Tier 5 Religious Worker Visas — [Mike Gapes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:01 pm on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Home Department 4:01 pm, 4th July 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gapes. You may wonder what the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service is doing responding to a debate on immigration. You are not alone. Ged Killen expressed regret that the Immigration Minister is not here to respond to the debate. He is not alone in that view. I think I heard that 70 Members supported the debate through the Backbench Business Committee. Clearly, any Minister must listen to that; that is a serious weight of Members expressing concern. I genuinely congratulate David Linden and his partners on securing the debate. I will do my very best to answer the central questions directed at the Government about why the changes were made.

I state right from the start that I know from conversations with the Immigration Minister, who genuinely cannot be here today, that she is well aware of the growing sensitivities and distress around this issue—weighted in, but not exclusive to, Scotland. She is alive to that, and as the hon. Member for Glasgow East is aware, she is next week meeting representatives of most faith leaders to discuss this issue at a roundtable, and I understand that bishops from Scotland are invited. I am absolutely persuaded that she is disposed to engaging and listening to concerns on this and other subjects, and I am sure that she will listen to requests for meetings as well—I reference the specific request of Valerie Vaz.