I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
We have heard considerable debate and lively discussion as the Immigration Bill has been discussed today and at the various other stages. A range of views and concerns have been expressed and considered amendments have been voted on. As we come to Third Reading, it is important that we remember why the Bill is so necessary, so I want to reflect on what we believe the Bill will do.
As I said on Second Reading, we must continue to build an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and people who come here legitimately to play by the rules and contribute to our society. That means ensuring that immigration is balanced and sustainable and that net migration can be managed.
I am sure that the whole House will agree that, without immigration, this country would not be the thriving multiracial, multifaith democracy that it is today. Immigration has brought tremendous benefits—to our economy, our culture and our society—but, as I have said before, when net migration is too high, and the pace of change too fast, it puts pressure on schools, hospitals, accommodation, transport and social services, and it can drive down wages for people on low incomes. That is not fair on the British public and it is not fair on those who come here legitimately and play by the rules. So since 2010 the Government have reformed the chaotic and uncontrolled immigration system that we inherited, and instead we are building one that works in the national interest.
This Bill will ensure that we can go further in bringing clarity, fairness and integrity to the immigration system. I would like to thank right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House for their constructive contributions in shaping this Bill during its parliamentary stages, and all those who have been involved in working on it: the members of the Committee, the House authorities, the organisations who gave evidence to the Bill Committee, and those who responded to all the consultations and provided briefing on the Bill. I thank and commend my right hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration for the thoughtful way in which he has steered the Bill through the House. It has been important and substantial work. I want to highlight briefly some of the measures in the Bill.
The exploitation of vulnerable people by unscrupulous employers is an issue that has been raised by victims’ campaign groups, charitable organisations and Members in this House many times before. We know that labour market exploitation can be committed by organised criminal gangs, and it is clear that workers’ rights need to be enforced more effectively, and that the current regulatory framework needs improvement. This Bill will create a new statutory Director of Labour Market Enforcement to oversee and co-ordinate the drive for more effective enforcement across the spectrum of non-compliance.
The House will appreciate that illegal working remains one of the principal pull factors for people coming to live in the UK illegally, so we are taking the necessary step of making illegal working a criminal offence. This addresses a genuine gap in our ability to use proceeds of crime powers to seize and confiscate the profits made by those who choose to break our immigration laws. But we should be clear that this measure is not intended to—nor will it—punish the vulnerable, such as those who are trafficked here and forced to work illegally. The safeguards provided in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 will continue to protect people in those circumstances. Instead, we want to deal with those illegal migrants who choose to work here illegally when they should, and could, leave the UK. But we must also target the employers who facilitate illegal working. The Bill will allow us to strengthen sanctions for employers who knowingly turn a blind eye to the fact that they are employing illegal workers.
We also know that a great deal of illegal working happens in licensed sectors. The Bill will ensure that those working illegally or employing illegal workers cannot obtain licences to sell alcohol or run late night take-away premises. Similarly, we will be requiring licensing authorities to check the immigration status of taxi or private hire vehicle drivers. The message is simple—illegal working is wrong, and it will not be tolerated.
Too often, illegal migrants ignore the law, remain illegally in this country and take advantage of our very generous public services. That cannot be allowed to continue, so we will further restrict access to services. We will make it easier for landlords to evict illegal migrants while also introducing new offences for rogue landlords who repeatedly rent to illegal migrants. We will crack down on those driving while in the UK illegally by ensuring that, if they hold UK driving licences, their licences can be seized and taken out of circulation. We will also strengthen the consequences for those continuing to drive without lawful immigration status, including powers to detain their vehicle.
We will create a duty on banks and building societies periodically to check the immigration status of existing current account holders so that accounts held by illegal migrants can be closed or frozen following a court order.
It is right that we address the appeals issue so that we can remove people with no right to be in the UK. In 2014 we introduced our deport now, appeal later scheme, which has helped us to deport over 230 foreign national offenders. In our manifesto, we committed to extending that to all human rights cases, provided it does not breach human rights. The Bill allows us to do just that, to ensure that illegal migrants who have not been offered leave to remain cannot frustrate the removal process.
We will also ensure as a result of the Bill that when foreign criminals are released on bail we can place a satellite tag on them so that we know their whereabouts and can improve public protection.
The Government are clear that we have a duty to offer support to those who come to the UK and seek our protection while their claim is being assessed. But it cannot be right for that support to continue once it has been established and confirmed by the courts that an individual has no need of our protection and could, and should, leave the UK. Such individuals are illegal migrants, and to support them further would be unfair on those who do need our protection and our support to establish a new life here. The Bill redresses that balance and removes incentives to remain here illegally.
Two other aspects are important. Controlling our borders is vital in protecting national security. It is imperative that we know who is seeking to enter the UK and that we are able to stop them if they seek to do us harm. The Bill gives Border Force officers more powers to intercept vessels at sea, increase penalties for airline and port operators who fail to present passengers to immigration control, and automatically apply UN or EU travel bans to stop dangerous individuals coming to the UK.
Secondly, in line with our manifesto, we will ensure that customer-facing public sector workers are able to speak English. Where communicating with the British public is a vital part of the job, fluent English should be a prerequisite, and through this Bill we will legislate to ensure that this becomes a reality.
When the Government first came to power in 2010, the immigration system that we inherited was chaotic and uncontrolled. Over the past five years we have taken great strides forward in reforming it. We have tightened immigration routes where abuse was rife, shut down more than 920 bogus colleges, capped the number of non-EEA migrant workers admitted to the UK, reformed family visas, and protected our public services from abuse. These reforms are working, but we must go further. This Bill will build on our achievements and ensure that we have an immigration system that is firm and effective, fair on the British public and on those who come here legitimately, and, most importantly, serves the national interest. I commend this Bill to the House.