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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:50 am on 2nd February 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Phil Woolas Phil Woolas Minister of State (the North West), Home Office, Minister of State (the North West), HM Treasury, Minister of State (the North West), Regional Affairs 10:50 am, 2nd February 2010

The difference between the policies is that ours is workable. That is the reality. The introduction of electronic border controls and the foreign national ID card has done more, and the numbers are coming down. The significant increases in migration to this country followed the Commonwealth Immigration Act 1961 and the Immigration Act 1971. The people in the ghettos to whom the hon. Member for Kettering referred were not brought into the country by this Government. They were brought into my constituency by the 1961 Act and 1971 Act and the failure of the British Nationality Act 1981, so the problem is not a party political one in reality.

The workings of our policy can be evidenced by what is happening in Croydon. I shut the Liverpool office so that new applications would be dealt with in Croydon while fresh applications, which in my view are sometimes not robust, would be dealt with in Liverpool. The asylum intake is an important part of net migration to this country, and asylum applications are now at their lowest level- [Hon. Members: "It was tiny!"] It was not tiny. It was 29,000 10 years ago. It is now at the lowest level since 1993. It is not tiny. It is actually just under the total level of tier 1, which is the only thing the proposed cap would address.

I agree with the analysis of the hon. Member for Ashford on the numbers of family members, although they also tried in 1961 to put a cap on the immigration from the Indian subcontinent. It is easy to say that, but one has to have a policy to do it. The English language test for spouses, which I proposed, is coming in, as is the use of English for visa applications.

As for the point on students, as we clamp down on students and close the 2,000 bogus institutes, of course organised and disorganised people will try to get around things through scams, which is why I have closed those visa offices. It is because we have the new system that I can.