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Immigration White Paper

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:42 pm on 5th February 2018.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 3:42 pm, 5th February 2018

The immigration White Paper was originally scheduled to be published last summer. Then, Ministers told the Home Affairs Committee that it would be published before Christmas. Does not this constant postponement speak to the chaos and confusion on immigration in the Department as a whole? Does the Minister accept that, as the director general of the Confederation of British Industry said, business will be “hugely frustrated” by yet another postponement? Does she appreciate that firms need time to plan for change?

Does the Minister accept that this uncertainty is particularly upsetting for the 3 million EU citizens who live here? These people are contributing to the health service, social care, universities, financial services and the hospitality industry, among many other sectors. They are many of our constituents, neighbours and work colleagues. It is wrong that they should be treated like this. Furthermore, the longer the uncertainty goes on, the less willing EU citizens will be to come here to take up employment. Does the Minister accept that the consequences for recruitment in the health service in particular are potentially very serious? Does she also accept that European students who come to study in Britain after March 2019 will want reassurance that, if they are doing a three or four-year course, they will be able to stay for more than two years without having to apply again for a residence permit?

It is all very well for the Minister to say that the White Paper will be published when the time is right. The Opposition argue that the time has been right for some time and that the Government’s postponement and delay are inexcusable.