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Illegal Immigration

Volume 572: debated on Wednesday 18 December 2013

Given the ability of illegal and clandestine immigrants to move freely within the UK, it is not feasible to produce separate estimates for each part of the UK.

It would appear that the Government do not really know how many illegal immigrants there might be in Scotland. Given the attraction of the whole of the UK to people from other countries, I suspect that the problem might be rather greater than the Secretary of State imagines, particularly in cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh. Will he reassure the House that he will work closely with the UK Border Agency to ensure that Scotland is not an easy route into the UK for illegal immigrants?

Certainly there should be no easy routes for anyone in these circumstances, but I would caution the hon. Gentleman against devoting too much Government resource to the compilation of figures that do not help us to tackle the problem.

What discussion have the UK Government had with the Scottish Government about the operation of border controls in an independent Scotland?

We have had no such discussion so far. The truth of the matter is that either we can have an open area with no border controls or we can have closely aligned immigration policies—unlike the position of the Scottish National party, we cannot have both.

For years, immigrants have been vital to the economy—in my constituency, I see the importance of Filipino fishermen—and, since the Union, the problem in Scotland has been emigration, not immigration. But what can we do for Syrian refugees, to enable them to come here as legal immigrants? Although the Secretary of State might have failed to get his colleagues to vote for war in Syria, what might he do this Christmas to help refugees come from Syria, especially given that Germany is taking 80% of the European total and the UK is taking zero, which Amnesty International says should cause heads to hang “in shame”?

This country has a long and proud record of offering asylum to those who seek it and those who deserve it and need it. That will continue to be the case.