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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:28 am on 2nd February 2010.

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Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight 10:28 am, 2nd February 2010

I thank my hon. Friend Mr. Soames for again giving us the opportunity to discuss this important topic. People's concerns about immigration have too often been glossed over or avoided altogether. If we are to prevent the rise of parties such as the BNP, whose values are anathema to Britain, we must place the issue at the centre of debate. People seek fringe parties not because they are inherently racist or bigoted; they do so because those parties heed their concerns as ours, across the piece, do not. We must re-orientate the debate to talk honestly of Britain today.

In a recent survey on the Isle of Wight, immigration emerged as the No. 1 issue. I am sure that that is so with members of the public in other areas, and with good reason. Of 498 respondents on the Isle of Wight, 10 per cent. agreed that asylum seekers should be allowed to work whether they were genuine or not, and 90 per cent. disagreed. It was agreed by 9 per cent. that illegal immigrants who have been here a long time should be given citizenship; more than 90 per cent. disagreed. It was agreed by 92 per cent. that politicians should be more honest about immigrants and how immigration affects our country. They felt that such issues were too important to not be talked about. Members of all parties must make it clear what their policies are. I am grateful that today we are at last getting into some of those issues.