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I was very keen to speak in support of the Bill, because I feel it recognises the deep concern the public have over immigration and, most importantly, it sends the message both home and abroad that illegal migrants are not welcome in the UK. If they do come, they will have great difficulty in finding somewhere to live and great difficulty in finding somewhere to work.
Despite those concerns, most people see the benefits of good migration. We need good migration, not mass migration. Good migration is good for the economy, our society and local communities. We need skilled workers and diversity enriches us, but not all immigration is good immigration. It can put a strain on schools, hospitals, dental and doctors’ surgeries and housing, and it can depress wages, particularly for those struggling on lower incomes. It can, of course, also see those migrants exploited. Net immigration, at 330,000, is too high and puts too much pressure on those services.
Over the next 20 years, the UK’s population is due to grow from 65 million to 75 million. My hon. Friend David T. C. Davies pointed out that the situation in other EU countries, such as Germany, is entirely different. The populations of those countries are either falling or stable. The UK is a victim of its own success. I welcome the Government’s effort to lower immigration from outside the EU, but those gains have been wiped out by migration from within the EU. I also welcome the Bill because it clamps down on illegal working and illegal residency.
Good migration is good for our economy. We must not deter good people, who are much needed for our high-tech industries, hospitals and hospitality industries, or the students who pay their way and come to our world-leading universities. I welcome, however, the Government action to close 900 bogus colleges since 2010. Business is worried about the changes to students’ access to the UK, but it will adapt given time.
The right to rent is a concern, and I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests—estate agency, the ideal preparation for a career in politics. Agents and landlords might be hit by disproportionate sanctions, including up to five years in jail. These are complex procedures. The EU has approved up to 400 different documents as demonstrating a right to residency. We have to support and simplify procedures, or it will effectively lead to discrimination.
As I said, immigration is good for society. We get a fusion of races and cultures living, learning and working together, but I have seen at first hand the effects of unchecked immigration in some of our towns and cities across east Lancashire and west Yorkshire, where communities are divided and people live, learn and work in separate areas. There has been too much immigration and a lack of thought and planning. We must clamp down on illegal immigration, and I welcome the initiative for public sector workers being able to speak fluent English.
In conclusion, we must ensure that our migration is good migration and send out the message that we will not tolerate illegal migration. Employers, agents, our banks and landlords all have their part to play, but the Government must support their efforts with good advice and appropriate resources. The Bill will give us more control and get us back to a sensible and sustainable immigration policy. I will absolutely be supporting it this evening.