[Mr. Edward O'Hara in the Chair] — Population and Immigration

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:17 am on 2nd February 2010.

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Photo of Andrew Pelling Andrew Pelling Independent, Croydon Central 10:17 am, 2nd February 2010

I congratulate Mr. Soames on securing this debate. I am mindful of the fact that other Members want to speak too, so I shall limit my remarks.

Mr. Field, who I have listened to in previous debates and who has influenced my thinking on immigration over the years, quite rightly made reference to the conspiracy of silence of political parties on this issue. That conspiracy had its impact on me during the last general election, when I put out a leaflet entitled, "Unlimited immigration?", to raise the issue. I found myself being eviscerated in the liberal press-Channel 4 and The Guardian-and indeed by my Labour opponents.

Subsequently, I think that we have seen a welcome change during this Parliament among politicians and there has been a willingness to talk about the issue. Furthermore, although I think that there has been acceptable criticism of the Minister regarding his comments in the Daily Mirror, he has engaged a great deal more with the country on this issue, which is important.