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Benefit Entitlement (Restriction) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:31 pm on 5th February 2016.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 1:31 pm, 5th February 2016

The people will decide. We trust the people: that is why we are Conservatives. We look forward to the referendum whenever it comes.

I know other hon. Members wish to participate, but before closing let me turn to the issue of declaration of nationality. All the responses from the Government suggest that the scale of the problem is as the Prime Minister described it on Wednesday. However, the Government do not know at the moment how many people from the European Union or the European economic area are claiming benefits because there is no information about nationality in benefit claims. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead responded to the Bill two years ago, he said this would all be put right under universal credit. Well, that is great, but universal credit is taking a very long time to roll out.

That is why I would be interested to hear what the Under-Secretary of State says about my suggestion in clause 1:

“From the date of the coming into force of this Act no national insurance number shall be issued unless the applicant provides a declaration of nationality…no application shall be made for a taxpayer-funded benefit unless the applicant provides a declaration of nationality.”

At the moment, we do not really have detailed information; all we have are some rough and ready calculations.

We know there are large numbers of people in our country claiming from the benefits system who are not UK nationals. The Bill would address that problem full on and ensure that non-UK citizens from the European Union and the European economic area were not able to access our taxpayer-funded benefits. That is why I have the pleasure of begging to move that the Bill be read a Second time.