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This spring, on doorsteps across my constituency, people wanted to have a say on immigration and they wanted to be heard. I welcome this debate on such an important issue and rise to support the Government and the Home Secretary.
We are fortunate to live in a country that has benefited enormously from being a true melting-pot nation, and we speak in a truly global and outward-looking country and a truly diverse city. Students across the world come to our universities seeking the finest education, global investors continue to put their faith in the economic security of the nation and our proud culture of arts boasts the positive values of immigration and true diversity. Famous Britons who were not born Britons—George Handel, Henry James and T. S. Eliot to name but a few—have come here and succeeded, and without immigration we would not have our wonderful Marks & Spencer or the chance to do the “Mobot”. However, our nation’s proud history of immigration is reflected not just by these famous and successful names. Those who quietly toil day and night, providing us with the best healthcare, reflect our history of bringing people in to add value to this country.
Some 11% of all the staff in our NHS are foreign nationals, as are 26% of doctors. It is truly in the fabric of our nation that we are the beacon of opportunity across the world, but it is vital that we do not diminish that record by undertaking a programme of uncontrolled immigration that is neither fair nor sustainable. I do not want to see immigration without the rule of law, nor do I want to see people come to our shores only to be exploited by criminal gangs and forced into poorly paid work.
Migrant workers are often vulnerable and subject to labour market exploitation. I welcome the Bill’s institution of a new statutory director of labour market enforcement and am reassured by the Home Secretary’s opening remarks about the clear reporting structures. The new role ensures that intelligence and resource allocation across the regulators is properly co-ordinated, and the measure sits alongside a crackdown on those who would seek to employ illegal workers. We must be absolutely clear in this House that those who come to the UK illegally should not be working 20-hour days for no pay. It is not fair and it is not right.
I welcome the crackdown on driving licences. Too many tragedies on our roads have happened because of those who have not been checked and who are not regulated and who cause a menace on our roads. I believe that the fluent English requirement is vital for our workforce and to balance the skills gap.