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Benefit Payments (EU Nationals)

Volume 529: debated on Monday 13 June 2011

22. How many nationals of other EU member states are in receipt of benefits provided by his Department. (58804)

One of the things that I was surprised to discover in the past few weeks is that the Department does not keep any record—nor, indeed, did it under the previous Government—of the nationality of people who claim benefits. This is something that we are moving to address; indeed, we want to find a way to ensure that we do so.

It is indeed a scandal that we do not know how many EU nationals are claiming benefits funded by the British taxpayer. Is it not completely wrong for an eastern European citizen to be working in this country, with his family and children back home in Poland or wherever, and to be claiming and receiving child benefit at the British taxpayer’s expense?

My hon. Friend puts his finger on one of the anomalies of the European system which is causing concern not just in this country, but in other capitals around Europe. I have had many conversations in the last few months with fellow Employment Ministers in other EU countries, and there is a mounting debate about the need for rule changes that will set out exactly when and where benefits should and should not be paid.