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Immigration Bill

Part of Bills Presented – in the House of Commons at 4:33 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of David Davies David Davies Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee 4:33 pm, 13th October 2015

Diolch am hynny—thanks for that—but the hon. Lady is tempting me down another path. I would love to come back to this matter on another occasion, because a lot of money is wasted on translating documents that nobody would ever read into Welsh and not quite enough money is spent on supporting people who want to learn the Welsh language, but that is more a matter for the Welsh Assembly than for us.

I think there is wider public concern about illegal immigration. That concern is too often dismissed as narrow-minded racism when that is not the case. It is reasonable for people who live in established communities to get nervous when they suddenly find that English—or, indeed, in some parts of north Wales, Welsh—is no longer the language they hear on the streets from day to day. In some of the larger cities, people become nervous when they see cultural changes that they cannot go along with, such as women wearing burkas and trailing 6 feet behind their husbands, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. It is no good dismissing those concerns as racism—they are not. I think we are a very tolerant bunch of people in Britain, but all of us, no matter what our origins, have a right to assume that anyone who chooses to come to this country really ought not only to respect the language of their chosen country and to learn it as best as they possibly can, but to fit in with that country’s culture and values rather than expect to be able to impose their own cultural values.

I recently visited the “jungle” in Calais, to find out for myself what was going on and to talk to some of the people trying to make the illegal crossing. I have nothing against any of them personally—what they are doing is perfectly understandable—but the Government recognise that they have a responsibility to tackle the problem.

A lot of what I saw is unlikely to be shown on the next episode of “Songs of Praise” when it goes there. Only a small minority of people in the “jungle” actually came from Syria. The vast majority, as far as I could tell, came from elsewhere, including Iraq, Pakistan and even Iran, which is one of the more stable countries in the middle east. I have no doubt that some of them were fleeing instability and war, but Britain will never, ever be able to cope with the number of people who live in countries that have a measure of instability. They include most of sub-Saharan Africa, virtually all of the middle east and a large chunk of Asia to boot. We simply will not be able to cope with the vast number of people who could legitimately claim that they come from a country where there is a certain amount of instability.

Another issue I had was that the vast majority of these people were young men. If they were all genuine refugees fleeing war, where were their wives and children? Why had they left them behind to face whatever it was they claimed to be facing? Others there were perfectly honest. One gentleman from Pakistan told me openly, “I am going to Britain because it is easier to work there and get cash in hand,” and he made a gesture to show what he meant. That is why the Government are right to tackle the problem.

I was concerned that people were living in all sorts of different areas in the “jungle” in Calais: the Iraqis were in one area, the Pakistanis in another and other people somewhere else. I was told by residents of the camp that the reason for that was that it is a very dangerous place after dark and that there is a lot of tension that sometimes results in violence. With the best will in the world, if we try to do what Germany is doing and allow hundreds of thousands of people to come into this country from widely different cultures—including, perhaps, cultures that have been at war with each other—that will cause a major law and order problem. The Germans have already found that there have been outbreaks of violence between Turkish and Kurdish people. We therefore need to be honest about the problems that we face.

We must remember that many of the migrants are making the dangerous journey because they are under the impression that, once they make it into Europe, they will be allowed to stay and nobody can chuck them out. As well as causing problems for other people, they are risking their own lives. Some figures suggest that at least 1% of them die on that illegal journey. They often pay money over to human traffickers. One man told me on film—I have put it on YouTube—that he paid €18,000 to human traffickers to get him as far as Calais. Criminal gangs are making vast sums out of people’s misery and exploitation.

The Government are absolutely right to do something about the problem. I am glad that some of the issues are recognised by Labour Members, although I am sorry that they are not willing to show their support for tougher migration controls in the Lobbies tonight. I reassure the Government that not only will the vast majority of, if not all, Conservatives support them, but the vast majority of people in the wider world who vote for all sorts of different parties will also support what they are trying to do.