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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.