Clause 34 — Appeals within the United Kingdom: certification of human rights claims

Part of Consumer Protection (Standards of Fire Resistance of Children’s Fancy Dress and Play Costumes Etc) – in the House of Commons at 6:52 pm on 1st December 2015.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Chair, Home Affairs Committee 6:52 pm, 1st December 2015

I knew you would remember, Mr Speaker. The hon. Gentleman did tell me that he would be in the House to speak on behalf of his party, which of course he does so very eloquently.

I join the shadow Home Secretary and the Home Secretary in welcoming all the good work done by Members on both sides of the House in scrutinising the Bill, particularly the new shadow Minister for Immigration. The shadow Home Secretary has stolen him from the Home Affairs Committee. He says he is the star striker—he is not yet the Jamie Vardy of the team, but he is going that way. Sorry, I could not think of an Arsenal player; otherwise I would have mentioned him.

I think that I have served longer than any other Member in the Chamber at the moment, with the exception of Alex Salmond, who had a short gap to be the First Minister of Scotland. In the 28 years I have been in the House, we have had about 20 immigration Bills., Every time we have one, the Home Secretary in successive Governments has got up at the Dispatch Box and said that, as a result of passing the Bill, immigration will be kept under control, the system will be much better, illegal migration will be reduced and that is the end of the show as far as such matters are concerned. Unfortunately, it never ends up like that: we pass legislation, and I am afraid that at the end of the day we have to come back again to pass another Bill.

I hope that that will not be the case with this Immigration Bill, because during the next four years until the next election I do not want the Home Secretary—either the right hon. Lady or her successor, although I am sure she will be in office for a long while—to have to come back and tell the House, “Well, it didn’t quite work, so we’re going to try something new.” My concern is not with passing legislation, although that is of course what the House is for, but with the way in which we administer the legislation. As reflected in the reports of the Home Affairs Committee, my concern has always been with the administration of the Home Office.

The Home Secretary has taken great strides. She has abolished the UK Border Agency and replaced it with a much more effective organisation. Sarah Rapson and her team are doing a much better job than their predecessors. However, there are always examples of situations in which illegal migration is not under control.

Only yesterday, as a result of work done by the BBC in the south-west, undercover reporters posing as illegal migrants went to various places in Kent and Sussex and offered themselves as employees—

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Interruption.

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I can send the Home Secretary the video. They offered themselves as employees to work illegally in those two counties, and they were offered jobs at £2.80 an hour. They were also given advice by the employers on how to evade enforcement officers.

So no matter what legislation we pass here, at the end of the day we need an administration that is fit for purpose. I hope that, as a result of passing this legislation, we will get more focus on how we enforce the law, to ensure that those who wish to come to this country legally—students and others who genuinely want to study and work here—can do so, and that those who want to come here illegally will not be allowed to do so and will not be allowed to offer themselves for employment and to be put at risk by unscrupulous employers. There is a huge job of work to be done on the way in which we deal with enforcement, and if we can get the enforcement section of UK Visas and Immigration up to the same standard as the other parts of the organisation, it will make a huge difference. I hope that the Home Secretary will take that message with her as she continues her long journey running the Home Office.

The Select Committee heard today from the head of the UK Border Force, Sir Charles Montgomery, that he had not yet been told what his allocation was to be following the cuts—or should I say the austerity measures —at the Home Office. The Home Secretary fought a good fight with the Chancellor to protect the budget for counter-terrorism and policing, but she obviously did not win the fight in respect of the Home Office’s other functions. I hope that Sir Charles will be given that information as soon as possible, because protecting our borders, especially in the current climate, is one of the key concerns of the House and, I know, of the Government.