Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:40 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay 6:40 pm, 28th January 2019

It is a great privilege to follow Ms Harman, and I warmed to many of the points she was making. It is long overdue that we address the issue of indefinite detention.

I very much welcome this Bill as an important step in taking back control of our borders as we leave the EU. It is important that we deliver on this promise we made to the British people. Unfortunately, too many Members of this House seem to be reneging on promises they made to the British people at the last election. It is essential that we deliver on this promise to end the free movement of people and take back control of our own immigration policy. Beyond this Bill, which is just one step in that process, leaving the EU provides us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset our immigration policy.

As we do that, it is vital that we are able to have a grown-up, mature and constructive debate about immigration. We have to avoid the polarisation that too often takes place, where people are either labelled as being for free movement and immigration, or against it and seeing it as a bad thing, because the reality is that it can be both good and bad. It is clear to me that, on balance, immigration has been good for our country. It is a very positive thing for our country, and we have heard many hon. Members make the point about the benefits of immigration to our economy. It has also been good for our nation in the wider context and has largely contributed to our being the richly diverse nation that the UK is today. But we also need to acknowledge that for some communities immigration has been a mixed blessing. If we do not listen to and acknowledge the legitimate concerns of communities who have seen the negative impacts of free movement affect them, we do the positive case for immigration a disservice.

There are some parts of our country and some communities where people feel that uncontrolled immigration has had a largely negative impact on their communities. It has brought about sudden change to the make-up, culture, nature and identity of those communities, and they see that as something that has been taken away from them. Although we should not be shy, as I have not been, in speaking up for the benefits that immigration has brought to our country, neither should we avoid addressing the challenges it has also created in some cases.