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Benefit Entitlement (Restriction) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:55 pm on 5th February 2016.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 1:55 pm, 5th February 2016

But this country does not really have a contributory system in the same way as other EU countries. That is part of the problem. It is no good the hon. Lady wanting to protect something that does not exist and opposing something that would actually do what she claims she wants to achieve. Her actions on this issue are more important than her words, and if she opposes the Bill, her actions clearly do not follow on from her words. I do not see the need for evidence. This is a Bill about a principle that is important to many people. It is about fairness, not evidence.

I would have some sympathy with the hon. Lady’s opinion if we had to give all these benefits away to secure a free trade agreement with the European Union, and that had a net benefit for our economy. If we had to give away something in order to achieve that, it might be worth doing. Given that we had a £62 billion trade deficit with the European Union last year, and that if we were to leave the EU we would be its single biggest export market, it is perfectly clear that we could have a free trade agreement with the EU for nothing. We do not have to give it access to our benefit system, and we do not need to give it a £19 billion a year membership fee. We can have what we want from the EU—free trade—for nothing. That is the deal that we should be seeking to secure. I do not think anybody can sustain the argument that if we were to leave the EU and stop giving benefits to EU citizens when they came to the UK, Germany would want to stop selling Mercedes, BMV and Volkswagen cars to people in this country. Of course they would not; it is complete nonsense for anybody to suggest that.