I recently posted the government statement of what they are doing about immigration because I know how important this issue is to many who read this site. Some of you were grateful and surprised by how much action the government is taking. Others cynically complained that it was all words, pointing out that over the last year there has still been a high level of entry.
I have listened carefully to Ministers and talked regularly to them about what they are doing. I am quite sure they wish to control numbers, and are taking actions which they believe will do that in a fair and sensible way. They are well aware that so far the numbers have not reduced, but point out that it takes time to get each of these measures into effect and to ensure they are working well at each entry point into the country. They accept that the proof of their measures comes over the next year, when they expect to see results. They are of course ready and willing to examine other ways to achieve what they wish to achieve, especially if the numbers do not decline as they expect.
The Coalition has never said it intends to change the arrangements for EU migrants. It so happens this is not the bulk of recent inward migration. The Conservative side of the Coalition always negotiated opt outs for the UK from the common borders when in government, as we regarded it as very important to keep control of our own borders policy. The last Labour government changed that, and put the UK under more of the EU measures in this area. Conservatives campaigned in 2005 and 2010 to get powers back from the EU. The last election manifesto did not specify all the areas which would figure in a renegotiation , but many Conservatives would wish to include borders in such a process. Most of these moves were prevented by the Coalition Agreement, and cannot be pursued without a Commons majority for them.