Yesterday the House gave a second reading to the Immigration Bill. This bill strengthens the powers of the authorities to remove illegal migrants. It introduces a deport first appeal later policy to prevent an individual deemed illegal using appeal rights to remain in the UK. It requires all public sector workers dealing with the public to speak fluent English. It makes it a crime for an illegal migrant to open a bank account, obtain a driving licence, rent a home or take a job.
The new law will help the authorities in detecting illegal migrants who have got through the border controls. Many illegals enter the country legally as visitors or students, only to outstay their visa. Anyone offering a job, renting a property, handling a bank account for an illegal migrant will be assisting a crime. Illegal migrants may be located and apprehended if they try to carry out any of the usual tasks of daily life requiring them to drive, to use a bank account or live in a house or flat. Some will object to private landlords and banks having a role in enforcing our border controls, whilst others will welcome this use of intelligence from the community. Immigration officers will gain additional powers to help them require illegal migrants to leave the country.
I made the point to Mrs May in the debate that it is best if illegals are detected at the port of attempted entry and not allowed in. She agreed, but reminded me of the numbers who enter legally only to become illegal later.
There will be a new Director of labour market enforcement. Exploitation of illegal migrants by bad employers is already against the law. The new regime will make it more likely employers of illegal labour will be found and prosecuted. The employment of illegal labour often leads to other abuses, with low pay, long hours, and lack of many of the normal terms of an employment contract.
Marrying the needs of a free society with the wish to control illegal migration is not easy. We want students to come to study at UK universities, investors to come and set up businesses here, visitors to come and enjoy our facilities and friends and family from abroad to be able to visit their contacts in the UK. We want these normal exchanges and movements to happen freely and as easily as possible. At the same time we wish to stop illegal migrants coming here, or visitors turning into illegal migrants, as there needs to be a control on how many additional permanent residents and workers the economy can absorb.
Mr Burnham for Labour showed some evolution in their thinking. They did not oppose all parts of the Bill, and he did say he wishes to place limits on the free movement of labour from the rest of the EU. Labour now recognises that large scale migration can depress wages and place undue strains on public services in places receiving substantial numbers of new residents.