Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in the debate and to speak against what, in my book, is one of the more heinous Bills introduced by this Tory Government, or for that matter by any other Government.
I am proud to make the case for immigration and to remind our international community that they are valued and that we appreciate their contribution to our communities. I know that Conservative Members like to consider issues purely on economic terms, and I could talk at length about the positive economic impact that immigration has on the UK economy. However, the biggest impact that our international community has on the UK cannot be measured purely in terms of economic growth or statistics; the most important impact made by our foreign-born friends can be witnessed in our communities each and every day.
During my research into the impact of the Bill, I met members of the Renfrewshire Effort to Empower Minorities, or REEM. It is a fantastic example of a group of people who are rooted in our community, who serve their members by helping to provide advice and training, and who organise a number of events throughout the year to help to integrate their members with the local population. Such groups internationalise our towns and cities. They help to achieve social cohesion, and they diversify our villages, towns and cities. That is why it depresses me to hear so many Tory MPs lining up to spout rhetoric about the allegedly devastating impact that immigration has on our country.
The problem for the UK Government is that, instead of developing evidence-based policy, they are attempting to create policy that panders to UKIP sympathisers in their own party. The Bill sends a message that the UK finds it an inconvenience that anyone would want to come and work here, and that the British Government want to drive a wedge between Britain and the rest of the world. Those are not my words but those of one of my constituents who is fed up with the deeply damaging and divisive Tory rhetoric, and who has decided to move away from the UK as he knows when he is not wanted.
Let me briefly touch on a number of aspects of the Bill and explain how they will have a significant impact on foreign residents, regardless of whether they are living here illegally or not. The Immigration Minister states that illegal immigration denies work to UK citizens, but one consequence of this Bill—it may be an unintended consequence—is that it will become harder for all foreign-born residents to get a job.
The Bill is targeting small businesses by shamefully using racial profiling and focusing on takeaways and off-licences. Employers will now face criminal prosecution and a five-year prison sentence if they are found to be employing someone whose right to remain has expired. Trying to ascertain someone’s immigration status can be a confusing process, and many small businesses do not have the administrative budgets to be confident enough to check the status of their foreign-born employees. It is not difficult to see that many small business owners will not risk employing someone who is foreign. That is bad for business as they will lose out on recruiting a skilled worker, and it will also be a significant barrier for foreign-born workers who will find it more difficult to get a job.
Not only will members of our international community find it difficult to get a job, but the Bill will also make it harder for them to have a roof over their head. The right to rent provision will encourage discrimination, promote the worst possible practice in housing management and make it harder for members of our international community to find a home.