Immigration

Part of Backbench Business — [9th allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 18th November 2010.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall 2:36 pm, 18th November 2010

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving that information. Many businesses are trying hard, but that same Bangladeshi restaurant owner or the chef working at that restaurant must have told him that it is not an easy profession to teach. It takes a long time to do a chef's job properly, starting from an apprenticeship. I am not a chef-I am not a cook in general-but I understand the process that people have to go through, because I have seen it. They need an apprenticeship, but many young people in this country are not taking up the profession. In the face of that disadvantage, restaurant owners have no choice but to recruit people from the Indian subcontinent.

On the other Government policy-a cap on highly skilled migrants-it makes no sense to stop entrepreneurs coming to this country when we desperately need their skills to get us out of recession. I know that the Business Secretary understands that problem, but has he spoken to the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister about it? He should do, and quickly.

I am fully in favour of the UK Border Agency enforcing on businesses a requirement not to employ illegal workers, but I ask that that enforcement is intelligence-led and not disruptive to legitimately operating businesses. Many businesses in my constituency complain about insensitive raids by the UK Border Agency that are fruitless and harmful.

On visas for students from non-EU countries, I welcome the Government's move to face-to-face interviews for prospective students from south Asia. That is necessary to stop bogus applications, but we must not stop genuine students coming to this country. Colleges in my constituency, such as Ealing, Hammersmith and West London college, are making a tremendous contribution to the London economy with many non-EU students.

In my constituency we have strong business connections with the growing Indian economy. I am glad that the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and before them the previous Prime Minister, took a significant approach to build and to strengthen the relationship with India. That relationship should not be a one-way route. Investment and people are going not just from here to India; many investors from India are keen to come here and to invest. At present, Indian investors are the largest investors in this country. When we discuss immigration, we must also address those issues.

We act as an economic bridge to that rapidly growing world economic power. We must ensure that our immigration policies do not limit that huge economic opportunity by stopping highly skilled migrants from India working in the UK, or not allowing students from India and south-east Asia to come to this country on working holidays. The economic prize is great, and crucial for economic recovery. I urge the House to seize it.