It is a huge pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Walker. I congratulate my hon. Friend Mark Pritchard on securing the debate and on his excellent remarks. It is a huge privilege to follow my right hon. Friend Nicholas Soames. The one fault of his speech was that it was too short. He has led this House by supreme example through his chairmanship of the cross-party group on balanced migration.
Like my right hon. Friend, I believe that the population of our country should not be allowed to go above 70 million. We are presently at 62 million, and unless we get a grip on immigration we will end up with a population of more than 70 million in the 2030s or 2040s. If we think that Britain is full now, with all the transport, housing, schooling and health difficulties that we face, it will be far worse in 2035 or 2040 unless we tackle the issue now.
I want to make a plea on behalf of all of us who have raised the issue of immigration over many years. It was not until the start of large-scale immigration from the European Union that those of us concerned about immigration were not accused of being racist whenever the word “immigration” was used. For all of us who are concerned about immigration, it has never been about the colour of somebody’s skin or about the culture or country they come from; it has always been just about the numbers. Our country is one of the most crowded in the world, and we simply cannot cope with another large-scale wave of immigration into this country, especially from countries with which we have very little in common, such as Romania and Bulgaria.
Let me put my cards on the table straight away. I do not believe that Britain should any longer be a member of the European Union. We tied ourselves to the wrong club with a crisis of confidence in the 1960s and 1970s. Why on earth would we want to shackle ourselves to a trading bloc whose share of world trade was 30% in the 1980s, but is rapidly heading towards 15% in the 2020s? I do not believe in an ever-closer union.
Sitting suspended for Divisions in the House.