David Cameron immigration speech in full

David Cameron immigration speech in full
David Cameron immigration speech in full

It’s great to be here in Ipswich at University Campus Suffolk.

This is an important time for this young and growing university.

With pioneering research and business start-up incubators…

…UCS is playing an important role in the economic development of the region.


And with some 500 students from 70 different countries of origin outside the EU…

…it is also a natural place to talk about something I see as a vital part of our economic strategy…

…which is immigration.
Now I have always had a clear view about immigration.

I believe immigration has brought significant benefits to Britain.

From Polish heroes who fought for us during the war…

…to West Indians who helped us rebuild afterwards.

From those who have come to our shores seeking a safe haven from persecution…

…to those who have come to make a better life for themselves and their families…

…and in the process have enriched our society by working hard, taking risks and creating jobs and wealth for the whole country.

Our migrant communities are a fundamental part of who we are…

…and Britain is a far richer and stronger society because of them.

Whether it’s great scientists, doctors and medical practitioners, artists, musicians, and sports stars…

…or business leaders, entrepreneurs and hard working small business men and women…

…so many great Britons today have family histories that have brought them to these shores.

That is our island story – open, diverse and welcoming.

And I am immensely proud of it.

While I have always believed in the benefits of immigration…

…I have also always believed that immigration has to be properly controlled.

Without proper controls community confidence is sapped, resources are stretched and the benefits that immigration can bring are lost or forgotten.

As I have long argued, under the previous government immigration was far too high and badly out of control.

Net migration needs to come down radically…

…from hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands.

And as we bring net migration down so we must also make sure that Britain continues to benefit from it.

That means ensuring that those who do come here are the brightest and the best…

…the people we really need…

…with the skills and entrepreneurial talent to create the British jobs and growth that will help us to win in the global race.

And it also means ensuring that the system is fair…

…so that we support the aspirations of hard working people who want to get on in life.

This is about building that aspiration nation I have been talking about.

Today I want to set out the steps we are taking to achieve this.

But first let me just address head on three of the key arguments some people make about this whole question of immigration.

SENSIBLE DEBATE

First, there are those who say you can’t have a sensible debate…

…because it is somehow wrong to express concerns about immigration.

I think this is nonsense.

Yes, it needs to be approached in a sensitive and rational manner.

But I have always understood the genuine concerns of hard working people…

….including many in our migrant communities…

…who worry about uncontrolled immigration.

The pressure it puts on public services…

…the rapid pace of change in some of our communities…

…and of course the concerns, deeply held, that some people might be able to come and take advantage of our generosity without making a proper contribution to our country.

These concerns are not just legitimate – they are right…

…and it is a fundamental duty of every mainstream politician to address them.

That is why I called for reform and clear limits in Opposition…

…and why Theresa May and I have been delivering on this from our first days in government.

CONTROLLING IMMIGRATION IN A GLOBALISED WORLD

Second, there are those who say…

…talk about it all you like, but you can’t actually control immigration…

…not in a modern globalised world where people move about so freely.

But this just isn’t the case.

Look at the evidence from the past three years.

Already we’ve stopped bogus colleges bringing people in...

…colleges which were set up as a front to bring people here not for study but to stay here by coming through the backdoor.

We’ve shut down entire entry routes in the Points Based System…

…and improved the asylum system.

And to those who think you can’t have a properly functioning asylum system without somehow being cruel…

…the opposite is in fact true.

Let me be clear. Britain will always offer a welcome to people fleeing persecution as we have done throughout our history.

And I’m proud that we not only have a better asylum system…

….but we are also the first government to end child detention by putting the welfare of the child at the heart of the decision and removals process.

Of course we have a long way to go – not least as today’s report from the Home Affairs Select Committee shows.

We face the big task of turning around the tanker that is the UK Border Agency…
       
…and the Home Secretary will be setting out the next stages of the reforms we need shortly.

But already we have cut net migration by a third…

…down from more than a quarter of a million a year to just over 160 thousand.

And my party has set a clear aspiration to reduce net migration further to just tens of thousands over the coming years.

Now, of course, many come to Britain through our membership of the EU.

We are part of a single market that is vital for trade, jobs and growth…

…and free movement of people is a necessary part of that single market.

Our membership of the EU allows British people free movement to travel, live and work in other European countries…

…and some 1.4 million British citizens exercise that right – including several hundred thousand in Spain alone.

The same freedom of movement is true for EU nationals coming to Britain.

But when new countries join the EU it is important to put in place transitional controls.


It was wrong that this didn’t happen with Poland and the other countries that joined in 2004.

My party argued clearly at the time that it should.

And let me be clear, under this government, there will always be transitional controls introduced when a new country joins…

…as we have seen with Bulgaria and Romania…

…and as there will be when Croatia joins this year.

In fact, in recent years the numbers coming here from the EU…

…and the numbers leaving here to go to other EU countries…

…have been broadly in balance.

That is one of the reasons why it has been possible for me to make credible pledges about getting net migration down, by focusing on those coming from outside the EU.

But from the beginning of next year, the transitional controls on Bulgaria and Romania will be lifted.

That means Romanians and Bulgarians will have the right to come and work here…

…because they will have the same rights as all other EU citizens.

Some Romanians and Bulgarians are in fact already working here under the Permitted Work Scheme …

…and the record is that those who have come here generally work hard, pay taxes and are valued by their employers.

We can’t stop these full transitional controls coming to an end.

But what we can do, is make sure that those who come here from the EU – or further afield - do so for the right reasons.

That they come here because they want to contribute to our country…

…not because they are drawn by the attractiveness of our benefits system…

…or by the opportunity to use our public services.

And today I am going to tell you how we are going to do this.

 

IMPACT OF IMMIGRATION POLICY ON ECONOMIC POLICY

Third, there are those who say that you can’t control immigration without damaging your economic policy.

This is wrong too.

Let me give you two examples.

There were some who said that our cap on economic migrants from outside the European Economic Area would damage business.

But look at what’s happened.

The cap has played a part in controlling migration.

But not one business request has been rejected because of the limit - and not one scientist or engineer turned down for lack of space.

Our limit on economic migrants which we set at 20,700 has been undersubscribed each and every month since it was introduced…

…with businesses using only half their monthly quotas.

Another example is that when we said we would clamp down on bogus students…

…some people thought that it would damage our universities.

But the number of applications to study at universities has actually gone up…

…including right here University CampusCAMPUS Suffolk.

 


We want the brightest and best students in the world to choose our universities…

…so we’ve said no cap on student numbers at our world class universities.

Our universities are able to market themselves around the world on the basis that…

….any genuine student…

….in any country in the world…

….who earns a place at one of our universities, and has a basic English qualification…

…will be able to come and study here.


We want the brightest and best innovators and entrepreneurs to choose Britain as the best place to start their next businesses…

…so we’ve said 2000 extra places for graduate entrepreneurs…

…including 1,000 for MBA graduates…

…and new support to back foreign investors and entrepreneurs…

…including those who are starting small scale but could end up running the blue-chip businesses of tomorrow.

Let me put this simply.

We’re rolling out the red carpet to those whose hard work and investment will create new British jobs.

Because we’re in a global race for our economic future.

And the right immigration is not just good for Britain – it’s essential.

But we can’t allow immigration to be a substitute for training our own workforce and giving them incentives to work.

Our immigration policy can’t be some kind of add-on to our economic strategy.

It has to be a fundamental part of it.

There is an absolutely fundamental connection between our welfare and training policies on the one hand and our immigration policy on the other.

I see them as two sides of the same coin.

It is our failure in the past to reform welfare and training that has meant we have left too many of our young people in a system without proper skills or proper incentives to work...

…and have instead seen large numbers of people coming from overseas to fill vacancies in our economy.

Put simply, our job is to educate and train up our youth…

…not to rely on immigration to fill the skills gaps.

Even at the end of the so-called ‘boom’, there were around five million people in our country of working age on out of work benefits…

…including some 450,000 18-24 year olds on Job Seekers Allowance…

…all this at the same time as the largest wave of migration in our country’s history.
So welfare and training reform are a key part of our approach to immigration.

One of the problems that government has had in the past is that when it comes to immigration it has been working in silos.

Controlling immigration has been a job for the Home Office.

But the reality is that you can’t control immigration if you have a welfare system that takes no account of who it is paying out to.

You can’t control immigration if you have a healthcare system that takes no account of the people using it.

And you can’t control immigration if you have a housing policy that doesn’t take account of how long people have lived and contributed to a local area.

Under my direction this is changing – and today I want to tell you how.

Let me start with the system we inherited when the Coalition government was formed.


THE SYSTEM WE INHERITED

Under the last government immigration in this country was too high and out of control.

Put simply, Britain was a soft touch.

Look at the numbers that have been coming in.

In 2010 alone 591,000 people came here intending to stay for a year or more.

Across the last decade that number is a staggering 5.6 million.

Now, of course, some migrants stay for a period and then return home…

…and at the same time a number of British people are choosing to live abroad…

…so it is right that we look at net migration – the difference between those coming and leaving.

But this has been out of control too.

Between 1997 and 2009, net migration to Britain totalled more than 2.2 million people.

That is more than twice population of Birmingham

And it was over a quarter of a million in 2010 alone.

It’s not just the numbers that were out of control.

We had no real control over the skills of the people we were bringing in.

The last government borrowed the phrase Points Based System from the set-up in Australia…

…but they produced something very different.

In theory it sounded great…

…the idea that each and every potential migrant is carefully and personally assessed with only those scoring the most points able to enter the country.

But in practice this wasn’t a system of points for individuals.

It was a range of low minimum thresholds where anyone who met them was automatically entitled to come here…

…almost on a self-selection basis…

…to work and study – and in many cases, to bring their dependents too.

So I know there are some who think that the mistake the last government made was not to bring in their version of the Points Based System sooner…

…but if that’s what they think, they clearly don’t understand what their Points Based System actually did.

Consider this.

In the so called Tier One of the system…

…we were supposed to be welcoming the best of the best…

…people deemed to be so good that they could come here without any job offer waiting for them…
 
…and our doors were always open to them.


But the reality was different.

As one study found, as many as a third of these people only found low-skilled roles working as shop assistants, in takeaways or as security guards.

Those who did have job offers – in what was called Tier 2 – were still often coming here to do low-skilled work…

…jobs which many people on welfare could be trained to do.

There was even a tier specifically created for those with no skills.

Why would you even create such a tier?

And then there was a student tier which was so unselective that it allowed people who didn’t speak a word of English…

…to come and study at low-level or even bogus colleges…

…in other words, places that weren’t even really colleges of education at all.

It is hard to believe the system could be such a mess.

But the truth is even now, as we dig deeper and deeper into the details, we’re still finding things.

Take this, for example.

We’ve discovered there was a loophole that allowed migrants who no longer have a right to work here….

…and in some cases don’t even have the right to be here at all …

…to carry on claiming some benefits.

We are using a power under our 2012 Welfare Reform Act to close this.

And by taking radical action to deal with this completely out of control system…

…we’ve begun to get net migration down radically

We’ve completely shut down the route which allowed low skilled people to come here with their dependents without so much as a job offer waiting for them.

We’ve capped the number of economic migrants from outside European Economic Area.

And we’ve stopped almost 600 colleges bringing in thousands of bogus foreign students – revoking the licences of over 300 in the process.

We’ve radically toughened up the tests migrants face before they come here…

…including making them prove they can speak English.

We are drastically increasing the use of face to face interviews for countries and routes from which there has previously been abuse.

We’re breaking the link between work and settlement so only those who contribute the most economically will be able to stay long term.


And we’ve cut the list of occupations where we have a shortage of skills…

…the occupations where we permit employers to recruit migrant workers without trying to recruit from the UK labour market first.

In 2010, the number of workers employed in job titles where there were skills shortages was around half a million.

It is now just 180,000, less than 1% of the UK workforce.

A CROSS-GOVERNMENT IMMIGRATION POLICY

So we’ve made significant changes to our policies in the Home Office to get net migration down.

 


But now what we need to do is to work across government…

…so our immigration policy is factored into our benefits system, our health system and our housing system.

So let me set out how we are going to do this…

…by stopping our benefits system from being such a soft touch…

…by making entitlement to our key public services something migrants earn – not an automatic right.

And by bringing the full force of government together to crack down on illegal working.

Let me take each in turn.


BENEFITS

Right now the message through the benefit system is all wrong.

It says if you can’t find a job or drop out of work early, the British taxpayer owes you a living for as long as you like…

…no matter how little you have contributed to social security since you arrived.

My view is simple.

Ending the something for nothing culture needs to apply to immigration as well as welfare.


So by the end of this year…

…and before the controls on Bulgarians and Romanians are lifted…

…we are going to strengthen the test that determines which migrants can access benefits.

And we’re going to give migrants from the EEA a very clear message.

Just like British citizens, there is no absolute right to unemployment benefit.

The clue is in the title…

…Job Seekers Allowance is only available for those who are genuinely seeking a job.


You will be subject to full conditionality and work search requirements…

…and you will have to show you are genuinely seeking employment.      

If you fail that test, you will lose your benefit.

And as a migrant, we’re only going to give you six months to be a jobseeker.

After that benefits will be cut off unless you really can prove not just that you are genuinely seeking employment…

…but also that you have a genuine chance of getting a job.

We’re going to make that assessment a real and robust one…

…and yes, it’s going to include whether your ability to speak English is a barrier to work.


And to migrants who are in work but then lose their jobs…

…the same rules will apply.

Six months – and then if you can’t show you have a genuine chance of getting a job, benefits will be cut off.

This means that EEA migrants who don’t have a genuine chance of getting work after six months will lose their right to access certain benefits.

So yes, they can still come and stay here if they want to…

…but the British taxpayer will not go on endlessly paying for them any more.


We are also going to take forward negotiations with European partners to explore…

...whether we can make economically inactive migrants the responsibility of their home country before they gain any eligibility for UK benefits.

And also whether we can work with like minded European partners…

…to limit the amount we pay in child benefit towards the upkeep of children living abroad.


PUBLIC SERVICES

Second, this same approach of ending the something for nothing culture needs to apply to our public services.

Our National Health Service is one of this country’s greatest assets.

And it’s right that when people come here legitimately they should be able to use it.

But we should be clear that what we have is a free National Health Service…

…not a free International Health Service.

So we’re going to get better at reciprocal charging.

Or let me put that more simply.

Wherever we can claim back the cost of NHS care, we will.

If someone visiting the UK from another EEA country uses our NHS then it is right that they or their government pay for it.

British taxpayers should support British families and those who contribute to our economy.

And for migrants from outside the EEA, we want to introduce stricter charging…

…or a requirement for private health insurance to cover the costs of NHS care.

The same approach should apply to social housing.

We can not have a culture of something for nothing.

New migrants should not expect to be given a home on arrival.

And yet at present almost one in ten new social lettings go to foreign nationals.

So I am going to introduce new statutory housing allocations guidance this spring…

…to create a local residence test.

This should mean that local people rightly get priority in the social housing system.

And migrants will need to have lived here and contributed to this country for at least two years before they can qualify.


ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

Finally, as the Deputy Prime Minister set out on Friday, we’re going to radically toughen up the way we deal with illegal migrants working in this country.

Frankly right now, it’s too easy to be an illegal migrant in Britain.

It’s too easy to get a driving license and a house - without a check on your immigration status.

So we are legislating to make sure illegal migrants can’t have driving licences.
 
I’ve already said how we are changing the rules on social housing.

I now want us to make sure private landlords check their tenants’ immigration status…

…with consequences for those rogue landlords who fail to do so.

We’re going to take tough action against rogue businesses which use illegal labour to evade tax and minimum wage laws…

…including by doubling the fines levied against employers who employ illegal workers.

We will shine a light on the recruitment and employment practices of those who seek an unfair competitive advantage and deny work opportunities to UK workers.

And we’re going to be undertaking further targeted operations this summer…

…bringing together key enforcement bodies to form a series of local and national taskforces…

….to focus on abuse in particular sectors and regions – including on agricultural work in East Anglia.

We’re going to make it easier to check right to work entitlements…

…through a single follow up check when a migrant’s leave is due to expire.

We’re working with the financial services industry to stop illegal migrants from obtaining credit cards, loans, and opening bank accounts. 

 

We are already rolling out a new single secure form of identification – the biometric residence permit - for those from outside the EEA…

…to make it easier to identify illegal migrants in the first place.

And once we’ve found them, we’re going to make it easier to remove them.

Faster deportation.

Stopping the payment of legal aid for the vast majority of immigration appeals.

And we’re even going to look at how we can change the law…

…so that wherever possible people are deported first and appeal second, from their home country.


Put simply when it comes to illegal migrants, we’re rolling up that red carpet…

…and showing them the door.


CONCLUSION

So that’s how we are changing immigration in this country.

Getting net migration down radically.
 
Making sure that the people who come here…

…wherever they come from…

…are coming here for the right reasons.

Breaking out of the old government silos and making immigration a centrepiece of our economic policy…

…so we train our young people to fill more of the jobs being created in our economy, with genuine incentives to work…

…and so we attract the hard working wealth creators who can help us to win in the global race.

The new British citizenship test coming in today…

…sums up clearly the kind of values that make us the country we are.

We want people who are interested in what they can offer to Britain, to contribute to - and enrich - our communities.

That sense of fairness is what matters most.

You put into Britain - you don’t just take out.

And if you put in – we will stand with you.

That’s how it is in this country.

That’s how it should be.

And that’s how it will be for anyone who wants to come here.

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