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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:32 pm on 18th May 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Rob Roberts Rob Roberts Conservative, Delyn 8:32 pm, 18th May 2020

I must pick up on the comments made by Stephen Flynn. We are not closing the door on anybody. We are opening the door for many millions of other people from non-EU countries.

The United Kingdom is a world leader in industries such as banking, pharmaceuticals, and research and development. It is important that we are able to support the people in those industries to continue to lead the way in their respective fields. That is why I am pleased to see that the Government are building an immigration system that is robust, but also designed to ensure that we continue to lead the world in vital areas of economic and social development. The Bill before the House today puts the United Kingdom on the path to a fairer, more modern and more equitable immigration system that enables the brightest and best to come to our country regardless of their nationality.

The Bill delivers on our historic exit from the European Union, our exit being a process rather than just one event. By ending free movement, we are securing and taking control of our borders, and creating an immigration system that works for us as well as those who come here. My Delyn constituency, like the majority of our country, decisively voted to leave. It is right that we continue to deliver on the result of the referendum and start to move towards a more inclusive points-based immigration system.

It is important to note that the new system has been built, based on the independent report from the Migration Advisory Committee, on a fair and adaptable points-based system. Based on those recommendations, the Bill will allow us to create a flexible system that can adapt to the changing needs of businesses and respond to shortages in our labour market. That will be hugely important as we tackle the effects of the coronavirus pandemic both now and in the future. I recognise the importance of the system remaining flexible and needing to adapt to changing needs at different times in the future. I also recognise that putting every detail of every rule into primary legislation allows for no flexibility. That would inevitably be to our detriment in the future when the difficult situation in which we currently find ourselves unfolds, as we would not be able to be immediately adaptable to the challenges that may lie ahead.

It is important, too, that we recognise the contribution immigration has made to our economy, our businesses and, at times like this, to our NHS. I am delighted that the Government are doing so through the Bill. The former shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon was correct in what he said earlier. I recognise that those are words I never thought I would say in this House or beyond, but he was right—at least in a small part. He said that we should recognise those who keep things moving and who the real key workers are. It is right that we are prioritising a shining example of key workers in this Bill—the fantastic work of our frontline healthcare workers—by extending the visas of healthcare workers and their families and, more importantly, by creating the new NHS visa. The specialist fast-track visa for doctors and nurses will enable us to recruit the very best for our NHS from wherever we need to and to ensure our NHS staff are looked after and fairly recruited, as mentioned just now by my hon. Friend Jonathan Gullis. We welcome its inclusion in the Bill.

In the latest ONS report, non-EU net migration has continued to increase, with current levels at their highest since 2004. Therefore, it is important that we recognise talent and skills from across the world equally. Wherever you come from across the globe, if you are prepared to work hard and contribute to our economy and to our country, our immigration system should recognise and reward that. That is why I am pleased that the Bill makes changes to our statute book to ensure that we recognise equally those with the skills and talents who want to come here from the rest of the world, as well as those who want to come from the EU.

I wholeheartedly support the Bill, as it is a significant move towards creating a better immigration system, which will value the skills and talents of all. It will help to build an inclusive forward and outward-looking country that is ready to take on the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century and succeed.