Immigration Bill

Supplementary written evidence submitted by Lord Green of Deddington K.C.M.G., Chair of Migration Watch UK (IB 30)

I am grateful for the opportunity to provide evidence to your Committee on 20 October. I write now, as requested, to provide answers to the two questions for which there was no time.

Migration Watch accept that prosecutions against illegal workers are possible under various provisions of the law, but we believe that there is psychological advantage in making illegal work itself a criminal offence. At present, there is an impression that it is much easier to work illegally in Britain than elsewhere, as the Mayor of Calais has recently pointed out.

As regards to the treatment of failed asylum seekers with children, we are clear that they have no right to remain in the UK and should leave but, where children are involved, we believe that the process should take this into account.

As for the motivation of asylum seekers, we believe that some may be driven solely by practicality but others clearly have other factors in mind – for example, the existence of a community, a language that they speak, employment opportunities, etc. Again, evidence from the Mayor of Calais to the Home Affairs Committee showed that many asylum seekers in Calais are equipped with knowledge of life in the UK.

I attach a fuller note on these points.

Finally, two members commented that my use of the term "these people" was disparaging but they were unable to describe the context. It was as follows:

"Our view is that it simply has to be an offence to work illegally in this country. I cannot see how it can be otherwise. For starters, these people are unquestionably undermining the wages of British workers or immigrant workers…..."

I can see no difficulty about using this term in this context.

Yours sincerely

A F Green

Chairman, Migrationwatch UK


Part 1 Clause 8 – Offence of Illegal Working

Mr Starmer raised the issue of whether there was a requirement for an offence of illegal working in order to proceed with prosecutions against those working illegally in the UK.

It is an offence to enter the country illegally, and to overstay a visa under Section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971. Therefore, if someone subject to immigration control does not have valid leave to remain they are already committing an offence if they are found to be working. If a student with leave to remain but without the right to work is found working they are already breaking the law under the same Act by failing to observe a condition of their leave.

However, the key point is that there is a perception that it is far easier to work in the United Kingdom than elsewhere in Europe, notably France, as an illegal immigrant This perception must be addressed. The British Red Cross and the Mayor of Calais believe that illegal immigrants in Calais attempting to cross the Channel to get to the UK do so in the belief that it is far easier to find work in the black economy. [1] Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Committee in September 2015, Natacha Bouchart, the Mayor of Calais said: ‘We have also heard a lot that there is a lack of regulation about combating illegal employment practices in this country. The migrants say that when they get to England they can easily find work here, "We are not supervised; we are not controlled and we can find accommodation. We can have some kind of benefit every week"’. [2]

An offence of working without leave to remain or without the permission to work could have a psychological effect; it shows that the UK is not a place that tolerates illegal working and that the UK is not a ‘soft touch’.

Enforcement action in addressing this perception is, of course, critical but we believe that the approach should be two fold.

Part 5 Clause 34 – Support for Certain Categories of Migrant

Mr Hoare questioned the logic of suggesting that in cases of failed asylim seekers with children there should be an exemption or a different style of treatment.

To follow on from our response on the day, the policy proposals require through consultation to ensure that the right solution is arrived at. In cases where no children are involved the correct soluton is obvious: failed asylum seekers who have exhasted their appeal rights and face no impediment to returning home should leave the country and their finanial support should cease. In cases where children are involved there is a danger that, if Home Office support is withdrawn, the costs of support are merely shifted to local authorities who have obligations under the Children Act 2004. It is therefore prudent to assess these obligations to ensure that the right outcome is achieved. The desired policy is one which maximises the number of failed asylum seekers leaving the country after their appeal rights have been exhausted.

In principle failed asylum seekers with children have no right to remain in the UK and should leave but, as children are involved, the process should take this into account.

Asylum Seekers and the UK - Ms McLaughlin noted a Swansea University Report on behalf of the Refugee Council which found that asylum seekers do not seek to come to the UK but that destination is determined by practicality and demands of the situation.

Of course, the experience of asylum seekers across Europe and of those that come to the UK varies greatly. There is no doubt that the final destinations of some asylum seekers are determined solely by practicality and demands of the situation, but there is no doubt as well that some asylum seekers are driven by other factors such as, for example, the existence of a community from their home country, language and employment and housing opportunities in a particular country. As the evidence from the Mayor of Calais to the Home Affairs Committee showed, many asylum seekers/migrants are equipped with knowledge of life in the UK, often relayed from people who have successsfully made the crossing to the UK. Just as many migrants/asylum seekers crossing Europe are currently telling the world’s media that they are planning to go to Germany, there are also some who plan to come to the UK.

October 2015

Prepared 3rd November 2015