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Immigration Bill

Part of Bills Presented – in the House of Commons at 6:51 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 6:51 pm, 13th October 2015

This has been a very wide-ranging and passionate debate. Clearly, there are some issues that deserve further scrutiny.

Let me welcome Keir Starmer to his new role; this is the first opportunity that I have had to do so. I look forward to further debates with him on the issues that have been highlighted during this debate.

The hon. and learned Gentleman raised a specific point on the statutory defences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Perhaps in the sense of wanting to respond to him positively so that we can end the debate in that manner, I can say that that Act does include provisions relating to defences. There will be a defence to the new criminal offence of illegal working in the Bill. The Director of Public Prosecutions also issues guidance to protect victims from unfair prosecution. Certainly, I can give that reassurance to him and to other Members who raised the point during today’s debate.

May I say to all hon. Members that this Government are firmly on the side of the vast majority of law-abiding migrants who play by the rules and contribute so much to our society? The UK has a long and proud history of immigration and this Government will continue to welcome the brightest and the best, the skilled and the talented to our country and to recognise the contribution that they make.

I thank all my hon. and right hon. Friends for their support of the Bill. My hon. Friend Mr Jackson rightly highlighted the concern in his community and the need to deal with illegal immigration. My hon. Friend Damian Collins made the important point about exploitation by organised crime. He made the very clear statement that exploiters have the most to fear from this Bill. My hon. Friend Rebecca Harris talked about strengthening criminal sanctions for illegal working.

My hon. Friend Mr Bellingham raised an issue in relation to nurses and talked about some of the things that he has seen in his constituency. I can say to him that we take the advice on who should go on our shortage occupation list from the Migration Advisory Committee. That Committee said at the start of this year that nurses should not go on that list. It is considering the evidence further, and we will continue to take account of what it has to say on these important matters.

My hon. Friend Andrew Stephenson highlighted the new closure power and the scope of the director of labour market enforcement. We have launched a consultation today and I welcome contributions to that. My hon. Friend David T. C. Davies highlighted his experiences on his visit to Calais, a point that was also raised by other hon. Members who have been out to northern France. Indeed, my hon. Friend Kelly Tolhurst also highlighted this point, and we are continuing to work with Kent County Council on the pressures it has experienced, particularly those concerning unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

My hon. Friend Kevin Hollinrake made a powerful point about having good migration, not mass migration, and my hon. Friend Byron Davies talked about how we need to stop the abuse carried out by rogue landlords. I hope that we will reach a point in our discussions on the Bill at which we will highlight how these measures contribute to taking action against rogue landlords more generally, working with local authorities to clamp down on the appalling conditions in many of the properties those landlords own. This is about supporting the proper regulated sector and joining up to take action against those who are exploiting the vulnerable.