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Immigration

Volume 577: debated on Monday 10 March 2014

9. What comparative assessment she has made of trends in the levels of EU and non-EU migration; and if she will make a statement. (902911)

Our reforms have cut non-EU migration to its lowest level since 1998 and there are now 82,000 fewer non-EU nationals arriving annually than when this Government came to power. Net migration of EU nationals and their family members, who are not subject to formal immigration controls, has doubled over the last year. Across Government, we are working hard to address the factors that draw people to Britain for the wrong reasons.

Does my hon. Friend agree with the comments of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that freedom of movement should not mean freedom to claim and that the only way to tackle this is through the Prime Minister’s plan to reform the EU?

I agree with what my hon. Friend has said. Freedom of movement is not and cannot be a freedom to claim benefits. The Government have introduced a series of domestic measures to restrict access to benefits and we are committed to working with our partners to reform the rules on access to benefits, which were designed for a different era and are no longer fit for purpose.

Does the Home Secretary agree with the Institute of Directors that the Immigration Minister’s first major speech in his new job was

“feeble, pathetic and divisive and more about political positioning than what is good for the country”?

Did she see it in advance?

I did not know that I had been promoted but I will obviously answer the hon. Gentleman’s question. There is nothing feeble and weak about an immigration policy that continues to attract the brightest and the best to this country while resolutely focusing on reducing net migration to sustainable levels. That is why our policies are having an effect, reducing net migration from outside the EU by 82,000. What was feeble was the last Government’s failures that let immigration get out of control. It is their mess that this Government continue to sort out and with our reforms cutting non-EU migration to its lowest levels since 1998, we are having an effect.