Decision Time On Immigration

The Government has promised to cut net immigration from hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands a year. This was a key plank of the Conservative manifesto and one which was very popular with many of my constituents and across the country as a whole.

Damian GreenWe are fortunate to have the excellent Damian Green as Immigration Minister, a Kent MP who understands the impact which excessive immigration can have on our constituents. The fact that the Prime Minister appointed such a key figure in the party to sort out immigration also shows the importance which David Cameron places on our immigration commitment.

What is less clear is whether all my colleagues on the Home Affairs Select Committee really want to see immigration cut. We have already reported on work visas, but it was Damian Green who led the way to cutting these – by showing that many of the supposedly most highly skilled Tier 1 migrants actually worked in unskilled jobs.

Now we are dealing with student visas, almost 335,000 of which are issued every year, before moving on to family visas, where I am concerned that proper and appropriate restrictions may be struck down by the courts under European rules and the Human Rights Act.

Given the large number of overseas students and the ease with which many can stay on after graduating, it is essential that we take steps to reduce numbers. When the Home Office launched our policy on 7 December 2010 it said it was “seeking views on a range of measures to reduce the number of students that can come into the UK”. In particular, it very correctly proposed closing down the Post Study Work route, opened by Labour in 2006, which allows almost 40,000 foreign students to enter the UK labour force every year.

People expect Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee to engage constructively with government policy and our Chairman is known for his deft political footwork. Unfortunately, because my amendment was rejected by the Labour and LibDem majority on the committee, our report published overnight would leave a gaping hole in our immigration controls for foreign students to stay on and work after graduation. This is unacceptable and I strongly urge Damian Green to ignore the recommendations backed by the LibDem and Labour members at paragraphs 58 and 59 of the report. Our constituents in Kent and elsewhere expect the government to deliver on its promise to cut immigration, after over a decade of mass immigration under Labour, and Damian Green is the man to do it.

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8 Comments

Filed under conservatives, damian green, david cameron, economy, Employment, Home Affairs Select Committee, Immigration, labour, Mark In Westminster, mark reckless, medway, residents, rochester, rochester and strood, strood

8 responses to “Decision Time On Immigration

  1. Robin

    While I understand that cutting immigration is quite a popular notion, especially among constituents of less – education, shall we say – it is severely misguided. Cutting back on immigration means harming the economy. As any economist will tell you. And as plenty of university staff will tell you, who’s jobs are at risk thanks to the ‘excellent’ Mr Hirst, who seems to believe that students who bring money into the country should no longer be allowed to do so.

    Pathetic.

  2. Robin

    I was of course talking about Damian Green.

  3. The public undoubtedly has anxiety over immigration, but the problem is their expectations of harsher controls on immigration are founded on a large scale misunderstanding of the reality.

    When asked what percentage of people in the UK were not born here, the public on average estimate it to be 30%. In reality only 11% of people in the UK were born abroad. After hearing this, the majority of people think this level is not too many.

    As a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, it is your job to take a at the reality of the situation, not the perceived situation. If decisions are made by the government based on misunderstandings, it costs us all in tax and lack of growth.

    Given the complete mess the public finances are in, the country can’t afford to do anything that will harm the economy based on a false premise. We rely on politicians in select committees to do just that.

    Those 40,000 foreign graduates are less than a thousandth of our population. They contribute to the economy and pay their taxes just like all other graduates. On a personal level, they will also have made friends at University, and perhaps even fallen in love. Loads of married couples first met at University. Do you feel it’s right that Big Government’s heavy handed rules can break up people who are in love? It makes me feel uncomfortable.

  4. Duyfken

    I expect it may be unworkable and naive, but I would advocate that any intending temporary immigrant on a student visa and the like should lodge a bond with the Government for a significant sum, say £10,000 or more, this only being redeemed on the person’s departure.

  5. don_flynn2000@yahoo.co.uk

    “What is less clear is whether all my colleagues on the Home Affairs Select Committee really want to see immigration cut.”

    Why would they want to cut this category of immigration if it worth £40 billion to the UK economy? Until we get an answer on this queston we should hope that the views of the majority of Tories on the HASC prevail.

  6. don flynn

    @Dufyken
    The bond idea would seem reasonable but the problem is that it is rarely a deterrent to the person who is really intending to break immigration rules from the onset. For this category of migrant it would simply work as another cost which has to be paid in order to achieve the goal of entry into another country. It would probably increase the role of professional people smugglers in the business of evading immigration controls, because these people would advance the cost of the bond to the migrant to be repaid – at an exhorbitant rate of interest – from whatever earnings they are able to remit from their ‘illegal ‘ work’. Unless we want more gangsters running our immigration system we should steer well clear of bonds!

  7. Simon R

    Duncan Scott – your comment about people falling in love was spot on.
    I met my fiancee when she was a foreign student. Today, she is stuck in Nepal – despite being engaged, we’ve been forced apart by the UK Border Agency because of what are, frankly, racist immigration rules. Imagine knowing your loved one is on her own, very unhappy, and not being allowed to see her by your own Government, purely in order to satisfy immigration targets! My MP (not Mark Reckless) is trying to help, and I and my fiancée hope something will come of that, but it’s a slow process.

    So Mark – if you’re reading this, please think again about what you’re trying to do. I don’t know if you’ve ever talked to people hit by immigration rules, to find out what life is like when you have to deal with the Border Agency – if you haven’t, please do, because I can assure you it’s not pretty (If you’re interested and willing to contact me outside this message board, I’d be happy to give you more information). I suspect most people who want tighter immigration controls have no idea what’s actually going on (a year ago, that would have included me).

    In the end, immigrants are human beings, just as much as British people. When someone has connections, maybe friends, partners, family, in the UK and you remove them from or don’t let them enter the country, you are potentially potentially devastating that person’s life. To do that to possibly tens of thousands of people, purely to satisfy some statistics for migration levels, is awful. It’s not what Government should be about. I know we do need some immigration system, but it needs to based on considering people as human beings, not on meeting arbitrary statistical targets.

  8. lionel

    “cutting immigration is quite a popular notion, especially among constituents of less – education, shall we say And as plenty of university staff will tell you, who’s jobs are at risk ”

    perhaps some education will help you Robin, to work out when an apostrophe is used and when not!

    More power to you Mr Reckless, I fully support your efforts! – thank you

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