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Immigration Bill

Part of Bills Presented – in the House of Commons at 5:29 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Civil Liberties) 5:29 pm, 13th October 2015

I agree with every word from my hon. Friend. Indeed, it is one of the points that I really wanted to underline. If this Bill does go through, the Government must give landlords the resources they need to understand exactly what is required of them.

On the subject of racism, there is no doubt in my mind that intemperate language and legislation that is based on the presumption that all immigrants can be illegal will increase racism. I have heard many positive things today about multiculturalism, anti-racism and welcoming people who have come from other countries. I invite all those Members who have an interest in this subject to attend the Westminster Hall debate secured by my hon. Friend Angela Crawley, which celebrates Black History Month in October.

In practical terms, this Bill will make it much harder for those legally resident in the UK, originally from elsewhere, to rent a property here. It will leave some with no choice but to turn to unscrupulous landlords, which brings with it uncertainty and sometimes danger. There are also very real concerns regarding the privacy of the individual under this Bill. Those legally resident in the UK will have copies of their personal documentation kept in the hands of unaccountable private landlords for a period of years. As those include bank account details, this poorly drafted legislation also opens up endless possibilities of identity theft and illegal activity. If the Government wish to improve enforcement, why not start using the legislation on the statute book? Why not ensure that immigration officers are properly resourced so that they can do their job?

It is not just about professional landlords. A generation of property owners have bought their council house or their children’s university flat and have subsequently let it out. The Government want those property owners to do the work of trained immigration officials. What happened to the line oft quoted by Tories that an Englishman’s home is his castle? The Bill seeks to turn yon castle into an immigration office. The Bill does not reflect reasonable concerns on immigration but is rather a tokenistic attempt to appeal to a narrow segment of voters, reflected most clearly by the Government’s blatantly unnecessary language proposal in part 7.

Finally, I shall say one positive thing about the Bill. It has managed to unite social landlords, tenants, civil liberty campaigners and anti-racism campaigners with employers, private landlords and many more in opposition to its proposals—

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Interruption.

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Yes, it has. As we heard today, the Institute of Directors has also attacked the proposal, and the Government would do well to heed those concerns.