I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for the re-establishment of the control and sovereignty of policy, administration and all other matters relating to the United Kingdom’s borders with the European Union and to the entry and exit to the United Kingdom of foreign nationals;
and for connected purposes.
It is the paramount duty of Her Majesty’s Government to protect and defend the integrity of our national borders. There can be no doubt that today the British people expect and, indeed, demand that their elected Government do exactly that. I do not believe there has ever been an electoral mandate for open borders. On the contrary, Governments of all parties have promised the British people that they would strictly control the entry of peoples into our country.
Indeed, the expectation of my constituents is that our Government will implement a policy to guard our borders from land, sea, air and the channel tunnel; to manage our immigration system to serve our national interest; and, most importantly of all, to keep our people safe from harm. I have to tell the House that the clamour of the British people for such an approach is greater now than at any time before, and no Government can ignore it.
From the outset I should make it clear that, while it is my intention in presenting the Bill to introduce a vital change, restoring full control and sovereignty over our UK borders to Her Majesty’s Government and our elected Parliament, thus making it possible to achieve more sustainable levels of migration, I am not against immigration. Immigration to these islands over the centuries has been overwhelmingly positive in shaping our nation’s development and evolution, contributing to our cultural and economic success. Our island story has been enriched by the arrival of peoples of every nationality and, most especially in recent decades, those from our Commonwealth family of nations and territories, with whom we in the British Isles, including Ireland, share such a close bond through our cultural, historical and constitutional ties.
Immigration that is controlled and managed properly is therefore a good thing for Britain, but that can happen only if the power to decide who is allowed to enter our country and who is not allowed to enter is restored. A nation that does not retain sovereignty over its national borders will ultimately be powerless to determine its own destiny.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that net migration for the year ending March 2015 was roughly 330,000 people, of whom nearly half were EU citizens. The Immigration Minister described those figures as “deeply disappointing”, reflecting not just his frustration but the Government’s inability to make progress in reducing net inward migration to the tens of thousands that the British people were promised.
Immigration now stands at its highest level ever, with huge social and economic consequences for our country. Some may welcome that and say that it is good for
Britain, but others may argue—as I do—that such a colossal increase in our population is unsustainable and sensible controls are needed. Whatever one’s view, my Bill will give the British Government and British Parliament, elected by the British people, the absolute right to decide what our future British immigration policy should be.
Once sovereignty is restored, Her Majesty’s Government may wish to continue with the current policy of free movement of people from Europe, or even extend it to other countries, and that would be their right as the democratically elected Government of our country. On the other hand, they may decide to restrict numbers entering the UK, perhaps adopt a points system for all entrants, similar to that successfully implemented by Australia, or give greater preference to the nations of the Commonwealth and Her Majesty’s realms, with whom we share so much in common, most notably our English language. They may choose whether to extend the ancestry rule, depending on their point of view, but whatever the Government of day decide, based on a democratic mandate handed to them by the British people, my Bill would restore the absolute power to do what Her Majesty’s Government believe to be right for Britain, and deny any supranational commission, Parliament or court the power to overrule us.
Control over our borders is one of the defining attributes of statehood: in short, a state cannot be truly self-governing unless it can ultimately exercise control over who can and cannot enter that country. Unsurprisingly, the better we do economically as a country, the greater the number of people who want to come here, but our public services are now under relentless strain as they struggle to cope with the number of people arriving. It may be true that European immigrants have paid more in taxes than they have taken out in benefits, but the tangible provision of Government services simply cannot keep up. It takes time to build houses, establish GP surgeries, hospitals, and schools, and with the strain that we see on public services today, it is obvious that the increase in our population is having a significant social impact on our nation.
We must be realistic about the length of time that it takes for people to integrate into British society, and it is not unreasonable to say that such a rapid increase in population—including some people from very different cultures—has led to tension within our towns and communities. However, I believe that the overwhelming majority of people who have travelled to these shores and chosen to make their home in Britain are thoroughly admirable people who are prepared to uproot their entire lives to make a new life for themselves. I welcome those people, so let me be clear that it is not immigration but uncontrolled immigration that I believe is unsustainable. If we are serious about achieving more sustainable levels, it is imperative that we first reassert sovereignty over our national borders.
Through our ever closer integration with the European Union, I fear that we have lost sight of our place in the world as a global, trading nation, neglecting our close ties with the English-speaking world and Commonwealth, and instead aligning ourselves most closely with the one region of the world where economic growth is stagnating. My Bill would repeal all legislation that prevents the United Kingdom from asserting sovereignty over our national borders, freeing ourselves to look to the wider world and to enable the brightest and best talent to come to Britain, attracting highly skilled workers from Canada, India, Australia, the Caribbean, Africa, the Americas and the far east, as well as from Europe.
My Bill will give Britain a fresh start on immigration policy, restoring the right of control over our national borders to the British people and their elected Government. That must surely be the only reasonable position of a legislative body that wishes to govern in the interests of its own nation. Our immigration policy and control of our nation’s borders rightly belong under the jurisdiction of our own, sovereign, UK Parliament, and it is to achieve that goal that I commend this Bill to the House.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Certain Opposition Members have clearly indicated their dissent to this Bill, but they have not risen to oppose it. Can you give some indication of how the House might test the will of Members if no one opposes the Bill and see through their clearly indicated dissent by forcing a Division?
There are a number of ways that people can indicate their dissent, including voting against something during a Division. It is perfectly possible for Members to indicate their dissent without voting against the Bill. I will now put the Question.
Question put and agreed to.
That Andrew Rosindell, Mr Henry Bellingham, Mr Douglas Carswell, Sir William Cash, Mr Jeffrey M. Donaldson, Frank Field, Mr Roger Godsiff, Kate Hoey, Ian Paisley, Tom Pursglove, Gavin Robinson and Mr Laurence Robertson present the Bill.
Andrew Rosindell accordingly presented the Bill.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on