Duty to commission an independent evaluation: health and social care sectors

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 30th June 2020.

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Photo of Nicola Richards Nicola Richards Conservative, West Bromwich East 5:30 pm, 30th June 2020

I agree with my right hon. Friend. Obviously, we want to reduce the numbers on immigration. We were not able to do that while we were members of the European Union, but overall, it limited the number of countries and the areas that people were able to come from and that is what we are putting right now.

On new clauses 7 and 8, I  hear the concerns of colleagues across the House, but I am pleased to hear that the Home Office already looks to avoid detention altogether where this is possible through community engagement programmes, and that detention is only really made where there is a reasonable timescale for the removal of an individual. I agree that detaining an individual indefinitely is wrong and should not happen.

Our current dual immigration system is simply not fit for purpose and does not serve our interests as a country. That is exactly what the people of West Bromwich East tell me. From Friar Park to Great Barr, people have been saying the same thing—that the EU does not and did not work for us. It became a one-size-fits-all club, especially with regard to immigration, and we have had enough.

I have said in the House before that we Black Country folk are proud of our diverse communities and we value those foreign nationals, both from the EU and elsewhere in the world, who help to deliver a world-class health system. I am really pleased that the new points-based immigration system will not just allow, but actively welcome a range of health professionals to this country. Our NHS simply would not function without the dedicated army of foreign nationals who work in it. We can see this on display in every hospital across the country, including Sandwell General Hospital, which serves so many of my constituents so well. The Bill allows us to further protect our treasured health service, as we can go beyond the strict arrangement that we have been bound to while in the EU by adding more flexibility to the way that we recruit our doctors and nurses. So we should embrace this opportunity.

This short Bill is the natural precursor to the immigration framework that we want to operate under once the transition period ends. It is surely right that, in an open, tolerant meritocracy, such as the one we have in Britain, we should have an immigration system based on skills rather than nationality. I also welcome the Immigration Minister’s commitment to a “digital by default” system. I know from my own casework that this has been a difficulty for some people and I am pleased that we are looking to make these necessary changes.

A simpler, fairer immigration system is what the Bill will pave the way for. I think that it is a landmark moment, given the strength of feeling about immigration in our communities, and it proves that the Government are getting on and delivering on their promises. This is democracy working at its very best. We are stripping away the old and allowing ourselves to be bold and ambitious moving forward. I want the people of West Bromwich East to know that this is what we voted for and it is what we are delivering on. I commend the team at the Home Office for their work, and I commend the Bill in its current form.