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Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 12:41 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Conservative, Maidenhead 12:41 pm, 16th October 2019

The Government are reinvesting in staff in mental health services and increasing the number of mental health professionals in the health service. On early intervention, I was very pleased to have introduced the concept of ensuring that, in every school, there is somebody who is trained in identifying mental health problems and who is able to focus and direct people to the support that they need.

Another area on which I wish to press my right hon. Friend relates to immigration and foreign national offenders. It is absolutely right to look at those cases where foreign national offenders, having been deported, are then brought back into the country, often illegally by criminal gangs. The issue that I have, though, is that, as a result of the proposals, we will potentially see more foreign national offenders in our prisons. The issue of dealing with foreign national offenders in our prisons is faced by every Home Secretary when they come into office. I urge the Government, alongside what they are already doing, to consider how we can most effectively remove foreign national offenders and also ensure that we have prisoner transfer schemes to replace those that are available to us within the European Union.

On immigration, I note the many recent references to a points-based system. In 2010, when I became Home Secretary, one challenge that I faced was dealing with the abuse that had arisen in the immigration system, which had largely been enabled by the Labour party’s points-based system. It is possible that the best brains of the Home Office have come up with a very good scheme, but I urge the Home Secretary and the Home Office to look carefully at the lessons that have been learned about points-based systems, which are not in themselves an answer to controlling immigration and which can allow abuse to take place.

I am also concerned about some references in the press to what looked like, effectively, regional visas, or the ability for somebody to be given a visa if they were going to work in a particular part of the country. I urge the Home Secretary to look carefully at how that could operate logistically, because there are some real challenges. [Interruption.] I hear some muttering from SNP Members, but that issue has been rejected by the independent Migration Advisory Committee.