John Redwood Questions Immigration, Skills Ministers

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, John Redwood first highlighted the failure of Britain’s border controls at keeping out illegal immigrants to the Immigration Minister. Later that day, he also questioned the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills on whether the Government’s proposed welfare reforms will see benefits withdrawn from those who refuse a training place or job offer.

The full Hansard text of John’s questions follows:

<strong>Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): </strong>These illegal immigrants are here only because our border control failed in the first case. Why does the Minister not strengthen the surveillance of passports and visas when people first apply for entry into the country, and ensure that people we do not wish to see here, or those who are a threat to this country, are not admitted in the first place?

<strong>Mr. Byrne:</strong> I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for saying that that is a slightly 20th-century way of looking at border control. If we are to have adequate defences against illegal immigration in the future, we need to strengthen our checks abroad. That is why biometric visas are preventing would-be illegal immigrants from coming to this country before they get on a train, plane or boat for the UK. We have to secure our borders in the UK even further, which is why we are introducing a single border force.

I do not think that we will make real headway against illegal immigration until we stop the cause of it, which is illegal working. That is why we have to increase the penalties for businesses that break the rules. It is also why we have to make it easier for businesses to know whether a foreign national is who they say they are, and whether they have the right to work. That is where ID cards will help.

<strong>Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): </strong>Are the Government going to withdraw benefit if someone refuses a training place or a job on offer?

<strong>Mr. Denham: </strong>We have said today? my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has said it? that it has been agreed that there will be pilots for mandatory training. That will come in after six months if a personal adviser is, first, convinced that somebody should undertake a skills health check and, secondly, that it would be directly relevant to them to get training. Although the details have to be worked on, I suspect that it will also take place after somebody has refused to take up the offer of extended support, such as up to eight weeks of full-time training with a training allowance. Most people in the House would take the view that the system should operate to provide people with every possible bit of advice, encouragement and support to go back into training, but there is a point at which somebody has to say, If you haven’t taken the opportunities, you can’t expect not to do anything about it.?