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Volume 537: debated on Monday 12 December 2011

The latest published estimates show net migration in the year to March 2011 at 245,000. That figure remains too high, which is why the Government are pressing ahead with their reform of the immigration system. This will bring numbers down to sustainable levels in the tens of thousands by 2015.

The Prime Minister has said that, “No ifs, no buts”, net migration will fall to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament. Given that net migration into the UK was 32,000 higher in the 12 months to March 2011 than it was in the previous 12 months, does the Minister believe that he will ever meet this target?

Yes, I do. I find complaints about high immigration from those on the Labour Benches a bit rich, given what they did to the immigration system. I simply point the hon. Gentleman to the figures for the past six months, because over the past two quarters the figures have started coming down. We are beginning to make a dent in the disaster of Labour’s immigration policy.

I welcome the roll-out of the e-Borders system, but what role will the border police command play from 2013, as part of the National Crime Agency, in helping to reduce illegal immigration?

I am happy to assure my hon. Friend that it will play a significant role. Of course, as well as having the policies that bring the overall numbers down we need proper enforcement mechanisms to ensure that they can be properly implemented. The National Crime Agency and the border command within it will play a significant role in improving the security of our borders.

The hon. Gentleman is in danger of setting a trend. If others followed it, our proceedings would conclude more speedily. I am grateful to him for his self-denial.