Clause 19

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 15th March 2007.

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Photo of Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 9:45 am, 15th March 2007

I will give way in a moment.

The points-based system, working in conjunction with the migration advisory committee, is a crucial element which we have not discussed here this morning. I will be careful as I do not want to range outside the scope of the clause. It is very difficult to cover some of the points made by the hon. Gentleman if I do not slightly push the boundaries; I hope that you will bear with me, Mr. Illsley.

The operation of the points-based system with the migration advisory committee is a crucial relationship. When hon. Gentlemen ask how high or low the numbers might be and where the bar will be set, they will know that the migration advisory committee will be in a position to advise on just that and make sure that, whatever the list of occupations and whatever occupations we have skills gaps for, we will be able to use the points-based system to recruit to fill those skills gaps. The points-based system will allow us to be flexible over periods of time rather than be tied to an exact number at an exact point in time. Together the points-based system and the migration advisory committee will ensure that migration meets the economic needs of the UK.

The hon. Gentleman will also know that with regard to the numbers, whether higher or lower, it will be employers as well as colleges, universities and other higher education institutions that will sponsor applicants from outside the UK coming into the UK. Of course, they will also have a responsibility to ensure the legitimacy of applications. They will subsequently be subjected, as ever, to rigorous checking. There are occasionally issues about that matter in various posts, but the clause is about not out-of-country application but in-country application. Opposition Members may wish to have an annual report that would cover everything, which will indeed be the eventual outcome, but I presume that the report that they are asking for under the clause would be to examine the operation of these measures following the implementation of the points-based system.

Mr. Clappison rose—

Damian Green rose—