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Striking the right balance on immigration
23/11/2010 23:58:00

Today the Home Secretary set out how the government intends to deliver its commitment to reduce net migration to the levels of the 1990s (tens of thousands of people a year, not hundreds of thousands as it has been in recent years).

Apart from a few bigots, everybody recognoses that the country benefits both economically and culturally from people of talent choosing to settle here. My life would be immeasurably poorer without the friends, neighbours and colleagues who are first, second or third generation migrants.

It is possible to have too much of a good thing however. The levels of immigration that we have seen in recent years have placed pressure on our public services, made it much harder for the unemployed to get back into work and been behind much of the population growth that has led to the over-development of areas like ours.

It's not just about how many people come to settle here though. Hardly anyone who has raised the issue of immigration with me is concerned about entrepreneurs, eminent scientists, highly skilled people who are going to create jobs settling here - or people who are genuine refugees. Their concern is with people who are abusing the system or who are going to take jobs that would otherwise have gone to British people. One of the real scandals of Labour's period in office is that three-quarters of the jobs created went to people who weren't born in the UK. Instead of using the boom years to get the long-term unemployed back into work, we imported labour from abroad.

The Home Secretary announced that, with the exception of scientists and academics who have achieved international recognition or are likely to do so, she is closing the Tier 1 entry route for people without a job offer. This was supposed to be for the best and brightest but 30% of people let in by this route are working stacking shelves, driving taxis or as security guards.

She is also restricting the Tier 2 route - for those with a job offer - to graduate-level jobs but the limit for this group is being increased because they will play a key role in getting our economy growing again.

Nearly two-thirds of migrants from outside the EU are students. Nearly half of them are coming to study a course below degree level and abuse is particular common at these levels. The Home Secretary is consulting on restricting students visas to those studying at degree level.

And finally she announced that the Government would be cracking down on sham marriages and ending the link between coming here to work on a temporary basis and permanent settlement.

Overall, a comprehensive package that strikes the right balance between reducing the scale of immigration and ensuring that we continue to attract the best and brightest.

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Gavin Barwell, House of Commons, SW1A 1AA, Tel  020 8660 0491      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG