Immigration will be important to Britain's future, but its impact must be fair and it must be controlled. We don't need more discredited rhetoric from the government, but real action to stop exploitation in labour markets and to make immigration work for the UK.
Britain has benefited over many centuries from the amazing contributions of immigrants welcomed to our shores to build our biggest companies, sustain our NHS and win us Nobel prizes. And immigration will be even more important in future in a globalised economy.
But it is because immigration is so important that it needs to be controlled and the impact of immigration needs to be fair for all.
We have committed to introducing proper exit checks, and strengthening our borders by reintroducing the taking of fingerprints of illegal immigrants caught at Calais. We have said we will extend the period EU migrants must be in the UK before claiming out of work benefits to six months, a policy now being copied by the Government.
Furthermore, we will work to reform the EU to stop child benefit and child tax credit from being paid to children not living in the UK - and to have longer transitional controls for future EU member states.
In contrast, the Government's priorities on immigration are wrong. On the one hand, sending offensive 'go home ad vans' round ethnically diverse areas, whilst on the other, failing to take the basic steps necessary to deport foreign criminals and prioritising a net migration target which includes British people.
The Prime Minister's net migration target incentivises fewer British people coming home or fewer international students at our best universities. This means the Government is unable to admit that there are different kinds of immigration: immigration that works for Britain and immigration that doesn't.
We have been calling over the last year for, and remain committed to, seeing real action on enforcing the minimum wage, tackling overcrowded migrant housing, extending the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to other sectors where there is evidence of exploitation and stopping recruitment agencies discriminating against UK workers by only hiring from overseas. All these things could immediately make a big difference towards limiting the negative effects of immigration, but the Government so far have refused to act.
But we also need to see greater action from ministers to remove people who are here illegally. Even by their own standards the ability of this Government to ensure the immigration system stops people coming here illegally and removes foreign offenders has been a shambles. In 2010 David Cameron said he would 'personally intervene' in efforts to remove more foreign offenders from Britain. Yet four years on, the Government has actually reduced the number of foreign national offenders being removed. In the last year of the Labour Government 5,342 foreign criminals were deported, but under this Government last year just 4,667 were removed - nearly 500 fewer criminals being removed from our streets.
But the failures don't end there. The number of people refused entry at British ports and then subsequently deported has fallen by nearly half. The Home Office now remove 10% fewer people who are here illegally and have had asylum applications turned down. Only six in 100 reports of illegal immigration result in an investigation and only 1.5 in 100 result in removal.
For the Tories with all their tough rhetoric on immigration , these figures are shocking. We simply can't have people coming to the UK, breaking the rules and being allowed to live here because of inaction, incompetence or inefficiency. We need real action to tackle these problems but increasingly the evidence suggests this Government just isn't capable of delivering.
David Cameron and Theresa May have had four years in Government, yet their efforts on immigration have been more focused on ill-thought out ad vans and a net migration target that doesn't work and that they are failing to achieve, rather than on doing the effective things that would make a difference in making the immigration system work for all and have the confidence in the country. Unfortunately the Government are dropping the ball on basic security at our borders, have relentlessly opposed our efforts to stop exploitation and undercutting in our labour markets and won't remove people who simply shouldn't be here.
The Prime Minister can make new announcements, but it doesn't change the four years of inaction and failure to deliver on his own promises.
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