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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:30 am on 2nd February 2010.

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Photo of Paul Rowen Paul Rowen Shadow Work and Pensions Minister 10:30 am, 2nd February 2010

Regardless of that, the fact is that both Labour and the Conservatives dismantled controls and therefore lost control of the system. We have always concentrated on having a workable immigration policy that is fair and clear for all who apply. It was very disappointing that the recent second report of the Home Affairs Committee found that yet another 40,000 cases have been discovered-probably in a cupboard-some of which date back to 1993.

Our concern has always been that the measures needed for a fair and effective immigration policy are not in place. First, the UK Border Agency must be given full powers as a working police force. It should not just deal with people as they come up to our borders, but work more closely with our European partners. I want the Government to sign up completely to the Council of Europe convention on human trafficking. Much can be achieved by working with our partners in Europe.

Secondly, we would increase the fees for work permits. Our fees are among the lowest and are particularly low in comparison with America and Australia. Rather than have a fixed rate, the fees taken would be a percentage of the salary. With highly skilled migrants, the problem for a company of paying the fee would be outweighed by the great benefit that the person would bring. We would use that money to help upskill people in Britain who do not have such skills.