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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:44 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford 8:44 pm, 28th January 2019

Sadly, the fund did not have the necessary impact at that point, but I would support measures to reassure local communities in which we see migration. Having knocked on many doors and spoken to many people, that was one of the key reasons why so many people voted leave in the referendum—not necessarily in other places, but in those towns.

The second error happened during David Cameron’s negotiations with the EU. He tried to explain the impact that migration had had on those communities, but for one reason or another, the EU leaders gave the perception—whether it was real or untrue—that they simply were not listening and were not prepared to try to help introduce some of the reassurances that those communities needed. We are where we are today because of those two errors.

The vast majority of people who come to our country work hard, pay taxes and make huge contributions to our communities and our society, and we are stronger and better as a result. Post Brexit, it is vital that we continue to be a country that welcomes and values those who want to come here. I will support the Bill tonight, because we need to reassure communities that we listened to the message from the referendum, but we must have a migration system that works for people who bring skills, talent and sheer hard work.

I want to talk about four sectors: the NHS and social care, science and research, universities, and tech. I come from a medical family. Both my parents were doctors; my sister is a doctor; and I am married to a doctor. One in 10 of the doctors in our hospitals and across our health service come from other countries. Yes, we will train more in the future, and I am delighted that the first of the next generation of medical schools has now opened in my constituency of Chelmsford, where we are already training 100 new doctors. However, we cannot forget the contribution made to our health and social care sectors by those who have come from other countries. A lot of those people are not on high pay, and the suggested salary threshold will risk cutting out and excluding some of them, so I ask the Minister to look at that.

This is not just about salary. I often hear people ask, “If I come and do extra qualifications here, will I be able to take those qualifications back to another country if I then choose to move?” Issues such as the mutual recognition of professional qualifications are important when discussing our immigration system and our ongoing relationship with Europe.