This Bill is yet another power grab by a Government who are intent on riding roughshod over Parliament, and who view scrutiny as something to fear rather than a fundamental resource of democracy. Parliamentary scrutiny is there to enable a better, more effective, evidence-led approach, but it requires the appropriate powers to do that. The Bill does not allow Parliament to analyse, query and question the Government. Instead, it gives them sweeping powers to impose the immigration system that they set out in their White Paper or, indeed, any other whim that may take their fancy. We do not know what Home Office Ministers will do, and parliamentarians will be unable to challenge them when they do it. Having said that, we can have a good guess. Under the stewardship of a Prime Minister motivated more by ideology than facts, the Government have decided to stick with arbitrary targets and have looked to appease unjustified and unsubstantiated anti-migrant sentiment.
For Members from all parties, but particularly those on the Government Benches, I wish to outline a few key findings from the Government-commissioned Migration Advisory Committee report “EEA migration in the UK”. The report found no evidence that migration reduced wages, employment opportunities or training opportunities for UK-born citizens. Furthermore, it included strong evidence that EEA migrants have a positive impact on productivity, pay more in taxes than they receive in welfare benefits and consume in public services, and make a larger contribution to the NHS, in terms of both money and work, than they receive in health services.
As it stands, EEA nationals who want to come to the UK will be faced with our existing, creaking and failing immigration system, which is simply not fit for purpose. We know the damage that the Government’s hostile environment has caused for individuals and families throughout the country, and the Bill will push more people into this unjust position.