Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): I welcome the Secretary of State’s decision, but will he also have discussions with the Foreign Secretary? I listened to Karl Andree’s son on the “Today” programme this

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morning, and it was clear from what he said that the Foreign Office’s interpretation of “regular visits” was not what he thought his father was receiving. Can we take greater care that our prisoners abroad are looked after properly?

Michael Gove: I understand from my hon. Friend the Minister for the middle east, who has taken a very close personal interest in this case, that he has been and will continue to be in touch with the family, and I know that every resource that we have to help Mr Andree is being deployed.

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con): We rightly condemn barbaric regimes with which we have no relationship whatsoever, but Saudi Arabia is clearly a key ally in the middle east. As a friend, we have more influence. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the House sends the message that the barbaric treatment of British people in Saudi prisons is unacceptable, and that he uses his influence to improve the prison system in Saudi Arabia?

Michael Gove: Our diplomats, operating in our embassy in Saudi Arabia, regularly visit any British citizens who may find themselves caught up in conflict or in the Saudi Arabia criminal justice system, and, as well as providing that consular support, we obviously exercise whatever diplomatic influence we can. However, my hon. Friend is right to stress that the broader security co-operation between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom is friendly, and that it is in the interests of our citizens for it to be maintained so that we can safeguard their security.

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): The Secretary of State has taken a sensible decision today. He also rightly pointed out that Britain’s role internationally is to encourage other countries to respect the rule of law and that our diplomats spend a lot of time campaigning against the death penalty. However, the rule of law in Saudi Arabia includes amputations and floggings. What will Britain do to try to encourage those countries whose law permits cruel and unusual punishment as part of their justice system to stop it, because that is not justice?

Michael Gove: The right hon. Lady makes a powerful point. It is important to recognise that Saudi Arabia is a deeply conservative country and is going through a period of transition. We want to encourage that transition and modernisation within that country while at the same time respecting the nature of any diplomatic conversation and any diplomatic relationship. That is why it is right that the Foreign Office—its diplomats and Ministers—continue the good work they are doing in encouraging the Saudi regime to adopt a more modern approach.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): The Secretary of State has explained very clearly this difficult balancing act. I want to know how it works in practice, because we have to work with countries whose human rights records we not approve of, but how do we actually approach this? Do we talk one to one? How is this actually done?

Michael Gove: We engage with the Saudi Government on every level. Of course it is the case that we have regular daily diplomatic contact. Consular support is

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given to British citizens in Saudi Arabia, too. It is also the case that there is contact at ministerial level and head of Government level. As my hon. Friend recognised, there is a balance to be struck, and it must be guided first of all by Britain’s national interest, which resides in keeping our citizens safe, but also in standing up for the values our citizens believe in and would like us to promote.

Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab): The Justice Secretary says the Government were interceding in the cases raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter). In the case of Raif Badawi, could the Secretary of State find out why the prosecutors are now asking for a retrial with a possible death sentence?

Michael Gove: That is a very important point, and the Foreign Office are in discussions with the Saudi Government about precisely that case.

Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con): The Telegraph has reported in the last few minutes that the Foreign Office has been assured that the flogging will not be carried out. Can the Secretary of State clarify matters in that regard?

Michael Gove: It was always the case that our Foreign Office was seeking to ensure that no flogging would be carried out, and it is also important to stress that, understandably, press and media reporting of these events can sometimes be affected by strong emotional feelings, but it is also the case that even as these strong emotional feelings and powerful voices are raised, quietly and behind the scenes our diplomats and Foreign Ministers are working hard to safeguard the interests of British citizens, and we should be glad that the skills of our diplomats are being deployed in order to safeguard our citizens’ interests.

Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (SNP): I have made several representations to both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Office—I am glad to see the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), in the Chamber—over the case of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr. I have yet to receive a reply. This young man is still due to be brutally executed by beheading and crucifixion. Would the Secretary of State perhaps like to comment on this case now within the context of the Saudi prison contract, and also in light of numerous brutal and repeated human rights abuses within Saudi, such as that of Mohammed al-Nimr, not to mention the fact that one person is executed every two days, often by gruesome and medieval methods? There is also the growing number of civilian deaths in Yemen by air strikes conducted by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. I am wondering—and others will be as well—how the Government can continue to have such a close, intertwined relationship with the Saudis. [Interruption.] What can the Secretary of State tell us today to reassure people that the Government will not

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continue to support and facilitate human rights abuses? I have heard in the Chamber as well that safety and security—


Mr Speaker: Order. I have been very fair—some would say indulgent—to the hon. Lady. She must accept that her oration—it was more of an oration than a question—is, for now, over, but we thank her for what she said.

Michael Gove: We both know, Mr Speaker, that the hon. Lady feels very strongly about this issue and has raised it on a number of occasions. I am glad to say that my hon. Friend the Minister for the middle east would be delighted to talk to her outside the Chamber to update her. There have been specific domestic reasons why, in Saudi Arabia, we have not had all the conversations we might have wanted to, but we continue at every point to ensure we make the case that we believe the death penalty is wrong.

Mr Speaker: If I and the House heard the hon. Member for Corby (Tom Pursglove) correctly, and if he is correct in his understanding, the barbaric flogging which has occasioned much interest today will not now take place, and I do not think the Secretary of State demurred from that observation.

Michael Gove: My hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Tom Pursglove) is at an advantage in that he has information that I do not have, but that is my understanding and that was what the Government were working towards.

Mr Speaker: I am most grateful to the Secretary of State for what he has said and to colleagues for participating in this exchange.

Bills presented

Housing and Planning

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Secretary Greg Clark, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Theresa May, Secretary Michael Gove, Secretary Sajid Javid, Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary Elizabeth Truss, Mr Marcus Jones and Brandon Lewis, presented a Bill to make provision about housing, estate agents, rent charges, planning and compulsory purchase.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow; and to be printed (Bill 75) with explanatory notes (Bill 75—EN).

Negligence and Damages

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Andy McDonald presented a Bill to make provision about liability for negligence in relation to psychiatric illness; to amend the law relating to damages in respect of personal injuries and death; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 4 December; and to be printed (Bill 76).

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No Fault Divorce

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

1.47 pm

Mr Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for the dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership when each party has separately made a declaration that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down without a requirement by either party to satisfy the Court of any other facts; and for connected purposes.

I am pleased to request the leave of the House to bring in a Bill to provide, during the court proceedings to dissolve a marriage, for the option of divorce without blame, often called no fault divorce. Let me begin by saying that I do not wish to make divorce “easier”, because I do not think divorce should be easy. Currently, one can get divorced in just five months, so what is called “quickie divorce” is already available. A couple wishing to take advantage of my proposal would take somewhat, but not inordinately, longer to get divorced—probably one year—but without any requirement to throw mud at each other, as is currently the case, and with more time for reflection on whether divorce was what they really wanted for themselves and their children.

Divorce is a tragedy. It would be better for us all if there were more stable and successful marriages and, as a consequence of that, fewer divorces. Indeed, just as the wedding ceremony states that a marriage is not to be taken in hand “unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly” but rather “reverently, discreetly, advisedly”, so, at least in my opinion, should divorce only be countenanced in the same way, after the most profound reflection.

In English law, the only ground upon which a petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party to a marriage is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the court hearing a petition for divorce shall not hold the marriage to have broken down irretrievably unless the petitioner seeking a divorce satisfies the court of one or more of five facts: that the respondent has committed adultery; or engaged in unreasonable behaviour; or desertion; or that the parties to the marriage have been separated for a continuous period of at least two years and the respondent consents to a decree being granted; or that the parties to the marriage have been separated continuously for at least five years.

The law did at one time, and quite recently, provide for a type of divorce known as no fault divorce under part 2 of the Family Law Act 1996, but this was never fully implemented. The provisions at the time were intended to achieve two ends: first, to save saveable marriages; and, secondly, to reduce distress and conflict when a marriage did need to be dissolved. However, that legislation had a difficult passage through Parliament. That was in part because of a lack of enthusiasm on the part of many—and opposition on the part of some—of the Government’s own supporters at the time. According to a House of Commons Library note, 112 Conservative Members voted against the Government in a free Commons vote on the retention of fault-based divorce. In order to save the Bill from defeat, the Government of the day

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had to accept 137 amendments in the Commons. Many amendments had already been made in the House of Lords.

Some of the amendments reflected concern about the need to uphold the institution of marriage. Others were intended to ensure that the possibility of reconciliation be fully explored by the increased use of counselling and marriage support. Yet others reflected the wish that the interests of children should be given greater protection. The result was that what had started as a simple process became exceedingly complex. Indeed, the Labour party’s spokesman on the Bill in the House of Commons, the right hon. Paul Boateng, who is now in the other place, is said to have described the Bill as a “dog’s breakfast”. Although it passed on to the statute book as the Family Law Act 1996, the implementation of the new scheme was delayed while certain aspects of it were piloted.

As it turned out, the proposals foundered on the concept of information meetings, which were an integral part of the policy. Those meetings provided, in one place, general information about marriage saving as well as the divorce process, but what people wanted was information that was tailored to their individual circumstances. Participants welcomed receiving information, but for most people the meetings came too late to save the marriage and tended to cause parties who were uncertain about their marriage to become more inclined towards divorce. Furthermore, in the majority of cases, only the person petitioning for divorce attended the meeting. In the end, most of the provisions in part 2 of the Family Law Act 1996 were never brought into force and have now been repealed by section 18 of the Children and Families Act 2014, after the then Government concluded that they were “unworkable”.

The law as it stands creates its own problems. According to research carried out by YouGov on behalf of Resolution, which represents almost 5,000 family solicitors, more than 27% of couples citing unreasonable behaviour admitted that their claims were not true but were the easiest way of getting a divorce. Plainly there is a public interest in the justice system not encouraging people to make things up. There is also a contradiction in the current law. Although the whole thrust of current policy is supposedly about taking disputes away from the courts and towards reconciliation, mediation and alternative dispute resolution, people seeking a divorce who wish to avoid apportioning blame often find themselves required by the law to follow a path they do not wish to take. In effect, they are required to throw mud at each other.

There is now a widespread view among lawyers that this issue should be revisited. In March 2012, Sir Nicholas Wall, then president of the family division, said at the annual conference of Resolution:

“My position is very simple. I am a strong believer in marriage, but I see no good arguments against no fault divorce. At the moment, as it seems to me we have a system—so far as divorce itself is concerned—which is in fact administrative, but which masquerades as judicial.”

Lord Justice Munby, who now heads the family division, echoed this point of view, stating that it was time to consider removing the need for a judge to oversee “divorce by consent”. Actually, I beg to differ somewhat from those learned judges. I would prefer that judicial involvement remained. I say this not simply because the marriage contract is a contract—which, of course, it

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is—and the courts should therefore have some supervisory role, in some circumstances. On that basis, one might argue that the supervision of the courts was not always required. After all, there are many areas of life involving a contract freely entered into by two parties where, if the parties wish to terminate the contract by mutual consent, they can do so without detaining the courts for one moment. However, if one party does not wish to terminate the contract, the protection of the courts needs to be available. The same is true in marriage.

I would go somewhat further. My own view is that the breaking of a marriage is a step of such magnitude—with such potentially serious consequences for the whole of society, not least for taxpayers—that, unlike in other contracts, the courts should have some supervisory role, however minimal, in all circumstances. I agree with Lady Hale, the deputy president of the Supreme Court, when she said:

“We should make it take longer to get a divorce and encourage people to sort out what happens to the home, children, money before, rather than after, they get a divorce.”

The conclusion I draw is that the previous legislation—however well-intentioned—was trying to accomplish too much. I propose one simple amendment to the law: the option of divorce without blame. A petitioner who wished to do so, rather than offering the court one of the five facts currently required—adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, et cetera—could instead satisfy the court that a marriage had broken down irretrievably with a sixth fact, namely that both parties to the marriage had separately signed a declaration that the marriage had broken down irretrievably.

This declaration would by itself satisfy the court without the need to show any other facts. It would apply only when both parties had agreed and, consequently, signed such a declaration. It would not in any way alter—or, still less, abolish—the existing concept of blame. Those who wished to avail themselves of the other provisions of the law which require blame—which may sometimes, although decreasingly so, be a factor in financial settlements and arrangements for children— could do so. My simple change would mean that those who wished to avoid apportioning blame in a divorce could do so. The only other provision in my Bill would be a cooling-off period of one year before a decree of divorce could be made absolute, so that couples would have time to reflect on whether a divorce was really what they wanted.

I would favour easier access to counselling. I would also favour more discretion for the judge to inquire into the intentions of the couple and the extent to which they had sought counselling. I would not object to making some form of counselling mandatory. These are all desirable, but it is not necessary to deal with all of them at once or in one Bill. These matters could be dealt with separately, if at all. Any attempt to reform the law on divorce should be modest in its ambitions, simple to understand and simple to implement. My Bill would not deliver all that some of the more radical reformers wish to see, but it would provide a route for divorcing couples to reduce acrimony and tension during what is already a very traumatic process, if they wished to use it. It would be more likely to gain widespread consent, and I commend it to the House.

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1.56 pm

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I thank my hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr Bacon) for the way in which he has presented the case on this difficult matter. In one way, his arguments are very convincing. We heard all of them during the passage of the Family Law Act 1996, in which I took a great deal of interest. The then Government had a majority of one in the Standing Committee, and I was it. The Committee was very lively, loads of amendments were passed and many of these arguments flowed back and forth.

Some of my hon. Friend’s arguments sound compelling, and people might ask why we have not had more debate on this matter. No fault divorce has been occurring around the world for decades—even for half a century in some places—and we now have the means to evaluate its impact. That is what I want to talk about today. Of course I would like to make the moral case for marriage and for a lifelong commitment to children, but the House probably knows my views on those questions and I am not going to convince anyone I have not already convinced by repeating them, so let us look at the evidence.

The social researchers have done their job and the evidence is now available. If this were merely a matter of allowing a few cases of obvious irrevocable breakdown to be dealt with more quickly, cheaply and less destructively, very few people would oppose the idea. It would be a common-sense thing to do. But, while that is what my hon. Friend seeks, very honourably, to achieve, that is not the sole impact of no fault divorce. Unfortunately, all the available evidence points to the introduction of no fault divorce having a large, widespread and demonstrable effect on the societies in which it has been introduced. That is true across the spectrum of developed nations, from Canada and certain American states to Sweden and elsewhere.

The Prime Minister was right to highlight last week the numerous social problems we have yet to tackle, and we now have a much better understanding of how fundamental marriage is to preventing many of those problems. Despite the obvious problems that sometimes occur in a marriage, the emphasis in recent years has been on strengthening marriage as an institution. Bringing in no fault divorce, while seeking to ameliorate one problem, would undermine that new appreciation by making divorce easier, and thus increasing the number of divorces. That is the crucial point.

Let us look at the evidence from Canada. In 1968, the year the divorce legislation was amended to provide for no fault divorce, Canada’s divorce rate was 50 per 100,000 people. Within a year, that had risen to 150 per 100,000 people and by 1970 it had reached 300 per 100,000 people. That is a sixfold increase in just two years, after a century of relatively stable divorce rates. Scholars have noted similar results in US states correlating to when states introduced no fault divorce. The first significant study of no fault divorce was published in 1986, and all the further major published papers since then have concluded that the divorce rate increased at the same time as the introduction of no fault divorce. Do we want to increase the divorce rate? We know that the preponderance of evidence suggests that we will end up having more divorces and a higher divorce rate if no fault divorce is brought in.

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What about the other impacts? A study in the US argued that 75% of low-income divorced women with children had not been poor when they were married, but Douglas Allen also points out in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy that

“the real negative impact of the no-fault divorce regime was on children, and increasing the divorce rate meant increasing numbers of disadvantaged children.”

That is what is happening in the United States, but what about Britain? Let us look at the 2009 evidence review produced by the then Department for Children, Schools, and Families. That report found that a child not growing up in a two-parent family household is more likely to grow up in poorer housing; experience behavioural problems; perform less well in school and gain fewer educational qualifications; need more medical treatment; leave school and home when young; become sexually active, pregnant, or a parent at an early age; and report more depressive symptoms and higher levels of smoking, drinking and other drug use during adolescence and adulthood.

Family breakdown is one of the key drivers in poverty for women. The scholar Allen Parkman has discovered that women living in American states with no fault divorce worked on average four and a half hours more per week than their counterparts in fault-based states. It also serves to widen the gap between the rich and the poor even further; a University of Essex study shows that half of all single parents are living in poverty. Even in that bright Nordic wonderland of Sweden the all-powerful and ever-generous welfare state has proved totally ineffective at breaking the link between family breakdown and poverty. There, parental separation is the biggest driver into child poverty by a large margin; among children in single-parent families, the incidence of poverty is more than three times as high, at 24%, than it is for those in families with two parents, where the figure is 8.1%. Furthermore, the number of Swedish households in poverty headed by a single parent is more than four times the number of households in poverty headed by couples.

We all know that hard cases make bad law. My hon. Friend’s motives in moving the motion are unassailable—they are even commendable. Not for a moment can we pretend that the current situation is good, efficient, useful or anything like ideal—I accept that. But when seeking to change that situation, we

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need to make sure that our actions do not have unintended consequences that fix one thing and make other things much worse. In the face of all this social research and all this evidence—I have had time to go into only some of it—we cannot pretend that no fault divorce will, on balance, have a positive impact on our society. That is what we have to look to, and I have set out what the evidence shows.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, I am not making any argument to do with morality; this is about evidence, scientific research and observable outcomes. Parliament does not exist in a vacuum. A Bill to bring about no fault divorce would have implications throughout the country and I suspect that that is why successive Labour and Conservative Governments have, in the end, balked at it. Other developed countries have introduced it, so we are capable of assessing its likely impact. I accept that there can be no doubt that it will lead to a simpler, less traumatic, less costly way of dissolving marriages that have suffered irretrievable breakdown, but the evidence shows that it comes with further consequences. Do we want to see more disadvantaged children? Do we want to see women poorer? Do we want to see women working longer hours? Do we want to see the wide variety of social problems that the Prime Minister so justly highlighted in Manchester last week deepen further in our society? The answer must surely be no.

This is an important issue and it deserves further debate on Second Reading. I will therefore not attempt to vote down the Bill on First Reading. But before a Bill such as this is passed into law we have to pause, look at the evidence and consider its impact on the most disadvantaged in society. My view is that, after that Second Reading debate, we may well conclude, as our forebears did, that, for all its faults, the current divorce law is worth sticking with.

Question put (Standing Order No.23) and agreed to.


That Mr Richard Bacon, Mr Keith Simpson, Mr Henry Bellingham, Ms Gisela Stuart, Fiona Mactaggart, Kit Malthouse and Norman Lamb present the Bill.

Mr Richard Bacon accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 4 December, and to be printed (Bill 77).

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Immigration Bill

Second Reading

Madam Deputy Speaker (Natascha Engel): I must inform the House that Mr Speaker has selected the amendment standing in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

2.6 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

If we are to continue building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and people who come here legitimately to play by the rules and contribute to our society, we must ensure that it is balanced and sustainable, and that net migration can be managed. When properly managed, immigration enriches this country, as we benefit from the skills, talent and entrepreneurial flair that people bring to our society. But, as I said in my recent speech, when net migration is too high, and the pace of change is too fast, it puts pressure on schools, hospitals, accommodation, transport and social services, and it can drive down wages for people on low incomes. So we must achieve the right balance, rejecting both extremes of the debate, from those who oppose immigration altogether to those who want entirely open borders. That is why, since 2010, we have worked to build an immigration system that works in the national interest, one that is fair to British taxpayers and legitimate migrants, and tough on those who flout the rules or abuse our hospitality as a nation.

Over the past five years we have taken firm action to reform the chaotic and uncontrolled immigration system we inherited, and to ensure that people are coming here for the right reasons. We reformed the immigration rules for migrant workers and students, while continuing to welcome the brightest and the best. We have struck off nearly 900 bogus colleges since 2010, and at the same time we have seen a rise of 17% in the number of sponsored student visa applications for universities and a rise of 33% for Russell Group universities. We transformed the immigration routes for migrant workers and introduced a cap of 20,700 for non-European economic area migrant workers, and we have seen an increase in sponsored visa applications for highly skilled workers. We reformed family visas, to prevent misuse of that route, and we have made sure that people can financially support family members coming to the UK. We have also protected our public services from abuse by making important changes to the way people access benefits and the NHS.

Andy Burnham (Leigh) (Lab): It will not have escaped the House’s attention that the Home Secretary has struck a markedly different tone in her opening remarks this afternoon from the one she struck at her party conference in Manchester last week. The change in tone is very welcome, but she said at her conference, in contrast to what she said just a moment ago, that the overall economic benefit of migration is “close to zero”. Can she today give the House some evidence to back up that claim?

Mrs May: Nice try, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman should read the speech I gave last week, as he would see that I am saying exactly what I said then. In that speech,

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I also quoted the many reports, from the OECD and others such as the Migration Advisory Committee, that have made that judgment in relation to the economic benefit of migration.

The Immigration Act 2014 put the law firmly on the side of those who respect it, not of those who break it. We made it easier and faster to remove those with no right to be here, streamlined the appeals process in order to curb abuse, and restricted access to bank accounts and rental properties for people here illegally. Thanks to our reforms, more than 11,000 people who were in the UK illegally have now had their UK driving licence revoked.

New powers have already enabled us to deport more than 1,000 foreign criminals, requiring them to make any appeal from outside the UK after they have left. More than 8,000 proposed marriages have been referred to the Home Office, with 120 of them being identified as shams. More than £100 million has been injected into the national health service as a result of the new immigration health surcharge. Those achievements are helping us to build an immigration system that is fairer, stronger and more effective.

Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Lab): How can the Home Secretary describe those things as achievements when she has so lamentably failed to keep the promise that she made at the election before last, which was to reduce net immigration to the tens of thousands? The figure has in fact gone up to more than 330,000.

Mrs May: I can easily describe those things as achievements. They are achievements that the Labour Government, which ended in 2010, signally failed to secure. That Government did nothing, for example, about people coming to use the health service and then failing to contribute to it. We have changed the rules and more than £100 million has been injected into the national health service.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): Does the Home Secretary not recognise that this is a nasty, punitive Bill that will inevitably risk yet more racism and discrimination and undermine the social cohesion that she says she cares about? At the very least, will she guarantee full financial compensation to anyone whose livelihood is undermined by action taken by immigration officers that later turns out to have been falsely and wrongly taken?

Mrs May: I will tell the hon. Lady what impacts on social cohesion. It is when our constituents see people here in this country illegally and able to continue to be in this country illegally. It is fair that we deal with those who abuse our system and who do the wrong thing. It is fair not only to people who have been born and brought up in the United Kingdom, but to those who have legitimately migrated to the UK, have played by the rules and have done the right thing.

Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): On my right hon. Friend’s particular answer to that question, the problem is that it is very difficult for someone to see that a person is an illegal immigrant. What they see is someone who is different. Does she not accept that, within this law, there is the potential for discrimination to be increased if this is pursued too aggressively?

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Mrs May: I recognise the concern that my hon. Friend shows in relation to these issues. He has taken a particular interest in matters relating to immigration, but I will repeat what I have just said to the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas): it is only fair to people who come here, who make their contribution to our society and who play by the rules that we take efforts to ensure that those who have no right to be here and who are abusing our systems are dealt with appropriately. That is why it is important that we have taken action on things such as access to bank accounts and driving licences.

Graham Jones (Hyndburn) (Lab) rose

Mrs May: I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, but then I must make some progress.

Graham Jones: The Home Secretary says that this Bill is the answer, but only 12 months ago we had another Immigration Act that was the answer. How many more Immigration Acts will we have from this Government in the next five years?

Mrs May: I sat in this Chamber for 13 years while a Labour Government were producing Acts time and time again. One thing that one learns in this role is that, in the immigration arena, one has constantly to be looking to see that the system is what it should be. There were some things that we were not able to do in the last Immigration Act that we are now able to do in this new Bill.

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mrs May: I did say that I would make a little progress.

Mr Walker: Just very briefly, please.

Mrs May: I am sure that my hon. Friend will try to catch my eye later on. I will make a little more progress if I may.

I referred to our achievements and said that they were helping us to build an immigration system that is fairer, stronger and more effective, but if we are to ensure that we can protect our public services from abuse and that the system works in the national interest, and if we are to tackle the illegal labour market where vulnerable people are often exploited by unscrupulous employers and subjected to appalling conditions, then further reform is needed. The new Immigration Bill will help us to do that in a number of ways.

Part 1 is about tackling illegal working and preventing the exploitation of workers. The House will appreciate that illegal working is one of the principal pull factors for people coming to the UK to live and work illegally, but those who do so are particularly vulnerable and can find themselves living and working in dangerous and degrading conditions. The illegal labour market can also depress or hold back pay and conditions for the local sector, and undercut reputable businesses. Increasingly, we are seeing labour market exploitation becoming an organised criminal activity, and it is clear that Government regulators responsible for enforcing workers’ rights are in need of reform.

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In June 2014, the independent Migration Advisory Committee called for better co-ordination between the various enforcement agencies so that employment rights can be enforced more effectively. Members of this House have pressed that issue on many occasions. In our election manifesto, we committed to introducing tougher labour market regulation to tackle illegal working and exploitation. This Bill will allow us to do that. It establishes a new statutory director of labour market enforcement who will be responsible for providing a central hub of intelligence and for facilitating the flexible allocation of resources across the different regulators. In addition, this morning we published a consultation on the future of labour market enforcement, and I will place a copy of it in the House Library.

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): I welcome these measures to crack down on exploitative and illegal working—they are wholly admirable—but is not the easiest way to deal with illegal migration to say to someone when they first arrive in our country without the right papers, visa or permissions that they should leave then and not give them entry?

Mrs May: My right hon. Friend is right. If somebody is admitted at the border, or is found at the border without the right papers, without their visa and without the right to be here in the United Kingdom, they may be turned around and returned to the country from which they have come. As he knows, if somebody is able to come into the country by other routes and get here illegally, identification is rather harder.

Mr Charles Walker: What we must do in this country is get better at removing people when we discover that they are here illegally. What frustrates my constituents and their Member of Parliament is that the appeals process can go on for year after year. People have worked out that, once they have arrived in this country, it is very difficult for us to remove them.

Mrs May: My hon. Friend puts his finger on an important point. We have already been able to take some action in this area. We have reduced the number of appeals routes, from 17 to four, and, in the previous Immigration Act, we took some action with the “deport first, appeal later” arrangements, but that was restricted to a particular category of individuals. We will extend that in this Bill. Once again, we will ensure that it is easier for us to remove people who have no right to be here, without them having this continuous process of appeal after appeal.

Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind): One major achievement of this Government is the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. As that was her legislation, the Home Secretary will know that it had specific defences for those who had been trafficked into the UK as a result of slavery. Will those defences be carried through in this Immigration Bill?

Mrs May: The defences that we have written into the Modern Slavery Act will still apply. Indeed, there are other areas where, if we take action in relation to abuse of certain parts of the system, that defence and that issue of trafficking will continue to apply. I spoke last week of using the so-called Spanish protocol. For example,

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if someone comes to the United Kingdom from another European Union country and tries to claim asylum, the claim would initially be determined as inadmissible, but if there were evidence that someone had been trafficked, we would look again at the issue. Certainly, we will continue to have defences for those who have been trafficked.

I was talking about the establishment of the new director of labour market enforcement and the consultation document we have issued today. Once we have considered the responses to that consultation, we will strengthen the Bill further.

The Bill will also allow us to make illegal working a criminal offence. That will not only make Britain a less attractive place for people to come and work illegally, but will provide a firmer legal foundation for seizing earnings from illegal working as the proceeds of crime. Most employers obey the law, but we believe that a number of employers are deliberately turning a blind eye and not checking whether their employees have the right to work in the UK. That is not acceptable, so we will introduce tougher sanctions for these employers and make it easier to bring criminal prosecutions against them. We also know that a significant proportion of illegal working happens on licensed premises. Measures in the Bill will ensure that those working illegally or employing illegal workers cannot obtain licences to sell alcohol or run late-night takeaway premises. Immigration officers will also have new powers to close businesses where illegal working continues to take place.

Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con): The creation of the statutory director of labour market enforcement is very welcome, but to whom will he or she be accountable and through what mechanism will he or she report either to Parliament or to the Department?

Mrs May: There will be joint accountability to Secretaries of State—to me, as Home Secretary, and to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. That is important, because some of the operation on labour market enforcement takes place in the Home Office through the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and some through bodies in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, so there will be a joint reporting mechanism.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP) rose

Mrs May: I will give way once more, then I will make some progress.

Mr MacNeil: I have raised this matter with the right hon. Lady during Home Office questions, and it concerns fishing boats, particularly on the west coast of Scotland. Those on the boats, and the communities and I, welcome migrants who come to work. Migrants have been deported against what we feel are the community’s wishes and the wishes of those on the boats and the migrants. Migrant workers come here to work for a short period and get the money, and they usually go back to the Philippines and west Africa to work. What will she do to ensure that the community’s wishes are respected? Can we have a situation like that in Switzerland, where visas are

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spread through the cantons? The Scottish Government want to enable people who are wanted in Scotland to come to work in Scotland, but the argument in England is somehow stopping that, damaging our economy and tying up fishing boats as a result.

Mrs May: The hon. Gentleman knows full well that the operation of visa arrangements for the United Kingdom enables people who fit the requirements—for example, as a tier 2 worker—to come to the UK. However, on illegal working, there are parts of the fishing industry in which we have seen examples of people effectively being trafficked into slavery. It is important that we can undertake the enforcement needed to protect those people and identify them.

Mr MacNeil rose

Mrs May: I think I have answered the hon. Gentleman’s question, and I did say I was going to make some progress after I had responded to his intervention.

We have already begun to target illegal working through a co-ordinated approach that brings together agencies from across Government to prevent illegal working in high-risk sectors. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration met industry leaders from the construction industry this morning to identify how we can work together to root out that particular problem.

Part 2 of the Bill is about access to services. We will tighten up access to public and other services to protect them from abuse by people who are here illegally. We have already introduced a requirement for landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants. It is only right for people to be able to access private accommodation if they are in the UK legally. That is only fair on people who play by the rules, who scrimp and save to buy their first home, and who come here legally and work hard. I hope that that is a point on which all Members of the House can agree. That is why we intend to roll the requirement out across the UK. However, the immigration status of a current tenant is not enough to allow a landlord to regain possession of his or her property. The Bill will remedy that legislative gap and make it easier for private landlords to evict people who have no right to be in the UK.

We will also create new criminal offences to target rogue landlords who repeatedly fail to carry out checks or take steps to remove people who are here illegally. Let me be clear that this is not about asking landlords to become immigration experts. Those who want to undertake simple steps will have nothing to fear and will not face prosecution or penalties.

We will also build on our measures to prevent people from driving while in the UK illegally. Historically, it has been far too easy for people illegally in the UK to obtain a UK driving licence and that is why, as I mentioned earlier, we created new powers under the 2014 Act to revoke UK driving licences belonging to people who were here illegally.

Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab): Many of us live in areas, such as my constituency, that are already highly diverse. People who are foreign-born and black and minority ethnic residents of very long standing are disproportionately likely to be in the private rented sector. Can the Home Secretary assure me that the

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proposals do not act as a discriminatory measure against those people or prevent landlords from letting properties to those who are quite legitimately entitled to be here but who do not have the necessary proof? The Residential Landlords Association is deeply worried, so why has she not published the assessment of her own investigation?

Mrs May: We will. We made it clear yesterday during Home Office questions that we will ensure that evaluation results are published before the debate in Committee, so that people will be able to see what is happening. I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady that people in particular communities are perhaps more likely to rent than to buy or to be able to afford to buy their own properties. It is absolutely right that we should have a vibrant private rented sector, but it is in the interests of those who are here legitimately for places to be available for them that are not being taken up by people who have no right to be in the United Kingdom. That is what our Bill is doing.

Several hon. Members rose

Mrs May: I will give way to the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner), but then I will make some progress as a number of people wish to speak in the debate.

Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): I am very grateful to the Home Secretary. She will appreciate that a private sector landlord can have no knowledge of when a college has been deregistered by her Department and therefore when a tenant who is a student might be here illegally after the 60-day period has expired. That means that many landlords in student-dominated areas will be reluctant to take on tenants who have names that they regard as possibly foreign. That is the sort of discrimination that concerns many people in my area.

Mrs May: As I said earlier, we are not expecting landlords to be immigration experts. The Home Office has set up arrangements to provide the helpline and advice so that it is simple for landlords to contact the Home Office and get the information that will help them make a judgment.

I mentioned the measures on driving licences earlier, and the Bill takes them a step further. We will create new powers to ensure that revoked licences are taken out of circulation and to strengthen the consequences for people using revoked licences. We will also make it a criminal offence to drive while unlawfully in the UK and we will provide a power to detain and forfeit vehicles used in the offence.

We will further restrict access to banking services. Under the 2014 Act, we took necessary steps to prevent people in the UK illegally from setting up current accounts with banks and building societies. The Bill will expand on these measures by creating an obligation for banks and building societies to carry out periodic checks on the immigration status of current account holders. When an account holder is identified as in the UK illegally, following a court order the account can be frozen or closed by the bank or building society.

Parts 3, 4 and 5 of the Bill are about removing from the UK people with no right to be here. Immigration officers already do an excellent job of enforcing our

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laws and where appropriate removing people who are in the UK illegally, but we must do more. The 2014 Act shows that “deport first, appeal later” works when foreign criminals make human rights claims. Our manifesto committed us to extending that to all human rights claims. The Bill will now deliver on that commitment, allowing us to remove people with no right to be in the UK before they can appeal, provided that does not breach their human rights or cause serious irreversible harm. The Bill will also ensure that when foreign criminals are released on bail, we can satellite tag them so that we know their whereabouts, and thus better protect the law-abiding majority.

When people have no right to be in the UK, we expect them to leave, but some people are being sent the wrong message. The Bill reflects the Government’s commitment to providing support for destitute asylum seekers in line with our international obligations. However, those with no right to be here are expected to return home and the Bill will restrict the support we give to people who are here illegally.

Part 6 is about protecting our borders. It is imperative that we have control over our borders and know who is coming into the UK. Through the Bill, we will give our Border Force officers additional powers to intercept vessels at sea.

Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (UKIP): I applaud the Home Secretary’s responsible measures in the Bill to control migration and I am sure that they will be widely supported throughout the country. Given that almost half of those settling in the UK last year were from the European Union, how can she achieve control of our borders without provisions in the Bill to control EU migration, notwithstanding our EU treaty obligations?

Mrs May: If I had been asked to put a bet on the subject that the hon. Gentleman was going to raise, I would have placed it on EU migration. As he knows full well, the Government have already taken some steps to reduce the pull factors for migration from inside the European Union through changes that we have made to the benefit system, and we have already set out further changes to the benefit system that we are looking to make in that regard.

Through this Bill, we will give our Border Force officers additional powers to intercept vessels at sea, as well as impose greater penalties on airline or port operators who fail to present passengers to immigration control. We must act now to prevent the unprecedented levels of people smuggling that we have seen recently and stop people unlawfully entering the UK—

Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mrs May: I am going to make some progress.

Not only is border security crucial for immigration purposes, but it serves a vital public protection purpose protecting both the British public and people making treacherous journeys to reach UK borders.

Part 7 is about the language skills of public sector workers. At present there are many customer-facing roles that do not require the jobholder to speak fluent

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English. Where communicating with the British public is a vital part of the job, fluent English must be a prerequisite.

Several hon. Members rose

Mrs May: I am going to make some progress.

Through this Bill we will legislate to ensure that that becomes a reality. Today we have published a consultation on the code of practice that public bodies will have to comply with, and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

Part 8 establishes a new immigration skills charge for businesses bringing workers into the country. Currently, many businesses are hiring workers from overseas, rather than taking the long-term decision to train our workforce here at home. We need to discourage a default position of looking overseas to fill the skills gap, and the Bill will remedy that by introducing a charge for employers recruiting from outside the European economic area, which will encourage businesses to source skilled labour from the domestic workforce. The funds raised from the charge will contribute to training domestic workers and, in particular, to funding apprenticeships.

Fixing the immigration system cannot be done overnight. Despite the positive progress that has been made over the past five years, the system we inherited was riddled with problems. We must act now to stop rogue landlords and people smugglers exploiting vulnerable people, to protect our public services from abuse and to ensure that people with no right to be in this country are not allowed to extend their stay. This Bill will build on the progress made through the 2014 Act, ensuring greater fairness for British citizens and legitimate migrants, and making sure that the law comes down firmly on the side of those who abide by our laws and play by the rules. I commend the Bill to the House.

2.32 pm

Andy Burnham (Leigh) (Lab): I beg to move,

That this House, whilst affirming its belief that there should be firm and fair controls on illegal immigration including new immigration enforcement powers and immigration status checks on current account holders, and particularly welcoming proposals for a Director of Labour Market Enforcement and to strengthen sanctions to be applied to employers of illegal workers, declines to give a Second Reading to the Immigration Bill because the measures overall in the Bill will not decrease illegal immigration, will reduce social cohesion and will punish the children of illegal immigrants for their parents’ illegal immigration, because the Government has failed to publish the report on the pilot Right to Rent scheme in the West Midlands which could cause widespread indirect discrimination and because the Bill enables the Home Secretary to remove from the UK migrants who are appealing against a refused asylum claim before the appeal has been determined, notwithstanding the slow appeal process and the high error rate in Home Office decisions.

Let me start by setting this debate in an essential and important piece of context and with a point that the Home Secretary skated over at the start of her speech: the most recent evidence is clear—immigration provides a net benefit to our economy. It is not, as was claimed last week, “close to zero” but, according to authoritative and independent research, can be quantified at around £25 billion. That migrants contribute more to the public

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purse than they take out is a simple fact that cannot be repeated often enough in debates such as this. Similarly, in the NHS, we are far more likely to be treated by a migrant than to stand behind one in a queue. The culture and identity of our country—for centuries an open, outward-looking, seafaring nation—has itself been shaped by centuries of inward immigration, and it is all the richer for it.

David T. C. Davies (Monmouth) (Con): When I was on the Home Affairs Committee a few years, I put that very point to experts and I was told that nobody had ever worked out the costs of migration—the costs of providing health care, education and all the other public services that people take for granted—and done a proper cost-benefit analysis. Therefore I should like to know where the report that the right hon. Gentleman refers to comes from.

Andy Burnham: I can refer the hon. Gentleman to it. It is research carried out over a number of years by Imperial College, and I will be happy to send it to him. I suggest that he should perhaps spend more time looking at the evidence about immigration, rather than resorting to rhetoric, as I know he is wont to do.

All of that having been said at the beginning, the nature and scale of immigration to the UK has changed in the past decade, particularly since the expansion of the European Union into eastern Europe. Anyone who spent any length of time on doorsteps in the first half of this year cannot dispute the fact that immigration remains one of the highest concerns of the public, and the truth is that public and political debate has failed to keep pace with public concern, resulting in a feeling that the political class is out of touch.

Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con) rose

Andy Burnham: That would be a good point at which to bring in the hon. Gentleman.

Mr Jackson: May I take the shadow Home Secretary back to academic evidence about the impact of immigration? Given that the labour force survey by the ONS in July found that 75% of eastern European migrants were in poorly paid work and that they were more likely to access benefits, can he point to any specific empirical data which support the concept that east European migrants do not have an impact on low wages, depressing them or pushing them down?

Andy Burnham: I shall come on to that. [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] It is a fair point and I shall come on to it. May I again refer the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to the research? The UCL Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration talks about the positive economic benefit of migration overall. He needs to concern himself with the evidence before he intervenes in the House.

As I said a moment ago, the House has not kept pace with public concern, and as I said in my speech to the Labour conference, I want to change that. People listening to debates in the Chamber or in the media will often hear politicians and business leaders make the point that I made at the beginning—that immigration provides an overall net benefit. Although this is true, and to take the hon. Gentleman’s point on board, what such broad

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statements fail adequately to acknowledge is that the effect of immigration is not uniform across the country, but that it has a differential impact in different areas.

Some of the most rapid changes have been felt in the poorest areas and former industrial areas away from the big urban centres. In my constituency, immigration has had an impact on job security, wages, access to housing and public services, but Parliament has been far too slow to acknowledge and act on those concerns. The danger is that that creates a vacuum and allows myths to flourish.

Mrs May: The right hon. Gentleman says that Parliament has been slow to accept that immigration can have an impact, particularly on people at the lower end of the income scale, driving wages down, and it can have an impact on public services. For the past five years, I and the parties in government have been saying precisely this, and the Labour party has been objecting and opposing that.

Andy Burnham: I am afraid I have to point out to the Home Secretary that she was not entirely factual at the Dispatch Box this afternoon. She said that the previous Government did nothing to restrict access to the NHS by illegal migrants. As Health Secretary I brought through measures to restrict access to the national health service. What I am setting out in my remarks today is a balanced approach, which she failed to do in hers. I recognised at the beginning the overall benefits of immigration to this country, but I am acknowledging that there are specific and legitimate concerns that need to be dealt with, because a failure to do that creates a vacuum and allows myths to flourish.

Given that, the right response is certainly not to respond in kind with rhetoric, but instead with practical and proportionate measures to restore public confidence that our system and our rules are both firm and fair.

Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend expand on how many prosecutions there have been in relation to minimum wage regulations and so on in areas of migration where there is clearly an issue in relation to the depressing of wages? How proactive have the Government been when employers have not adopted best practice?

Andy Burnham: There have been barely any prosecutions because the Government have cut the resources devoted to enforcement. I welcome the Home Secretary’s proposal to create a director of labour market enforcement, but will she ensure that that director, whoever he or she is, gets to grips with the problem that my hon. Friend has just raised?

Ian Austin: The shadow Home Secretary is completely right to say that the costs and benefits of immigration are not shared across the country. Communities such as ours do not attract many millionaire American bankers, French City traders or German hedge fund managers; we have a completely different sort of immigration that puts pressure on public services. Does he agree that the benefits must be shared equally across the country to enable such communities to provide the housing, employ the teachers and all the rest of it so that we can cope with those pressures?

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Andy Burnham: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The challenge is to capture the benefits and then have rules that make immigration work for everybody. Let me give him two practical suggestions that I have put forward. First, I believe that we need changes to the EU free movement rules, as part of the renegotiation talks, to stop the undercutting of wages and protect the going rate for skilled workers. Secondly, I believe that unspent EU structural funds, which this Government are not drawing down, should be made available through a rapid migration fund to areas, such as his and mine, that face the biggest pressures on public services, for example to employ extra primary school teachers and GPs. At the moment those areas get no help in dealing with those pressures, so no wonder they feel neglected.

Mr MacNeil: I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman saw yesterday’s edition of the Financial Times,whichmentioned refugees—we know how some people react to refugees. It stated:

“By streaming into Germany, but not into other eurozone countries, the refugees”

will contribute to

“an improvement in Germany’s relative competitive position”

over the next 10 to 20 years. Refugees and migrants benefit the economy, the country and all of us.

Andy Burnham: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Overall, refugees tend to be younger and not to have dependants. Consequently, the figures I gave at the beginning, which show that they net contribute, rather than take out of the public purse, must be borne in mind when we engage in a debate of this kind.

Several hon. Members rose

Andy Burnham: I will make some progress before giving way again.

As our reasoned amendment makes clear, we are prepared to support practical, proportionate and evidence-based measures that will achieve the stated aims of tackling illegal immigration and illegal working.

Mrs May: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his generosity in giving way to me a second time. He refers again to the fact that he quoted the net benefit of migration in his speech. In 2014 the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, when looking at the fiscal effects of immigration to the UK, estimated that migrants contributed around £25 billion to the economy between 2001 and 2011. However, looking at all the migrants who had arrived since 1995, the estimates produced by that organisation suggested a net fiscal cost of around £114 billion. There is some evidence for the right hon. Gentleman.

Andy Burnham: I am afraid that the right hon. Lady has not learnt the lessons of her experience in Manchester last week, when she made a number of assertions without having the evidence to support them. She has got the evidence that overall there is a net contribution—she just quoted it. She, more than anyone else in this House, should stick to the evidence at all times and not resort to rhetoric.

Several hon. Members rose

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Andy Burnham: I will give way in a moment, after I have made some progress.

I have said that we will support measures to create a director of labour market enforcement, building on legislation passed by the previous Labour Government, particularly the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004. We also support many of the measures set out in part 3 of the Bill to improve enforcement and equip immigration officers with all the necessary powers to do their difficult job in a more complex and changing world. I am pleased to see the Government acting to address the weak points in the UK border, particularly at smaller regional airports and seaports. We support the measures set out in part 6 to tackle problems before people arrive in the UK by extending the reach of the Border Force into UK territorial waters.

John Redwood: The right hon. Gentleman made a very interesting point when he accepted that EU migration was causing problems in the labour market and difficulties with wages. He said that we should limit or change free movement. Can he just flesh out how he thinks we should limit free movement, because I think I would be with him?

Andy Burnham: When I mentioned that, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley North (Ian Austin), I said that we wanted measures to protect the going rate, and then I heard noises from the Government Benches. Where were they when we were trying to get through the agency workers proposals and the posted workers proposals? If Government Members now support putting a floor beneath all British workers, that is a major conversion, but one that I welcome. Let us have a renegotiation that strengthens the workers’ rights provided by Europe, rather than stripping them away. These are the changes that I want to see. Let us protect the wages of electricians and plumbers. Let us not allow them to be undercut by agency workers who come in and are employed on the minimum wage, beneath the wages of the skilled workforce. If we can agree on that ahead of the EU referendum, that would be a major positive consensus that we could take to the British public.

Several hon. Members rose

Andy Burnham: I will give way to the hon. Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Ms Ahmed-Sheikh), who has been very persistent.

Ms Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (Ochil and South Perthshire) (SNP): I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I agree with much of the sentiment behind his remarks this afternoon. However, I recall during the general election campaign catching sight of the Labour party website, which appeared to be selling mugs stating, “Controls on immigration”. Is this another example of a Labour U-turn, or is he in a full 360-degree spin on this issue as well?

Andy Burnham: I am not responsible for all Labour party merchandise. I did not purchase one of those mugs and I am not particularly proud of them. However, if the hon. Lady is saying that there should be no controls on immigration, I am afraid that we will have to part company on that, because there do need to be firm and fair rules to ensure that our immigration system works in the public interest.

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Several hon. Members rose

Andy Burnham: I will give way once more before making some progress.

Barry Gardiner: Does my right hon. Friend share my astonishment at the figures the Home Secretary quoted, because included in the figures that she quoted as costs were what most of us would regard as the investment in the education of children in this country who will in due course be productive in the labour force? To count that as a cost, rather than an investment, rather biases the figures in her favour.

Andy Burnham: I was surprised. A fact-check was issued on that very point, and it is quite clear that the central estimates in the paper by UCL’s Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration suggests that European immigrants have made a net contribution of around £20 billion, and immigrants outside Europe make a small net contribution of around £5 billion—[Interruption.] The Home Secretary seems to dispute this, but she got into trouble last week because she did not have balance in her speech. If she is not careful she is going to develop a reputation for lacking balance on this issue.

Mr Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): Will the shadow Home Secretary give way?

Andy Burnham: No, I am going to make some progress.

The other measure that we support in the Bill is the requirement for all front-line public service staff to speak fluent English, which of course is a sensible proposal. However, I believe that, in legislating on these matters, we all have a responsibility to bear in mind at all times that this is the most difficult and sensitive of policy areas. Unlike other issues that we debate in this House, this one has the potential to cause real harm and strife in our communities.

We will support the Government when they get the balance right, but I want to be clear about what we will not do. We will not support legislation that is introduced in haste or that is not backed up by clear evidence. That is the problem with the Bill. Parts of it appear to have been drafted on the same beer mat and in the same pub as the Home Secretary’s speech to the Conservative party conference in Manchester. It is legislation driven by a desire to be seen to be doing something and to get headlines.

Caroline Lucas: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that international student numbers should be removed entirely from net migration figures, because otherwise we risk losing key international talent as well as undermining many local economies, such as Brighton’s, that depend on them to a great deal?

Andy Burnham: I think that is where the Home Secretary is beginning to cut an isolated figure, as she did last week at her party’s conference. I understand that her own Cabinet colleagues are making the same argument to her—the Chancellor of the Exchequer got dangerously close to making the same argument on his recent trip to China. The hon. Lady is right. If we are looking for an area where there is economic benefit to the country in

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the long term, it is absolutely that of welcoming to this country students who will then commit themselves to the country for the rest of their working lives.

The critical response to the Home Secretary’s speech last week did not come just from the usual suspects on the Labour Benches. The Daily Telegraph called it

“awful, ugly, misleading, cynical and irresponsible”,

while the Institute of Directors, no less, dismissed it as

“irresponsible rhetoric and pandering to anti-immigration sentiment”—

serious words. They were not alone. The public can spot any attempt to play politics with this issue from a million miles away, and that is why the Home Secretary got the reaction she did. She claimed in Manchester that immigration was undermining social cohesion. I put it to her that legislating in haste without clear evidence and bringing forward half-baked, divisive measures is far more likely to do precisely that.

Mr Charles Walker: I know that the right hon. Gentleman is concerned about immigration, but the Leader of the Opposition, his boss, has said that there should be no borders in this country anywhere—forget the European Union. He said during the Labour leadership contest that we should have open borders. Does the right hon. Gentleman share that view?

Andy Burnham: I stood alongside him and he said no such thing, so I will move on from that pointless intervention.

A number of organisations—Amnesty International, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Justice, the TUC and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants—have expressed serious reservations about the Bill. They believe it could damage social cohesion, force children into destitution, undermine efforts to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery, erode human rights and civil liberties, and lead to widespread discrimination.

Let me take those issues in turn, starting with the potential for discrimination. Clause 12 in part 2 amends the Immigration Act 2014 to make it a criminal offence for a landlord to rent premises to an individual with no immigration status, punishable by five years in prison. The measure is intended to underpin the national roll-out of the Government’s right to rent scheme, as the Home Secretary said. I am not against asking landlords to carry out reasonable checks of identity documents, as they already do, but there are a couple of points to make. First, landlords are not border or immigration experts, they are not trained in reading official paperwork from around the world, and they are not experts in spotting forged documents, so on what basis are we planning to outsource immigration control to them? Will not the regulatory burden that this will impose on landlords be way beyond the capacity that many can manage? Secondly, given all that, is it really proportionate to threaten them with jail, and will not that have a major impact on the housing market and the way it works?

The House will recall that in the previous Parliament the Government tried to bring forward the same proposals, but given the huge implications, not least for private landlords, they were forced to back down and pilot

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them. A commitment was given to this House that the findings of the pilot would be presented to us before the Government proceeded any further. That was the commitment given by those on the Front Bench. We learned yesterday that that commitment will not be honoured. Although the Home Office has conducted its study, it will not present its findings until the Committee stage. That is not good enough. This House should not be in a position where it is being asked by the Home Secretary to vote tonight on measures that could have a huge impact in every constituency represented here today without evidence for what those measures might do. It is not just a discourtesy; it is downright dangerous. She is asking us to be complicit in legislating in haste, and this House should have none of it.

Let me explain why. We know that right to rent could cause widespread discrimination, not just against migrants but against British citizens. In the absence of the Government’s study, an independent survey was carried out by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. It found that in the west midlands, the pilot area, 42% of landlords said that right to rent had made them less likely to consider someone who does not have a British passport, while 27% were now more reluctant—as my hon. Friend the Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) has said—to engage with those with foreign accents or names. Those are very serious findings. Why on earth is the Home Office not presenting its own information to the House so that we can establish whether it is correct?

Barry Gardiner: The shadow Home Secretary will know that my constituency was the first in the UK to have more people voting at the last election who were born outside the UK but now had the right to live and vote here. The panic that these measures is causing among landlords in my constituency, and the fears that they have because of the uncertainties of this Bill, will mean widespread discrimination for incoming students and other people who landlords fear may get them into trouble. They simply will not rent these properties. That is a major problem for this Bill and for good community relations in this country.

Andy Burnham: The JCWI believes that the figures I quoted are likely to underestimate the scale of the problem because of the nature and timing of the survey, but also because the problems are likely to be magnified much further in London, where there is a much bigger private rented sector and many more migrants. It says that

“these proposals will only…deepen the discrimination”

that already exists against people like those in my hon. Friend’s constituency who are seeking a tenancy.

When is the Home Secretary going to publish these conclusions, and why are we in this position today? In failing to produce the evidence, she has simply not made the case for the measures that she wants the House to vote on tonight. This is a major change in the law and she has not made the case for it.

Thankfully, the days when landlords displayed unwelcoming notices in the windows of their lodgings are gone, hopefully for good, but these document checks could legitimise a new wave of discrimination which, by being hidden, could be far harder to challenge. Only last week at the Conservative party conference, the Prime

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Minister highlighted how young people from black and Asian backgrounds face discrimination when they send out their CV, purely on the basis of their name. He was right to do so, and it was refreshing to hear it from a Conservative Prime Minister. But if he was really genuine, this question follows: why is he legislating to create exactly the same situation—the same everyday discrimination—in the housing market against people with foreign-sounding names? If he really believed what he said, he should ask his Home Secretary to think again.

Let me turn to employment—another area where there could be major unintended consequences if the Bill passes in its current form. I said earlier that we support measures to tackle illegal working that build on the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, which I helped to take through as a junior Home Office Minister, but we have major reservations about the new offence of illegal working in clause 8. In the words of Justice, “it is unnecessary and risks undermining important efforts made over recent years to address issues such as trafficking and modern-day slavery.”

Justice does not believe the assurances that were given to the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) by the Home Secretary. The sanctions that could be applied to an individual range from confiscation of wages right up to imprisonment. Justice says:

“Fear of prosecution and imprisonment is likely to deter the vulnerable, such as trafficked women and children, who are working illegally from seeking protection and reporting rogue employers and criminal gangs.”

What evidence can the Home Secretary give the House to show that that would not be the case? More broadly, this new offence will merely strengthen the arm of unscrupulous employers and reduce the likelihood of any employee coming forward to report them. For that reason, rather than tackling illegal working, is not the Bill likely to have the opposite effect and potentially increase the size of the black economy?

Lady Hermon: May I push the right hon. Gentleman’s party colleagues a little further? When campaigning to change the worst bits of this Bill—and there are some really dreadful bits—will they include the provision of guarantees whereby those who are trafficked as slaves through human trafficking and end up in the United Kingdom are given the same defences as those who are protected under the Modern Slavery Act 2015? Those defences must be replicated in this Bill. Will he confirm that his party will support those changes?

Andy Burnham: Justice does not accept the assurances that were given by the Home Secretary. I can therefore tell the hon. Lady that we will co-operate with her in Committee, if she takes part in it, to get those assurances into the Bill, because she is right to call for them.

Let me turn to human rights and civil liberties. The Bill extends the power of the Executive in a number of troubling ways. Part 4, as the Home Secretary said, proposes a major extension of the “deport first, appeal later” approach from foreign national offenders to all human rights claims. What case has the Home Office made to persuade Members that it can safely be given such sweeping powers? It has hardly covered itself in glory over the years with the speed or quality of its

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decision making. Let us remember that this is a Department that today has a backlog of over 300,000 immigration cases—a Department where up to 50% of the initial decisions that it makes are found to be wrong on appeal. With these figures in mind, are we really ready to give the Home Secretary much greater powers to remove migrants before their appeals have been determined? Again, the Government are asking us to legislate before the impact of the last extension has been fully evaluated. The Equality and Human Rights Commission says that, by denying people the ability to be present at their own appeal, the Bill is potentially in breach of articles 6, 8 and 13 of the European convention on human rights.

I ask all colleagues on both sides of the House to think, before they vote tonight, of the genuine cases they have dealt with and the people they have got to know at their surgeries whom they have rightly helped to stay here in challenging a Home Office decision. They should think of them before they legislate to allow people in a similar position to be removed without being able to attend their own appeal.

Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab): I can give my right hon. Friend exactly such an example. One of the many cases my office is dealing with at the moment is that of a Sri Lankan Tamil whose application has been refused and who bears the mental and physical scars of torture. His application is now on appeal. If the Home Secretary’s proposals had been in place, he would already have been returned to Sri Lanka, where, given the human rights situation there, his life would potentially be at risk. I cannot support those measures and I do not understand how the Home Secretary can propose them.

Andy Burnham: I think that in their heart of hearts a lot of Government Members are not able to support the measures, because they have seen in their surgeries cases similar to that mentioned by my hon. Friend. They will know people who would have been deported if this Bill had been in place and who would not have been able to exercise their legitimate right to be present in person at their own appeal. That is why my hon. Friend is right to say that this is wrong.

The Bill also extends the power of the Executive to override the independent decisions of the first-tier tribunal with regard to immigration bail. It also allows the Home Secretary to impose bail conditions, including Executive electronic tagging. That raises important issues about the rights of people in our judicial system, and it could undermine the independence of our courts. Again, what confidence has the Home Office given us that it can be trusted with those powers? There is evidence that, under the coalition Government between 2011 and 2014, £15 million was paid out in damages for unlawful detention and abuse of the powers the Home Office already has.

Richard Fuller: Does the Labour party intend to table amendments to set a time limit for keeping people in immigration detention and to protect pregnant women and victims of torture, rape and international conflict from detention in this country?

Andy Burnham: Personally speaking, in my view those people and children should not be in detention. We need to take a look at how this country has approached

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these issues over a number of years. I would be happy to work with the hon. Gentleman on a cross-party basis, to address those issues. That is what we should do.

My final concern with the Bill relates to vulnerable children. [Interruption.] These are important issues and the hon. Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis) would do well to listen to them before rushing into the Lobby to vote for the proposals without any evidence to support them.

Clause 34 proposes to remove support from families with children. Let me be honest—that was piloted by our Government, but it was rightly abandoned because of the effects it had. In a parliamentary debate in 1999, when those provisions were suggested, it was said that

“all children on British soil should be given the same protection…no child should go without protection…We are concerned about the welfare of children, who should not suffer under any circumstances, whoever their parents are and whatever their basis for being in the country.”—[Official Report, 16 June 1999; Vol. 333, c. 418-421.]

Those are fine sentiments, and they came from the then Conservative Opposition. I say to Government Members that what was right then is right now. No child should face destitution in our country, whoever they are, wherever they come from.

One of the most powerful moments in the Prime Minister’s conference was when he talked about his response to the photograph of Alan Kurdi. It was powerful because it spoke to our common humanity and our instinct to protect children, whatever their circumstances. That is why the Bill is not supportable until those measures have been dropped.

In conclusion, the House will notice that we have not gone down the route of outright opposition in framing our response. As I said at the beginning, there are measures we support and we have set them out in our reasoned amendment. However, when balanced against the other concerns that I have highlighted in my speech, the scales tip towards preventing the progress of the Bill.

If the Government are prepared to change the Bill to address the fundamental problems I have outlined, I would be prepared to reconsider our position. As long as they stay in, however, we will take a stand against them for what is right and for what we should represent as a country.

The truth is that the Bill is driven by the wrong motive—a desire to be seen to be doing something, to generate headlines. That is the problem that lies behind it. Such is the scale of the Government’s failure on immigration, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley North said, and such is the size of the gap between the rhetoric and the reality, that they are now resorting to ever more drastic, desperate measures to give the impression of action.

The Government promised to cut net migration to tens of thousands. It currently stands at a record 330,000 and there is no evidence to suggest that anything in the Bill will bring that down. There is evidence, however, to suggest that it could cause real harm in every constituency represented in this House.

Government Members might be happy to legislate without evidence, but we will not follow them. We will give no support to a Government pandering to prejudice and legislating in haste to make Britain a more hostile and unwelcoming country. That is why I move the

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reasoned amendment standing in my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends. If it falls, I will ask the House to oppose this unpleasant and insidious Bill.

3.6 pm

Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): I congratulate the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) on his new role as shadow Home Secretary. I also congratulate the Government on introducing this vital Bill and pay tribute to the Home Secretary for her courage in the face of the bien pensant commentariat and the liberal elite. What she did last week was articulate the views of millions of people, including many in my own constituency.

I welcome the Bill, especially those measures that will have a significant impact on illegal working and on illegal immigration in relation to the housing sector, particularly the right to rent. I am puzzled by the right hon. Gentleman’s remarks, because surely he can see that such housing proposals will ameliorate the sometimes pitiful condition immigrants find themselves in as a result of rapacious slum landlords. He does not seem to recognise that.

The Bill also specifically establishes the common sense premise that it is we—this sovereign Parliament—that should ultimately be responsible for who comes to our country, not some supranational body such as the European Union. Frankly, if it is good enough for the Germans to casually disregard the Schengen agreement in an emergency, we should at least, in a measured, reasonable and moderate way, be able to make our own policy.

Wes Streeting: Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could give us some insight into what the Prime Minister is asking for in his renegotiation, specifically on freedom of movement and migration.

Mr Jackson: That is a fair question, but it is way above my pay grade, so I will move swiftly on. I will, however, touch on those issues later.

The fact is that the Labour party has not learned any lessons. It has collective amnesia about what happened on 7 May. The reason it got only 232 seats is that very many of its bedrock, blue-collar supporters did not trust it on immigration and decided to elect other people—or, indeed, to vote for a party such as UKIP—because they trusted them more. That is lamentable, but that is what happened to the Labour party, although you would not think it to listen to them.

The Government also have a very strong mandate to introduce this Bill, as a result of an overall majority. It is certainly the case that, for the first time in probably 25 years, immigration is the No. 1 issue for voters. According to an Ipsos MORI poll at the end of September, it is more important than the health service, the economy, jobs and the environment—56% of people said that the No. 1 issue was immigration.

At least the former shadow Chancellor had the good grace, at the 2014 Labour conference, to apologise for the big errors that were made under the Labour Government, particularly in respect of the free movement directive. What I found positive in the speech of the right hon. Member for Leigh is that he is prepared to

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look at the directive’s impact on certain areas, whether Leigh, Dudley North, Peterborough or other parts of the country.

Goodness knows, we have to address this matter because it is a major issue of concern. In my constituency, unrestricted immigration, largely under the Labour party—to the extent that 34,000 national insurance numbers were issued to EU migrants between 2004 and 2011 in a city of 156,000 people—has had a big impact on the delivery of core public services such as housing and health. We have a primary school places crisis in my constituency because of the sheer weight of the number of people coming from the European Union. Yes, we welcome people who are hard-working, decent, civic-minded and law-abiding and who will accept our British values, but we cannot cope with unrestricted immigration. In that respect, this Government are doing exactly the right thing.

As the right hon. Gentleman and the House may know, on 31 October 2012 I introduced a ten-minute rule Bill to disapply the European Union free movement directive 2004. That was not a Europhobic response of closing the doors; it was about nuancing and finessing the free movement directive—the pull factors—as has been done in places such as Spain, which has suffered from the problem of 50% youth unemployment. Unfortunately, the Government did not take on board those arguments at the time. I commend them for now doing so. We should establish the fact that we believe in the free movement of labour and people; yet I do not think that it is unreasonable for us to make a value judgment on the people we want to come to our country. The free movement directive has not been nuanced in the way it should have been.

No evidence has ever been produced—both Migration Watch and Balanced Migration have made this point several times—that immigration is necessarily “a good thing”. There is no evidence for that. There is perhaps no evidence that it is a pernicious or bad thing, but there is certainly no cumulative evidence, in terms of the delivery of public services, that it is a good thing. If I take only the issue of low wages, it is obviously the case, as is proved by what data there are, that although immigration may not drive down wages, it certainly restrains wages at a certain level for indigenous workers, particularly low-skilled people or those with no skills and young people.

David T. C. Davies: Is my hon. Friend aware that the UCL report mentioned by the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) came from a university that has lobbied heavily for more immigration, presumably so that it can make money and line its own pockets from people coming here? Is he aware that the conclusion to which the right hon. Gentleman referred was based on one of various different scenarios and that the figures have been taken apart, as I have already found out just by looking it up on the internet?

Mr Jackson: I think that was the CReAM study, but it was certainly not the cream of the crop because it looked at the most optimistic scenarios and its methodology has been disputed by many other academics.

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We simply cannot countenance a net migration figure of 330,000. Migration Watch was criticised some years ago for predicting—accurately—that 50,000 Romanians and Bulgarians would come to this country. As I have already mentioned, they have a higher preponderance to become benefit recipients. That may not be the case for all non-EU migrants and for first-stage EU migrants—those from France and Germany—but it certainly is the case for second-stage migrants. Why would it not be the case, given that wages are demonstrably much lower in places such as Romania and Bulgaria than they are in the UK, so they get paid less than other people while working here and they claim more?

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Jackson: No, I must make some progress.

There is a problem and it must be looked at. Let us consider schools: three in five schools will experience capacity problems by 2018. There are major issues in Peterborough, as I have already said. Some 68% of primary school pupils in my constituency do not speak English as their first language. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but it inevitably has an impact on attainment given the resource implications for teacher training and for getting teachers with the right skills. Actually, when a Polish child speaks good English, they flourish, for instance in science and maths, but that is very difficult without specific help.

In 2013 it was estimated, I think by the Department for Communities and Local Government, that it cost £140 million a year to provide translation and interpretation services. That is a major issue, and I have already mentioned healthcare and housing.

Ian Austin: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Jackson: No, I do not have the time, and you are looking at me in an admonishing way, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I just say two things? If I were to bring out my inner Marxist, I would say that of course big business, such as that represented by the Institute of Directors, wants to continue to import low-paid workers to drive down costs—bears do their ablutions in the wood, the Pope is still Catholic, and big business always wants people to come into this country and outprice indigenous workers—but would that big business concentrated more on apprenticeships, long-term planning and training.

Finally, let me say that I wish the Prime Minister well in his work towards finding a settlement in his negotiations with the European Union, but it is massively important that the centrality of the free movement directive is at the heart of it. I tell the House that pocket-book issues—people’s jobs and future, and prosperity and growth—are important, but if people feel that there will ultimately be an irrevocable cultural change in their country that they can do nothing about, they will vote to leave the European Union. He must be very mindful of that.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for your indulgence. We have a lot to be proud of in this country in relation to the work we have done for genuine asylum seekers, as a beacon of hope across the world and as the No. 1 country in the world for soft power, but that is not

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the same as tacitly agreeing with, doing nothing about and turning a blind eye to illegal immigration. This is a good Bill that is long overdue. It is supported by my constituents and the British people. I wish it well, and I will support it enthusiastically tonight.

Several hon. Members rose

Madam Deputy Speaker (Natascha Engel): Order. Before I call the SNP spokesperson, who will not be subject to a time limit, I must say that 33 Members wish to speak in the debate, which means that after he sits down there will be a limit of six minutes per speech. With that in mind, I call Stuart C. McDonald.

3.17 pm

Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP): I, too, congratulate the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) on his new role. I agree with much of what he said. We on the SNP Benches acknowledge, are proud of the fact and prefer to emphasise that people who choose this country as their new home make a tremendous contribution to our public services, our economy, our culture and, most importantly for many of our citizens, our family lives.

From our point of view, the Bill does not deserve a Second Reading because—it is important to put this on the record—we regard the Government’s net migration target of tens of thousands as entirely unhelpful, as well as utterly unrealistic, and the Bill will bring its realisation not a second closer. Indeed, I genuinely doubt whether any member of the Government thinks that that target is achievable. That is why it is fundamentally dishonest to continue to go through the motions of pursuing it. A target that is virtually impossible for the Government to deliver can only further undermine public confidence in government and in immigration control. A Bill designed to pursue a bad target is likely to lead to bad law, and so it is with this Immigration Bill. In a sense, this is immigration theatre: the Government want to be seen to be doing something, so they go through the motions of yet another Immigration Bill—and to hell with the consequences.

That is our starting point in considering the Bill, and although that is clearly one of the key issues we need to address, the other issue that all hon. Members must consider, regardless of whether they agree with us about the net migration target, is different. For even those in the Chamber who want immigration to be cut back need to ask themselves: what will the Bill achieve in reality, where is the evidence for that and what will the cost be in terms of civil liberties, human rights, the rule of law, community cohesion and the other aspects of life in this country that we hold dear? Regardless of one’s starting point in this debate, when those simple tests are applied, the Bill fails them utterly. It therefore does not deserve a Second Reading.

The Bill fails those simple tests because if it is to be effective and achieve anything, it requires effective Government agencies. Is there any area of policy where the Government have proven less effective, reliable and up to the job than immigration? John Reid described the immigration directorate as “not fit for purpose” in 2006. Just two years ago, the Home Secretary said that

“the performance of what remains of UKBA is still not good enough.”

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She described it as a “troubled organisation” that

“struggles with the volume of its casework”.

She criticised its IT systems and its reliance on manual data entry and paper files. She said:

“The agency is often caught up in a vicious cycle of complex law and poor enforcement of its own policies”.—[Official Report, 26 March 2013; Vol. 560, c. 1500-1501.]

She abolished the UK Border Agency.

Are we really to believe that UK Visas and Immigration is now so well organised that we can feel comfortable providing it and its officers with swathes of new powers and responsibilities, while sweeping away its accountability to courts and tribunals? The Home Secretary may be formidable but, with respect, she is not a miracle worker. Another round of viciously complex legislation is the last thing we need, as anyone who deals with UK Visas and Immigration, including hon. Members, will surely understand.

The Bill also fails the tests because to be effective it will rely on civilians, including landlords and landladies. We are setting off down a road of amateur immigration control, as if we are to become a nation of immigration officers. Again, anyone who deals regularly with immigration work, including hon. Members, will be well aware of what a complex issue this is. It is not one in which it is appropriate for amateurs to be involved in enforcement. As with decisions of the Home Office, we search in vain in the Bill for proper rights of appeal and redress against amateur enforcement decisions. Indeed, judicial scrutiny of evictions is torn apart.

The Bill fails because it is not based on evidence of what is effective in ensuring that immigration rules are complied with, as the shadow Home Secretary said. The clearest example, which he set out, is the so-called right to rent provisions. The House was assured by Ministers that the right to rent legislation would remain light touch and be tested thoroughly, with the results of the tests being used to inform further development. Yet here we are, several months after the Prime Minister announced its roll-out, with proposals to move away from the soft-touch approach envisaged by hon. Members. The House is yet to see the results of the Government’s pilot scheme. I agree with the shadow Secretary of State that that is a most unacceptable way of treating the House.

What was the point of the Government consulting on asylum support, when the Bill was published just a week after the consultation closed, without any Government analysis of the responses, let alone a reaction? Much of the evidence that is available on employment, right to rent and asylum support suggests that the Bill will, in some respects, make immigration control more difficult by driving people and families away from regular contact with immigration authorities. This is a politically motivated, rather than evidence-led, piece of legislation.

The Bill not only fails the tests but becomes dangerous when we consider the costs that will come with it. Even if it might somehow shave a pitiful few thousand off the net migration figure, what price are we paying to do that? The effects of the Bill should appal traditional Conservatives. It will tie up landlords and landladies in immigration red tape and put them at risk of prison sentences. It will arm immigration officers with broad new powers. Most fundamentally, it will strike a significant blow against community cohesion.

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The Home Secretary spoke about community cohesion last week, yet her Government’s explicit and almost dystopian goal is to create a “hostile climate”, as if we can hermetically seal off the bad migrants, while the rest of the multicultural UK goes about its business as usual. That approach reached its lowest ebb with the horrendous “go home” vans, which illustrated the key point that the hostile climate that the Government seek to create affects all of us who live in it.

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP): Will my hon. Friend join me in commending the work of the integration networks in cities and communities across Scotland? During the recess, I visited the Maryhill integration network, which does a huge job in helping people to adapt to Scottish society. The stories that I heard from immigrants and asylum seekers there would be enough to make anyone weep. Ministers ought to meet the integration networks to experience at first hand the issues that face asylum seekers in our country.

Stuart C. McDonald: That is precisely the sort of work that the Government should support, rather than going through the motions of pursuing their impossible net migration target.

Andy Burnham: I am grateful for the spirit in which the hon. Gentleman has introduced his remarks and for what he has said. He talked about right to rent. Does he agree that, in the absence of any evidence from the Government on the pilot, we have to accept what has been produced by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants? As I said in my speech, its findings are extremely troubling. If we accept those findings, it is impossible to support the Bill tonight because of its potential to cause widespread discrimination against British citizens too.

Stuart C. McDonald: I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I, too, have read the JCWI report and will refer to its findings shortly.

In summary, the Bill pursues the wrong goals by the wrong methods and at tremendous cost, so we should decline to give it a Second Reading.

I shall outline briefly our views on the key clauses and my hon. Friends will expand on those views in the course of the debate. Not wishing to be relentlessly negative, let me turn first to one part of the Bill that is positive. We welcome the provisions at the start of the Bill that will establish a director of labour market enforcement. We have questions about resourcing, powers and whether all the necessary agencies will be involved, but the principle has our support. We agree that the focus of our attention should be on employers who exploit undocumented labour to the detriment not just of undocumented workers, but resident workers who are competing for jobs and businesses that comply with the rules.

Drew Hendry: The Government say that they want to tackle slavery and exploitation. Does my hon. Friend agree that these measures will drive more people into vulnerable situations and put them at risk of being exploited in the labour market?

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Stuart C. McDonald: I agree with my hon. Friend that the Bill holds that risk. I will turn in a moment to the criminalisation of working, which might cause that problem.

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): The SNP spokesman is right that there should be a greater emphasis on employers who employ illegal immigrants, but does he accept that even the powers that the Government have at present are not being used against employers? Looking at civil penalty notices, less than half have been paid, a third have been written off and the rest remain unpaid. There does not seem to be enforcement against employers even under the legislation that is available.

Stuart C. McDonald: Once again, I agree absolutely with the hon. Gentleman. It has been a habit in the field of immigration to take the approach that if at first you don’t succeed, legislate and legislate again. We need not constant legislation but to use the powers that the Government already have.

The Government must focus on enforcement. We agree that we should look again at further sanctions for those who exploit undocumented labour. We will therefore look sympathetically but carefully at the wording of the proposed amended criminal offence for employers.

We have significant concern about the proposals to criminalise undocumented workers contained in clause 8. The notion of criminalising a person for working is controversial, especially given that prosecutions are already possible for breaches of immigration law under section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971, as the hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) said. The problem is an absence not of criminal sanctions but of proper enforcement measures by Government agencies. We believe strongly that the speculative possibility of shaving a small amount off the net migration target will be outweighed by the significant danger highlighted by organisations that work with victims of trafficking, and that some of the most vulnerable workers will be put in an even more vulnerable position. The Home Secretary and the Government have done good work on trafficking, slavery and exploitation, and it would be sad if that were to be undone by pushing exploited workers even further underground because of the fear of criminalisation. If that is the effect, such measures will make immigration and labour market enforcement harder rather than easier.

Another area where dangers outweigh speculative benefits concerns the right to rent provisions. The shadow Secretary of State referred to the helpful study by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Its findings are absolutely stark, and include poor compliance and widespread ignorance among the unfortunate landlords and landladies who are supposed to police the right to rent. More significantly, those findings suggest that landlords are—perhaps understandably—less likely to consider someone who does not have a British passport, which includes more than one in six of the UK population. There were also increased feelings of discrimination among people who have been refused a tenancy. We therefore object strongly to these proposals as they can only exacerbate such problems. We are equally opposed to the fact that the new more punitive measures—and indeed other measures on licensing—can be extended to Scotland by subordinate legislation without full

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parliamentary scrutiny in this Chamber, and without the consent of the Scottish Parliament, where decisions on housing should be made.

We have serious concerns about part 3 of the Bill which, in combination with other measures, would deliver a stunning extension of powers to immigration officers and others who are not part of the police force, and not trained or supervised accordingly. Although we intend to support the reasoned amendment, we have some difficulties with this area, and it would be useful if, when winding up the debate, the spokesperson for the official Opposition said a little more about what new enforcement powers they want.

The Bill provides immigration officers with significant new powers to enter premises, search, seize, retain and arrest, and all in the face of serious reported abuses and evidence of the inefficient exercise of existing powers. We agree with Amnesty International that

“the Home Office should be concentrating on improving its performance with the powers it already possesses rather than being handed still more powers”

and we would require the Government to make a strong case for each new power before we could support them.

Equally troubling new powers are provided to the Home Secretary on bail conditions, which we believe undermine the authority of the independent tribunal. We saw in September that there is widespread cross-party support in this Chamber for changes to immigration detention, but those are not the changes in the Bill. That cross-party support included demand for a 28-day time limit for immigration detention. If the Bill receives a Second Reading, we look forward to tabling an amendment that will include such a time limit, and we will happily work with others to secure that.

Continuing the trend towards a limitation of appeal rights, part 4 of the Bill provides for a sweeping extension of powers to require people to leave and appeal from abroad should an application for an extension of leave be rejected. Let us remember that huge numbers of these appeals are successful, yet they will become infinitely more difficult if appellants are moved hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from their lawyers and their appeal hearing—an unfair immigration trial in absentia. UK citizens will be affected, because if this issue principally concerns family life appeal rights, that disruption will be to family life with those British citizens—families will be split apart; valuable jobs and support will be lost.

Finally, we object to the fact that “destitution” is once more the immigration policy of choice in part 5 of the Bill. We share the concerns of British Red Cross that the provisions in this Bill, including an end to section 95 support for families with children who have exhausted their appeal rights, will force families with children into destitution and put them at risk of harm. Such a measure will also increase the risk of families absconding, and pass a significant increase in costs to local authorities who will still have a duty to prevent children from becoming destitute. The shadow Secretary of State rightly acknowledged a similar pilot project by a previous Labour Government, which found that 35 out of 116 families had disappeared, losing all contact with immigration services. Such measures make immigration control harder, not easier. Again, when the evidence is considered, it tends not to support the Bill.

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These are not our only concerns with the Bill, and my hon. Friends will add to my criticisms. Declining the Bill a Second Reading is just a starting point, and the Scottish National party believes that we should be rolling back from the mistakes made by the coalition Government. We should go back to the drawing board to consider how we measure a successful immigration system. At the very least we should recognise that it is utterly inappropriate to include refugees, people’s husbands, wives and children, as well as bright young talent and the leaders of tomorrow who want to come here to study. We should get rid of the so-called right to rent provisions, not back them up with criminal sanctions. We should roll back the financial thresholds imposed on spouse and partner visas that are driving couples apart and creating what the Children’s Commissioner for England has called “Skype families”, and we should end the routine use of immigration detention.

We should address the concerns and challenges that can be caused by migration trends, and instead of scrapping schemes such as the migration impacts fund we should look at improved versions. We should consider schemes that encourage new arrivals to live in those parts of the UK that require them and will benefit from them most, including Scotland. Let devolved nations and regions have powers on immigration.

Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC): On that point, I note there is a skills shortage occupation list for Scotland. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there should be a skills shortage occupation list for Wales, too?

Stuart C. McDonald: I fully support such measures.

Finally, we must listen to the hugely influential legal figures who told us yesterday that the Government have got it wrong on the refugee crisis. We must introduce safe and legal routes to the UK, as well as to the EU, through broader and more humane family reunion rules, humanitarian visas and relocation schemes for those already in Europe, as well as resettlement schemes for those still in the crisis area. Those are the steps that we would want an honest, bold and forward-thinking Government to take. Instead, we have a regressive, illiberal, ill-considered and inhumane Immigration Bill that should be denied a Second Reading.

3.35 pm

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): I rise to speak in support of the Bill, which addresses a very serious issue in a way that confronts the facts as they stand.

I have the honour of representing the Folkestone and Hythe constituency, which includes the channel tunnel. This summer, my constituency was 30 miles or so from the frontline of the migration crisis as it confronted the UK. In the camp outside Calais, known as the jungle, thousands of migrants are waiting to enter the UK. The truth about the conditions in those camps is that we do not know who people are or where they have come from. We do not know which ones are legitimate asylum seekers and which ones are not. Of the surveys done by numerous people who visited the camps during the course of the summer and previously—this is not a new phenomenon—it is quite clear that people in the camps are seeking to enter this country without being detected,

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without papers and without tickets. They are looking to enter this country without being noticed by the authorities, and then to work, live and be accommodated here without being noticed by the authorities. Some are doing this voluntarily, but others are putting their lives in the hands of dangerous gangs who are trafficking them across Europe and into this country, and who seek to exploit them when they are here.

Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East) (SNP): Will the hon. Gentleman tell me more about those surveys? Who carried them out? How many people did they speak to? Did they have a box to tick that said, “I am trying to sneak into your country undetected”? That is what it sounds like to me.

Damian Collins: The hon. Lady can look at any number of reports made during the summer by various organisations that visited the camps. Why does the hon. Lady think that people are storming the channel tunnel at Coquelles every night? Why does she think people are storming the port of Calais? It is not because they have tickets, visas and passports to come here; it is because they are seeking to enter the country illegally. In doing so, it is clearly evident they are endangering their lives and the lives of other people who use those services too.

The people in the camps have the right, if they want help, to claim asylum where they are. They choose not to do so. Many people in that position are being exploited by very dangerous gangs who are moving people across Europe. The people who have the most to fear from the Bill are those who seek to exploit migrants coming to this country without papers. Migrants have been told not to claim asylum and that they will be looked after privately and secretly once they get here. Those people are exploited. It is the exploiters who have the most to fear from the Bill.

I very much welcome the work the Home Office has done to try to secure our borders. Much of the Bill deals with the consequences of people entering the country without papers and without the legal right to remain, and what we can do about that. Our first obligation is to protect the border itself. The investment the Government have made, along with the French authorities, in securing our border at Calais and Coquelles is hugely significant and hugely welcome. It has greatly reduced the numbers of migrants seeking to enter the country illegally by storming the entrances to the channel tunnel and the port of Dover. As I said before, that not only disrupts services but endangers their lives and the lives of others who use those services. It must be stopped.

I welcome the Home Secretary’s influence in persuading the French Government to provide more of their own resources in policing that frontier. I also welcome the moves passed recently by the French Senate—they are still going through the French National Assembly—to improve French law enforcement capabilities to deal with people seeking to enter this country illegally by storming the frontier at Calais and Coquelles. It is right that there are proper criminal sanctions against people who seek to use criminal damage and criminal trespass as a means to enter this country. I know, from people who work at Eurotunnel who saw the consequences of the actions during the summer, that those actions were

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not only highly dangerous but threatened to disrupt and even derail services through the tunnel. That would have endangered the lives of other passengers, as well as the lives of the people committing those actions. It is right to protect the migrants and to protect our frontier, and it is right that these important new sanctions are being considered.

Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP): So far the hon. Gentleman has told us an awful lot about the disruption caused by people blatantly ignoring the existing legislation. If people are going to ignore the legislation, making it tougher is not going to help; they will continue to ignore it just the same. What in the Bill will prevent people from trying to get into the UK illegally? Would it not be much better to devote the resources to securing the borders and enforcing the existing legislation, rather than introducing further legislation that will create discrimination in housing and access to other services?

Damian Collins: I set out at the beginning of my remarks the important action the Government and the Home Office have taken to try and secure the borders, but there are additional provisions in the Bill, particularly in part 6, such as the extra maritime checks and enforcement. These provisions will give Border Force the right to board and check vessels that might be carrying people seeking to cross the channel and enter this country illegally. It will give extra powers to law enforcement authorities to pick people up and check vessels to see what is going on. That is absolutely the right thing to do.

There are those who seek to provide accommodation to people with no papers and no right to be in this country and to employ them in large numbers, and it is right that they fear the sanction of being inspected, checked and discovered. They seek to exploit people who understand they have no legal right to be here and do not want the authorities to know they are here. They exploit their concerns about being discovered, and the Bill is a threat to those people and the action they would take.

Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP) rose

Damian Collins: I have very little time and I would like to conclude.

It is the people traffickers and exploiters who have the most to fear from the Bill, and it is right that we give the enforcement authorities the extra powers they seek. We want a robust immigration system where people with the right to come to this country can do so, and we want to open this country to the world. We want to attract new talent and bring in people with skills. That is clear. We want a system where legitimate asylum seekers and refugees are granted safety and refuge, which has been a great hallmark of this country for many years.

We do not, however, want a system where people traffickers and smugglers from around the world can say, “If you get into the UK, you won’t be detected. You can stay and will be looked after”. They exploit people’s legitimate concerns and fears, and the Bill seeks to get to the heart of that. It aims to protect a legitimate migration system and to enhance Britain’s reputation as a country that welcomes refugees and people coming to work here but which conducts proper checks on people

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to make sure they have the right to stay and are legitimate asylum seekers. The ones who have the most to fear are those who seek to evade the authorities and exploit those who evade them. I ask the House to support the Bill.

3.42 pm

Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): The Home Secretary made her notorious speech in Manchester just a few minutes from my constituency. Had she come down the road, she would have seen tens of thousands of people who came under the contemptuous label she uttered this afternoon: “these people”. “These people”, of whom there are tens of thousands in my constituency, originate from south Asia, east and west Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere. We are a city of diversity and integration, and the two go together.

The hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) referred to Romanians. Recently in my constituency, an organisation has been set up by people of Romanian origin to integrate further into this country. Next Saturday in my constituency, we will be celebrating Nigerian independence day. This is a country of diversity that ever since the Romans has had people of overseas origin becoming part of its functioning. The Bill attacks them. It is an attack on anybody who is not what might be referred to as a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

I got a letter from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs about a constituent who had been asked to clarify his Christian name. To anyone of any intelligence, the man was a Muslim. That kind of approach happens under this Government: it has never happened before, even under previous Conservative Governments. The Bill creates a new subterranean, pseudo police force to carry out Government policy without being members of the Government’s staff.

Landlords have been recruited, whether they want to be or not—the National Landlords Association has issued a document expressing considerable resentment—to impose a law that they had no say in creating. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees says that landlords are less likely to rent to those with foreign accents or names, or those who do not possess a British passport. That is my parents. They never learned to speak English fluently; they never got British passports —yet they were part of this country and part of a community. Landlords and bank staff are being turned into Government agents. Under this Bill, we have a new bail system that has nothing to do with judges or magistrates and nothing to do with the law—except the law created by this Government.

The national health service wants to bring people from India to be nurses in Manchester, but they cannot get the certificates because the process is so opaque. People coming here as refugees are scared stiff for their lives—something that, thank God, we in this country are not—and are subjected to all kinds of interrogation.

Andy Burnham: As well as providing him with a little more time, I would like my right hon. Friend to consider the effect on his constituency and mine of the changes to the immigration rules that the Government want to introduce with respect to earnings. This could force a lot of nurses currently working in the NHS to leave the country. Nurse training has been cut and the NHS is

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over-reliant on agency staff; now the Government are about to force thousands of nurses to go back. Does he agree with me that we need a rethink and a change of heart on this issue?

Sir Gerald Kaufman: When I go, as I no doubt shortly shall, for my flu jab, the person who gives it to me would not be regarded by many people who support this Bill as British, but services are being provided for people in this country. The work situation is going to be made more difficult, with potential employees afraid that they will be prosecuted for recruiting people illegally.

I do not know whether the Home Secretary went to any of the many wonderful Asian restaurants when she was in Manchester. My constituency has a “curry mile”, which is one of the best places to go to in the whole of the world for an overseas diet. I wonder how many of them will be under suspicion by the Home Office trying to decide, minutiae by minutiae, whether people are the “right kind” of British, who seem to be the only kind of British that they want to welcome into this country.

As the TUC says, huge poverty will be created by this Government. The children of asylum seekers will live in houses for which the amount of money being made available is £30 and a little bit more. I am proud of this country; I love this country. I do not know, however, whether the Government who are introducing this Bill love the country that Britain really is rather than the country into which they would like to transform it.