Earned Citizenship

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:31 pm on 20th February 2008.

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Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Home Secretary 12:31 pm, 20th February 2008

I was not quite clear whether the hon. Gentleman was supporting what we propose or simply having a rant about the issue. First, he asked me whether I recognised the considerable economic benefits to the UK of migration and the contribution that it makes to the UK. Yes, we most definitely do. That is why the points-based system, which I think he said he supported, will be about how we ensure, through a serious look at the economic benefits of migration to this country by the migration advisory committee, that we can welcome into this country those who will earn money for themselves, but also make a contribution to the economy.

The hon. Gentleman also asked what benefits would be available before the full benefits of British citizenship. We will ensure that those who come here for our legal protection as refugees will maintain all their current entitlements to benefits. We will expect those who come here as economic migrants and dependents to be self-sufficient up to the end of the period of probationary citizenship. They will be entitled to benefits to which they have made the necessary contributions. They will be expected to send their children to schools and be facilitated in doing so, and will receive NHS care. At the point at which people become British citizenships, they will receive the full range of benefits.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look seriously at the proposals that we are making, which are not about the conditions that we place on migrants coming into the country. They are, as I have explained, about that third stage of reform, which looks seriously at how we need to reform the system to ensure that the path to citizenship and the expectations that we place upon people coming to this country reflect the shared values that are often what attract people to come to Britain in the first place and take the path to citizenship. I believe that our proposals will make our shared values and the contribution that migrants make to this country even clearer, and will demonstrate to everybody in the UK and, more widely, to those around the world how we can reform our system to represent those values.