Immigration is an issue that is high on people’s list of political priorities, and rightly so. For thirteen years, the previous Labour Government failed to stem the flow of foreign nationals coming to live, work or claim benefits in the UK. As was revealed by one of Tony Blair’s former advisers, it was actively encouraged.
Conservative Ministers inherited a real mess in 2010. People with no right to be here were not being deported. There was a tremendous backlog of applications that were not dealt with. People could claim benefits at taxpayers’ expense with no questions asked. Students could enrol at bogus colleges with no proper checks on learning or even attendance. People could arrive in the UK and simply set up bank accounts, get driving licences or rent a flat. All of this whilst Labour’s recession caused a massive rise in unemployment and significant stresses on our housing market.
We have already taken a number of steps to address these problems. Bogus colleges have been shut down. A cap has been introduced on migrants from outside the EU. We are addressing the abuse of human rights legislation. A policy of “deport first, appeal later” has been introduced. Benefits have been restricted and housing protected.
There is still more to be done. I welcome the policies outlined by the Prime Minister today that will go even further than we have already. Colleges and other education providers will lose their licences if ten per cent of their students have visa applications refused. We are halving the length of time that immigrants can claim out-of-work benefits for whilst they seek employment. Finally, we are stopping the practice of advertising job vacancies abroad.
I believe that these are positive steps that will help restore some confidence in our immigration system and show that the Conservatives are on the side of the British people and those who work hard and do the right thing.
During Labour’s thirteen years in power, 2.5million more people entered the UK than left. Search parties were being sent out to encourage foreign nationals to come to the UK. Action was not taken to protect housing, schools and the NHS from the extra pressure and benefits were not restricted. Who was at the heart of Government during this period? Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.
No other party can be trusted to deal with the immigration crisis caused by Labour. Only the Conservatives can deliver an immigration system that works for Britain.