will

“make it much harder for non-British people to access housing even when they have a legal right to live in the UK. Checking immigration status is complicated so landlords may shy away from letting to anyone who appears not to be British.”

That is landlords speaking. The effect of the Bill will be that when people such as my son and the children of some of my colleagues go to see a flat, they will be told that the flat is taken. Landlords will not want to take the chance of letting to someone who “might be” an illegal immigrant. I do not believe Ministers understand how it feels to knock on a door and be told, blatantly wrongly, that the flat or room is taken. That is what will happen as a consequence of the Bill.

Ministers like to give the idea that the problems in accident and emergency and the health service are caused by illegal immigrants. That is quite extraordinary. Even if their figures are true—I believe that they are scare figures based on the assumption that every person who comes here and gets treatment came only for the treatment in the first place—we are still not talking about the systemic reasons for problems in the NHS.

My mother was of that generation of West Indian women who came here in the ’60s to build the health service. Whether people like it or not, without immigrants we would not have an NHS. For as long as I am in this House, I will not allow Members to get up and say without challenge that the NHS’s problems are caused by immigrant workers. I owe that at least to my parents’ generation.

Also, there is already legislation about people who are not legally entitled to NHS health care. Why do the Government not get on with collecting money under that legislation, rather than introducing new legislation to do the same thing? It is because they are trying to make a political point and pander to UKIP voters.

We have already heard that 60% of successful appeals are due to administrative error. Why can we not move towards a more robust system for making decisions, rather than cutting people’s appeal rights, which currently

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are the only guarantee they have of some kind of recourse against administrative error? There is also the way the Bill would undermine article 8 of the European convention on human rights, the right to family life.

In drawing my remarks to a close, let me say this: it is simply not true that immigrants, illegal or otherwise, are responsible for the current pressures on public services. To say that, or to imply it, is to slight the millions of people of immigrant descent who keep all our public services, not just the health service, going, and they will take it as such.

It is also not true, as some people seek to imply, that immigrants cause low wages. That has been the anti-immigration attack since the 19th century. Immigrants do not cause low wages; predatory employers, insufficient workplace protection and weakened trade unions do that. That was true in the 19th century when people accused the Irish of driving down wages, and it is true today when people make the self-same accusation against the eastern European community.

Mr Harper: I just want to draw the hon. Lady’s attention to a quote from the hon. Member for Dagenham and Rainham (Jon Cruddas), who is now the Labour party’s policy co-ordinator. At the end of 2010, just after the Labour Government had been kicked out of office, he wrote:

“At the macro-economic level, we’ve been using migration to introduce a covert 21st century incomes policy.”

It is people on her side of the House who think that the previous Government used migration to keep down wages, not people on the Government side.

Ms Abbott: People on my side of the House say a lot of things, but I do not necessarily agree with them. As Labour Front Benchers have pointed out, the Bill does not address the labour market issues properly.

We have to be honest about what the anti-immigration narrative in British politics has always been about. The Bill has more to do with political advantage, with demonstrating to UKIP supporters that the Government are cracking down on immigrants, as with the racist van, and with Lynton Crosby’s dividing-line politics than it has to do with good administration. I will believe the Government on immigration when they come forward with practical policies to improve the working of the UK Border Agency and when I see them cracking down on the employers who benefit by employing people off the books.

This is a very difficult issue, and it is confused by all sorts of urban myths, fears and worries. Generally speaking, immigrants are not the most popular group of people in politics today. Not a day goes by when we do not open the tabloid newspapers and read about some immigrant woman living in an eight-bedroom house in Knightsbridge paid for by the British taxpayer. The test for this House is how we deal with difficult subjects and speak up for people who are not necessarily popular or liked and who do not have a voice. By any test, this Bill is about short-term political advantage. It is of no real benefit to Britons, black or white, or would-be immigrants, black or white. Nobody on the Opposition Benches believes that people who are not entitled to NHS care should be able to get it for free, or that we should have a completely open-door immigration

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policy. We believe in speaking the truth about immigration, because if some people do not do that, we will see a race to the bottom, both in rhetoric and political practice.

4.54 pm

Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), who was right to make the points she made. Lots of urban myths are going round about immigration, notably fanned, dare I say it, by some of the emerging nationalist parties. That makes it all the more important for us to restore confidence in our immigration system. I, too, speak as someone of immigrant descent—in my case, Irish on both sides of my family.

I have always been proud of Britain’s open borders and proud that this country has always been welcoming to people who want to work hard and make the best of themselves and to those who have sought asylum. That is a source of great pride and something that is very British. Having established that record, however, we have been taken for a soft touch by people who have contempt for our laws and liberties and have used them against us. Thankfully, some of them have been removed, but not until after a very long battle.

As the hon. Lady mentioned, there are also the so-called immigration advisers who are exploiting people who want nothing more than to make the best of themselves and make a good living. We can and should do a lot more about those advisers, who, in my experience, take £500 off my constituents and then just send them to see me—nice work if you can get it. The more we can do to expose these thieves’ dubious practices, the better. As I say, they are exploiting people who just want to make the best of themselves, and that is totally unacceptable. There is also exploitation by some pretty nasty organised criminals and gangmasters who take advantage of people by trafficking them into what can only be described as modern-day slavery. It is big business. It is important that we have a legal system controlling our immigration that clamps down on these abuses. We do that by making sure that there is no opportunity for illegal immigration to continue.

I am pleased to see so much in the Bill about tackling sham marriage, which is also big business. My constituency is now very ethnically diverse. There has been quite a significant influx of Nigerians and Ghanaians, in particular. An organised criminal gang recently took advantage of that by targeting a church in Tilbury where sham marriages were being organised for Nigerians because the emergence of a large Nigerian community had made it easy to do that. One of the local priests participated in a sting with the police. He was very brave in taking this on because, as he would articulate, once the licences have been issued, the priest is under an absolute obligation to undertake the marriage. However, having seen the same ill-fitting wedding dress a number of times, he smelled a rat. Having on one occasion recited a list of train stations on the District line and had them recited back to him by the bride and groom, he definitely smelt a rat. It was a very scary concept for him, because this was an organised criminal gang and he felt very intimidated, as did many of the brides. It was clearly a great money-making business. We owe people like Father Tim Codling of Tilbury a great debt of gratitude for participating in that police sting to bring the perpetrators to book. It is

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estimated that they had organised over 30 sham marriages in that church in Tilbury alone. This is a shining example to everyone involved, showing that we should bring these people to book when these things happen.

Of course Government Members have no problem with people who abide by immigration rules and are here legitimately. However, my position on these matters has hardened since I became a Member of Parliament. I say that because since being elected to this place three and a half years ago I have handled 383 immigration cases, and in half those cases people who had come to see me had broken the immigration rules in some way, so there is real abuse out there.

I would add that the figure of 383 is actually larger in practice, because many of the people involved are repeat customers. As has been said, there are so many opportunities to make appeals and reapply on different grounds that we tend to see the same people over and over again.

The changes made by the Bill will not affect anyone who wants to come here legitimately and work. The changes made to the student visa regime have not made a difference to people who want to come to our good universities, but they are hitting bogus colleges. That is evidence, if needed, that we are on the right track.

The real problem is that we need to tackle overstayers who, frankly, should not be here. Once they have been told that they have no leave to remain, they should not expect to be able to make a fresh application. Many of them have been here for years. When I say to them, “You have no right to work here. How are you supporting yourself?” they reply, “Friends and family”, meaning the same family who are here with them. It is clear that they are earning their money in the black economy. The Bill includes provisions to tackle the work situation and increase the fines for those who employ people illegally, but I also think that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs needs to undertake a bigger task. It is clear that many of the people involved are working in the self-employed sector. We need to clamp down on that black economy and remove their ability to work. This is all about establishing an environment that makes it clear that once someone has been told that they cannot remain here, they should not expect to be able to stay.

The issue of bank accounts is important. A gentleman from Ghana came to see me after receiving his third rejection and said, “I can’t possibly leave. I’ve got a mortgage.” He took that mortgage out at his own risk. He knew he had no entitlement to stay here and he cannot expect to be able to overstay his welcome. I welcome the fact that the Bill’s measures on bank accounts will actually protect people like him.

Some of the concerns that have been raised about housing are legitimate, but we should also be looking at social housing. I know of at least two cases where people who were already subletting a council house made a tidy profit out of subletting it to people who were here illegally. We can add that to the list of abuses inflicted on our immigrant population.

The issue of health provision has been well rehearsed. Although it is fair to say that there are already restrictions on the ability to access health provision, the fact is that often our health service does not pursue those who

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should pay. More than anything else, we need to give a clear message to all health providers that from here on in we expect them to do that.

On social landlords, we need to be aware of the ingenuity that people will employ to try to get access to housing. Some people take an elastic approach to the law and make up good tales in order to get such access. In one particular case, a lady who was an overstayer came to see me and said she was a victim of domestic violence. She was put in a women’s refuge, which she subsequently left because she alleged that she had been abused there. I asked her why she did not report it to the police, but I did not get a satisfactory answer. The local authority gave her access to a flat, because she had three children under 10. I was more than a little surprised when I got a call four months later from another lady who claimed she was being harassed and abused by her landlady, who happened to be the lady in question. We are dealing with people who have an elastic interpretation of the law and who will not abide by it. We need to be vigilant with regard to all access to public services.

As I have said, I represent a constituency that is very ethnically diverse. Perhaps the most vocal critics of the current immigration regime are migrants themselves. We all recognise the hard work and values that the people who came here in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s brought. As the hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) said, they are keeping our national health service and our other public services going. It is that group of people more than any other that resents the behaviour that we are witnessing. We should not let anyone suggest that this is about race. We are pandering to the nationalist parties if we let people think that.

Ms Abbott: It is my experience that the last but one immigrant group always slags off the latest one. Whether it is West Indians, East Africans or eastern Europeans, it is almost a rite of passage. They do it because they are insecure. The fact that we hear the children of immigrants complaining about more recent immigrants speaks to their insecurity, rather than proving that their critique is based on fact.

Jackie Doyle-Price: The hon. Lady makes a good point. She observed in her speech that such messages surface when people feel more economically insecure, so we should expect to start hearing them at times of economic difficulty. Where she and I part company is that I think that we need to reassure the public that we do not have an open-door immigration policy and that we will take measures to control immigration. Unless we are seen to be doing that, the situation will fester and the only beneficiaries will be the nationalist parties.

On that basis, I do not think that there is anything to object to in the Bill. The British public would expect us to do many of the things that are in it. For most law- abiding people, including immigrants, nothing in the Bill should cause them any disadvantage. I wholeheartedly recommend the Bill to the House.

5.6 pm

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I oppose the Bill and will vote against it because I think that it will be defined, in practice, as a racist Bill and that that will have implications for society. I believe that

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the Bill is the result of electoral positioning; it is not about good governance or the long-term interests of the country. I fear for our long-term interests if we are to be governed by prejudice in this way. I abhor the society that the Bill seeks to create.

Like many Members, I represent a diverse, multicultural constituency. My west London constituency contains Heathrow and two detention centres, Harmondsworth and Colnbrook. I am often the last representative voice that detainees have recourse to before they are removed from the country. I have been visiting Harmondsworth for nearly 40 years. I remember when it was just a couple of Nissen huts with a dozen people in them. There are now two prison-like institutions that detain 1,000 people, most of whom have committed no crime whatever.

For many, the migrant’s story is one of desperation. People come from war zones or, like my Irish grandfather, areas of poverty simply to work and lift themselves out of poverty. I am fearful of what the Bill will do to the society that greets those people. In effect, it begins to echo some of the pass laws of apartheid South Africa. It is a society—

Mr Harper: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

John McDonnell: No, I want to get this on the record. It is a society that echoes those pass laws, a society in which people can be confronted—stopped in the street—and asked for their documentation.

Mr Harper: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

John McDonnell: No, I want to get this on the record. It is society in which people can be asked for their documentation to prove their identity and status.

Under the Bill, immigration officers will be able to use physical force for all their powers. I have been involved in cases that concern the exercise of physical force. In one case a person was killed, and in others people have been seriously injured as a result of the physical force used in removals. Time and again, concerns have been expressed to the Government about the lack of training for those staff and about the brutality that has taken place as a result, and yet in this Bill we are extending the use of physical force to all immigration officers in exercising their powers.

Many fear, and I do too, that with the removal of the directions notices, so there is no clear process of informing people when they are to leave the country and what their destination is, we are going back to the process of dawn raids where vans turn up and drag people and families out of their homes. One of the first cases I dealt with after being elected as a Member of Parliament involved an elderly lady who came to my constituency surgery because the family next to her had been dragged out of their house at 6 o’clock in the morning, children and all. She went into the house, obtained the children’s teddy bears and followed the van to Harmondsworth so the children at least had their toys. Is that the society we are returning to as a result of this proposed legislation?

I believe that the Bill will result in the escalation of detention. It will make it more difficult to challenge detention, to obtain bail and to secure appeals. As was

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said earlier, a third of appeals usually win, with nearly 50% winning entry clearance appeals. The Bill will mean that more people will be detained.

What is detention like? I refer people to the report of the independent monitoring board of Harmondsworth. These are volunteers appointed by the Minister, reporting to the Minister. Its latest report, from April 2013, is worth reading. It says that many people handle detention stoically, but that many others suffer intense distress. Many are mentally ill. They self-harm. We have had suicide attempts time and again in Harmondsworth and in Colnbrook. At the last count, last year 125 people were assessed under rule 35 by doctors who found that their health was suffering so badly that they should not be detained. Many Members know what rule 35 is: it means that the person should automatically be released. Of the 125 people so designated by doctors in Harmondsworth last year, only 12 were released. One was released because of ill-health, went to Hillingdon hospital and died soon after. That is what detention means. That is the type of suffering the Bill will increase, yet 20% of people in the detention centre get released back into the community. Some have been detained for a long time. I refer back to the report published in April. Two of those people had been detained since 2008, and 38 had been detained for more than a year. For many people, detention is not just a short-term measure before removal.

I am concerned about what the Bill will mean for the wider community. Nearly 50% of my constituents are black or people of colour. The Bill will mean that any person who is black, is of colour or who just looks foreign will be challenged. They will be challenged by bank managers and landlords, and by the vicar if they want to get married. They will also be challenged if they apply for legal aid. I find that offensive. I voted against identity cards in this House when my own Government brought them forward. The Bill will yet again bring the process of ID cards forward. There will be no ID cards for white people; it will be ID cards for black people, people of colour, or people who look slightly foreign or who have a foreign accent. That is what the Bill will do.

I find it offensive that the Bill will push more people to the margins. In my constituency, I have enough problems with Rachmanite landlords as it is, with people living in appalling overcrowded conditions and being charged too much. The Bill will create a shadow market, where people who are unable to secure accommodation through some landlords will have to go to others with higher rents. There will be a system of blackmail for those rents by those landlords.

What if people cannot get a roof over their heads? Where do they go? They go to the streets. This is an immigration policy of destitution, isn’t it? Let us be frank about that. If people cannot get a roof over their heads, they go on to the street or are forced out of the country. I deal with many people who would like to leave the country, but cannot even get their papers out of the black hole of the Home Office.

The banks, the landlords, the driving licence agency and so on will be only the first step in this process of introduction of these pass laws. We know from leaks from the Department for Education, which were exposed in The Guardianearlier this year, that the Government wanted to introduce this sort of system by having teachers check the nationality of their pupils.

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Mr Harper: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

John McDonnell: No. I am not giving way.

What happens now for people who are sick? They go to their GPs, and, yes, they will be treated, but what about the next stage as a result of this Bill? This is the first step. Charges are being introduced and people will be checked to see whether they have a visa and have paid the charge, but the next step will inevitably involve GPs. What happens if nurses and doctors want to fulfil their Hippocratic oath? Will they be fined or imprisoned as landlords will be?

I am concerned about the society we are creating, and about the premise on which the Bill is being introduced. When it comes to the reality, as MP after MP will demonstrate—particularly London MPs—a documentation check will take place, but many of our constituents have no documentation, and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) said, many have not applied for passports. Others live chaotic lives, and many, as a result of going through the system, have mental health problems and do not have control of their documentation. As I have said time and again, that is a result of not even being able to get their papers back from the Home Office.

The Bill will create a society that is lacking in compassion, brutal, and lacking in humanity and respect for civil liberties, a two-tier apartheid society that flies in the face of, and is incompatible with, everything that British people associate with their country: compassion, rights, mutual respect, and, yes, support for the underdog. The Bill is derived from the gutter politics of Lynton Crosby; it is an attack on immigrants because supposedly that plays well in British politics. I think that is a fundamental misjudgment of the British people, their values and their decency. I will vote against the Bill because I believe that bringing it forward in this House degrades this House.

5.16 pm

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): I listened to the remarks from the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) about an apartheid society and South African pass laws, and was disappointed that he did not give the Minister the opportunity to intervene on that point. He also said that his grandfather was Irish, and I think the past three speeches from Opposition Members have had that theme, and I would like to reply.

The hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) referred to anti-immigrant and anti-Irish policy, and the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) said that any Member of the House who had an Irish background would understand and have experience of the points he made. My mother is Irish. She came to this country in the early 1960s, just like the mother of the hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, to help in the NHS. She became a nurse, trained here, developed a career and raised her family. I do not believe that she has ever had the experience of feeling discriminated against, or felt the prejudice that has been described. Many Irish people over many generations have come to this country and had nothing but welcome.

Ms Abbott: I was talking initially about the very common attitudes, cartoons, rhetoric and political attacks that were applied to the Irish in the 19th century. That was my point.

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Mark Reckless: The hon. Lady says that such things were very common. I cannot comment on the 19th century, although she did mention cases that were more up to date. Whether during the depths of the worst of the de Valera regime in the ‘30s, or after what we have seen in the past five years with the move to switch away from a link to sterling and experiment on the Irish people through the imposition of the euro, which has destroyed so much of the Irish economy, I feel that this country—England, the United Kingdom—has stood ready to welcome people who have come from Ireland, often in large numbers. It has welcomed them and they have found work here that they were not able to find in Ireland.

Other Members have referred to their experiences, history, or what some of their constituents have said, but I do not believe that my mother experienced that prejudice or discrimination as an Irish citizen and passport holder. She has felt welcome in this country.

I was astonished by what the hon. Lady said. As if a large number of people who are prepared to work harder for less money coming here would have no impact on wages! Other things being equal, it will have a significant impact. The debate has changed in that the most recent large-scale immigration—from central and eastern Europe since 2004—has not been of black, Asian or foreign-looking people, as she described them, but of the white Caucasians. She is so insistent that the immigration debate must be about race but, in a way, that immigration has de-linked race from the debate. It is clear that the debate is not, or largely not, about race.

Whatever the overall costs and benefits of immigration, the fact is that the impacts are different. People who are well off often buy goods and services produced by people who have come to this country. The people who have come here have, at least initially, competed for some of the less-skilled jobs. If wages are lower than they otherwise would be in those categories, that allows better-off people to get a better or cheaper service—they understandably welcome the people providing it. However, it is less understandable and not right for better-off people who benefit from immigration to look down on those who do not have the same view of those coming here and think that it is because they have antediluvian or even racist attitudes.

The reality is that less well-off people are competing with those coming in and it affects their wages or how hard they have to work for their wages. Their situation is less good because they are subjected to a large amount of competition from significant numbers of people who have recently come into the country. Sometimes the competition will be between people with skills, but it is often at the lower-skilled end. They will compete with those who might otherwise have those lower-skilled jobs or receive better pay in those jobs. It is not surprising that people are unhappy with the scale of immigration. It is quite wrong for those who benefit from immigration to look down on those people and suggest that their attitudes are racist when what we are seeing is the economic effect.

One other important context of the Bill is this country’s system of eligibility for benefits, which is different from that in most other EU countries. The UK, Ireland, Estonia, Finland and, importantly, Germany, do not require a significant contributory period prior to eligibility for unemployment benefit. That leads to the possibility of

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people who do not have a long-term connection with this country benefiting without having paid in. I am not suggesting that that is the most significant part of the immigration pull into this country, but it causes concern among my constituents.

The more significant pull within the benefits system is the possibility of family benefits. The payment of child benefit to children who are resident overseas, be that in Poland or, in greater numbers, in Romania or Bulgaria, is wrong and should be stopped. I believe it could be stopped, even under current EU law, but I am not sure whether Ministers agree. Another pull is child tax credits. Our system of in-work benefits for people in some of the not-so-well-paid jobs is very generous compared with the system prevailing in, for example, Poland, particularly if they have children. That is a significant draw and my constituents are not terribly happy with it. They have paid into a system for a long time and see people who do not have that link with the system immediately taking significant benefits from it.

Those two problems are the basis and context of the debate. The recent large-flow immigration de-links race from the immigration debate, although some people would like to preserve the link. In addition, when more recent immigrants compete for jobs with people from a previous migration, the latter understandably object. We will either have to change our benefit system, or leave the European Union.

Fiona Mactaggart: Some of the hon. Gentleman’s points make sense. There is a case for ensuring fair competition on wages and that benefits are not paid to children who have never seen the UK and never intend to, but none of those points will be addressed by the Bill. Why is he speaking about them?

Mark Reckless: One area within the broad range the hon. Lady describes is the charge for the use of NHS services. If someone comes to this country for a considerable period, say as an overseas student, it is right that they should make a contribution. She is right to say that in many of these areas we are not able to make the changes that I would like within our domestic legal system, because of the European Union. It is right, therefore, that my party has said that it will give the people an in/out referendum so that they can decide whether they want us to be an independent country or whether they want to continue to have these rules set by the European Union.

One impact of the scale of the immigration we have seen to this country is the linking of those issues in a way that people understand. If people want to control immigration and reduce the numbers coming from the European Union, we once again need to be an independent country. Over the next year as people from Romania and Bulgaria gain the ability to come here for employment, rather than self-employment—or purported self-employment—or other reasons, I hope that we do not see a huge influx of people from those two countries, which might get in the way of the very good progress that the Government have made towards our target of cutting immigration from the hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands. Were that to happen and to reflect on the Government—perhaps unfairly, given that it was the previous Government who signed up to that treaty of accession—it would be unfortunate if in any way that were to prevent the referendum that we have promised coming to pass in 2017.

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The Bill will bear down on several channels for immigration, and some of the issues it addresses are quite technical. The Home Office has looked at all the issues and made progress in many different areas to reduce the overall scale of immigration. Part 2, on restricting the right to appeal, strikes a good balance. I have referred to the NHS charge in part 3, but it also addresses the need to ensure that people have the right to be here before giving them a driving licence. That is clearly a good thing. In the United States, that is a massive political issue, and states have very different policies on it. In this country, it seems to have gone by default, but at last we have a Government who are waking up and ensuring that people get a driving licence only if they have a right to do so by virtue of their eligibility to live in this country.

I welcome the Bill’s approach on article 8. We have heard some excellent proposals recently from my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab). I thought that they were very sound and it was a shame that they did not make it into the Crime and Courts Bill, and his approach may have further benefits over and above those in the Bill. Nevertheless, the provisions in the Bill are very sound. For example, and crucially, clause 14 would insert into the 2002 Act a new section 117B(4) that states:

“Little weight should be given to…a private life, or…a relationship formed with a qualifying partner, that is established by a person at a time when the person is in the United Kingdom unlawfully.”

That is overdue. It continues:

“Little weight should be given to a private life established by a person at a time when the person’s immigration status is precarious.”

The fact that that will be in primary legislation will at last give us a real opportunity to rein in the courts and their overly expansive interpretation of article 8. In this instance, it is not so much the European Court in Strasbourg, but our own domestic courts that have had an excessively loose approach to the definition of article 8.

I add one caution. The provisions on article 8, which are good, will act as a restraint—although I look forward to reading them in more detail—but there remains an issue with how section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 has been used. As a general principle of family law, it is right that the interests of the child be paramount—for instance, in a divorce case—but I am much less convinced that it is useful in considering the deportation, following a long prison sentence, of a foreign national, not least because it is not easy for immigration judges to come to a fair and proper assessment of the interests of that child. I suspect that very often the individual concerned will not be a good parental influence on the child, but even where it might have a small impact—if it might become more difficult for that child to see a parent—I am not convinced that it should always be the trump card, which is what section 55 has become. However bad the crime committed, so long as a foreign national can find a UK partner and have a UK nationality child, a reference to section 55 has come close to trumping all other considerations in the eyes of the courts. The article 8 stuff is good, but I am worried that section 55 will still be applied, even when the overall balance, including the public interest, would have individuals deported to their home country.

I congratulate the Home Secretary, the current and former Immigration Ministers and officials in the Home Office, because one thing about the Home Office is that it does respond to a lead. As we saw under the noble

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Lord Howard, when Ministers have a clear set of objectives and direction of travel, more often than not officials respond, and in many areas the Home Office has done good work that has not been properly sung. For instance, appeals are going a different way because of operating criminal nexus and because judges can now consider information from police short of a conviction. That has largely been upheld as proper and judges have allowed it, and some seriously bad people have left the country who would otherwise have stayed because of the excellent work by Ministers.

I think also of the work on the electoral roll. Previously, Commonwealth citizens would apply to be on the roll even though they had no immigration leave to be here, but now Ministers are insisting on immigration leave and the guidance to electoral registration officers has changed. Rather than people being able to refer to their being on the electoral roll as evidence of their legitimacy, we now have the proper checks and linkages. Those are just two examples, but an awful lot of unsung work goes on in the Home Office. I welcome that, as well as the Bill, which will assist us, at least, in bearing down on immigration, and I give credit to Ministers for their work.

5.32 pm

Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) (Lab): It is interesting that we started this debate by being reminded that the Home Secretary was busy distancing herself from the disgraceful ad vans. It is just unfortunate that she has applied the same school of politics to developing the Bill, which is absolutely from the ad van approach to tackling immigration. In her own words, she was trying in the Bill to create “a really hostile environment” for migrants, and not just illegal ones—before the Minister intervenes. The narrative surrounding the Bill is creating a hostile environment for all migrants and a toxic background for a sane debate about immigration.

Let us look at some of the provisions. I will not go into the detail on appeals, because many others have, but what sort of approach is this? The reason we have too many appeals is that too many initial decisions are wrong. The majority of entry clearance decisions are wrong. The appeals system is a safety valve. What approach is it to take away the safety valve, instead of dealing with the problem at the heart of it?

I find the stuff on landlords curious because I thought that this was the Government who had launched the red tape challenge. Where are we now on the red tape challenge? We are creating a needless bureaucracy for landlords who, in large numbers, have said they do not want it. Who will train our landlords to become immigration experts? Where are people to live while they wait for a decision from the Home Office? The Minister represents the party that proclaims itself to be the party of the family. What about the family waiting for mum’s spousal visa? Where will they set up home? According to the Bill, the landlord would breach the duty if he or she entered into an agreement to allow a disqualified person to occupy a property whether or not that person was named on the tenancy agreement. This is ill thought out, with very negative social consequences.

I want to concentrate on NHS charges and on the proposals to introduce a health surcharge for non-European economic area temporary migrants. This was proposed

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before today’s research was published on the actual cost of NHS use by visitors and temporary migrants. Sadly, it is too reflective of the non-evidence-based approach that the Government are adopting to this Bill; the prescription has been set out before the doctor has diagnosed the condition. We have some of the facts now, but there are question marks over some of the evidence in the report which I would like to share with the Minister.

The report says:

“We have reviewed the medical literature to try to find evidence of how visitors and migrants use healthcare compared to the host population…The findings suggest overall that recent migrants are less likely to use UK primary and secondary care services than UK born residents…At this time, as a starting point, we have therefore assumed in the model that migrant propensity to use NHS services is equivalent to the non-migrant population.”

What does that mean? It means, “we have found one thing but based all our modelling on something else to exaggerate the costs.”

Similarly the independent assessment says that the health surcharge will generate £230 million a year. But we understand that the level at which it will be set is £200. On the basis of information that I have received from the Library this afternoon, that will apply to 552,000 people. The cost would be £110 million a year, less than half the level suggested in the report.

The figure of £2 billion for the cost of visitor and migrant use of the NHS in England includes EU and EEA nationals of course, but it also includes workers who already pay national insurance contributions and taxes, and students, and I will come back to students in a moment. Whatever it is, it is not

“The true cost of health tourism”

as the Daily Mail described it today and as, I am sure, a number of Government Back Benches would characterise it in their contributions.

I go back to the Home Secretary’s opening remarks, where she talked about the cost of those who in the words of the research

“conceal the fact that they have come to the UK specifically to use NHS services that they are not entitled to access for free”.

The Home Secretary said that that cost was several hundred millions of pounds. I hope she will take the opportunity to correct the record because the report says that the cost is “very uncertain” but is estimated to be about £70 million within a range of £20 million to £100 million, or 0.06% of the NHS budget.

Of course there are already rules on charging people who are not ordinarily resident in the UK for using the NHS. The evidence on how the system is working is patchy, but the NHS appears to be recovering gross income of about £15 million to £25 million, less than 20% of the estimated chargeable costs. Add in the costs of administering the current system—estimated at over £15 million—and the current overseas visitor charging system may be generating a small profit, according to the Department of Health’s own assessment. Does the Home Secretary look to improve the current system? No, she introduces a new one without a full impact assessment of how much it will cost. This really is dog-whistle politics at its worst, building policy on prejudice rather than on facts and setting it in the context of a falsely constructed debate around health tourism.

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That is clearly illustrated by the fact that, according to the Office for National Statistics, the majority of the people who will be impacted by the health surcharge will be students. I was fortunate enough to host a breakfast seminar before the summer recess at which the guest speaker was a former higher education Minister in one of the Australian states. He said that he was delighted to be in the House of Commons because it gave him the opportunity to congratulate the Home Office on its work, which had led to a significant increase in the number of students choosing to study in Australia rather than in the UK.

Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab): My hon. Friend is making a powerful case. Does he agree that there is a danger that, by placing yet more strictures on potential international students, the Bill will send a signal that they are not welcome in the UK? This is such an important export industry for the UK, if I can put it like that, and it is important that the mood music—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order.

Paul Blomfield: I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. She is rightly highlighting the concern that has been expressed from both sides of the House in previous debates. UK higher education is a major export earner, contributing about £8 billion to the UK economy annually.

I remember an exchange with the Immigration Minister when he was newly appointed, at a meeting of the all-party parliamentary university group, in which he pointed out that we should be talking not only about the income that international students brought in but about the costs that were incurred, including the cost to the health service. I went back to Sheffield university and said that we needed to look into that issue. The university commissioned Oxford Economics to carry out the most rigorous assessment possible into the income involved and the costs for our city. That assessment did not just cover the NHS and education; it went to the nth degree, covering every conceivable cost including traffic congestion. It concluded that international students were worth about £120 million a year to the Sheffield economy in net terms, which probably equated to about 6,000 jobs. Measures such as those in the Bill will serve only to discourage students from coming to the UK.

The Minister will argue that the health surcharge will bring us into line with our major competitors, which require health insurance as a condition for obtaining a student visa, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham (Roberta Blackman-Woods) pointed out, it comes on the back of other changes introduced by the Home Office that have done huge damage to the competitive position of our universities. This will simply be seen as another signal that international students are not welcome in the UK.

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con): Is the hon. Gentleman not aware of the latest university entrance figures, which show that the number of foreign students applying to and getting into our top universities has actually increased this year?

Paul Blomfield: I am well aware of those figures. In general, the defence has been that the numbers were flatlining and that there has been a slight increase this

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year. There has, however, been a disturbing fall in numbers in certain areas, including taught postgraduate courses, and that is a problem. The point is not that there might be a slight increase; it is that we are losing market share. Higher education is a hugely growing sector of the international economy. The Government, through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, have estimated that the number of international students travelling around the world will have doubled by 2020. It is not good enough to be complacent about flatlining figures or about small increases, because they mean that we are losing market share.

Dr Huppert: The hon. Gentleman and I have discussed students’ concerns many times. Does he agree that a similar argument applies to the student visitor visa? Will he join me in opposing any proposal to clamp down on those arrangements, on the ground that it would also damage our colleges?

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. May I point out to the hon. Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) that quite a lot of Members are waiting to get in, including Dr Huppert? Perhaps if he takes fewer interventions, we might get to the hon. Gentleman.

Paul Blomfield: I will take that advice, Mr Deputy Speaker, and take no more interventions.

We need to look carefully at the student visitor route to see how much is displacement and exactly what is going on within those numbers.

My major concern, and that of our universities, is that we are losing market share as regards university students coming to the UK. The health surcharge obviously comes on top of a number of measures that the Government have introduced, and it is not just about the health surcharge. The universities are concerned about the provisions on landlords. They are worried, as other Members have been, about what will happen and that landlords—we know that 83% of them do not want these measures—will take the easy way out. We have seen the evidence in the reports over the past couple of weeks of letting agents in London who are discriminating against people on racial and ethnic grounds and on grounds of their appearance. The danger is that that will happen in this case and that international students, often leaving home to come and study here for the first time, will be discriminated against and will find an unwelcoming environment in this country.

The Bill is the kind of measure that brings politics into disrepute. It is gambling with our economy and our reputation just for a cheap headline. People deserve better.

5.46 pm

Mr James Clappison (Hertsmere) (Con): I declare an interest as a landlord, as set out in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

This has been a good debate with eloquent speeches from Members on both sides of the House, including excellent speeches from my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Nicholas Soames), my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Strood (Mark Reckless) and many others. Like my right hon. and hon. Friends, I welcome the Bill, which is—let it be said—the first

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major Immigration Bill of this Government and one that contains a number of sensible measures that I believe should have a beneficial effect.

I welcome the reforms to charge for national health service use, to deal with sham marriages and to reform article 8 as it relates to foreign criminals. I think that reform will strike a better balance with the public interest, for which I have called for a long time. It is worth pausing to remember that the people whose cases we are discussing have come to this country and have committed serious offences, sometimes really serious offences, which should call into question the public interest of allowing them to remain here.

I also welcome the measures that are designed to streamline the appeals system, as effective immigration control has, I believe, all too often been undermined by multiple appeals and procedures. To be fair to the previous Government, they made some well-intentioned efforts to reform the appeals system. In some cases, they made it less complex, but it remains a complex system. I can remember the expression “a one-stop shop for appeals” being bandied about under the previous Government. That was their aim, but they did not entirely fulfil it—although, to be fair to them, they did try. Some Labour Back Benchers would do well to remember that.

I welcome the fact that the Opposition are not opposing the Bill and will examine the measures in Committee. That is the proper approach to take. I would part company with the Opposition, however, on the question of net migration and effective immigration control. During the course of the debate, Opposition Members have made a big point about whether net migration has fallen by a third or a quarter, and have argued over the statistics. That shows a little brass neck, to say the least, given what happened to net migration under the previous Government. It increased from 50,000 to 250,000 per year over the lifetime of that Government. I would calculate that as a fivefold increase, yet now Labour is debating whether net migration has fallen by a quarter or a third while often opposing some of the measures needed to bring about that reduction.

I believe the issue should be an important objective of government and that we should have proper immigration control. I recognise the contribution of immigrants to society and their worth as individuals, and I believe that when they come to this country and are legally entitled to be here they should certainly be welcome. We must bear in mind, however, that demand to come to this country from less economically developed countries is almost unlimited. It is one of the major duties of a Government to impose proper immigration control in the light of that demand, which our constituents know about and can see reflected in news stories and developments in other parts of the world.

As the demand to come to this country is almost unlimited, to keep our quality of life we must have regard to population growth and population density. Immigration is a major driver of population. Our population is 62 million, and to keep it below 70 million net migration must be carefully controlled, and certainly brought down from 250,000, which is what it was at the end of the previous Government’s time in office. Otherwise the population increase—5 million, as has been said, would be due to migration—would produce a population

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of 70 million, which is equal to the populations of Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield, Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Oxford added together, and accommodation would have to be made for that.

On the Opposition’s policy, I was not encouraged by the response from the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) to my question about whether the Labour party would have a target for net migration. The Opposition draw attention to the fact that we cannot control all the factors that relate to net migration. Of course we cannot control how many people choose to leave the country, but that does not mean that we should not control those factors that we can control, including the number of people who are permitted to enter the country. If we give way to the demand for lots of people to come to this country, net migration will run much higher than the figure to which it has been brought down by the Government.

I am not encouraged by the policy on migration adopted by the Leader of the Opposition. In his first foray into that policy area, he told readers of the Sunday Mirror that he wanted a new policy on migration linking foreign workers to apprenticeships. He said:

“We think that can create up to 125,000 new apprenticeships over the course of five years. And that is a massive boost in skills of our young people and that is really important.”

No doubt it is: many of us would say that that is something that we should do anyway without linking it to migration. The right hon. Gentleman also made the point that he wanted to link every one of those apprenticeships to the admission of a foreign worker into this country, which means 125,000 extra people, as well as their dependants, as it is the custom to admit dependants with foreign workers who are allowed into this country for work.

With other things being equal, and without any change in policy in other directions by the Opposition—there has certainly been no indication that there will be a reduction to compensate for this in other migration flows—over the lifetime of a Parliament we would see an increase of 125,000-plus in net migration, or 40,000 a year, which would go a considerable way towards doing away with the reduction achieved by the Government. That puts into context the Opposition’s quibbling about whether net migration has fallen by a quarter or a third. If he has time, I invite the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), who speaks knowledgeably on these matters, to confirm that that is the Labour party’s policy, and that 125,000 foreign workers would be admitted in line with the 125,000 increase in apprenticeships. Will he confirm that in addition to those foreign workers, their dependants would be admitted, and will he provide an estimate of how much extra net migration would result? In my calculation, that would produce at best some several hundred thousand net migrants over the course of a Parliament.

We need a much more serious approach to the question of migration control. I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends on their approach. This is something that is important to our constituents—certainly to my constituents—as we do not want to live in a grossly overcrowded country, with all the consequences that would flow from an increase in population to upwards of 70 million as a result of the policies that have been outlined by the Opposition. This is an important subject. I commend my right hon. and hon. Friends for their

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approach. “Firm but fair” is an expression used by the Opposition. I believe that this is a coalition Government with a firm but fair immigration policy, and I exhort my right hon. and hon. Friends to stick with it.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Jeremy Corbyn.

5.53 pm

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker—at last I can make my contribution.

I want to begin by complimenting a number of hon. Members on their absolutely excellent speeches, especially the hon. Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), who brought an amazing level of humanity and intelligence to the debate; my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), as well as my good friends, the hon. Members for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) and for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott); and my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander), whom I congratulate on the way in which she made the case on housing and the contribution that migrant communities make to this country.

We are debating the Bill at amazing speed. The programme motion is ludicrous, and the lack of any pre-legislative scrutiny whatsoever is breathtaking. It seems to me a negation of our duty as parliamentarians not to have the proper opportunity to examine the Bill—but then, of course, we never were going to be able to examine this Bill, because it is all about dog-whistle politics and appealing to a particularly low common denominator now being promoted by the Daily Mail and other newspapers.

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Jeremy Corbyn: No. I am going to make my speech.

I would like the House to consider for a moment the general narrative that is current in this country and across Europe—a narrative condemning people who are migrants and condemning people who try to survive in Europe, and at the same time expressing deep concern when 200 were drowned off the coast of Italy in the tragedy of Lampedusa, along with the 20,000 others who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in the past 20 years, as well as those who have drowned trying to get to the Canary islands or to Greece. Yes, some of those were economic migrants and some were asylum seekers. Yes, some were trying to escape from human rights abuses in Eritrea, Sudan and many other countries, and we express concern at what happened.

We need to think about why people seek to move in order to survive. Do not we, as a powerful industrial country, have some responsibility not just for the economic situation that this country faces but, through our contributions to the European Union, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation, and to the general agreement on tariffs and to trade and other organisations, for the sense of economic imbalance around the world?

We should be a little more sanguine about immigration and emigration. During the 1950s and 1960s, which, it is always apocryphally told, were a time of mass migration into Britain, the figures show—they are helpfully put together in the House of Commons Library briefing—net

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migration from Britain during the whole of that period. A very large number of British people went to live elsewhere and made their contributions and their lives in other countries. They did it for economic reasons and sent money home. Indeed, at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, there was a regular migration of more than 100,000 people a year from Britain, mainly to the United States, Canada and Australia, but to other places as well. Migration—

Andrew Bridgen: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Jeremy Corbyn: No, I am not giving way.

Migration is something that people do to try to survive. We should think about that for a moment. We should also for another moment—I take the point that was made so well by my Friend the Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington—have some respect for the enormous contribution to the economy of this country that has been made by people who migrated here. Had there not been migration from the Caribbean, south Asia, Ireland, central Africa and many other parts of the world into this country over the past 50 years or so, what kind of health service would we have? What kind of education system would we have? What kind of industrial base would we have? What kind of society would we be? Would London have been the multicultural capital of the world hosting the Olympics? I think not. We would be a much poorer, much less relevant society and a much less relevant country. We need to think about the contribution that has been made and respect people for it.

Members on the Government Benches got very angry when my Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington was telling it like it is about the treatment of people in detention centres, the powers of arrest that the Bill gives to immigration officers, and the circumstances in which some people are removed from this country by force. I have met the family of Jimmy Mubenga, who died when he was forced to leave this country. I remember many years ago, shortly after I had been elected to this House, telling the House about a young Kurdish man called Shiho Iyguven, who was threatened with removal to Turkey and took his own life in a detention centre. His son, who was a tiny baby at the time, came to see me and asked, “What was dad like?” All I could say was, “Unfortunately, he was told he was going to be deported and in desperation he took his own life out of fear.”

We are taking some serious measures here today. I intervened earlier on one of my colleagues about the behaviour of the immigration service in carrying out the stop-and-search policy, which my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington talked about, making Conservative Members so very angry. Imagine a dispassionate, observant visitor to London who happened upon a tube station in Wembley or in the east end, or anywhere where there is a substantially multi-cultural population, seeing non-uniformed people go up to somebody, show a badge of authority and start asking about their immigration status, and when they start protesting seeing the police arrive and say they have to answer the questions. What would such a visitor on holiday in London think if they saw that going on? I am sorry to say that that is exactly the direction that the Bill takes us in.

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The Conservative party are very concerned, and have been as long as I can remember, about the European convention on human rights and the European Court of Human Rights. They are an obsession with them. Never mind that the convention was written by a Tory lawyer and introduced in 1950 and has done a great deal to give people a benchmark of human rights throughout the member states of the Council of Europe. They want to say that article 8, the right to family life, somehow undermines the British way of life. So we have this curious clause 14, which talks about public interest considerations in respect of article 8 of the European convention on human rights. It is strangely written because much of it consists of assertions of the wishes of the Government of the day; they are not requirements but a series of assertions. It is only when one gets well into the clause that one finds specific requirements.

The clause seeks to guide immigration judges in the direction of minimising the question of family life, and because of the way in which it deals with children in family life, it will often be damaging to the interests of children who happen to have parents who may be applying for the right to remain in this country. I hope that in Committee there will be a serious examination of the whole question of article 8, and that when the Bill eventually reaches the House of Lords it will be able to do something more useful, such as protecting the rights of all of us by asserting the necessity of us remaining within the European convention on human rights, and therefore enjoying the protection of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. I know that Conservative Members are obsessed with the idea that we must withdraw from the ECHR, but it is a treaty obligation. Once we withdraw from a treaty, we are sending out the message that everyone else can do the same. Where then is the benchmark that we claim for ourselves of justice in society?

Like many others who have spoken in the debate, I deal with a large number of immigration cases—asylum seekers, family reunion cases, student visas. People come to my office and we do our best for them within the rules and try to get answers to their questions. I have no great problem with many of the civil servants who work in the Home Office, and I pay tribute to the many who work extremely hard, particularly those who are not particularly well paid, but they have a mammoth task. In 2008, I remember showing someone who came into my office a letter saying that legacy cases would all be resolved by mid-summer 2011. He duly came back in mid-summer 2011, queued up for my advice bureau for three hours, came in, put the letter down in front of me and said, “There, Mr Corbyn. It’s now mid-summer 2011,” which it absolutely was. It was June—you can’t get more mid-summer than that. I duly wrote to the Home Office asking when he would get a response, and I was told, “Maybe two years.”

People’s lives are on hold for year after year. They cannot travel, possibly cannot work or study and cannot make a living for themselves. They are in insecure accommodation and have an insecure future. What kind of life is that to thrust on anybody? It is an uncertain situation in which to bring up children. I ask the Minister to bring a sense of efficiency to the Home Office in dealing with long-term cases, which bring people great misery and difficulties.

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I shall join my colleagues in voting against the Bill tonight, partly because of the details that it contains on education, housing, some aspects of health and so on, but also because of the atmosphere that it will create and the message that it will send at this particular time. Let us start with a sense of humanity. Every case is a human story, and every human story has its ups and downs, its triumphs and tragedies. Instead we have dog-whistle politics, the mantras being that every immigrant is an illegal immigrant who must somehow be condemned and that immigration is the cause of all the problems in our society.

A shortage of housing can be dealt with by building houses—it kind of helps. The two things go together. Recognising people’s skills and their ability to contribute to our society helps us all. If we descend into a UKIP-generated xenophobic campaign, it weakens and demeans all of us and our society, and we are all the losers for that.

6.6 pm

Henry Smith (Crawley) (Con): I wholeheartedly support the whole Bill, but I wish particularly to address my remarks to chapter 2 of part 3, which deals with the impact on the national health service of the cost of treating foreign nationals.

Last year, I had the privilege of introducing a private Member’s Bill, the NHS Audit Requirements (Foreign Nationals) Bill. I am delighted that most of the measures that were pursued in that Bill have found their way into the Government’s Immigration Bill. In preparing my private Member’s Bill, I sent out Freedom of Information Act requests to all NHS health trusts—more than 400 requests—asking what the impact on their finances was of treating overseas visitors. I received replies from less than a quarter of trusts, and those from which I did receive replies gave haphazard information. Some recorded the treatment of foreign nationals in ways that did not comply with Department of Health guidelines. That shows that our understanding of the scale of the issue is at best limited and, in many parts of the country, virtually non-existent.

There are wide-ranging estimates of the cost of treating overseas visitors on the national health service. At the very lowest end, a figure of some £200 million is often quoted. Interestingly, the European Commission quotes a figure of £1.5 billion, and the Government quote the rather modest figure of some £500 million, which was arrived at through the Department of Health’s independent study. Of that £500 million, £388 million is identified as being spent on the treatment of foreign nationals who would otherwise not be entitled to free NHS care, and those costs should be recovered. The figure for the treatment of those who come to this country specifically for NHS treatment, which is commonly known as health tourism, ranges anywhere between £70 million and £300 million. The scale of the impact on the NHS budget, and therefore on the British taxpayer, is quite significant.

I do not think that anybody in this House would claim that those in need of medical attention should be denied it. Indeed, many people come to this country to receive the innovative and first-class health care our health system provides, and that is absolutely right. However, it is not right that the British taxpayer should

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have to pick up the charges for treating people who should be paying through reciprocal arrangements with other countries or through their own medical insurance.

Pamela Nash: On what evidence are the hon. Gentleman’s figures for health tourism based?

Henry Smith: They are from an independent assessment commissioned by the Department of Health. As I mentioned, I have tried to get information through FOI requests, and the figures from those trusts that hold statistics are quite staggering, but more than three quarters were unable to provide any figures at all, which suggests that the scale of the problem is probably larger than the Department recognises.

Fiona Mactaggart: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Henry Smith: I need to make progress and other right hon. and hon. Members are yet to speak, so I will not give way.

It is estimated that if we could recover just three quarters of the money spent treating foreign nationals on the NHS, through insurance or reciprocal arrangements such as the European insurance health card scheme, that would be the equivalent of being able to employ an additional 4,000 doctors or 8,500 nurses, so the scale of the issue is quite acute. This is a point of fairness, both to the British taxpayer and to the patients using the health service, whether residents of this country or people visiting it, and it is one that I think this House has taken too long to address properly. That is why I very much support the provisions of the Bill and look forward to its swift passage through the House.

6.12 pm

Mr Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) (Con): I congratulate the Home Secretary and the Minister for Immigration and fully support the objectives of this important Bill. Britain must of course remain an outward-looking nation in the 21st century, but the British people do not want to become a soft touch for those arriving who are not capable of contributing and who are dependent on the state rather than self-reliant. We should enforce the law to prevent and deter illegal immigration and discourage benefit tourism, and we most certainly should remove those who commit serious crimes and abuse their right to be here.

Public confidence in the ability of the political class to grapple with the concerns over immigration is itself a major issue. I listened carefully to many Members who spoke this afternoon, including the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), who is no longer in the Chamber. He drew a moral equivalence between the Bill and apartheid. I want to put on the record how offensive I find that, and I say that as the son of someone who fled the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. To draw that kind of moral equivalence is utterly offensive and repugnant and shows how out of touch, albeit with legitimate intentions and objectives, he and some other Opposition Members have become.

Failing to address immigration is the irresponsible thing to do. Having worked on war crimes and as a diplomat in Europe, and having seen the rise of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Jean-Marie Le Pen in France

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and Jörg Haider in Austria, I know that that is what happens when the political elite bury their heads in the sand. That is the real fertile ground for extremist politics. Of course, the weaknesses in the current system make life harder for those we want to welcome, of whom there are many. So let us ensure that this Bill does what it says on the tin; otherwise we risk exacerbating the public concern that is the real fertile ground for extremist politics.

For all the outrage among Labour Members, I recall the speech by the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) in 2007 at the Labour party conference, where he bellowed:

“let me be clear any newcomer to Britain who is caught selling drugs or using guns will be thrown out.”

With support from Labour Members, he passed the UK Borders Act 2007, which made deportation mandatory for foreign criminals jailed for at least a year—or at least that was the theory. But he paralysed his own legislation and broke his promise by inserting a catch-all human rights clause that led to the perverse results in the system that we see today. I know that the Home Secretary will be mindful of making sure that this time those of us on the Government Benches deliver on what we promise.

With that in mind, I want to focus on part 2, particularly the non-suspensive appeals procedure and the provisions on article 8 appeals. This is not some technical, legalistic issue; it affects real lives. In my constituency, a local waiter called Bishal Gurung was killed in a vicious attack, and the perpetrator, Rocky Gurung—no relation—was convicted of manslaughter. He evaded deportation to Nepal by claiming his right to family life, even though he is a single adult with no dependants. We are not talking about returning people who might face torture or real threat to life or limb on their return home—I certainly would not support that—but about serious criminals convicted and jailed here who evade removal on the basis of family and social ties that are often loose, if not outright artificial. Such cases, which are happening on some scale, warp the moral balance of the British justice system, endanger the public, and make “human rights” dirty words for many people, and that is a shame.

Cases such as the one in my constituency are not isolated. When I submitted a freedom of information request in 2010, it was disclosed that successful article 8 challenges by foreign national criminals were running at a rate of just under 400 per year—61% of all successful challenges. When I re-submitted the request in 2012, I found that the rate was 188 per year, but that that was 89% of all successful challenges. This is not about a few minor episodes or a few cases here and there reported by the tabloid media; it is a major issue.

The problem of violent, sexual and other offenders pleading article 8 to scupper deportation arises because of the rights inflation that has taken place in Strasbourg and here in the UK under the Human Rights Act 1998. In recent years, the European Court in Strasbourg has inflated the grounds for challenging deportation orders, adding tier upon tier of legal excuses which hamstring the effective operation of our border controls. Encouraged by the Human Rights Act, the UK courts have gone further still in stretching the application of article 8, so we cannot just blame Europe. It is not wholly a European issue, but it is at least partly a home-grown problem.

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In June 2012, the Home Secretary sought to address the problem by changing the immigration rules, but because it was only a rule change under section 4 of the Human Rights Act, it has not been upheld by our courts. In the Izuazu case, Mr Justice Blake rather pointedly stated:

“Whilst it is open to Parliament to change the law by primary legislation unless and until it does so these decisions are binding...and will be followed”.

I am afraid to say that I warned that, because of the way in which Human Rights Act works, the rule change alone would not be enough to stop these spurious challenges. The Act requires UK courts to read down regulations inconsistent with the Strasbourg case law or the UK’s own interpretation of the convention.

We are where we are, but we should now strain every sinew to make sure we deliver on the rebalancing of the law that we so sorely need. My fear this time around is that simply spelling out the public interest considerations in favour of deportation in article 8 cases will not achieve that aim. It leaves a very wide margin of discretion for the courts to consider, decide and balance the various competing factors for and against deportation. Under section 3 of the Human Rights Act, the provisions have to be interpreted and the balancing exercise conducted in way that is compatible with the convention, which will itself be based on the existing case law stretched by the UK courts.

The risk is that little will change in practice. In my view, it would have been better to cut out all the article 8 challenges by foreign criminals sentenced to 12 months or more—the very serious offenders. That would fit the original intention of paragraph 2 of article 8 of the European convention, and such a mandatory clause could not be trumped by article 8 because of the way in which section 3(1) of the HRA works. It states that primary legislation has an overriding effect, but only when it is impossible to read it down in a way that makes it compatible with human rights law. We will have to look at that in Committee.

The second key issue in part 2 is raised by appeal clauses 11 to 13, which aim to reduce the number of appeal decisions in order to avoid the process being strung out at great expense to the taxpayer. They also seek to allow appeals to be lodged without suspending the deportation process, so they will be heard when the appellant has already been returned, unless—this is an important caveat—removal would cause serious and irreversible harm.

I wholeheartedly support that common-sense principle, but I would be interested to hear the Minister explain how it will work in practice. What is to stop an appeal direct to Strasbourg—over the UK courts—that may result in a rule 39 indication calling on the Home Office to suspend deportation pending appeal to Europe?

For these clauses to be effective, we would need the Government to be willing to reject those rule 39 indications, which used to be treated as recommendations only, rather than as binding orders. However, as became clear during the Abu Qatada case and our debate on the Crime and Courts Bill earlier this year, the Government treat rule 39 indications from Strasbourg as binding. Will that change? If not, what is to stop these clauses being thwarted by Strasbourg?

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I have taken advice from counsel on both of my points—on article 8 and on non-suspensive appeals—and it has tended to reinforce my fear that the Government’s laudable attempts to rebalance the deportation regime risk being unpicked. I would be interested to hear the Minister’s response to that.

Will this Bill really do what it says? Subject to the Minister’s reply, I will consider—my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Strood (Mark Reckless) has mentioned this—re-tabling my amendment to the deportation regime, which would solve the problem and which carried broad cross-party support during the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, although we were timed out by the Leveson debate.

It is critical that we give proper effect to the laudable aims of the Bill. I praise Ministers to the hilt for diagnosing and focusing on the right issues, but we have to make sure we deliver, both to rebalance our deportation regime in favour of the public interest in removing serious criminals, and to ensure that public trust is not yet again frayed by another promise of reform that is not in fact delivered.

6.22 pm

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): I will try to fit my comments into the time available.

This country benefits substantially from immigration. We benefit economically and culturally. We are net improved by immigration, which has taken place for many hundreds of years. Are there, however, problems with illegal immigration? Yes, absolutely, and we should deal with many of them, including people who are being trafficked and held in quasi-slavery conditions.

I want an immigration system that knows what is happening in this country and knows who has come in and who has left. We need to bring back exit checks so that we know who is in and who is out. We need a system where decisions are made quickly and correctly, rather than one with the current problems. That is what I think the Minister ought to focus on, and we debated it this morning in Westminster Hall.

The Bill deals with a different set of issues. It is a shame that there was no pre-legislative scrutiny, because we could have fleshed out a lot of the details and come to understand the proposals. It is clear from today’s debate that not everybody, and I include myself, understands the details of much that is being proposed. There is still a lot to understand and that is a problem. We need the system to work properly, but that must not be at the expense of a system that is fair.

The Bill definitely has some good bits. For example, our dealing with dodgy immigration advisers will be welcomed by anybody who has repeatedly to deal with constituents affected by the issue. I am, however, concerned about certain other things. Effectively abolishing application for immigration bail is of particular concern, especially when the Home Office does not seem to have any evidence that it is a specific problem that needs to be addressed.

I continue to be very concerned, like other hon. Members, about the end of appeals. That could be dangerous when we are not making the right decisions. When we are getting the decisions right, we can look at how we can stop people prolonging the process, but when so many appeals are successful, it shows that there

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are problems. If we remove people before they have made their appeal, how can we be sure that we will hear the appeal properly? If somebody has been wronged, will there be a chance for them to present their case within a reasonable period of time? We have also heard about the needs of children in the UK who have been separated from their parents through deportation.

I do not think that the landlord proposal is a good idea. Indeed, I think that it is a profoundly bad idea. I am pleased that rather than it being implemented everywhere, there will be only one pilot in one location to test it. I am confident that it will fail the test, as did the vans, which I am pleased have been abandoned. If it proves not to be a good idea, we will be able to vote to ensure that it does not go ahead anywhere else. I am very pleased about that.

I am concerned about how workable the landlord proposal will be. I am concerned that it will take 48 hours for the Home Office to verify somebody’s status. I wish that it was always that fast when I ask it something. In many areas, that will be too long and landlords will not take the risk of renting to somebody who cannot prove their status on the spot. If we are to implement the proposal, the Home Office has to find an easy and clear way for people to show that they have the correct status. That must also apply to British citizens who do not have a passport. Otherwise, we will drive people into the hands of exploitative rogue landlords. This matter must be subject to the affirmative procedure so that we can be absolutely sure that we will get a vote.

On the health care proposals, visitors who are here to stay with their family or on business are already expected to pay for their health care if they go into hospital, however much it may cost. However, as we have heard, they do not always do so. The concept that paying £200 will get people free access to health care is something that one can imagine marketing overseas: “Come to Britain and get free health care for £200”. The US would never offer a deal like that.

There are many questions to which we need answers. What will that £200 cover? Will people get complete cover for that amount? Will people who stay here for year after year and who work here, pay their taxes and pay their national insurance have to pay £200 a year on top of everything that they already pay? I am pleased that there is a slight discount for students, but currently they do not pay anything towards their health care. I hope that the Minister will look carefully at that issue and, at the very least, offer a larger reduction.

Various comments have been made by Members on both sides of the Chamber about the benefits that we receive from our higher education and further education sectors. English language schools are a big employer in my area and in many others. I am pleased that the Government have clamped down on bogus colleges. None of us wants to make it easy for people who are actively cheating the system to get away with it. However, further restrictions will be even more damaging and will send a message to the rest of the world that we are closed for business.

I was therefore horrified earlier today when the shadow Home Secretary called for stronger checks on short-term student visitor visas, with no serious evidence that they are a massive problem. I contacted one of the English

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language schools in my constituency, Studio Cambridge. Its managing director, Malcolm Mottram, said in response to the shadow Home Secretary’s comments that

“any further visa restrictions will be seen as Britain closing its doors—even to the brightest and the best—even more tightly.”

I urge the Opposition not to progress that policy any further because I do not want my constituents to be damaged in that way. People are already being driven overseas to Ireland, the US, Australia and South Africa. Please do not make it any worse.

There are areas where I think the Bill should go further. I would like to see a system that ensures that we get decisions right the first time. That is the key that would unlock this whole problem. However, that is probably not something that can be written into a clause and slid into the Bill.

I would like a commitment to end the routine detention of children for immigration purposes to be written into the Bill. It is a disgrace that the last Government held thousands of young people. We have stopped that and we should ensure that that legacy continues by writing it into the law so that it never happens again.

I hope that the Minister will consider two other matters. First, people whose children do not share their surname often have to produce a huge amount of paperwork, including birth and marriage certificates, when they come into the country to show that they are allowed to travel with their child. That is a huge burden and I hope that the Minister will consider the options. Legislation may be required so that children’s passports are updated to include the names of the people with whom they may travel. That would make a big difference to a particular set of people and would allow immigration officers to focus on the real problems.

Lastly, as the Minister and I have discussed on a number of occasions, we could finally close a number of loopholes left in the law by the previous Government. In particular, some children born to unmarried British fathers before 2006 are deprived of citizenship. They would be allowed citizenship if their fathers had been married or if they had been born after 2006, so this is a clear anomaly and I think the Minister accepts that. His predecessor certainly did, and the Bill could be used as a vehicle to correct it. It seems that the Bill will receive a Second Reading, so I look forward to its being examined in Committee and substantially improved.

6.30 pm

Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to make a short contribution.

One way in which I have found the debate disappointing is that I had thought we had moved on and divorced the question of race from the question of immigration. There were a number of contributions from Opposition Members that seemed not to have moved on at all, in particular those from the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) and the hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott). It is a great shame that we continue to have a debate about immigration in which race plays such a large part. My hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Strood (Mark Reckless) gave good reasons why race is no longer tied to immigration, and it is immigration we are talking about today, in particular unlawful or illegal immigration. We should be discussing that and nothing else.

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Mark Reckless: I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for his comment. I wonder if I might distinguish the remarks by the right hon. Member for Tottenham to the extent that he referred to a bricklayer he had met. He told a story that I thought at least showed that he began to understand that what was leading to the loss of votes for Labour was economic competition, which the bricklayer faced, rather than race.

Stephen Phillips: I am grateful for that intervention, and I am sure that when the right hon. Member for Tottenham has finished his private conversation, he will read it in Hansard in due course.

The hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington referred to the 1905 royal commission on alien immigration. During the course of that commission, as she will know, one of the larger pieces of evidence was given by the then Member for Stepney, Major Evans Gordon. He had written a book two years before the royal commission, and in the preface he wrote:

“The Alien Immigrant has been the subject of prolonged and bitter controversy, in which both sides have been guilty of some exaggeration. On the one hand, there are those who uphold the newcomers as an unmixed advantage in this country; on the other, there are many who denounce their advent as an unmitigated evil.”

I have to say to Opposition Members that that is a debate from which we have moved on. There is no doubt, in 2013, that we have welcomed those who have come to this country to benefit the United Kingdom, and that we have always welcomed those who have had to come here as a result of threats to their health and safety because of events in their home countries.

It is impossible to be a constituency MP in 2013 without those we represent, on whichever side of the House we sit, talking extensively about immigration. They do so because of the damning record of the previous Government, who effectively had open borders and let 3 million people into this country. Three times as many people entered this country between 1997 and 2010 as came here between the Conquest and 1950. [Interruption.] If Opposition Members would stop shouting and actually listen to me and their constituents, they would learn why this is such an important issue. It is so important because of the pressure it has put on public services and because of the way the people of this country have reacted to that open border immigration policy, which has resulted in much of the tolerance for which this country is famed going out of the window. [Interruption.]

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): I am sure the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) did not mean that and will withdraw the comment.

Fiona Mactaggart: I apologise to you and the House.

Mr Deputy Speaker: But you do withdraw it?

Fiona Mactaggart: Of course I do, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Stephen Phillips: The hon. Lady has a reputation for robust debate. I did not hear what she said, but I am grateful—[Interruption.] I will not ask her to repeat it. Indeed, it is quite unusual in this House not to hear what she has to say from a sedentary position. Be that as it may, when the Government took office in 2010,

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immigration was an issue that we all knew—having fought the general election—needed to be tackled. The Government have in part attempted to tackle it through secondary legislation, but not always effectively, as my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) pointed out. It was therefore clear to many Members—certainly Conservative Members—that primary legislation was needed, and it is to be greatly welcomed that the Government have brought forward this Bill to attempt to deal with many of the problems that the broken immigration system we inherited suffers from.

What are the problems and how can they be described? There are two principal problems. The first is the complexity of the regime and the lucrative industry that has grown up among immigration practitioners, which makes a mockery of both common sense and the law. Most importantly, that has resulted in constituents of Members from across the House paying large fees to achieve precisely nothing in terms of immigration advice. The second problem is that in the minds of many people overseas, this country has become a soft touch and an easy immigration route into the European Union. Even worse, it has become that in the minds of its own citizens —the very people who sent us here to represent their interests. Those of us who have pushed the Government in this area know that those issues must be tackled, which is what the Home Secretary and her team intend to do with this excellent Bill.

I will turn briefly to the Bill, but before that—if I may in the time available, Mr Deputy Speaker—I will make a few other comments. As I have said, tough action was necessary and I am pleased that we are seeing that in the Bill. Of course we want to welcome the brightest and best people to this country—we should always recognise that—and we want all that they offer to our economy and society. We want to recognise the contribution of many of those who have come here in the past and who run our NHS, as the hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington observed, and other public services, and who have given so much to this country. It is interesting, however—we did not hear this point from the hon. Lady or any Opposition Member—that it is those who have come to this country during the past 30 years who most resent the open-door immigration policy pursued by the previous Government. That policy saw a number of people come into this country that was equivalent to the population of a major city such as Birmingham.

What does the Bill do and what must we welcome? The Opposition seem to welcome it since, as I understand it, they are not going to divide the House on Second Reading. First, we all know that the appeal system is not only abused but is broken and not fit for purpose. Unmeritorious appeals are used to delay, obfuscate and prevent that which common sense decrees, where people are here unlawfully. All the provisions in the Bill are therefore to be welcomed.

Why on earth—before the Home Secretary rose to explain I suspect few of us knew this—do we currently have a system in which decisions on immigration status and removal are made separately? Are we really so stupid that we think those who come here illegally will always voluntarily leave without a removal decision? If we have been so foolish in the past, thank goodness we are no longer.

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Why did the previous Government countenance a system that permitted bail to be applied for again and again by those to be deported, so that they could abscond? Why are abusive bail applications made day in, day out, which tie up immigration judges, and as a result lead to long periods during which those who have legitimate rights of appeal are denied a hearing in court? What on earth—I will not echo all the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton—were the courts doing in the past in interpreting article 8 of the European convention on human rights in a way that made a mockery of common sense and immigration policy, as enshrined in law and passed by this House? This is a good Bill. It is necessary, as those on the Opposition Front Benches recognise, and has certainly not been brought forward in haste. If the House divides I will vote to give the Bill a Second Reading. I hope that all right hon. and hon. Members, wherever in the House they sit, will do the same.

6.39 pm

Mr David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab): As usual, we have a had a wide-ranging and thoughtful debate on a serious and complex issue. Even in this complex and differential issue, there are areas of agreement. We agree that the immigration system should work well, and that it has not done so and does not do so now. My hon. Friends the Members for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) and for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) mentioned that, as did the right hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes).

We accept that we need effective border checks to stop illegal immigrants from entering at source—Members on both sides of the House agree on that. We need to identify overstayers and take action in the interests of the whole country. As the hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) has said, we need to ensure that we deport at the end of their sentences foreign-based prisoners who have committed offences.

I recognise that there is a benefit to immigration, as does the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) and, in part, the hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips). Hon. Members spoke of the benefits of tourism. The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), my hon. Friend the Member for Islington North, and even—dare I say it?—the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Nicholas Soames), said that there has been and is a need to bring skills to help create wealth in this country. We need to ensure we maximise the wealth genuine students can bring, as the hon. Member for Cambridge has said. We also need to maximise the good will they feel about the UK when they leave.

I was struck by the excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander), who spoke of the cultural benefits and pointed to the strong support in her community for many cultural changes.

Hon. Members even appear to agree on—dare I say it?—ad vans. I want to put on record my thanks to the Minister of State, Home Department, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), for his strong intervention in the past 48 hours. According to the Evening Standard, it was the Liberals what did it. I would be grateful for confirmation of that in due course.

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Nicholas Soames: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it was extraordinary that the shadow Home Secretary devoted the greater part of her speech to a discussion about an advertising van? Is that matter so profoundly important to the interests of this country?

Mr Hanson: I have a lot of respect for the right hon. Gentleman, but if he reads the record, he will see that my right hon. Friend devoted the bulk of her speech to positive measures, which I will talk about at the end of my speech.

We need to deal with this complex issue in a measured way. We do not need to ramp up the rhetoric—I was struck by the contribution of the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) to that effect. No one is saying that immigration is easy. It was complex for Labour in government and mistakes were made. It will be complex for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in government. However, when I look at the Bill, I ask whether it achieves any worthy objectives, and whether it develops and deals with the concerns of the EU, which were mentioned by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) because of the pressures he faces in his constituency. Does it deal with the problem in a way that does not increase tensions, which Labour Members mentioned? That is what we need to test in detail when we deal with the Bill in Committee.

Let us look at the Bill in detail. Part 1 deals with removals. The Opposition have supported that principle and will support it again, so I do not wish to deal with it now, but part 2 has generated the most discussion in the House today. My hon. Friends the Members for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), for Lewisham East, for Sheffield Central, for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) and for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), and the hon. Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), made extremely valid points on the implications of part 2. I happen to believe—the Opposition will test this in Committee—that the right of appeal is a fundamental tenet of British values. We need to deal in Committee with the fact that we are removing it—[Interruption.] The Home Secretary says we are not removing the right of appeal. We are giving the right of administrative review, but we are not currently giving a right of appeal. If that is so important for the Home Secretary, I should tell her, as Opposition Members have, that approximately 50% of appeals are currently successful. If part 2 stands as drafted, without clarity of examination, detailed discussion and the real concerns of my hon. Friends being reflected by Members in the Committee, what will happen to the 50% whose appeals are currently upheld? It suggests that they will no longer be upheld. That is an issue that we want to look at in detail in Committee to ensure that the provisions will work effectively, but we will also want to return to the real concerns expressed by my hon. Friends.