Sir Oliver Heald MP welcomes Prime Minister’s speech on reducing immigration

MP for North-East Hertfordshire, Sir Oliver Heald, has welcomed the speech that the Prime Minster made on reducing the rate of immigration into the UK, in which he praised the benefits of immigration, but gave a reminder that the benefits can only properly be felt if immigration is controlled and managed in a reasonable way. Mr Cameron warned against the three dangerous views of immigration that need to be confronted.

The first was to claim that the levels of immigration seen over the past 15 years were not a problem. He said that many of the people who espoused this view had ‘never waited on a social housing list, found that their child’s classroom is overcrowded, or felt that their community has changed too fast’.

The second dangerous view was to claim that the answer to this problem is to ‘pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world’. He said that we should trade with the world, and that with this come ‘people, companies, jobs, and investment’.

The third was to claim that a successful immigration plan would comprise nothing more than a simple reduction in the number of people permitted to come in. It must also be about providing British people with skills, qualifications, and the drive to succeed, thereby reducing the reliance on immigration to fill the skills gap.

However, the high immigration rate in the UK is putting a lot of pressure on our schools, hospitals, transport networks, and housing. In order to put things right, the Prime Minster argued, migrants’ access to benefits must be controlled so that people coming to the UK cannot claim benefits without having contributed first, if the Conservatives gain a majority in the next Election.

Jobseeker’s Allowance will no longer be given to EU migrants – ensuring that everyone must have a job offer in the UK before coming, so that no-one can come to Britain simply in the hope of a job and claim JSA when they do not find one. Also, those who, nonetheless, come to the UK without a job offer will be required to leave if they do not find employment within six months.

Those who wish to claim tax credits and child benefit, and those who wish to apply for social housing must have been in the UK for four years. On top of this, child benefit will no longer be payable for children not in the country.

Commenting, Sir Oliver said, “This was a very strong speech. The Prime Minister struck a good balance between praising the benefits of immigration, whilst also ensuring that the system cannot be abused, but works in a sustainable way. The Government has done much already. They have already clamped down on bogus colleges, stopping 800 of them bringing people into Britain; brought back exit checks at ports and airports – which were scrapped by the last Government – so that we can count people out as well as in; and invested money into tackling modern slavery so that awful criminals who try to traffic people here can be tracked down.”

“However, more needs to be done. Thanks to the work of this Government and its Long-term Economic Plan, the UK’s success is attracting more and more people from the economic disasters across much of Europe, but these changes will ensure that freedom of movement can flourish alongside our economy, but the system cannot be abused, but instead, works for Britain.”