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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:47 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Chair, International Trade Committee, Chair, International Trade Committee 7:47 pm, 28th January 2019

If the hon. Gentleman looks at the part of the UK that became independent 96 years ago, he will see it now enjoys five to six times greater growth. When a country controls all the levers of the economy, it finds that things improve. If a country is scared of responsibility and outsources it to someone else, it should not be surprised if its economy is in reverse. If the hon. Gentleman wants to take control of his life, he should follow the SNP’s route, as the example is there of Ireland, of Iceland, of Norway and of many other countries. What is he scared of? He is scared; that is his problem. He uses migration to make cheap political points on the back of mismanagement by the Home Office and the Government in London—he should be ashamed of himself. I am grateful to him for giving me that row; I particularly enjoyed it.

There are many benefits to migration, and it goes both ways. I have cousins who live in New Zealand. I have Maclean cousins in Cape Breton in Nova Scotia and MacNeil relatives in Vancouver. We have all benefited from the movement of people and, if they are watching, I say a quick hello to them. It is great to use the House of Commons for that opportunity.

My relatives have contributed to New Zealand, Canada and many other places. Other people have helped our country—I gave the example of Pawel Kochanowicz from Poland. The hon. Gentleman’s colleague, Luke Graham, made a more sensible intervention earlier when he said that the problem was a lack of resources. We need dynamic resource allocation to make sure that when populations grow, we get more housing, schools and hospitals, rather than people being blamed. As one of my hon. Friends said to me earlier, those people should be seen as strivers and as aspirational, but when the Home Office get hold of the situation, they are seen as a problem. There is no need for that.

Indeed, the Home Secretary himself conceded that the people who came here under free movement were good—that the students were good and everything was good. They were helping our economy. They were paying more tax than they were taking out. The Government are actually better off having people from other countries here paying more in, because people from this country tend to take out more than we put in. That is why the UK has had a deficit since 2001—a black hole. It has not paid its own way in all those years.

My hon. Friend Stewart Malcolm McDonald suggested that we should perhaps take responsibility for migration away from the Home Office and give it to the Treasury, because then we might get some of the sense and logic that the hon. Member for Saffron Walden talked about in her speech. She is in no danger of promotion in the Tory party if she keeps talking about sense and logic, but she can take her own risks. We need to see this happen. An Immigration Minister said to me, “But we have the manifesto commitment on the one hand and the economy on the other.” I will spare that Minister’s blushes, but we know what Bill Clinton said about the economy. It is important that we look after the economy, and daft, voodoo-based Conservative election promises should be thrown in the bin with all the rest of the voodoo thinking that we have seen from the Home Office and the Government on something that is an opportunity. Migration is an opportunity, and the Bill should be an opportunity to do things, not to stop things.